Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Cancon 2012 Aftermath: Part 1

How it went
Well, Cancon 2012 is over and we have survived the 8 hour road trip home. I can’t recall the last time I was so tired after a tournament – it was really draining to have been heavily involved in organising the thing as well as playing on the day. Well, that was combined with not really getting enough sleep, and being the (equal-) longest tournament I know of. It’s easy to see how all these things can add up to exhaustion.

Anyway, regardless of all these things I had fun. Cancon has spent the last decade as our road trip of choice. It’s the only 3 day event I have ever attended, and it lends the whole thing an extra atmosphere of scale that a mere 2 day, 6 game tournament can’t really compare to. This was why we were so concerned when it looked like Warhammer Fantasy would not run this year, and why we took a hand in making sure it did so. When we (HGC) put our collective hands up to make sure it happened, we were considering potential options such as having a rotating TO to ensure everyone got to play, but thankfully Dave Hurley (a Canberra local) volunteered to run it on the day. We joined forces and together we managed to make the tournament happen.

The turnout of 76 players is undoubtedly more than anyone expected. Cancon only had 41 Fantasy players last year, and I don’t think an Australian event has managed to break 50 since the Pilgrimage managed 84 back in August 2010, immediately after 8th edition was released (and before the great exodus we witnessed shortly thereafter – I’ve discussed this in a previous post). The large numbers caused us some headaches in terms of space and terrain (much of which we were lugging up from Melbourne in the cars). In the end we made it work, but things were a bit cramped – and we couldn’t have done the tables so comfortably without the help of John Lampe (another local, this time an ex-Hamptoner from long ago).

Overall I would say the event was successful. Things were pretty well on schedule (after a few hiccups at the start), and everyone I talked to seemed to be having a good time. There were a couple of things that could have gone better – one of them was the checking of legality of lists. I didn’t sweep through every list to check that they were correct, partly because I figured anything glaring would be detected by the panel of 3 comp judges. It turns out this was a mistake, as apparently legality is not what they were focused on. I happened to discover problems with a couple of lists at the last minute and had to scramble to get them fixed. Some things almost certainly slipped through the gaps. Top marks go to the guy who managed to enter an Ogre list with the old army book, and nobody realised until he turned up on the day and saw that other people had a different book – that required some quick shuffling (and probably a steep learning curve for him during the tournament)…

Being an addle-witted fool, I failed to take a single photo during the event. I was a bit busy with my games and generally feeling like there were not enough minutes in the day. Naturally it occurred to me after everything was done, but I’m afraid that for the moment I have nothing.

How I went (Day 1)
Normally I do a whole tournament report in a single post, however I think that might be a little unmanageable this time round. Instead, I will do it by day – so this post will just be for day 1, and I should have the other 2 days posted within a another day or two as well.
My army, with the characters sitting in the units they generally traveled with
Once again I opted to use my Empire army at Cancon, and I have posted my army list previously. I ended up getting a 7/10 for comp, which I feel is probably about right. I discovered a few times during the tournament that my army really lacked strength in certain areas, and this was quickly followed by something bad happening to my poor little soldiers. Here is how my games went:

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Cancon - the final push

Well Cancon starts on Friday, and Thursday will be spent driving for 8 hours to get to Canberra, followed by setting up the tables for 75 people. In other words, I am running out of time. Thankfully my painting progress has been fairly solid over the last few days and I finally feel like I have things more or less under control.
28 Empire Swordsmen ready to go
I have now finished painting my regiment of Swordsmen. Well, they are mostly done. I actually wanted to paint up a full regiment of 40 including unit fillers, however time pressures meant I revised my target to ensure I just had enough for my unit of 28 at Cancon. I broke the remaining 14 unpainted models into 2 batches of 7, and just painted one batch. So there are 7 more to be painted before I can shove the whole unit to the side, but at least I am ready for the tournament.
8 painted Crossbowmen means I now have the number I need

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Empire Swordsmen - the first batch

14 Swordsmen ready to go. Pity I need more...
Life has been a bit hectic over the last couple of weeks. In particular, my involvement in trying to organise Warhammer Fantasy at Cancon has turned into a massive headache with the numbers swelling beyond the allocated space, and general confusion over who is in and who is out. This, combined with processing the army lists and questions of 70 people, and trying to get additional terrain ready in order to accommodate everyone, has left me feeling completely burnt out, and ready for the whole thing to be over.

But then of course, I had committed to using an army that includes dozens of unpainted models. Presumably because I am stupid. So in what spare time I can find, I have been trying to paint my army before the tournament. First off the rank is the Empire Swordsmen to go with my Ogre unit fillers. What I have here is not all that I require. Ultimately I want to paint 28 Swordsmen (there are 14 done now), which when combined with the Ogres will give me 40 models. However, I only need a unit of 28 for Cancon, so I am going to have to cut corners for now. I guess I can come back to the rest when things have settled down a bit.
The newly done Swordsmen with a couple of their big mates
One of my Ogre Swordsmen, along with the guy he was roughly based off
And another example alongside his little inspiration
Once I have painted another 6 or so of these guys, I can get onto my Volley Gun (I will probably now not paint the crew, and just use those who would normally man my unused Rocket Battery), and the wizard, and the 7 more Crossbowmen I need...

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Working in a winter wonderland

Not the best pic... I was worried the bases were not white enough. My camera flash disagrees
Well Cancon is less than 2 weeks away, and I have tons of models I need to paint for my army. It is only natural then, that I allow myself to be completely sidetracked by making terrain for the tournament. Despite what the title would suggest, we are not in the middle of winter here in Australia. However, I am surrounded by snowy trees and hills in various stages of completion.

Our club put our hands up to help run Warhammer Fantasy at Cancon when it was becoming apparent that the event might find itself without a TO and not run at all this year. This would have been unacceptable for us, as it's the one big road trip a year that a large number of us take part in, and has always been great fun. We were not going to let a decade-long tradition fall in a heap so easily. Anyway, it turned out we would also need to supply the terrain for the event. This is a bit of a logistical headache - needing to transport terrain for an entire tournament's worth of tables, an 8 hour drive away from home. Even so, we decided we could do it. But the headaches do not end there.

The Hampton Games Club has a fairly substantial stock of terrain, and can fairly comfortably lay out 20 tables at once for Warhammer Fantasy. We've done this the last few years for Axemaster, and we've always been able to make it work. However, I set the nominal limit of players at Cancon to 70. I figured we would probably not get this many players, really. The largest tournament in Australia since 8th edition came out was around 50 players, so there was no real danger of needing to supply terrain for 35 tables. Well, apparently I was wrong. At the time of writing, I have a list of 70 names, 66 of whom have sent me their army lists. It looks like we will be hitting out limits after all.

So, where to find 15 more tables of terrain?

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Empire Ogre Swordsmen - finished!

Well last night I was a bit later to bed than I would normally be, because I was busily painting my Ogre unit fillers for my Empire Swordsmen. And now they are finished! Huzzah!
Empire Ogre Swordsmen, just looking for a unit to fill. I will get to that, I promise...

Monday, 9 January 2012

Empire Ogre Swordsmen assembled!

3 Ogre Swordsmen await the wrath of the painter's brush
A milestone has passed with the assembly of my first 3 Ogre Swordsmen unit fillers. I've been looking forward to this for a while now, and it means I can now focus on getting them (and their little friends) painted.

I'd love to tell you that it was a simple matter of gluing everything together, however it was not quite that simple. I had to file down a few areas (such as the arms where they meet the body). I also had a lot of flash to cut off some components, there were bits with small gaps that required filling, one of the joins between torso and legs required a fair chunk of green stuff, and I had to pin the swords in place and come up with a method for making pommels.

Despite all of this, I am delighted with the way they've come together. Obviously they're not perfect. I am now seeing things about the proportions that I ideally might like to change, and having more variety in components would have saved me from things like using the same head twice across only 3 models. But some of these things will fix themselves over time as I develop additional components, and I learn what to look for.

The biggest problem with this batch is the mould lines on the models' faces. I was in a real hurry to copy the heads I had made, as they were the final hurdle before I could put these guys together. It saw me use the minimal amount of Instant Mold that I could for each head, largely because I had run out and was already re-purposing stuff that was already spoken for. It meant I was entirely focused on making it work, and not on where the mould join ended up. I'm sure any rookie mould-maker would tell you not to put the mould join across the model's face, but there you go - I made that mistake. I could re-do the moulds and heads, but I am too excited to get these guys done and so I will soldier on. I'll go back and remake the moulds before making any more copies. I might also try using Magic Sculp instead of green stuff to see how it comes out. The green stuff is easier to work with and potentially better for these highly detailed areas, but cleaning off the flash etc is much harder to do cleanly. These ogres may have some cruel battle scarring. Such is the danger of war.

I ended up using bits of sprue for the sword pommels. I cut those round lumpy sections off, bored a hole in for the nail coming through the hand, and then used my drill to give it a very rudimentary dent as decoration - just to make it less plain. It's a simple solution, but I haven't thought of a better one yet.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Empire Ogre Swordsmen - almost there

Well another weekend has passed, and it saw yet more progress on the Empire Ogre unit filler front. I am right on the brink of being able to assemble the models and start painting now, which is very pleasing. Tonight I am hoping to be able to clean up the components and assemble the 3 Ogre Swordsmen I need for Cancon.

The Ogre production line drives on. 4 torsos, 8 sets of legs, 5 left arms, 9 right arms, 4 swords and 4 shields...
Above you can see the components I have available at the moment. Having 2 different sets of legs and 2 right arms (but 1 of everything else) means my production speed is not exactly consistent. Nevertheless, I have what I need for 3 models. Except for heads...
Ogre Swordsman head 1

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Empire Ogre Swordsmen - more progress

Last night I continued my work on the Ogre Swordsmen. My progress was perhaps less apparent this time, but that's because I spent a fair bit of time making moulds. I still have more of this to do, however I now feel like I am really close to being able to pop out 3 Ogres and get painting.

My efforts focused around creating a second set of legs for Ogre State Troops. I grabbed one of my copied sets of walking legs and gave them suitable pants and boots. Once the green stuff has cured properly I will create moulds for both sets of legs.

I also created a second right arm, although it's still at the basic sleeve stage, rather than puffy. I plan to create a copy of the basic version before puffing it up. This is my theoretical approach for all this stuff, however my finite supply of Instant Mold means I tend to need to create a "master" version of everything to keep safe before re-using the mould material. I can always go back and recreate the mould then, if I want it again.

I made moulds for the detailed breastplate and the sword I showed yesterday. So once I've done the legs, the shield and this new arm, I should have everything I need except heads.

I expect to use green stuff to copy the arms of the models, and Magic Sculp for the legs, torsos and weapons. I will want the extra hardness of the Magic Sculp for the relatively flimsy weaponry, but I think the tidiness of the green stuff will be important on the sleeves - it's easier to work with in the moulds. We'll see. Trial and error, baby!
Progress, sir! My pile of components grows daily...

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Empire Ogre Swordsman Progress

Yesterday saw me make further progress on the Ogre unit fillers for my Empire Swordsmen. It also saw me commit to the monthly painting challenge on the Warhammer Empire forums. I thought I might try publicly committing to something and see how that went. So, what did I say I would do?

January 2012 Target:
  • 40 Empire Swordsmen including 3 Ogre unit fillers
  • Halblaster Volley Gun
  • Celestial Wizard
Ideally I'd like to get this stuff done before Cancon, which starts on January 27. Including them in my army would be a good way to ensure this happens. Having said that, the targets above are really rather ambitious - especially when you consider the fact that I'm still building the Ogres. I think I will be working on things most evenings between now and Cancon in an attempt to get it done.

Anyway, now that I have set myself up for public ridicule, I need to get working. Here is the progress I have now made...
The Ogre Swordsman with his sword and shield

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Getting back on the Empire Ogre wagon

Well it's a new year. The Year of the Empire is over, and I am free to pursue whatever I like. Actually, this has caused me some confusion. Knowing what army I would use in every tournament last year gave me a relatively clear focus - it kept things simple. Suddenly finding myself with lots of options at the end of the year really bogged me down. Rather than focusing on something and making progress, I ground to a halt as I started to consider the various options. My Orcs and Goblins are an army with a lot of promise, however they need some updating to give them a bit more clout in 8th edition - Pump Wagons and Mangler Squigs in particular. The Ogre book is still pretty new and they have lots of stuff that I want to take for a spin. But none of the fun stuff is painted (and I don't even have models for half of it).

In the end I have decided to stick with Empire for the time being. The main reason for this is that I still want to paint more stuff as part of Project Kislev (no, I have not forgotten). Planning is still underway, with a tentative date set for Easter. Can we make it happen by then? I certainly hope so. The other reasons I decided to use Empire are that they're actually ready in terms of being able to field a decent painted force (as opposed to the missing components for the other armies as I've already mentioned). This takes the pressure off, and means that I can keep painting stuff for the Kislev game, even if it's not something I need for the next tournament. Also, for all that I want to try out the Ogres, my general lack of painted models is a major barrier. However, my Empire Ogre unit fillers seem like an ideal way to improve the situation, without actually getting bogged down painting an Ogre Kingdom army. 

The initial reason I started working on Ogre unit fillers was to help pad out the rather large units I wanted for my Empire army. Units of State Troops often need to be very large (40 models or more), and this makes for a lot of troops, and a lot of painting. The Ogres help pad things out, help to break up the appearance of the unit, and also give me something different to paint. My plans have kind of taken on a life of their own however, and I have gradually realised that if I were to ever get all of my planned unit fillers built and painted, they would make an entire Empire-themed Ogre Kingdoms army in their own right. It's not the main goal of the project, but it's an amusing side-effect.

For all this plotting and planning, the production of these Ogres had largely ground to a halt. I kept getting distracted by other things, and as such I had only managed to complete 2 Ogres thus far, for completely different units. I want 3 Ogres for every unit, so I have a very, very long way to go. My decision early on that I would not in fact be using Ogre Bulls as the basis for the models has probably slowed me down. The discovery of Instant Mold then sped me up again, however the sheer enormity of the task and the ambition involved occasionally gets to me and kills my momentum. Not knowing what I'm doing half the time does not help.

Anyway, over the last couple of nights I have started to pull the stuff out again. This time I was camped on the living room floor in front of the TV, making a right mess on the carpet.
Man, what a mess. Here is the little workstation I had set up for myself, complete with mugs of hot and cold water for working with Instant Mold. The white dust is from sawing a couple of Magic Sculp Ogre components in half