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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Extreme Painting Action - The army begins to come together!

With about two weeks left until the tournament, I’m really starting to feel the pressure of this fast-approaching deadline.  It’s the same feeling you get when you’ve left an assignment until the last minute, and you’re not sure if you’re going to make it, but the thought of not completing cannot be entertained because if you do, then you know for certain it’s not going to be done before the deadline.  It’s exactly the same when it comes to painting.  When time gets tight, then the only thing you can do is to buckle down and keep on painting.  With perseverance comes success.  At least that’s what I’m hoping...

Thus far, my progress I’m struggling a little to make any headway when it comes to getting paint on miniatures.  The weather has made using the spray gun difficult at best, and this is compounded by my inability to correctly dilute Dwarven Bronze to a consistency that will not only spray evenly, but also provide adequate coverage.  My most recent efforts were too diluted and neither sprayed evenly nor allowed for even coverage.  As a result, I’ve decided that all subsequent work with these miniatures will be done by hand, as this is the only way I can ensure an even layer across the entire miniature while minimising the potential loss of detail.  This is frustrating for me as I’d hoped that by purchasing the spray gun, the amount of time spent applying base colours would be reduced.  Hopefully with further experimentation however, I can find the right recipe for use in the future.  The important thing is that the majority of them have been given a decent coating and are ready for washes to be applied.  In addition to these bronze behemoths, the unit will also be accompanied by a pair of black-maned mountain wolves.  Stronger and fiercer, with greater intelligence than the other species of wolf that populate the mountains around the Lupine Tribe’s homeland, only the most accomplished warriors are deemed worthy enough by the pack alpha to follow into battle.  My unit of Chosen will sport two of these majestic beasts as part of the unit, acting like miniature unit fillers to add a bit of bulk to the unit itself while also reinforcing the army’s theme. The progress I’ve made on these two thus far can also be found below.

WIP Chosen

The first of my Blackmane Wolves

Meanwhile, my Horses have been feeling the caress of a GW Brush as I base coat them all by hand.  I’m finding that  this is by far a faster means of getting paint on the models due to the large amount of flat area and the quantity of paint I can apply using a base coat brush.  I’m hoping to use a range of browns, with a small smattering of greys and at least one or two black horses across both units when all is said and done.  Ideally, between the horses and the riders, I’m hoping that each Horseman will look individualised enough to be recognisable as Marauders, but unified enough for both units to look coherent.  The results of my efforts thus far can be seen below:

Marauder Horses WIP

With these two units on the go, I’ve also begun focussing some of my attentions on the 16-odd Marauder infantry that need to be assembled and painted.  For the most part, the assembly aspect consisted of cleaning up and rebasing the miniatures I currently have, along with some minor tweaks here and there so they look WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get).  Combine that with some minor repair work that’s long overdue and the unit will soon be ready to take to the battlefield.  Before we get too far into it, it must be noted that trying to clean mould lines on miniatures that are already assembled is soul destroying.  Of the 15 Marauders that I re-based, all but 1 of them required me to scrape off mould lines that were rampant on the miniature.  This will hopefully (or unfortunately) be just the first of several Marauder units I’ll be fielding in the future; I’d like to have a second unit of about 40 as part of my Khorne faction (toting Great Weapons for some extra killy-death action), and possibly a third at 30 strong with the Mark of Slaanesh to act as a bunker for my Sorcerer.  In saying that, I’m not particularly looking forward to converting 70-odd Marauders to heft great weapons / flails etc, no matter how effective they are on the tabletop (especially if they are in the same condition as the last 15).  Come to think of it, I’m not sure I even have 70-odd Marauders left out of my veritable horde that is currently sitting in my bits box (Ah 8th Edition, how you’ve changed the definition of Horde forever).  This is something I will need to investigate further.  Until then however, I’ve included some pics of the WIP Marauders.

The upcoming unit of Marauders

Truth be told, I’m looking forward to getting these units completed so I can begin work on my Nurgle faction.  I’ve chosen Nurgle as the basis of my next expansion as it provides me with modelling opportunities and colour pallets that I haven’t used before.  I’m hoping that by using Nurgle as my next theme it will provide the opportunity to use some of the new Beastmen Kits for the conversions I have in mind.  Nurgle units now due to rulings made in subsequent FAQ’s.  The advantages provided by the Mark of Nurgle now pale in comparison to those of Tzeentch or Khorne, making it the perfect ace-in-the-hole if I can learn to use the army well enough.  In saying this, it’s just as likely that the army will fall flat on its face, prompting me to redirect the points paid for the Mark of Nurgle into another mark, or perhaps just more troops.  I aim to have a large portion of this army armed with Great Weapons, as I believe it reflects the ponderous nature of Nurgle (and will hopefully look ace on the table top). 

Well, this is another hobby update under my belt.  Let’s see how the stats are looking:
Number of Days until Trickster’s Blade: 16
Number of Units Completed: 5
Number of Points painted this fortnight: 38 (1 Wolf that counts for 2 Chosen Warriors with Halberds)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Some Assembly Required – Whips, Chains and Butt Moulds

Trickster’s Blade kicks off in less than a month and this is a thought that I’ve been keenly aware of this last fortnight.  It’s been like a piercing voice that cuts into my consciousness at any given moment, reminding me that time is slipping away to get my army ready and that I need to pull my finger out if I want to get everything finished.  Thankfully I’ve been able to get a good deal of modelling and painting progress finished since my last post, finally finding time to complete the assembly of the last few units in preparation for undercoating.  The biggest hurdle for me to overcome has been to finish the assembly of both the Warshrine and my unit of Chosen with Halberds and shields.  Yup, these have been the cause of many of my hobby related problems these last few weeks – a Geriatric wheelchair-bound giant and a unit of Warriors whose oversized weapons are a sure sign that they are compensating for something. 

Now if someone was so inclined, they would be able to analyse the reason why these two units have taken such a long time to be completed.  I myself merely attribute to the fact that life happens, preventing us as hobbyists from doing all the wonderful projects that we long to do.  However though hap-hazard analysis and investigation I have come up with a sure-fire way of finding time for your hobby.  Many people will tell you it’s all about time management – grabbing small amounts of time here and there to put paint to model, dedicating an hour or two a couple of times a week to get some progress done, possibly organising a regular paint-night with friends.  While all these things are good, solid ideas, they cannot hope to provide one such as I with enough time to get everything I need done.  Thus, I’ve developed my own type of hobby philosophy.  My philosophy is simple, easy to implement and while the road is seemingly difficult at first (possibly even making you a target for criticism or ridicule), I assure you, you will reap the rewards within a few weeks rather than months.  This philosophy, this way of thinking is called Hobby Domination / Life Procrastination.  Putting it simply, this is all about putting off those things that life throws at you in favour of extra hobby time.  Washing up to do?  Let it wait another couple of hours.  Need to do laundry for the week ahead? Cram it all into one big load and let the machine do the work.  House needs cleaning?  It can be done during the week, bits at a time.  By using this process, I’ve been able to free up enough time to not only complete the green-stuff work on my unit of Chosen, complete my Warshrine and rebase all my Marauder Horsemen, but also watch a swathe of movies that I wouldn’t normally have been able to get around to. 

Now some people may look at this and say: “That’s just called being lazy”, but it has nothing to do with being lazy.   This is hard work, especially when the dishes are piling up and you’re running out of cutlery.  But if you are able to develop your multi-tasking abilities, you can make things a little easier for yourself.  Modelling and movies are a bang-up combination, allowing you to be entertained while completing the soul-destroying task of cleaning off the mould lines of an entire Chaos Battalion.  For example, I was able to complete all the green-stuff work necessary for my Chosen unit all while watching ‘The Last Exorcism’ (a cracker of a movie).  The chains for the Warshrine were completed all while following the riveting, albeit confusing at times, story line of the movie ‘Salt’.  I found that while I was watching the movie, a part of my brain was still able to focus on the modelling project at hand.  This then allowed me to devise a way to use sections of paperclip to anchor the lengths of chain to the body of the Ogre as well as to the Shrine itself.  Don’t get me wrong, in true ‘Trevor Hobby’ form it wasn’t until I’d already used a giant drill-bit to gouge a chunk out of the top of the Ogre’s hand in a failed attempt to secure the chain that I came to this epiphany, but epiphanise I did and very quickly the problem was overcome.  The results of my frenzied efforts over those initial 3 hours can be seen (undercoated) below.

My Chosen stuck to a Painting Stick

Thruug's Assembly finished

Now at this stage, the Warshrine was set to be undercoated and my Chosen were sitting on the edge of my computer desk, marvelling at their newly sculpted rear-ends – A fine effort on all accounts.  However the night was still young and there are a unit of Marauder Horsemen staring at me, demanding to be rebased so they can be undercoated.  Cue a 5 minute trip to the laundry to cram a week’s worth of washing into a single load before returning to the hobby desk to watch ‘Max Payne’ (bullet-time and psychotic drug-abusers for the win).  By the time the movie was done, I’d rebased and pinned the last of my Marauder Horsemen to their bases, ready for undercoating the next morning.  As can be seen below, I now have 10 Chaos Steeds ready for base-coating (all but one undercoated only, with the final one actually painted).  I cannot express enough just how useful a spray gun is for applying these base colours on models such as horses, Ogres and fully-armoured Chosen.  Using my Hobby Domination / Life Procrastination technique, I am confident that I can get everything I need to have done completed allowing me to devise a properly fiendish plan to win a painting award some time this year.

My WIP Marauder Horses

And plan I shall, for it has come to my attention that the Trickster’s Blade tournament has undergone a change recently, with a new Tournament Organiser stepping up to run the event on the day and a new Players Pack being released for public consumption.  The new format of this event possesses a number of significant changes to the original; however the two changes that most interest me are the changes to army composition and painting scores.  This player’s pack places a significant weighting on army composition, rewarding players a score of anything between 0-80 points; 0 points for a super-hard army a bee’s dick from being a resubmit to 80 points for a list so fluffy you’d be able to take it to bed and use it as a pillow.  For some players, it will be a struggle for them to score over the 30-40 mark, their desire to beat face overriding any desire to bring an army that is intentionally made softer than normally considered acceptable.  For others, especially players such as Beastmen, Brettonians and Ogres, scoring 80 points will be a walk in the park (especially for Ogres).   For me, taking a softer list is all about downgrading powerful units, and changing magical item selections to enhance the theme for my army.  Yes it could be argued that winning is indeed a theme, but if any player chooses that as the theme for his army, I have no doubt that Master Nathan (the new TO) will see to it that the list is scored so low, that it will struggle to win the event, even if it smashes face in every single one of its games.

The second major change to this tournament is that the paint scores will garner up to 20 points for the owning player as opposed to the 5 points awarded in the Tournament last year.  Understandably, this change is great for me as painting is a part of the hobby that appeals to me greatly.  On top of that, by awarding so many points for the basic standard of painting, players will be encouraged to bring fully-painted armies to the table which has undeniable benefits for the aesthetic of the game.  The best part of it all is that the requirements for a player to score the full 20 points are relatively easy to achieve so long as the army has been fully based and painted, it has a movement tray, and the army looks cohesive as a whole.  For everyone who has taken the time to fully paint an army, this will be an easy 20 points for them.  For those who bought a fully painted army, this is an automatic 20 points.  The only downside for those who has their armies painted for them is that they will not be able to compete for the Player’s Choice award.  Considering the majority of the armies that I know will be making an appearance at this Tournament have been professionally painted, this provides me with the perfect opportunity to make a play for this award. 

As always, to measure the amount of progress I’ve made towards getting my army prepared for this Tournament, here are my stats below:
Number of Days until Trickster’s Blade: 28
Number of Units Completed: 5
Number of Points painted this fortnight: 6 (Finished a Chaos Steed for a Marauder Horseman for an Epic Win).

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Goblins 1, Warriors 0

It’s been a week since the Trickster’s Blade Tournament has been announced and the Players Pack released to the eagerly awaiting masses.  Those who wish to participate in this Tournament can sign up on the Facebook event page that can be found here (insert URL here).  After reading the restrictions, I quickly wrote up an army list that I hoped could be used as a basis to bring death and destruction to all that I meet during those two days of gaming.  During the last gaming day, I put this army to the test and was quick to pick up two things –

  1. Goblin Armies are a very solid army that can grind like the best of them
  2.  I need to play more games of Warhammer
The first point is a bit of a given if you’ve faced an all-gobbo army before.  Cheap characters and even cheaper troops mean that you can field an army that usually outnumbers you at least 2 to 1; possibly 3 to 1 if you’re an elite army.  I shudder to think what the odds are when it comes to Ogre Armies.  As it was, my opponent Jamie fielded a mass of Goblins that looked as little like this:

2 Units of 40+ Night Goblin Spearmen
20 Goblin Archers
A sizeable unit of Squig Herders
6 Trolls
2 Bolt Throwers
1 Stone Thrower
1 Doom Diver
1 Mangler Squig
1 Giant
1 Orc Shaman
2 Goblin Lords
2 Goblin Shamans
1 Night Goblin BSB

The single Orc Shaman was a surprise, though definitely a sound tactical choice.  One can only imagine the series of unfortunate events that resulted in this Shaman being stuck leading such a horde of crazy and vicious Gobbo’s.  When deployed on a battlefield, this army looks quite imposing.  Large blocks of infantry supported by all manner of squiggly beasts and other horrors recently evicted from dank, dark caves, poked with sharp sticks in very tender places before being unleashed upon an unsuspecting opponent.  My army comprised of the following:

1 Chaos Lord
1 Chaos Sorcerer
1 Exalted Champion
1 Exalted Champion BSB
20 Chaos Warriors
36 Chaos Marauders
2 Units of 5 Warhounds
1 Unit of Knights
18 Chosen
1 Warshrine
Unit of 4 Ogres

When fielded against the Goblin army, my Chaos force looks a little under-fed. At the time, I was feeling a little cocky, confident that my elite infantry would make mince-meat out of the tiny greenskins.  I believe the words “They’re just Goblins, what are they going to do really?” echoed through my mind at one stage...

Turns out, Goblins are evil, evil bastards whose ability to punch each and every one of my men in the crotch with a rusty blade exceeds even my wildest expectations.  My Chosen were killed to a single man; my BSB fell after rubbing himself all over with Poison Ivy; my Marauders and Sorcerer played catch with a Giant who was using my Exalted Champion as the ball; my Hounds were annihilated by crazed Fanatics (Knights too); while my Ogres became squig chow.  The Warshrine, while doing very little when it came to blessing my units died in a very undignified manner after being run down by Goblin Infantry.  The most memorable part of the battle was when Jamie cast ‘Gork’ll Fix-It” on my Chosen unit just as my dice ran hot, ensuring that both my Chaos Lord and BSB killed about 3 Goblin Archers between them.  All in all it was a well-fought battle, with blows traded back and forth.  As a General, Jamie is highly skilled, out-manoeuvring my larger units before striking at my weaker elements with his hammer units.  For me it was a great learning experience, allowing me to learn some of the weaknesses of my list while giving me ideas on how to improve the list as a whole.  I’m thinking I’ll drop the spare Exalted Hero and take a couple of units of Marauder Horsemen to add a little more speed to my army, while also giving me something to throw at units like Mangler Squigs.

Thruug WIP Front

Thruug WIP Back

This fortnight’s hobby progress centred on getting my Warshrine up and operational so that I do not have to constantly substitute something for it during games.  Originally pushed into battle by a team of Marauders, I felt that Thruug deserved something a little more ergonomically sound (damn OH&S requirements) and have him being pulled into battle by a team of slaves.  Combine this increased horse (or is it man?)-power with a pseudo-sled contraption that will allow the Warshrine to traverse those hazardous mountain trails and cross snow-covered plains, getting Thruug to where he needs to be shouldn’t be much of a challenge.  Using plasticard, I’ve added more bulk to the shrine, making it look more likely to carry his weight.  If nothing else, Thruug  Over the top of that, I’ve layered 1mm Balsa wood to add a bit of detail to keep me interested when painting and some supports to make the body look more realistic.  With the wood work done, I’ve added some accessories from the Ogre and Giant kits to pimp his ride a little.  As a living shrine to the Gods of Chaos, it’s understandable that the more superstitious members of the tribe may ply him with gifts such as food, wine etc in exchange for his blessing.  With the body of the Shrine completed, it was now time to find something to drag him into battle. 

It seems having slaves is good for a wide range of reasons.  Rummaging through my bits box, I quickly discovered that due to the very little space I left on the front of the base, horses weren’t going to cut it (should have made his giant-sized butt hang off the edge of the base).  Instead, I’ve made do by tethering an Ogre slave to the front of the shrine; condemned to drag Thruug across the old world until he expires.  I’ve decided that the Ogre will be painted to resemble yet another captive taken from the lands of Ostermark in a bid to enhance the ‘captives’ theme I hope to have running throughout my army.  The idea was originally suggested by my mate Mark who has also graciously provided me with the Ogre that now resides at the head of Thruugs base.  How the Ogre is chained to the Shrine was ‘inspired by’ (or stolen from if you prefer) my mate Daniel’s Empire War Altar he recently built and painted.  Pictures of it as a WIP can be found here, and pictures of the finished product here.  As can be seen, he’s used flagellants incredibly well here, enhancing the fanatical nature of the Sigmar Cult while creating something that is utterly unique on the tabletop (at least until I’ve finished my Warshrine that is).  Once finished, the Warshrine will act as my first army centrepiece, giving my army something that catches the eye of on-lookers and draws them in during painting competitions.  As the centrepiece, I am hoping it will also unnerve my opponent enough to make it a priority target when it comes to shooting, allowing the rest of my army to close without taking too many casualties on the way in.  That’s the theory anyway, now it’s time for me to learn how to use my new army.  Like any general, one must learn how to correctly deploy the weapons they have at their disposal.  For it is only through constant practice and familiarity that one can master their use; executing attacks with deadly efficiency all the while slaying one’s foes with sublime grace.  Wow, that sounded incredibly smarmy didn’t it?

WIP Marauder Horseman

Thruug’s altar is not the only work I’ve been doing this fortnight however.  As well as working on completing my Warshrine, I’ve also been busily assembling Marauder Horsemen that will accompany my army.  Armed with flails and Javelins, these insane horsemen of the Northern Wastes will protect the flanks of my army, hopefully engaging other light cavalry units and war machines.  I’ve recently received cavalry bases to arrive from Back to Base-ix, that will allow me to base these fellows in the same was as the rest of my army.  While we’re on the topic, Back to Base-ix is a great Aussie company who has been supplying me with textured resin bases for the last 5 years or so.  They have an amazing selection of designs and base types to choose from and I heartily encourage you to check them out here.  Added to that, I’ve also received the bits I needed to build my unit of Chosen, which were en route from the USA.  After receiving the bits however, I quickly realised that I miscalculated, and as a result I’m about a rank short of a full unit.  Never mind though, using some of the unit fillers from my Warrior Unit that aren’t being used and adding in a couple of wolves, my Chosen are now at full strength , ready to cut down all that face them in the name of their dark gods.  All that is left for them is to dedicate some time to green-stuffing their butts so they look like they actually have hips that allow them to walk rather than just having legs that connect to their stomachs.

So with that, here are my stats for this week:

Number of Days until Trickster’s Blade: 31
Number of Units Completed: 5
Number of Points painted this fortnight: 0 (assembly doesn’t count unfortunately)

Catch you all later