Tuesday, 27 December 2011

So, what did Santa have in his sack?

Well, Christmas has come and gone. I trust everyone had an enjoyable holiday. Actually, my holidays are not yet over - I won't be going back to work until January 3rd. I may even find some time to get some modelling or painting in between now and then, if I'm lucky. We shall see.

One of the gifts I received for Christmas was a 4kg mixed bundle of second-hand models and bits from my wonderful wife, which she had bought for me from a buy-swap-sell forum. I love getting random piles of models, with no idea what you're going to find in there. Digging through, sorting things out and discovering hidden treasures is great fun. Here are some pictures of some of the things I found when sorting through the pile...
Orc and Goblin goodies, including an old Azhag on Wyvern (minus the wings), half a Man Mangler catapult, a couple of retro Doom Divers, and a lot of Goblins from the 4th edition Warhammer stater box

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The Battle of Breakneck Pass

Another day, another attempted battle report

I decided it would be fun to finish the year with a large battle report, since it had been a while since I put one up. Having worked out that I could muster 6,000 points of Empire when I did the recent photo shoot, this became the game size and my Orcs and Goblins were chosen as the opposition. The infamous Peter Spiller (who destroyed me so tragically in the final round of the Masters) volunteered to take control of the greenskins, whilst Shags generously agreed to perform the duties of Head Scribe, and so we had everything we needed in place.

We decided to play Battle for the Pass, to see whether it made the game more interesting to be forced to organise things in waves and press forward that way. We also used the Wild Magic rule from Storm of Magic - 4D6 power dice with the opponent receiving the highest 2 dice for dispelling. Other than that, it was a pretty standard approach to a game of Warhammer.

I will admit that not a lot of planning went into this game. We decided we would do it only a few days before the fact, and the game was played in a slightly hurried fashion because I needed to leave the club earlier than usual. It also made taking decent photos more difficult, with the poor light, my limited skills and my hardworking camera phone not helping the situation either. I think in future we will need to make a point of better planning these things in order to have a better chance of achieving a good result. Anyway, here is what we ended up with...

The Empire Army
Arch Lector of Sigmar (Army General)
     Barding; Prayers of Sigmar; Shield; Warhorse
     The Mace of Helstrum
     Dawn Armour

Templar Grand Master
     Barding; Full Plate Armor; Warhorse
     Dawn Stone
     Crown of Command

General of the Empire on Pegasus
     Full Plate Armor
     Sword of Bloodshed
     Potion of Strength
     Enchanted Shield

Wizard Lord of the Amethyst Order
     Magic Level 4; Lore of Death; Warhorse
     Talisman of Preservation

Templar Grand Master
     Barding; Full Plate Armor; Shield; Warhorse
     Sword of Sigismund
     Holy Relic

     Barding; Full Plate Armor; Battle Standard; Warhorse
     Charmed Shield
     White Cloak

Warrior Priest
     Barding; Prayers of Sigmar; Great Weapon; Warhorse
     Armour of Destiny

Warrior Priest of Sigmar
     Prayers of Sigmar; Great Weapon
     Armour of Meteoric Iron

Master Engineer

Battle Wizard of the Amber Order
     Magic Level 2; Lore of Beasts

Grey Guardian
     Magic Level 2; Lore of Shadow

40 Spearmen
     Spear; Light Armour; Standard; Musician; Sergeant

58 Halberdiers
     Halberd; Light Armour; Standard; Musician; Sergeant

30 Free Company
     2nd Weapon; Standard; Musician; Sergeant

29 Flagellant Warbands (Core)
     Frenzy; Flail

30 Knightly Orders
     Barding; Full Plate Armor; Standard; Musician; Warhorse; Preceptor
     Standard of Discipline

10 Crossbowmen

10 Handgunners
     Empire Handgun

35 Greatswords
     Great Weapon; Full Plate Armor; Standard; Musician; Count's Champion

18 Knights of the Inner Circle
     Barding; Lance; Full Plate Armor; Shield; Standard; Musician; Warhorse; Preceptor
     The Steel Standard

13 Knights of the Inner Circle
     Barding; Lance; Full Plate Armor; Shield; Standard; Musician; Warhorse; Preceptor
     Banner of Swiftness

5 Pistoliers
     Brace of Pistols; Light Armour; Musician; Warhorse; Outrider with Repeater Pistol

5 Outriders
     Repeater Handgun; Light Armour; Musician; Warhorse

1 Great Cannon

1 Great Cannon

1 Mortar

1 Steam Tank

1 Helstorm Rocket Battery

TOTAL: 5998 points

There was not a lot of thought required when constructing this list - it was really a case of using everything I had painted. There was the odd painted Spearman or Free Company model left over, but I pretty much cleaned out my cases. Given the choice of 2 middling units of 15 White Wolves or a single horde of 30, I went for the horde. I don't get to use it in normal games, and I figured I could well be looking at units of Black Orcs that could wipe out 15 knights in a single round.

From a balance perspective, my list lacks shooting. 10 Handgunners and 10 Crossbowmen do not a 6,000pt army make. My artillery contingent is no larger than what a lot of Empire players would field in an army a third of the size, so I guess that means I'm a bit light on. The points have all really gone into Knights, which I am OK with. I like my cavalry and they have been my best investment in points in my tournament armies all year.

The Orc and Goblin Horde
Black Orc Warboss (Army General)
     Armour of Destiny
     Ironcurse Icon

Black Orc Warboss on Wyvern
     Heavy Armour
     Enchanted Shield
     Talisman of Preservation

Black Orc Warboss on Wyvern
     Heavy Armour; Shield
     Dawn Stone

Orc Great Shaman
     Magic Level 3; Big Waagh; Choppa
     Dispel Scroll

Goblin Great Shaman
     Magic Level 3; Little Waagh
     Feedback Scroll

Goblin Warboss
     Light Armour; Shield
     Wizarding Hat

Black Orc Big Boss
     Heavy Armour; Battle Standard
     Obsidian Lodestone

Goblin Big Boss on Gigantic Spider
     Great Weapon; Shield
     Gambler's Armour
     Potion of Foolhardiness

Savage Orc Shaman
     Frenzy; Magic Level 2; Big Waagh; Choppa
     Lucky Shrunken Head

33 Savage Big 'Uns
     Frenzy; Second Choppa; Warpaint; Standard; Musician; Boss

40 Orc Boyz
     Second Choppa; Light Armour; Standard; Musician; Boss

25 Orc Boyz
     Choppa; Light Armour; Shield; Standard; Musician; Boss

36 Night Goblins
     Netters; Shield; Standard; Musician; Boss
     3 Fanatics

35 Night Goblins
     Netters; Shield; Standard; Musician; Boss
     3 Fanatics

20 Goblin Wolf Riders
     Spear; Light Armour; Shield; Standard; Musician; Boss

5 Forest Goblin Spider Riders
     Spear; Shield; Musician

5 Forest Goblin Spider Riders
     Spear; Shield; Musician

50 Black Orcs
     Heavy Armour; Shield; Standard; Musician; Boss
     Banner of Swiftness

Orc Boar Chariot

Orc Boar Chariot

Wolf Chariot
     Spear; Short Bow

Wolf Chariot
     Spear; Short Bow

Wolf Chariot
     Spear; Short Bow; Extra Wolf

14 Savage Boar Boyz
     Frenzy; Choppa; Spear; Warpaint; Shield; Standard; Musician; Boss

8 Trolls



Rock Lobber

Rock Lobber

TOTAL: 5999 points

A few notes should be made here. Firstly, Pete had included 2 Doom Divers in his army. However, when we were unpacking the stuff, we could find the little bat-winged loonies, but not their catapults. This resulted in a quick reshuffle that saw the second Giant drafted into the list. Not ideal for the balance of the army. Also note that Pete appears to have forgotten to pay for the extra magic levels on his Orc and Goblin Great Shamans. They played as level 4s during the game. A little greenskin trickery, no doubt...

For all that my Orcs and Goblins can easily accommodate 6,000 points, the list lacks a bit of balance in a similar manner to my Empire. I don't have much painted shooting (a problem exacerbated by the issue I mentioned above). I also don't have any of the tricks introduced in the 8th edition army book - Mangler Squigs, Arachnaroks, or even Pump Wagons (which were available before, but nowhere near as lethal). My focus on painting Empire all year has resulted in my Orcs being a bit out of date - a problem I will need to address soon.

The battlefield
The forces of the Empire are arrayed for battle
The Empire deployed in a solid mass across the pass. In the centre were the White Wolf Knights, led by the Arch Lector, Templar Grand Master and Wizard Lord. Immediately behind the White Wolves were the Halberdiers, led by the Warrior Priest and the Amber Battle Wizard. To the left were the Knights Snow Leopard (the larger unit of Inner Circle Knights) led by the other Grand Master and the BSB. Between those units were the Spearmen, deployed in a deep formation. Hard on the left flank were the Pistoliers, with the Outriders behind them and the Handgunners at the back.On the right of the White Wolves was the Steam Tank, followed by the Free Company. Behind them were the Greatswords led by the Grey Wizard, and the Crossbowmen were in turn behind the Greatswords. On the right flank were the Flagellants, with the remaining regiment of Knights behind them, led by the mounted Warrior Priest. The Pegasus lurked behind the Knights, with the Empire artillery positioned on the highest point of the hill, giving them a commanding view of the field.
As seen from the front

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Rules as written

 Nerd Rage in Nottingham
In other news today, a grisly discovery was made in Nottingham last night. The body of a man was found in an alley behind the headquarters of hobby manufacturer Games Workshop. The discovery was made by a group of children playing with a “Thunderhawk”, made from a milk carton, toilet rolls and cardboard. The man has been identified as a prominent games designer for Games Workshop, and it is believed he was attacked as he left work last night. Police say that the murder weapon was found at the scene, and ironically is one of the companys own products. The victim was bludgeoned to death with a “Bloodthirster” a large metal model with jagged parts, making it ideal as a weapon. A cryptic note was found on the body, believed to say, “No Look out Sir for you! The Dwellers Below”. 

It is said that Games Workshop are discussing the murder as a “special character assassination”, but when pressed for an explanation, the company employees have not been forthcoming. A spokesman for Games Workshop declined to speculate on a motive, however he did have the following comments: “The police tell us that the choice of murder weapon leads them to conclude that the attacker was a collector of Games Workshop products. It is very sad to think that a player of our games could be behind this callous act. We are of course assisting them in their investigation, and we believe that we can help narrow down the list of suspects considerably. Our recent pricing policies and trade embargoes should ensure that players outside of the EU can barely afford to play our games at all, let alone foot the bill for a plane trip over here to commit this crime.”

“This tragic incident could have been avoided if collectors everywhere had followed our advice and replaced all their obsolete metal models with the newer Finecast range. This is a superior medium that, although often blighted by casting issues and susceptibility to heat, is far too fragile to be used as a weapon. Granted, the models may cost more in Finecast than in the old metal, however you really cant put a price on public safety. I appeal to gamers everywhere to throw out all their metal models and replace them with Finecast as soon as possible, before anyone else loses their life…”
OK, so to the best of my knowledge, the news story above didnt happen. I also got a bit sidetracked by GW pricing and the ongoing saga of woe that is Finecast, but that is neither here nor there. What I actually want to talk about today is the way rules are written. Or more specifically, the way they are written for Warhammer.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

My Masters Adventure

The Masters trophies on offer

Well, I have now had time to recover from the adventure that was the Australian Masters for 2011. It was the first time I have actually flown interstate for a tournament (normally we make a big road trip of it, with an extra day or so to relax whilst up there), and the whirlwind nature of the whole thing takes its toll a little. It was good fun though, and there is something to be said for being able to make a trip like this happen without having to take any leave from work.
So how did it go? Well, I can reveal that I did not win the event. Indeed, I didnt even come close I was far closer to coming last. This is a fairly novel experience for me, however with the nature of the event and there being no weak opposition, it was always a possibility. I finished in 14th place out of 16, so I finished on the lower rungs of the anti-podium (this is probably not a thing I just made it up).I actually did win 2 games and draw another, however the margins of my losses were far more convincing than those of my wins, and the close nature of the event meant my lack of battle points left me close to the bottom of the pile.

All of the army lists involved (including mine) can be found in the WargamerAU thread here.

My army arrayed for happy snaps

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Empire Army Gallery

My Year of the Empire is drawing to a close, and I recently became aware that I hadn't posted any pictures of anything like the complete army (as it currently stands). I figured it was time to drag all the models out of hiding and put them together for a family photo.

It's possible that I will do a bit more painting before the end of the year, but I'd say these photos are largely representative of my painting efforts in the Year of the Empire. There were some elements painted last year (notably the Crossbowmen, Handgunners, a small number of the Knights and most of the Teutogen Guard). However, most of this stuff was bare metal or plastic at the start of the year. All in all, I'm happy with my steady progress.

In total there is about 6,000 points of painted stuff in these pictures. It's nowhere near everything I intend to paint (my silly Kislev plans demand much more), but it's a solid start. As always, my pictures are limited by my modest photography skills and the use of a mobile phone camera, however I stole my wife's this time in the hope of some slightly better shots. Enjoy.
My painted Empire army arrayed.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Masters preparation - time is up

Well, it's still a couple of days until the Masters, however I find myself in a situation where I am unlikely to get any more preparation done. Prior engagements, coupled with the need to fly interstate to the event on the evening before (instead of painting frantically up until the last minute) are crippling my efforts. As such, I am going to have to settle for what I've done so far.
22 Halberdiers, ready for action. Well, sort of ready. As ready as they're going to be...
 Close enough is good enough, right? Often I tend to subscribe to this phrase when it comes to painting. I am lazy, and if the thing looks finished enough, I may well leave it that way. In this case however, the models are clearly not done. What still needs to be done before they could properly be called finished (to my rather moderate standards)? 

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Paints, Masters and Skyrim

It seems to be a fairly common thing for bloggers to drop off the radar for a bit, then reappear in a gush of apologies and a frenzy of catch-up activity. Well, this is me doing much the same thing. Admittedly, I wasn't gone for all that long - however, it is still the longest gap I have left so far in my postings. Real life caught up with me a little bit, and I had to spend most of my spare time preparing for a presentation I had to do. Thankfully that is out of the way now, so maybe my blog can enjoy a bit more attention...

So, what have I been doing? I have a number of things to update, so I'll put it all under some relevant headings.

Masters preparation
The Masters are this coming weekend, and my army is not yet ready. I am still in the process of painting 22 Halberdiers to pad out my regiment for the tournament, and they have a way to go yet before they will be done.
The Halberdiers progress gradually. Since I took this picture, I have added a basecoat for the white half of the uniforms to most of the models.
The lists for the other players in the tournament have been revealed, and the peer-based comp scores have been determined. You can see the lists here, on WargamerAU. It's a tough field, and in hindsight I think my army is not structured ideally to face some of these lists. This doesn't really bother me, but the proliferation of chaff was not something I had anticipated. My comp score of 3/5 is one of the better scores, so that is something. Whether it will serve as adequate compensation for what some of the armies may do to mine... Well, we shall see.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Preparing for the Masters

As I mentioned previously, this year I have qualified for the Australian Masters tournament, to be held in Canberra on the 3rd and 4th of December. That is in 3 weeks, and today is the deadline for army submission. I spent a fair bit of time umming and ahhing over what I was going to use, but I finally committed over the weekend and sent in my list last night.

I say was I trying to decide what list to use, however the army was always going to be the Empire. This is still my Year of the Empire, although the Masters represent the last tournament to which this applies. There will be nothing through until Cancon next year, and I have not made any plans for the new year. So I was definitely using Empire for this tournament, and I figured I would still to something similar to what I've been using recently. Of course, I used all-cavalry armies in the last 2 tournaments I attended - Book of Grudges and Axemaster. I considered doing it again, however I was slightly worried that people might think I was taking the piss when I'm sure some are approaching this event very earnestly. I might not be as serious about winning as some others, however I am not there to poke fun at things. I would also have been fielding a compromised army for little benefit - I doubt anyone would care about things like themed armies at this tournament, so it felt like there was little point.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Sculpting the human: he has a helmet!

The Halberdier continues to take shape.
I got another chance to make a bit more progress on my Halberdier last night. I bit the bullet and began working on his head. This is all slightly scary stuff for me - completely unknown territory. I am consoling myself with the knowledge that if I really screw it up, I can always abandon my efforts and find him a suitable head from something else. But before going that way, I figured I needed to try making one of my own.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

A changing of the guard

The old days
Since the arrival of 8th edition (now well over a year ago), The Warhammer Fantasy tournament scene in Australia has seen some pretty dramatic changes. 7th edition had seen the rise and rise of the game being used in a competitive context. Player numbers were at an all-time high, with a number of tournaments attracting 100 or more players. Large numbers of players were travelling interstate in order to attend the flagship events (in fact this is really the only way tournament attendances can reach the levels we were seeing).

The Warhammer rankings (originally hosted on Irresistible Force, and now found on Rankings HQ) were unquestionably a contributing factor to the vibrant tournament scene. The rankings provided players with a way of gauging their success on a national level, and helped establish some of the front-runners as “the ones to beat”. It helped give competitive and aspiring players an idea of where they stood, and what would be required if they wanted to make it to the top.

There will always be disputes over the validity of the rankings model. There are a lot of different factors to consider when attempting to score the relative merits of one tournament over another – the main ones being the number of players and rounds, and the army sizes involved. Invariably the system will favour the players who manage to attend a number of the largest tournaments, as this tends to be where the most points are available. Whether this is fair has been the subject of debate, with the geographical location of these big events making things easier for some than others.

Leveraging the rankings system, the Warhammer Fantasy Masters is an invitational tournament held toward the end of the calendar year. The general concept is to gather the top 16 players together and have them play off to determine the champion for that year. As with all things, the implementation is never so simple as the idea. Places are held for the reigning champion from the previous year, the top-placed player in the New Zealand rankings, and the winner of a designated tournament in Western Australia (an acknowledgement of the tyranny of distance when trying to attend enough of the larger events on the other side of the continent in order to qualify in the normal manner). 

Friday, 4 November 2011

My first human: slightly more progress

Well, it's been over a week since I posted an update. I've been busy (yes, even I am busy sometimes) and haven't had much of a chance to do much of anything hobby-related. However, last night I finally got to sit down and make a little bit more progress on my first attempt at sculpting a human.
My little man now has hands! And a blobby thing where his head will soon be...
I added hands and the halberd pole. I probably shouldn't have tried to do it all at once, however once I had secured the pole onto the arms with greenstuff, I decided it would be easiest just to add detail to the hands at the same time. This resulted in my constantly bending the wrists at funny angles as I worked, but the end result seems to be OK - I doubt I could have done much better even if I had approached things patiently.
A look at the underside of the fingers - sideways (thanks Blogger)
I had been undecided as to whether I was going to go all-out and try to sculpt a head onto the model, or just use an existing GW plastic head and leave it at that. However, last night I actually dug out the head I had in mind, and discovered that (being from a different, newer era of model) it was really too large for the body. So I was left with little choice - I am going to have to try to sculpt the whole thing myself. This will most likely be where the whole thing goes a bit awry - sculpting a human face sounds difficult to me. Oh well, we shall see soon enough.

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?