Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Very Good Year

Welcome to the final posting of 2009 as we are now only about an hour or so from the new year. It's been a great year for me personally and I look forward to 2010 being even better still. I'm so happy and joyful in my life that I don't really know how things can improve, but I'm confident that the Tao will provide all that I could need or want in the coming year. Hopefully that will include lots of 40k madness and paint-splattering fun... but I'll wait until tomorrow before going into resolutions, plans, goals, and such. For now I just want to celebrate the year that was.

It was kinda frustrating for a while when I drifted away from painting for those several months, although I am thrilled to be back at it. I don't know for sure why I burned out yet again on the historical miniatures because I did enjoy painting my Hundred Years War army. Regardless, I am happy that I did not let my pride prevent me from returning to 40k, despite what must have been my third or fourth time swearing off Games Workshop, as it has been a lot of fun returning to the game that has sustained my interest for so many years. Considering the limited opportunities I get to actually play these games, it is certainly more rewarding to focus my hobby efforts on that which really inspires my imagination. I find history incredibly inspiring and is one of the true passions of my life, I've just never felt free enough with historical miniatures to let my imagination run wild the way it can with a fictional universe set 38,000 years in the future. With such wide open territory, it just feels like there's more room to make the hobby mine.

Even though it took a few tries, it feels good to have finally gotten into the actual painting of an army. I spent a lot of time assembling dudes for a number of different armies this year, ones which hopefully won't have too much longer to wait. Looking back I should have probably gotten painting them, any of them, months ago and not worried so much about building to a particular list. I am therefore thankful that my wife encouraged me to register for AdeptiCon as that really was the motivation I needed to get me going on my Dark Angels. The Dreadnought, by the way, is now fully assembled and primed. I even was able to get some painting done tonight and so that is now officially underway. Woo-hoo!

Okay, I think I'm boring the wife right now and had better be wrapping it up. Besides, I don't want to ring in the New Year with the sound of typing as I stare at my computer screen. Regardless of the quality of my year-end review, it's time to move on and prepare for what is still to come. All I'm really trying to say is that it's been a really great year for me, and I hope it has been for you as well. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Retrograde Redux

Mercury has gone retrograde again and already seems to be causing all sorts of havoc and chaos... obviously this planet has some strong connections to the Ruinous Powers! Yesterday was almost entirely lost to the ravages of this rogue planet as my family scrambled to deal with the ensuing tumult. Everything is basically okay now, although it does appear that Mercury has some lifestyle changes in mind for me. I don't want to go into any details and I apologize for holding back, but it just doesn't seem appropriate. However, concerning the actual reason for this blog, my hobby interests, it is possible that these changes could improve my painting abilities. If nothing else, this should mean more quality time to paint my plastic and metal, so in fact it may be that Retrograded Mercury has done me a big favor. If this is the worst that happens to me while Mercury completes this portion of its orbit, then I will be grateful just to not get a new hematoma cause that has sucked hard... so here's hoping 2010 is fall-free!

Meanwhile I have kept steadily working at my Dreadnought and was able to finish the interior a couple of days ago. I ended up being really impressed with the way things worked out, especially considering I basically just jammed a bunch of Greenstuff and chopped up bits into the space and hoped for the best. Despite only using the rounded end of a paintbrush as a sculpting tool, it nonetheless actually looks like there are intentionally modeled details like clusters of pipes and hosing. My favorite element though is probably the little tech-screen that I added late in the process to the top of magnetized blob of Greenstuff. Taken from the interior wall-panel of a Rhino, in its new place in the Dreadnought it looks to me like someone thought to install a GameBoy for the entombed Marine's enjoyment between battles.

The other feature I really like will be considerably less obvious once the Dreadnought's torso section is glued together. I cut off the same panel from the Rhino kit (actually I believe it was my Chaos Vindicator that had to sacrifice this bit) the stowed bolter and used it to fit over the exposed inner face of the Dreadnought's power plant. My idea with this was that, prior to being sealed within the sarcophagus, the new occupant's trusted Boltgun was placed in with him as a gesture of respect and honor. I think this reinforces the idea that a Space Marine's personal weapon is an item of reverence and an extension of his identity, as well as being a symbol of his devotion to the Emperor. I thought it would be cool for the Dreadnought pilot's bolter to stay with him in his new metal body even though he could no longer physically use it. Also I think it conveys some of that quasi-religious superstition about technology that so marks the background for Warhammer 40,000.

Painting the interior was a fun challenge and allowed for me to really experiment with some unusual effects. After working up the metal areas from a base coat of Tin Bitz, I then really went to town with the washes. Other than the expected washes of brown and black, I mainly used a purple wash and a green wash to achieve a subtly unusual tone to the technological stuff, like all of it had been inside this hybrid biological/mechanical environment for a long time. I also hit some select areas with a blue wash on the pipes and a red wash on the vox-caster thing sunk into what would have been the pilot's chest or abdomen. Finally I went over everything with a heavy layer of 'Ard Coat to make it all look shinny and wet, as if the interior were bathed in the fluids and whatnot needed to sustain the functioning of these ancient systems. Also from a practical standpoint I think the gloss varnish helps reflect light within the space to make things more visible once everything is glued together, which is nice considering the extra time and effort I'm putting into this guy.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Cheer

Merry Christmas, everyone! (I know I'm a bit late but I've been busy so cut me some slack, okay?) This was my first Christmas as a father and it was just so amazing and special. Best. Christmas. Ever... seriously. My little daughter is fantastic and brilliant, she took her first steps on Christmas morning right in front of the tree! Also my wife got for me the coolest gift I've ever received. She commissioned an artist to paint and oil-on-canvas original of my kitty cat Isabel sitting on the desk of C. Montgomery Burns, having a meeting with the man himself. I've never been so surprised, overwhelmed, and touched by a gift before. My wife's the best! As magical as Christmas was as a child, I can now appreciate it all over again from an entirely new perspective. It's like the magic is back, but better than ever!

I've been making some changes today to the website, in particular my links. I decided to delete outright the Manufacturers and Retailers list that I had maintained, primarily as it no longer served much use to me. I have since gotten comfortable enough with my new computer to start making use of the bookmark folders and simply transferred my preferred sites to one of them. I did add a few of them (GW, Forge World, WarStore) to the Wargaming Resources list for my own convenience. I think the list of links now better reflects the shift in focus I've made in going from historical miniatures to primarily 40k. I will also probably be making some other changes in the coming days, like removing some artwork poached off the net. I'm thinking about deleting point values from my army lists as well, though I'm not quite sure how I feel about that on 1st Amendment grounds. Whatever I end up doing, I hope to have all of it complete in time for the new year.

I'm close to finishing all of the Dreadnought's subassemblies and should be able to get the rest put together tonight. I've got a pretty clear idea of how I want to paint it and so I'm looking forward to getting into that phase quickly, perhaps as soon as tomorrow. The four arms are all magnetized but I think I should have used the larger diameter magnets to better support their weight. They hold them sufficiently well but not as strongly as I would have liked. I made spaces for the magnets using my largest pin-vice drill bit but it was just large enough for the smaller magnets. I don't believe it would be possible to find a larger bit and still use the same drill, so when I want to magnetize something in the future I may look into getting a Dremel or something. Otherwise I am satisfied with my first attempt at working with these little things, though it can be frustrating when they become glued together. Oh my!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Magnetic Fields

I started assembling the Dreadnought after finishing the Librarian and had been making slow progress the last two days cleaning mold lines off just a few pieces, not even enough to glue anything together. But tonight I got down to it in ernest, quickly completing the legs before promptly moving on to the torso. But that is where I have since ventured into potentially uncharted waters, a move that if nothing else will add some extra time to this project but will hopefully be amusing enough to make it worthwhile. I have decided to model the inside of the Dreadnought's sarcophagus! I've only ever seen once, maybe twice, a Nurgle Dreadnought modeled so that a zombie dude could be seen reaching out of the damaged sarcophagus. I wouldn't be surprised if what I am attempting has been done before, but I myself have never seen or heard of such a project.

This choice was made on the spur of the moment and was not planned out in advance so I had to make do with the materials I had immediately at hand. Whenever I've put together a Dreadnought's body, the interior space has always impressed me with just how large of a box it really is. This time around I got the idea of sealing inside a good luck token of some kind to help protect my little plastic machine of doom. Initially I considered taking a metal skull, cramming it on top of a column of Greenstuff, and then gluing it all inside and closing it up. It wasn't until I had mixed the two-part epoxy stuff, however, before I realized that I could magnetize the front plate of the sarcophagus so that it could still be opened up for a look inside. So with my Greenstuff already curing, I grabbed the closest bitz box and found an IG vox-caster and a Chaos Marine decoration that were summarily chopped up. I've had very limited experience working with Greenstuff and so I wasn't expecting to sculpt a beautifully detailed interior. Instead I just plopped the mound of green goo into the middle of the torso and started cramming in the plastic bitz. I then built up another mound of green into which I sunk a rare earth magnet, then glued another to the inside face of the front plate, and finally put them together to make sure they still fit. The fit was fine but I soon learned that I needed to leave them alone to finish curing. Each time I removed the front plate, the inner magnet would pull forward as well with its anchoring mound of Greenstuff... these neodymium magnets are strong!

Ideally I would have liked to make the inside of the Dreadnought look even more cramped and confining. I feel like there's still too much empty space when one peeks inside, but I think this might change once it's painted and the rest of the pieces have been glued into place. The next time I put together a Dreadnought, I would like to plan out how to do a more detailed interior and perhaps even sculpt it as separate pieces that could be painted before positioning them inside the body. Since I probably won't be doing another Dreadnought until I get around to working on the Stonecutters, and who knows when that will be, I should have no shortage of time to think it out. I know for sure I would have loved to have had some guitar strings on hand to create cabling running throughout the inside so they will certainly be included on the next one of these guys. Nothing screams "Grim Dark Future" quite like power cables made from guitar strings! Next time, next time....

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Closing In

I'm very close to finishing my Dark Angels Librarian and should probably be able to complete him today. Subtracting out the days missed due to the family holiday season, I estimate the painting time will end up being right around two weeks. I'm really pleased with how he's turning out and is certainly one of the best single miniatures that I've ever painted. Even though he's taken me a lot longer to paint than I had initially hoped, I believe the time has been well spent and that the results will show the care that I have taken with him. It's funny that when I decided to switch to the Dark Angels, one of the motivating reasons was that I thought I would be more likely to rush through them and get them painted quickly. Oh well, so much for that! After working on this one, I'm starting to worry a little about the AdeptiCon deadline which is still 97 days away.

I do not expect, however, to spend nearly as much time painting the rank and file of this army as I did on the Librarian, a dynamic and detail-laden character model. The amount of detail that was sculpted onto him made for a pretty daunting return to the so-called Heroic Scale of Games Workshop figures and I know that this will not be the case as I turn to the plastic elements of my army. Also for the first time ever I did much of my painting with the main figure only partly assembled, having left unglued his backpack and left arm so that I could paint them separately. I have not made up my mind as to whether or not I will do this for more of the guys, though I should have some time to consider it as I am not going directly on to more power-armoured folks. Instead, next up is going to be either a magnetized Dreadnought or a Scout Squad. Exciting times, no?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Legion Revisited

Since I've been focused so much on the Dark Angles, it's been bothering me that I hadn't been able to work out a 1000 point list using my Black Legion guys. It would be nice to have a good old fashion Loyalists v. Traitors bash up, and thankfully I finally came up with a list that I like. What's even better is that it makes use of almost entirely the models that I have already assembled. I will still need to put together a few more squads and vehicles but it shouldn't be too hard to find some nights to glue the rest. I don't have my codex handy right now so I'll have to check the point totals later, but with that being said I'm pretty sure I got them right. So here goes:

Chaos Sorcerer (140) Lash of Submission, Mark of Slaanesh, Terminator Armour

5 Chaos Terminators (210) Powerfist, Chainfist, 2 Combi-weapons, Reaper Autocannon

10 Chaos Marines (285) Icon of Khorne, Meltagun, Flamer, Aspiring Champion with Powerfist and plasma pistol, Chaos Rhino

5 Chaos Marines (125) Plasma gun, Chaos Rhino

3 Chaos Spawn (120)

5 Chaos Havocs (120) 3 Heavy Boters

Points Total: 1000
Kill Points: 8

Another option I would consider is splitting the squad of 10 Chaos Marines into two squads so as to increase the number of scoring units. I could see this being useful in games with objectives, although it would also provide an extra kill point available for the taking. This would however also water down the effects of the squad's Icon.... If nothing else it's an easy way to tinker with things as it doesn't effect point totals or what models are needed, so why not try it out, right?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fifteen Weeks To Go

Okay, we are now 105 days away from AdeptiCon. That's just fifteen weeks left to get my army painted and ready to go. Considering that the minimum amount of miniatures I want to take only totals 1000 points, that probably sounds like plenty of time and I'm sure many painters out there could get three or four times that amount ready in the time I have. But I've always been a slow painter even before having a family of my own so I actually feel like I'll need to really focus on this project if I hope to get it done in time. I'm still working on the Librarian and slowly making my way through the first highlight stage of painting his power armour. I'm trying out a different technique for this compared to when I've painted marines in the past. I'm am trying to follow the conventional method of highlighting only the hard edges of the plates rather than going for a more realistic but subtle approach. In the past my marines would look good when viewed from a very close distance, but on the tabletop it always would end up looking like just painted the armour in a flat color. Since I paint for gaming (in theory, at least), this is something I want to avoid, and thus the new technique.

I've only been able to paint though for about an hour since my in-laws arrival and therefore am not worried about this recent slowdown over the last few days... I'll get back to it soon, and with gusto! I'm going to try to organize my painting time so that I'm working as efficiently as I can. You can see below the army list that I have in mind. I haven't planned the order in which I am going to tackle the various units as I want to concentrate on painting rather than get caught up in assembly as is my usual method. So here it is:

Space Marine Librarian (100) Smite, Might of Ages

Dreadnought (125) Assault cannon, heavy flamer

Tactical Squad (185) 5 additional Space Marines, Plasma gun and plasma cannon

Tactical Squad (170) 5 additional Space Marines, Flamer and missile launcher

Scout Squad (100) Sniper rifles, missile launcher, camo cloaks

Space Marine Bike Squad (155) Power weapon, Attack Bike with Multi-melta

Predator (165) Twin-linked lascannons, lascannon sponsons

Points Total: 1000
Kill Points: 7

Monday, December 7, 2009

Librarian WIP

Since starting work on my Marine Librarian last Wednesday night, I have gotten in another three nights of painting with each session lasting several hours. I'm quite happy to be making progress and to finally be painting again, I am surprised again at how much detail is sculpted onto Games Workshop's metal characters. So far I'd say I'm about half done though I really have no idea how much longer it will take me to complete him. (By the way, the above photo was taken a few days ago and does not show some of the latest progress I've made.) I've got his face and the inner portions of his psychic hood totally done, and even painted the eyes. Fortunately they turned out well or I might have quit and gone back to historicals had I botched his face with some googly eyes, as seemed all too common in the old days.

At this point I also have at least a first coat of paint applied everywhere, plus I've inked the armour itself to give some shading. I think my next step will be highlighting the power armour although I am a little nervous about this stage. Power armour in the past has given me trouble as I would tend to make my highlight stages much too subtle so that the miniature, when viewed from a normal distance and height, ends up looking flat and uninteresting.

It's fun to be back into 40k, I'm enjoying myself immensely. I've started listening to 40k Radio and have even had a couple of chances to paint with it playing for an hour or so during the day while my daughter was napping. Considering that I also have AdeptiCon to look forward to only 109 days from now, it feels like I've entered into a new personal golden age of 40k. Of course before proclaiming this I should wait to see if I can get some armies painted and play some games for once, but where's the fun in being cautious? This is the internet, after all....

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Ideal Size

It had been some time since I had last looked at a table for wargaming prior to when I began working on my Realm of Battle gameboard two weeks ago. Once set up, I was surprised at how small it seemed. Now that I'm painting the pieces, my sense of the gameboard's scale has grown considerably. I am left however with the impression that my thinking about the ideal size for a game of 40k needs some adjustment to better suit the space I will have available.

In the past I have used mostly either 6' x 4' tables or 8' x 5' as well as the occasional smaller battle fought over a 4' square of bloody ground. It is pretty obvious with each new codex that the trend for army lists is to drop point costs for many units, allowing for larger armies for the same amount of points relative to their older cousins. I suspect that this might be why my new 6' x 4' gameboard didn't match up to my expectations after spending the last several months making army lists with the new books. That's the best explanation I've thought of so far, I don't know if it's right though. I just couldn't shake the feeling though that the board would feel too crowded with the armies I had in mind.

I've started to come around to the school of thought that favors 1500 point armies, though of course I really need to get some games in with the new edition before I can feel really confident about that. When I was last playing regularly it was usually with 1850 point armies and sometimes going up into the 2000 to 2500 point range. I'm starting to appreciate however the challenge of making the most out of smaller armies as it makes everything that much more valuable to one's overall performance. Although it can be fun to max out your Force Organization Chart, I think that this will be a rarer occurrence in the future as I think time and space will be a greater constraint for me than a limit of 3 Heavy Support choices. Considering how few games I've played in recent years, I hope that smaller armies could end up meaning more chances to actually play with them. Wouldn't that be nice?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Poised and Ready

Yesterday I finished undercoating the Realm of Battle gameboard, and it only took three cans of primer! But that gives me twenty four square feet of plastic ready for painting and that's pretty exciting. My problem now is that I don't know where I could paint them due to the size of the sections themselves. I think I've got a possible solution in the works, I just need to check on a few things before I can give it the green light. All things considered, I am happy to have this big albeit uncomplicated step out of the way. Also for the first time ever I have taken the extra precaution of washing all of the plastic in soapy watery to hopefully remove any remaining release-gunk from the manufacturing process. Although I haven't noticed any obvious benefit, the primer did adhere quite well and looks like I achieved an even coating.

Finally, I am one backpack away from having primed the first of my new Space Marines army. I'm going with Dark Angels and am going to really try to get into the painting as fast as I can. I have Dark Angels boxed army dating back to the release of their Codex several years ago and am going to be working mostly from what I got back then. I am however planning on using the normal Chapter Master rather than the limited edition one that came special with the boxed army as I would like to save it for sometime in the future. The one that is regularly available is cool enough and I reminds me of one of my old Dark Angels Captains that I painted close to two decades ago. That reminds me of another reason why doing a Dark Angels army has strong appeal to me. A long time ago, probably during the days of 2nd and early 3rd edition, I collected a mixed force of primarily Dark Angels with some Ultramarine allies. I therefore like the idea of returning to them after such a long absence... I might even be able to track down some of those ancient minis too! I don't know how well the paint job would look in comparison to the new ones, but it should at least still be intact; I remember that they had so much matte varnish on them that they looked wet. It wasn't intentional, but they certainly survived some rough encounters.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

AdeptiCon 2010

Some big news to share today... I'm going to AdeptiCon! I've never been but I've been reading about it and hearing about it for years now so I am really excited about going to the 2010 event. Making it even sweeter, I am going to be attending with one of my very best friends from my younger years with whom I have not been able to hang out in a long, long time. I am going to be so full into geek-mode, it's ridiculous. As my loving and supportive wife said, "I'm so happy for you, you're going to Dork Boot Camp!"

With AdeptiCon just 120 days from now, I have some serious preparing to do. Even though I won't be involved in any of the official tournaments, I want to be sure I can take advantage of any opportunities for pick-up games. I therefore want to have an army painted and ready to go so that I can take it with me to the convention, but I don't know quite what to bring. I will be flying to Chicago so I need to make sure it's a compact force which I can fit entirely within one Army Transport bag. Having thus eliminated any horde armies, that leaves me with either Marines, Chaos Marines, or Eldar from which to choose. I'm tempted to throw caution to the wind and go with Eldar as I assume power armour will already be very well represented. On the other hand, though, I have almost no experience using them and don't think I want to add the challenge of learning a new army as well. So that leaves me with some variant of the Space Marines, but which to choose?

Since I am already a ways into putting together my Black Legion Chaos Marines, it would make sense for me to push on with them and quickly get to painting. I now feel however like I don't want to rush them for this event and would instead prefer to take something else, especially as I still do not know how I plan on highlighting all of that black power armour. Turning therefore to the loyalist Marine chapters, I have come up with two options: my own Stonecutters, or the long-historied Dark Angels. Although it would be cool to premier my DIY chapter at AdeptiCon, again I don't want to rush them, especially as I hope to learn much in the hobby and painting seminars which I could afterwards apply to painting the Stonecutters. So that leads me to the First Legion, the Dark Angels.

This is how it always seems to happen. I start one project, but then I get excited about something else and switch gears. Even though this is something I have been trying to avoid, with little success so far, I think in this case it is a special occasion. I'm going to continue with my other terrain projects and what-not on the side, but until AdeptiCon my main focus will be on painting the Dark Angels. That's the plan, at least.

Oh yeah, and a Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Home Alone

I know it's been a while since the last time I mentioned my plans for the Realm of Battle gameboard that I own. Well I finally have started work on it! I've been home alone with the baby for a few days and am taking advantage of this time to tackle this project. Since I still have this weekend plus most of Monday until my wife gets back home, I feel like this is a nice chunk of time that needs to be utilized for something worthwhile. It's a big project but not one so extensive, like painting an army or lately even just a single unit, and I therefore think I should be able to get most of it done, if not all. I will post updates over the next few days to report my progress.

Today I opened for the first time the black bag that came with the Realm of Battle and was impressed with the strength of the pieces, as well as the nice details scattered across the surface. I rinsed each of the sections, then rubbed the paintable surfaces with dish soap. Finally I sprayed them with a hose to wash away the soap and have been waiting since then for them to finish drying. I still hope tonight to begin undercoating the pieces, although I anticipate having to do most of this step tomorrow. Hopefully the baby will cooperate and allow me a few brakes to do some spray painting.

As nice as the Realm of Battle is, I am disappointed with has the difficulty of using the clips that snap the six 2'x2' sections together. They seem fidgety and I don't like the idea of having to mash the sections down in order to get them to grab hold. Maybe there's a better way to get them together and I just need more practice. I hope so since I have had a change of mind and now plan on flocking the board and do not want to leave hand impressions on the grass. I've decided that it is unrealistic to think that I will someday have two boards, which would allow me to have one for 40k and one for Fantasy. On the other hand it is quite likely that I'll be using the one board for both game systems and so I therefore have decided to go with the basic Grassy Plains paint scheme. I feel pretty good about this compromise and have started to rethink how I will get the rest of my terrain pieces to match this particular environment. I need to make sure that the board still conveys the feeling of being an alien world in a sci-fi setting. I think a couple of Imperial Bastions or some ruined buildings will go a long way towards placing the board in the 41st millennium. Any other suggestions will be much appreciated, thanks!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

All Geeked Up

Woo-hoo! I have my new phone and my new laptop!!! They both arrived yesterday and it's been so much fun playing with them. I'm really impressed with my MacBook Air and I loved the fact that it was ready to run without almost any setup time. I am definitely feeling good about these purchases and am confident that I'll be happy with them for a long time. The only thing that surprised me with the computer is the lack of a disc drive, although I assume there is an external one available for purchase which would satisfy me completely. The phone works like a charm and I can tell it is going to change the way I do a lot of things. It amazes me what is possible these days, especially considering the first mobile phone I owned was one of those huge bag-phones that had to be plugged into your car's lighter.

On the hobby front, I anticipate taking a break for a few days as I know I will be spending a lot of time in the next week becoming familiar with these machines. Thanks for your patience!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I am greatly pleased to announce that my long ordeal is almost at an end! I am making the switch to Macs!! Today I am going to order a new MacBook Air so that I can integrate my technowhatnots with the Apple stuff that my wife already has up and running. My expectation is that not only will I be writing more, but that also it should make the updates themselves more interesting as it should be easier for me to add pictures again to the site. I have been hesitant to do much while using my wife's computer as I did not want to cause and clutter with dorky photos and sci-fi art, so that will be taken care of once I again have a functional computer of my own on which to work.

I've been buying IBM/PC products for the extent of my computing life and have always been let down and disappointed by them. Not once have I ever felt comfortable with them or thought that I was in control and knew what I was doing. They must not function on the same logic as me because everything seems counterintuitive. Oh well, I'm through with them and good riddance to their nonsense. I've always appreciated PCs for their merits with regards to gaming, but I haven't been into computer games for years. It will be nice to be able to work on projects without everything constantly crashing.

Finally I also will be purchasing a new iPhone to replace my annoying Samsung Glide to complete the change in my technological allegiance. I picked out the phone because I wanted the little keyboard for texting but have since become horribly dissatisfied with it. To top it off, it was even more expensive than the iPhone when I bought it last year. So I'm doing what I should have probably done a year ago, and as an added bonus this means I will get to tell Verizon to bugger off as well. Not only did they provide me with crappy service, they did so at approximately three times the rate which I'll be paying for AT&T to be my carrier. Adios jerks, and thanks for nothing!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Black Legion 2.0

I finished assembling the Chaos Havocs squad last night and managed to put together one of my objective markers as well. This brings my model count up to 20 pieces, plus an objective! I've now got two HQ units although one of which I no longer plan on using other than to practice painting this color scheme. A squad of 10 Chaos Marines makes up my Troops selection, and another 5 dudes from the Havocs squad who form a single Heavy Support unit. Finally I have 3 Chaos Spawn assembled that constitute a Fast Attack unit but who do not use up one of the available selections from the Force Selection Chart. I'm set to begin work tomorrow on the Chaos Vindicator, which I then plan to follow with the second squad of Chaos Marines.

As I mentioned before, I have revised the initial army list that I am building towards and so Black Legion version 2.0 can be seen below. Even though this list does not include my unit of Chaos Spawn, my plan is to switch them in every now and then to replace the unit of Havocs as they are worth the same amount of points. I would like to use them both in bigger games but I feel like I could do without that extra bit of randomness when I am first learning to boss around my new team. Here then is the 1500 point list:

Chaos Sorcerer: Lash of Submission, Mark of Slaanesh, Terminator Armour.

5 Chaos Terminators: Power fist, Chainfist, Combi-melta, Combi-flamer, Reaper autocannon.

10 Chaos Marines: Icon of Khorne, Meltagun, Flamer, Aspiring Champion with Power fist and Plasma pistol, Rhino transport.

10 Chaos Marines: Icon of Chaos Glory, 2 Plasma guns, Aspiring Champion with Power weapon, Plasma pistol and Meltabombs, Rhino transport.

10 Summoned Lesser Daemons

5 Chaos Bikers: Meltagun, Aspiring Champion with Power fist.

5 Chaos Havocs: 3 Heavy bolters.

Chaos Vindicator

Points Total = 1500
10 Kill Points

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cry Havoc

Sorry about the lack of updates, my computer's power-cord died on me and so my access to the computer has been limited a bit. But other than a trip to visit relatives last weekend I have had some time to keep working on the Chaos Marines. I decided to skip around with the order of construction and have been putting together a squad of five Chaos Havocs for a while. I've become stuck on their backpacks and still have four more to clean and prepare. I feel like I am ready now to finish them up and so should hopefully be done in a day or so.

Fortunately the time that I have spent dithering on this step has not been entirely wasted but instead has produced a new HQ unit, my Chaos Sorcerer wearing Terminator armour. I eventually planned on removing the Chaos Lord on foot from my army in favor of one with jump pack so that he doesn't have to take up a spot in another unit's transport. I am not ready however to address the conversion work necessary for him and so thought that my Sorcerer would be a simpler project to complete. I've reworked my 1500 point army list using him as the mandatory HQ unit, which conveniently frees up that spot in one of the Rhinos and thus allows me to use two full 10-man squads of Chaos Marines. It's been a long time since I used psykers in any of my armies (well, except for Nids but that's an entirely different beast) and I don't know if I've ever had one as my sole character model. This should therefore be an interesting experiment and has also spurred some cool plans for themed objectives as well, but I'll save that for another time.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My, My, My... Hematoma!

Good morning and happy Columbus Day to you! I saw my GP last Thursday who diagnosed my chief complaint as being a hematoma, and believe me brother it is huge on the hematoma scale. It looked like surgery was going to be called for but my surgeon thought it would be okay to wait and see if my body would eventually start to break it down. So I'm scheduled for another surgical consultation on Friday even though I'm right now supposed to be leaving town that day. Oh well, that can be worked out I'm sure. My butt is still really swollen and sore, at times getting quite painful, but fortunately I think the pain-killers that the surgeon prescribed for me seem to be helping a bit.

Meanwhile I have been assembling more of my Black Legion forces, having finally finished putting together my first Chaos Space Marine squad on Saturday. I spent the rest of the weekend working on my Chaos Spawn for a change of pace despite not planning on including them in any low point-total army lists. It was just that I didn't want to put together any vehicles yet and the Spawn kit looked like a lot of fun with which to play around. I did have a blast with the four Spawn that I could build out of my two Chaos Spawn boxes, although it was a bit tricky trying to make them look balanced as there are so many places to add random bits to your hideous mutants. In fact I realized too late that it is possible to get carried away and add too much to your Spawn. Of the four I assembled, I am really only happy and content with three of them as the fourth is just too busy for my tastes... too many arms, too many tentacles, too many spines.

Nonetheless I am very pleased with the other three which is just enough to satisfy my warband's needs. I had such a good time with these Spawn I now expect to eventually add at least another bunch of three, although for the time being I am satisfied with waiting as I certainly have enough other models that need my attention. I next plan on addressing my other Chaos Space Marine squad so that I have a game-legal force, followed by either the Havoc squad or the Chaos Vindicator to support them with some serious firepower. Even though the Chaos Rhino transports are really key to how I plan on using my Chaos Marine squads, I do not plan on assembling them until I know I am ready to paint them as I intend on painting their interiors as well. I've never bothered with the inside of Rhino's before so I see that as being a big step for me, and I'm still a little intimidated by it which is probably another reason why I'm delaying. So I've got a plan and I'm even making some progress. Woo-Hoo!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Pain Continues

The swelling from my fall has not gone down at all and has instead slowly increased, as has my discomfort. I haven't noticed any lessening of the pain either and think that it may be strengthening as well. So upon the advice of my wife and my chiropractor, I have reluctantly agreed to go see an MD about it. I am embarrassed and just don't want to accept the idea that I am that injured, although my current condition seems to be less a result of the injury itself but instead some defect in the healing process. Well, I have no idea really. When I fell, I hit really hard. Early on I said I did not think that I had broken anything, but I have never broken any bones before and so I have no point of reference. Therefore I cannot say for sure whether or not my tailbone feels broken. How am I to know? I may have gone to medical school but that isn't something they could have taught us. I don't want to have to see a doctor about this, but this has gone on long enough and caused enough discomfort that I am finally willing to do what I probably should have done a week ago.

I have not gotten a lot done on the hobby front, although that has as much to do with my injury as it does with my latest addiction, FarmVille. In three days I've harvested close to 700 crops and have rocketed up to Tenth level, and I'll be an Eleventh level farmer in the morning when I harvest my pumpkin patch. (And now my swollen and bruised ass isn't my most embarrassing admission in this post, distraction complete). I don't know how much the treatment for my injury will affect my daily routine so I cannot make any predictions as to what I will be able to get done with my Black Legion army. I am slowly assembling the second half of my first Chaos Space Marines squad and have them about half put together. So long as I don't have to go to the hospital I hope to have theses guys glued in a day or so, then I'll be ready to paint... 'bout time too, I'm eager to finally get back on the painting horse.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Grand Scheme of Things

Wow, I am so relieved that it is now October! The past month ended up being fine overall but there were most definitely times when it was putting me to the test. But we made it through and Mercury has moved on along its heliocentric wanderings. I am still suffering from having fallen down the wooden steps in front of my house but otherwise I think the worst is done and I am looking forward to a great month... I love the Fall.

With the start of October here I feel it would be helpful for me to lay out my plans with regards to my army projects for 40k. I know I've been talking a lot about Chaos recently but this does not mean that I have forgotten the other armies that I had mentioned since getting interesting in Warhammer again. This all started with me talking about how I wanted to put together an Ork Stompa and how I had a bunch of Imperial Guardsmen already assembled, but it now feels as though I've drifted widely since then. I've begun the process of founding my own Space Marine chapter as well as started the actual work on a new Chaos Space Marine army, which will in fact be my third such collection. I've even mentioned briefly that I had some interest in a Craftworld Eldar army themed as an Alaitoc force. So with all that in mind, what am I to do?

Well, I have decided to still collect and paint all five of those armies. For someone who has trouble making progress on even just a single project this may prove to be an overly ambitious undertaking. Nonetheless this is how I have chosen to direct my hobby efforts and I can only imagine how cool it will be to have my display cabinet filled with all those painted miniatures. My first goal is to get a small collection finished for each of these armies before I start to fill out any of them so that I can start playing low-point matches against my brother and friends. I will probably still give extra attention to the Chaos Marines so that I can begin playing games at my local gaming store. I think my Black Legion will be best for this as I already know for certain the colors that I'm going to use, as well as having sculpted shoulder pads which should make getting them table-ready even faster. Plus having two other complete chaos armies helps as I will be able to recruit extra units for service in my growing Black Legion warband.

Once I have finished with approximately 500 points for each of the five armies, I will then start adding to them in whatever order appeals to at the time. Ultimately my goal is to have these armies brought up to at least 1500, after which I can further pursue those that have proven themselves to be the most enjoyable to paint and use in games (or perhaps even those most in need of a really big Stompa). I've been tinkering with lots of army lists and now have a pretty strong idea of where I want to go with the different collections. I'm still sort of shaky with regards to the Eldar and have a fairly generic target goal for them, although that will probably result in leaving myself the most room to change their list as I go. Oh yeah, and I want to tie all of the armies together by putting together a completely new set of terrain using my Realm of Battles gameboard, all of the buildings I've been assembling, and the various other scenery kits that I have hanging around. Fun!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Whole Lot of Chaos

I've been playing around with more and more Chaos Space Marine army lists and, with my thoughts recently on the Ard Boyz tournament, I found myself earlier tonight putting together a 2500 point army list of my own. I am not trying to suggest, however, that I am designing this with the idea of being able to take on Darkwynn's champion army, nor do I even think it would be a particularly competitive list either... if I managed to win a single game I would be satisfied with having at least matched my performance at the Grand Tournament in 2004. I just thought I would share the 2500 point army list that I came up with based upon my current Chaos Marine collection with some future purchases included as well.

Chaos Space Marine Lord (155) Mark of Khorne, pair of lightning claws, meltabombs, jump pack.

Chaos Space Marine Sorcerer (140) Mark of Slaanesh, Lash of Submission, terminator armour.

5 Chaos Terminators (210) Power fist, chain fist, 2 combi weapons, Reaper autocannon.

5 Chaos Possessed (130)
Chaos Rhino (35)

10 Chaos Space Marines (250) Icon of Khorne, meltagun, flamer, Aspiring Champion with plasma pistol and power fist.
Chaos Rhino (35)

10 Chaos Space Marines (240) Icon of Chaos Glory, 2 plasma guns, Aspiring Champion with plasma pistol, power weapon and meltabombs.
Chaos Rhino (35)

10 Chaos Space Marines (225) Icon of Chaos Glory, flamer, heavy bolter, Aspiring Champion with plasma pistol, power weapon and meltabombs.
Chaos Rhino (50) Havoc launcher.

10 Summoned Lesser Daemons (130)

10 Summoned Lesser Daemons (130)

5 Chaos Bikers (215) Meltagun, Biker Champion with power fist.

2 Chaos Spawn (80)

Chaos Predator (165) Twin-linked lascannon, lascannon sponsons.

Chaos Vindicator (125)

Chaos Defiler (150)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bringing Back the Pack

The return of the Space Wolves is almost upon us, due to be released in only a matter of days now. From what I've seen they look to be an interesting army and I'm sure the new Codex will serve the Viking Pups quite well. I'm trying not to give in to the knee-jerk reflex of suspecting every new army of being dangerously over-powered compared to the other armies available. I'm therefore going to hold off on making any comments regarding their actual rules within the game until I have gotten a chance to read through the Codex myself. What I will say though, having seen the new miniature for Canis Wolfborn, is that the idea of Space Marines riding around on big wolves, even 'monstrous' ones, is a bit silly. Even if the wolf's spine were not crushed under the weight of the Marine's power armour, I just cannot imagine it being able to move about in such a way as to be at all useful in anything remotely approaching combat in the 41st millenium. Maybe just as a unique special character such a thing would not bother me so much, but apparently Space Wolves will be able to field complete units of these bizarre cavalry which to me pushes the limits of absurdity. Can you imagine what Games Workshop would come up with were they to do a full Codex for the Space Sharks?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ard Boyz 09

This year's North American Ard Boyz tournament concluded last weekend with a member of the Bell of Lost Souls community winning first place overall. It has therefore been a nice treat to be able to look over the player's champion army list which he graciously posted online. He is also in the process of writing battle reports for his games from the final round. I appreciate getting this insight into an area of 40k of which I am unaccustomed but still curious, espeically coming from the perspective of someone who is obviously very successful in competitive gaming.

Reviewing the army used by Darkwynn made it much more clear to me how far removed I am from the no-holds-barred atmosphere of tournament competition. Maybe it's just that I am not nearly as familiar with the new edition of Imperial Guard but I doubt I would have ever come up with a similar list. I would like to study it a bit more because I still don't have a firm image in my mind of what his army would look like both on the table and even just on display. The idea of keeping so much in reserve is a new concept for me although it does seem to be a lot more common in the latest version of 40k. I also don't understand some of the tactics described by Darkwynn, such as his usage of empty transports, but I've got enough to go on to test them out myself in hopes of figuring out how they work.

What really blows my mind though is the fact that none of the eventual Ard Boyz champion's final six games lasted more than an hour. What?!? Considering that each player was using 2500 point armies, this is to me a truly amazing feat of wargaming might. My hat's off to the man but I don't even know how much fun that could be for the victor were it not for the competitive context. Outside of my attendance at one Grand Tournament, virtually all of my games are played in a very friendly atmosphere and it has been common in the past for even small battles to take up the better part of an afternoon. One of my goals however is to get some more experience outside of my comfort zone. To this end I am grateful for places like BoLS where I can get some exposure to the more ruthless side of 40k and hopefully get a sense of what I could be in for should I happen to walk into a gaming store for some pick-up games. Right now though the thought of that strikes fear into me... ugh, game store kids! NOOOOOOO!!!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Old Ground

Once again working on Chaos Marines feels like a very familiar exercise to me and hopefully I think they will be a good way for me to get back into 40k. It's actually kind of funny for me to be doing the prep-work for a new Chaos army just as I had done at least eight or nine years ago... definitely it's an interesting way for me to compare the times and what has gone on in the interum. Besides any nostalgia I might feel for them, starting up with Chaos makes sense to me as I believe I am familiar with the army and how it should work (or at least previous editions of Chaos), plus I know for certain what paint scheme I am going to use. It's been really frustrating to still not be painting miniatures for the simple reason of not being able to make up my mind as to what colors to use. But with these Chaos Marines I know for certain that they will be done up in the colors of the Black Legion. Even though I've so far only assembled two Chaos Maines, the pair includes an Aspiring Champion with the metal Black Legion shoulder pad already glued into place so there is no going back on that decision. I am now committed, and I think it is a good thing if I ever hope to have a new army painted for 5th edition. Along with my assembled Chaos Lord I feel like I'm off to a good start. I plan on painting these units as I finish putting them together so hopefully it won't be too long before I can report on some actual painting progress too.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fluff for the Stonecutters

Fonsager, homeworld of the Stonecutters, was originally a civilized and well-populated Agri world until suffering a series of devastating failures with the planet's numerous nuclear power facilities. The surviving populations were consolidated into a pair of hive cities and put to work producing the weapons and equipment needed by their Space Marine overlords. Meanwhile the Stonecutters had been forced by this planetary catastrophe to move their Chapter fortress to Fonsager's moon, Hertagha. Due to the intensity of radiation still prevelant on Fonsager, mutation is sadly much more common than on most Imperial worlds and the Stonecutters are rarely able to locate suitable new recruits from the planet's population. The Stonecutters therefore select their Initiates from peoples throughout the Imperium, often testing and screening potential candidates from pacified warzones before moving on. Those who pass are sent back to the chapter fortress to begin the process of becoming a Space Marine and where they will eventually be inducted into the Tenth Company, thus becoming an Initiate Brethren of the Stonecutters. For the sake of convenience the Stonecutters also routinely search their neighboring systems for recruits as traveling through the warp from distant warzones is rarely a simple affair.

The tragedy that befell Fonsager occured just shortly after the founding of the Stonecutters and the establishment of the planet as their Homeworld. In recognition of the disastrous turn of events on their once beautiful world, the Stonecutters abandoned their original heraldic colors and switched to the dark reds seen worn by them today. In remembrance of their early history, it has become custom for those exceptionally rare Brother Marines drawn from Fonsager's native population to paint their power armour in the chapter's initial colors, but otherwise devoid of chapter insignia or squad markings. In accordance with an edict issued by the first Chief Librarian of the Stonecutters, no more than one such Marine may ever be assigned to each Company at any one time. As a practical matter, however, this has never been a problem due to the low percentage of recruits from Fonsager, typically occuring with a rate of less than one per one hundred Initiates that survive to become Battle Brothers of the Chapter. The Scouts of the Tenth Company are never given this honor regardless of their ancestry or parentage, as it believed that the Initiates must first prove themselves worthy of even wearing a suit of sacred power armour. Great things are expected of those Brother Marines who wear these ancient colors and the induction of such a Marine into one of the Battle Companies is a solemn and portentious occasion laden with much ritual, fasting, and meditation.

Since its successful conversion into an industrial hive world, Fonsager is still able to serve the Stonecutters with the output of its manufactorums and weapon forges. The harsh environment that covers the majority of the planet's surface also provides to the Chapter's recruits excellent conditions for survival training, as well as the opportunity to engage in some dangerous combat exercises. There still lives amongst the ruins of Fonsager's old cities significant populations of the heavily mutated descendants of those who were exposed to the worst effects of the nuclear calamity but somehow managed to survive. These unfortunate people were subsequently deemed to be too high risk to be brought into the newly formed hive cities, instead being simply left to live and die in the shattered remains of their previous existence. What has survived to the present day, and in some areas even flourished, is a horribly gruesome race of degenerate cannibals known as the Ghestrani against whom Stonecutter recruits are frequently tested. Were it not for their value as opponents for these young Marines, it is likely that they would have been exterminated entirely by agents of the Imperial Inquisition who remain understandably wary of allowing these abominations any space within the Emperor's realm.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mercurial Orbits

The planet Mercury has been in the retrograde portion of its orbit for a period of time now, I believe for the majority of this month in fact. This has of course been causing all sorts of astrological tumult and wreaking havoc upon the lives of us mortals here on Earth. I suppose in my own life there has been a certain degree of disharmony but overall I'm still hanging in there alright. But so as to not push our cosmic good fortunes, my wife and I are going to be laying low for the remainder of this portion of Mercury's celestial path. We plan on just working around the house and not signing onto anything significant.

I find it interesting that in this particular time of chaos I should of course become serious again about collecting Chaos Marines. Seems kind of appropriate, no? I've decided to go ahead and theme my Chaos force as a Black Legion warband operating on its own, far away from the Eye of Terror (and thus there will be no Abaddon in my army). As mentioned before, I am usually reluctant to choose an army with a lot of established background and fluff as I like to have as much space as possible in creating a setting for my games. But in this case the color scheme works for me as I fancy having a try at painting black power armour, and the history of the Traitor Legions allows for quite a bit of latitude in devising my own niche in their more than 10,000 year existence. I'm also keen to make use of the metal Black Legion shoulder pads on as many figures as I can and have tailored my lists somewhat with that in mind. I have now worked out a 1500 point list with which I am happy and will begin placing orders for the miniatures tomorrow. Finally I am also considering revising my initial 500 point list to be more mobile as I am leaning toward using a mostly mechanized force so as to represent a marauding Chaos Space Marine raiding party. What follows is my possible new starter list:

Chaos Space Marine Lord (125) Plasma pistol, power weapon, meltabombs.

9 Chaos Space Marines (200) Meltagun, Aspiring Champion with plasma pistol and power fist.

Chaos Rhino (35)

5 Chaos Space Marines (90) Plasma gun.

Chaos Rhino (50) Havoc launcher.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Chaos Rising

Gav Thorpe has been taking a lot of flak over the last couple of years regarding his work on the current edition of the Codex: Chaos Space Marines, to which he has responded in a posting on his own blog Mechanical Hamster. Chaos Marines were the first 40k army that I seriously collected and painted after graduating from college and they even accompanied me to my one Grand Tournament in 2004 as a DIY chapter of renegade Chaos Marines. I later collected a fully converted Death Guard army complete with all the Forgeworld goodness not too long before the latest Codex was released. Once I saw how much of my Death Guard stuff was invalidated, as well as all of the Daemonic elements of my Chaos Renegades and most of the organization of the squads too, I lost all of my enthusiasm for Chaos Marines and indeed for 40k in general. However, after reading about all of the criticisms heaped upon Mr. Thorpe and his attempted to respond, I have now decided to collect yet another Chaos Space Marines army. My goal is to collect a Chaos army specifically for the current Codex rather than trying to adapt one of my pre-existing armies to suit the new list. I could reuse many of the figures from my old Tournament army but I would rather start fresh, especially since people were always mistaking them for either Word Bearers or World Eaters. Plus I still plan on painting my loyalists Marines in red so I would prefer to not have my Chaos Marines with such a similar color selection.

I've worked out army lists going from 500 points up to 2000 points so as to help guide me in making useful purchases, although I need to check the warehouse to see just what Chaos stuff I have left over. After spending some time studying the Codex I quickly remembered why I initially did not like it so much as to abandon the game for a time with this book at least partially to blame. I was really excited about the plastic Chaos Terminators finally coming out but all the changes made to Chaos took me by surprise and that was it for the spikey ones. Now that I've come back to look at the Codex with the new attitude and a much more open mind, I still miss the old style of Chaos armies but I can appreciate the new style for its own merits. It seems that Chaos has been purged of much of its most characteristic features from the last few iterations and building an army list is now a rather simple matter. It's unfortunate that the HQ units have so few equipment options and I really miss the customization offered by the old Chaos Gifts which are completely gone. Otherwise I think it is a fairly strong army Codex, although having Possessed Marines determine their ability after deployment instead of before deployment is really annoying. I also now understand why players are frustrated with the psychic power Lash of Submission, but I still plan on using it in my 2000 point army. At least that is one thing that I can easily change to another power once it becomes too abusive to still be fun.

As soon as I can I'll check through my Chaos collection and bits to see what I have ready for assembly. I think I have all that I'll need for my first 500 points although I may be short one Rhino. Of course I also need to settle on how I plan on painting these guys but I certainly still have time to consider that. Right now I'm leaning toward Black Legion for the sake of simplicity, although I would be happy to go with another Renegade chapter if a better color scheme comes to mind. Here then is my inital 500 point list on which I plan on collecting:

Chaos Space Marine Lord (125) Plasma pistol, power weapon, meltabombs

9 Chaos Space Marines (200) Meltagun, Aspiring Champion with plasma pistol and power fist

Chaos Rhino (35)

5 Chaos Space Marines (140) Plasma gun, Aspiring Champion with plasma pistol, power weapon, and meltabombs

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Welcome Back NFL!

It's so great to be watching football again. I've enjoyed the last few weeks of preseason games and the return of college football, but I'm a fan especially of the NFL so tonight is particularly exciting for me. Football, woot woot!! I mainly cheer for Tampa and Buffalo but really I'm a fan of the league itself.

Even though I haven't done any writing for a while I have kept myself busy assembling more 40k ruins and buildings. I now have finished seven structures, one of which being approximately twice the size of the others whilst another still needing a couple of extra little pieces to be truly complete. I've learned that putting together intact buildings a considerably more challenging to do than the equivalent amount of ruins, and thus also requiring more time. I've spent a lot of time filing and shaving floor sections so as to make them fit properly, something which I have not had to do much with ruined buildings. Considering what's also been going on around the house this past week I am quite satisfied with what I've accomplished.

The game I had scheduled to play last weekend never occured, again due to unforeseen circumstances and the surprise visit of my brother-in-law. I don't know when we'll be able to get in a game but I'm going to keep preparing just in case such an opportunity comes along. Meanwhile I have finished reading through the 5th edition rules and feel like a have a good enough grasp of them to begin playing, although I would still prefer to wet my feet with some smaller point-level games. My general impresssion is that I like the new rules as I can see where they should help streamline the actual play of the game. If the new edition makes for a better experience and more enjoyable games, then I tip my cap to the designers and writers. Thank you!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Space Hulk

My copy of Games Workshop's sort-of-new Space Hulk arrived yesterday but I did not get around to looking at it until today. Wow, that box is heavy! It's really weird for me to buy the 20th anniversary version of a game when I still own the original and remember it quite well. What's particularly unusual is that both of these editions of the game apparently use essentially the same rules system and mechanics. So even though the components are all new, I don't think I am as excited as I would be for a totally new product, although I am certainly still quite jazzed about it... I in fact even pre-ordered two copies of the game!

The new miniatures for Space Hulk look amazing and are easily the best snap-together models I've ever seen. My complaint about them is that they're not really designed to be used in regular games of 40k and I would very much have appreciated that extra interchangability between systems. I know for sure there will be those who either just stick the minis onto normal 40k bases and not care about how well they fit, or alternatively at least do some conversion work to make them fit a little better. I assume that making the Termies and Stealers this way was done to protect the sales of the existing 40k models of those types, and this strikes me as another example of GW's sometimes seemingly uncaring regard toward their customers.

Hopefully sometime soon I'll actually get a chance to play Space Hulk and I'll be sure to report on it. But for now, keep watching the skies!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

More Urban Landscaping

I have finished four buildings for my new 40k terrain collection and the fifth, my largest so far, is probably about half done. These buildings are tricky though in that the smallest I've done to this point, the pump station, has taken me the most time due to the extra time needed to make the floor sections fit in place. I therefore really have no idea how long the current construction project will take me complete. My goal now is to have around 8 to 10 buildings, as well as some smaller scenic pieces and barricades, which should keep me busy for the next couple of weeks perhaps. I'm definitely learning some useful techniques for assembling these kits, although it feels to me like each building somehow manages to present new challanges, and unfortunately quite often it seems the only solution is lots and lots of tedious filing and scraping. Oh well, the buildings look really cool when finished and I'm overall having a lot of fun putting them together. I will eventually post up some pictures but it could be a while as these are busy times for me.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's On... Again!

My brother and I have rescheduled our first game of 5th edition 40k for next weekend, giving me just over a week to finish reading the rules, get the armies ready, and the terrain assembled. This seems much more realistic than the last time when I had only 36 hours to do the same. I'm going to throw myself into this as much as I can for the next week with the caveat of course being that I know I'll still be busy being a dad. I just need to maximize my usage of whatever spare moments I am able to get along the way.

As for the battle itself, I think we're going to stick with the same plan of 500 point armies, although I have a feeling that my brother is going to be using his Necrons instead of my Tyranids which is okay. I want him to eventually, and hopefully soon, begin using another army beside Necrons as they have not fared well in the transition from 4th to 5th edition. I'm sure they'll be viable again if Games Workshop ever gets around to doing another Codex for them but who knows how long that could take? I've always felt that Necrons were a bit boring and somewhat frustrating both to use and to play against as there just is not a lot of variety in the army list. Add to that the annoyance factor of Monoliths and self-repairing robots and we now have all the components needed for a game that just isn't a lot of fun.

Despite all that I've painted enough Necrons to field an almost fully painted army which is more than I can say for many of other collections. If I could force myself to finish off one squad of Necron Warriors and the Flayed Ones then I would be satisfied, although a few more Heavy Destroyers would be useful. Since I promised my brother years ago that I would paint an army for him, this is really a project to which I should return. They are fotunately at least quite easy to paint even though I still managed to ruin my last batch of Warriors with a basecoat spray malfunction. (I now suspect it was again due to trying to spray paint when the humidity was too high.) So while I'm at it another Necron Lord and at least another three Destroyers would certainly fill out his roster sheet nicely, not mention an additional three or four Warrior squads to get the army more suited to 5th editions emphasis on scoring units.... Sigh.

Monday, August 24, 2009

City Planner 40,000

My urban scenery collection for 40k has grown with another burst of assembly today. I started to put together the pump station but had to stop because I ran out of wall sections, lacking two particular panels that I need to complete the main structure. I placed another order for some more kits and thought I would not do anymore until my purchases arrived. I couldn't resist though and started tinkering with the remaining panels that I had left over from my initial Manufactorum boxes. I realized I still had enough to assemble a ruined building using the left over door, the remaining window sections and the six end pieces. So other than the one door it is entirely window panels or else damaged ones. It is therefore easy for me to imagine that it was designed to take advantage of either a lot of natural light or else significant ventilation. I should be able to finish putting it together tomorrow and the pump station soon after the shipment arrives so I will quickly have the core of an industrial center built and ready for use. Now as for when I will get around to painting them is an entirely different matter.

Friday, August 21, 2009

WIP - Sector 7G

The photo above is a WIP shot of my first Cities of Death terrain piece which I have named Sector 7G. Since taking these photos I have finished the assembly stage and ended up using almost exactly one kit's worth of pieces, although I did take wall sections from both Manufactorum boxes. I've also drawn up plans for a very simple pump station, a blasted chapel and some administration buildings, all of which I will mount on bases identical to the one I used for Sector 7G. I would also like to do a couple of larger buildings on bases twice that size but I think I am going to stick to the smaller stuff for a bit. I still had a few problems with 7G and so I would like to try to work them out on simpler structures before moving on to more complex ones. I am really looking forward to incorporating water effects into my terrain pieces so that too might require a few baby steps as well for which I think the pump station should help.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Building A Building

I spent a few hours tonight working with two boxes of the Cities of Death Manufactorum kit and have probably 90% of my first building assembled. I don't know why but I've always found scenery and terrain projects to be particularly enjoyable even though they can be quite intimidating for me at times. When these 40k scenery kits were first released I tried putting one together but had a lot of difficulty getting it to assemble the way I wanted, and didn't bother with them again until now. One valuable thing I learned with that first go-round is that a single box is insufficient for anything except rather small ruins or a single corner of a larger ruined building. So for my second attempt at the Manufactorum I assumed I would need at least two boxes. I'm putting together a single-storey, mostly intact structure as I've decided I want a mixture of blown-up ruins as well as some with only minimal damage.

I'll post a work-in-progress shot soon but for now I have got to go pack up the bus again. Tomorrow is my first anniversary as a married man and we're heading out of town to celebrate. With the coastal South Carolina summer in full effect, it's going to be nice to feel some cool mountain air... adios!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Peace for Now

The game scheduled for last night between my brother and I has been delayed for probably a week or so. We've been cleaning so much around the house that I did not have time to get much done preparing for the game and certainly did not finish reading the rules or writing any scenarios. My brother was exhausted from his work week and decided it would be too late of a night for him as well since we were not planning on starting until shortly after 9pm. Oh well, we'll get in a game eventually, although I'm sure I've said the same thing many times over the past few years. I have confidence this time though and will be sure to post updates as warranted.

I'm glad that we didn't rush into a game without anything ready and with both of us fumbling with the rules. I normally would never take such an approach but my brother tends to be more daring than me in these situations. Also I do try to avoid using unpainted miniatures in even friendly matches with family so I can for now hold off from fielding my Imperial Guard army. I really need to get the gameboard painted so that I can then paint the scenery to match, afterwhich I will feel much more comfortable moving forward with the new armies. I've got my priorities set and am watching the local weather conditions for any opportunities for low-humidity undercoating. Hmmm... considering this is coastal South Carolina marshland and it's Summer, this waiting could become problematic.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Friday Night Fight

It's on! My brother and I are going to play a game of 40k this Friday night which will be the first game for both of us in probably two years or more. Neither of us has read the 5th edition rules but I want us to try them which means I have some reading to do in the next day and a half. I figure we would be rusty with 4th edition rules so why not give it a try as I'd be having to review rules with my brother either way. I haven't gotten any painting done (big surprise...sigh) so we'll be pushing a lot of grey plastic across a grey plastic Realm of Battle gameboard. I'm planning on having us play 500 point armies featuring Imperial Guard vs. Tyranids, but if I have extra time I'd like to write a scenario for 500 points of IG against a 1000 point Nid army just to have more painted minis and plenty of carnage. My brother suggested we use thousand point armies each but I don't know if I could manage that with the minis to which I have easy access. Should be fun!!

I have 36 hours to get everything ready in addition to learning the new rules set... no problem.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Stonecutters Guild

I still am no closer to figuring out what paint scheme to use for my Imperial Guard army, but I have had a break-through on a different front. I've played Space Marines for as long as I've played 40k, which dates back to the Rogue Trader era. Early on I primarily focused on the well known First Founding chapters, painting and gaming with Ultramarines, Dark Angels, and Space Wolves, in additiona to many squads from various other random chapters. For the last ten or so years I haven't done anything significant with Marines other than paint up the occasional figure to test a color scheme.

As I could no longer settle on any one of the established chapters, I've been interested in doing a Space Marine army from a DIY chapter. But with so many options this has lead to my previous hobby paralysis, although I did paint a full Chaos Space Marine army with a DIY background that even made it to an actual GW-run Grand Tournament. (My tournament record of 1 win and 5 losses was not so impressive but it was good motivation for getting an army project completed.) But now I know what Marine chapter I was born to create... the Stonecutters! I've still got lots of blanks to fill in about their background, but it's a start! For those of you not familiar with the Stonecutters, they are a secret society and fraternal order featured in The Simpsons episode "Homer the Great," from season 6. I'm a die-hard fan of The Simpsons and I've been watching the show religiously since about halfway through its first season. Doing a Simpsons-themed Marine army will be a fun way for me to pay tribute to my all-time favorite television show and take my hobby to whole new levels of dorkitude.

Name: Stonecutters

Founding Chapter: Silver Skulls

Founding: Twenty Sixth, 738.M41

Chapter Master: Number One, Patricius

Homeworld: Fonsager (Springfield in Latin, sort of...)

Fortress-Monastery: Primary base located on Fonsager's moon, Hertagha.

Main Colors: Burgundy armour, yellow chapter badge and unit markings, yellow trim on the pauldrons, steel -colored chest eagle, turquoise or emerald helmet-lenses.

Specialty: Drunken assaults and Belligerent defense

Battle Cry: "We Do!" (usually in song form, like this, "Who shoots Ork Boyz in the face? Who kills off the Eldar race? We do! We DO!!")

Estimated Strength: 10 Companies with approximately 1000 Battle Brothers and Initiates

Thursday, August 6, 2009


The last few days haven't been very productive on the hobby front though I have gotten a lot done around the house. In the meantime I have also learned that I am subluxated and have been for probably the last twenty years, at least according to my chiropractor. My wife is a long standing advocate of chiropractics which in the past I never took seriously. But after a year and a half she finally succeeded in getting me to see one and I am now a patient committed to a year's worth of care. So although I still haven't done any painting in close to two months, I now have a new excuse... my spine is misaligned! Oh yeah, I'm also getting new glasses in less than two weeks which I think could make an immediate impact so maybe things will start to turn around. We're making real progress on the house too so I'm feeling positive about the general direction of things and I believe I'll get the hobby side worked out soon.

As for the Jopall 99th I have decided to put together the minis needed for an initial 500 point army while I try to sort out my concerns about their paint scheme. I'm having second thoughts on using the standard Jopall colors. The use of white is really starting to bother me but I'm liking the regiment's background more and more. I feel like if I abandon having white plates then there's really nothing much left that ties them to the orthox costume and that they would be essentially Jopallian in name only. It makes sense to me that a regiment wouldn't be defined by the colors of its uniform but it often feels that way to me with the less well defined IG regiments. By comparison it was just in the previous codex that featured almost a full page of alternate uniforms worn by just the Cadian 8th, so I suspect there may be more latitude with my army from Jopall than I am currently feeling. I'm still going to paint a test figure just to see if I like it but regardless I am not as set on a scheme than I had last believed. Meanwhile the little bit of hobby time I have had has been spent putting together more guardsmen, including a plasma gunner and two standard troopers to replace a pair of old ones with poses for which I no longer care.

[Maybe more to come on this, but I probably don't have much else to write. Sorry]

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

A Realm of My Own

This past Christmas I was given by a very generous relative a Citadel Realm of Battle Gameboard. In the past for my playing area I've used all manner of surfaces and materials, but I have never been satisfied with the results and in particular with the compromises I felt forced to make in order to have something portable enough that it wouldn't completely consume my living or storage space. Hence my tables have always looked flat and plain. For years I looked with envy at the beautifully sculpted gaming tables featured in White Dwarf magazine, hoping for the day when I could have one like that as well. I am therefore very happy and grateful that GW has produced its own plastic modular gameboard as the Realm of Battle is both light weight and doesn't take up that much space, while still looking really good and being a functional gaming surface. The cost is no doubt prohibitive to many but for the value I think it is well worth its price. Considering how many gamers are able to collect multiple armies I do not think the current price is truly the outrage that has been portrayed in many online forums.

Now that I have my board I really want to start using it soon. But how do I want to paint it? Most of the gameboards I've used in the past have been fairly standard looking green-grass type of plains or steppes. Although it offers the convenience of being suitable for games of both Warhammer Fantasy and 40k, I'm a little tired of this style and am thus interested in trying out something of a different nature. Although using flock is great for blending the transition between the gameboard and any additional terrain pieces, it would also add a lot of extra time and work to the project as well, not to mention the added hassle cleaning up. I'm pretty sure then that it's time to leave behind the grassy farmlands for some new territory.

Thinking of it as being specifically for 40k opens up a myriad of options for the paint scheme, in fact a whole universe of options. A claustrophobic urban warzone or the spoiled Ash Wastes would be very thematic for 40k, or perhaps a blasted lunar surface or a menacing jungle Death World would offer a compelling environment for games. With each of these, as well as most of the others that I considered, I either didn’t like the color scheme or else it seemed like they would require more terrain than I want to put together or terrain that would be beyond my modeling skills. So with much consideration I am now leaning strongly towards painting my Realm of Battle as a Desert World.

It is for me very evocative backdrop with its wind swept hills and valleys, ghostly remains of human settlements, hazardous mining operations, and bizarre alien artifacts emerging from the sands. This obviously has a lot of appeal for me as it offers a strong setting for many types of science fiction narratives and would complement the look of many of the 40k armies in which I am interested. Getting this board painted would be fairly straight forward as I would mainly use a variety of browns and drybrushing, and thus I expect to be able to complete it fairly quickly. It would also look good with a wide variety of terrain pieces although I think GW's modular and game hills do not look good on it. But for 40k I think the hill sections sculpted onto the board itself should suffice as additional tall terrain is easily added with ruined buildings and the new Imperial Bastion kit. Possibly most important though is that I don’t think I’ll need too many more areas of terrain before I can start playing. I already have a number of Fantasy terrain pieces that I think can be made to fit into a futuristic setting and so I might start with just an extra couple of ruined buildings to better fix the setting.

And that’s how yet another project begins.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Regimental Founding

I have reviewed my Imperial Guard collection and have decided on the first 1000 points on which I will begin working. What follows then is my initial army list for the Jopall 99th Indentured Squadron. (Yeah, I still don't know if I'm settled on "Squadron" or "Foot" or even "Rifles"... I'll get it figured out soon enough. I have decided however against using "Pioneers.")

Company Command Squad (125) Power weapon, Medi-pack, Regimental standard, Vox-caster, Plasma gun
Chimera Armoured Transport (55)

Ministorum Priest (60) Eviscerator

Guardsman Marbo (65)

Platoon Command Squad (60) Power fist, Vox-caster, Meltagun
Infantry Squad (60) Vox-caster, Grenade launcher
Infantry Squad (60) Vox-caster, Grenade launcher
Heavy Weapons Squad (75) Heavy bolters

Platoon Commad Squad (65) Power weapon, Plasma pistol, Vox-caster, Meltagun
Infantry Squad (60) Vox-caster, Flamer
Infantry Squad (60) Vox-caster, Flamer
Heavy Weapons Squad (60) Mortars

Armoured Sentinel (70) Lascannon

Basilisk (125)

The Jopall Indentured Squadrons are supposed to be defensive specialists and excellent marksmen so I've started thinking about how I want to represent these traits. My IG starter army list however seems to me fairly standard but I expect to be able to characterize it more when I begin expanding it towards a greater points total. I know for sure though that I want to include snipers and mortar teams, as well as being almost entirely composed of footsloggers. It's too bad there's no longer a way to represent sharpshooters as there was in the previous edition of the Imperial Guard codex.

Although I envision it as being a mostly infantry army, I would never have gotten interested in the Imperial Guard were I not also a lifelong treadhead. I must have some tanks! I tend to think of artillery as being primarily defensive weapons, but the Basilisk actually seems more useful in aggresive attacking armies with its ability to hide in cover and hit any part of the board regardless of where your assault is happening. In fact a Leman Russ Battle Tank or Demolisher would be more suitable to the role of supporting a shooting-type of defensive Guard army as it can get closer to the action with their thicker armour and shorter ranged weapons. There would be points enough to include a standard Leman Russ with sponsons if I were to drop the Basilisk and Sentinel, but I have decided against that as it would leave me without any Fast Attack units. As I get things painted I'll be able to start testing them out with the new rules and should have a better idea as to where to go with my army. I have often in the past fallen into the trap of trying to plan to far ahead so I want to be cautious lest I get too far ahead of myself with this project. I already have everything I will need for the 1000 point army listed above and with more than 600 points cleaned and assembled. I should therefore be set for quite a while at least.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Jopall 99th Indentured Foot

Finally, after so many years of looking at my unpainted Guardsmen, the motivation that I had been waiting for has arrived. For the first time since the second version of the Imperial Guard codex came out I have a clear idea as to which IG regiment I want my guys to represent. A random comment from a WarSeer forum thread about the Jouran Dragoons directed me to Lexicanum's list of regiments, all of which have at a minimun been mentioned or named in offical GW background material. I was really just hoping for some inspiration with regards to an interesting color scheme and so just started clicking on the entries in hopes of seeing some sample uniforms. Few of them feature an example of their regiment's appearance, but in the process of searching through the data base I came across the Jopall Indentured Squadrons, for which there was even an illustration of their uniform!

After reading through the little bit of info available about them, I soon realized that the men of Jopall would be just right for my Guard army. Although I'm not crazy about the camouflage pattern, I do like the basic colors and they look simple enough to make doing a full army realistic. What really sealed it for me though is their characterful background. They have a great potential for narrative and they have a much more humanistic feeling than what I'm used to finding in the insane universe of the 41st millenium. Also considering my interest in our current political situation, I think it would be kind of funny and ironic to work on an army taken from a population of people born into a lifetime of debt to the government.

Here then is the little background I've thought up since last night. As I don't particularly like the "Squadrons" part of the regiment's name, I'm probably going to drop it in favor of something else. I'm considering designating them as Pioneers or Rifles, but I think they'll most likely end up as the Jopall 99th Indentured Foot. When the Imperium demanded its most recent tithe of soldiers for the Departmento Munitorum's use, Jopall consolidated the PDF regiments of the 432nd, 433rd, and 434th Jopall Indentured Squadrons into the Jopall 99th Indentured Foot. Although Jopall regiments are typically armed with older pattern equipment, I have decided to award these Agri World farmboys with the honor of carrying into battle all new weapons and armour. This also conveniently spares me from having to track down OOP miniatures and I can instead use the ones that I've already purchased and assembled.

Having sorted out who my Guardsmen shall be and with the rudimentary elements of their background in place, it's now time for me to paint up a test figure. I still don't know how I'm going to approach painting the army's tanks but that can wait for a bit. If I'm satisfied with the test figure I will be ready to commence work on the first batch of infantry, approximately 500 points worth. It's not much but it does include the Company Command Squad and the first 35-man platoon with an attached heavy weapons team.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hive Fleet Hydra

Since it looks like I'm getting back to 40k for the time being, I thought it would be appropriate to introduce you to the last army that I had been using with 4th edition rules a couple of years ago. Please say hello to Hive Fleet Hydra, a 2000 point Tyranids army. Since these are the guys any future armies will most likely be tested against, I thought it might be useful for me to post their army list.

Hive Tyrant (176) Acid Maw, Adrenal Glands (I, WS), Flesh Hooks, Toxin Sacs, Winged, 2 sets of Scything Talons

Hive Tyrant (139) Adrenal glands (WS), Bio-plasma, Enhanced Senses, Toxin Sacs, Toxic Miasma, 2 Twin-linked Devourers

3 Tyranid Warriors (99) Enhanced Senses, Toxin Sacs, 3 Devourers, 3 Rending Claws

Lictor (80)

6 Genestealers (96)

6 Genestealers (96)

12 Termagants (108) Fleshborers, Without Number!

12 Termagants (108) Fleshborers, Without Number!

16 Hormagaunts (192) Toxin Sacs

16 Hormagaunts (192) Toxin Sacs

3 Tyranid Warriors (141) Enhanced Senses, Toxin Sacs, Winged, 3 Devourers, 3 Rending Claws

2 Raveners (80) Scything Talons & Rending Claws

2 Raveners (76) 2 sets of Scything Talons

2 Zoanthropes (110) Warp Blast

Carnifex (162) Adrenal Glands (WS), Enhanced Senses, Regenerate, Spine Banks, Tail Weapon - Scythe, 2 Twin-linked Devourers

Carnifex (145) Adrenal Glands (WS), Enhanced Senses, Tail Weapon - Mace, Scything Talons, Venom Cannon

The army totals to exactly 2000 points, although if conditions allow I also like to give the genestealers the Scuttlers upgrade (18 points per unit) and Flesh Hooks (4 points) to the Hive Tyrant with the Devourers. Of course one of the really nice things about using the Nids is the amount of customization possible so when extra points are available there's always numerous useful options. With an opponent who is fairly open minded to the WYSIWYG rule, I find it a lot of fun to try out different bio-morph combinations as often as I can. Having said that, if I just need a 2000 point list to take on all comers, then the one above is what I'd use.

As I have noted before with playing games of 40k in general, I feel as if I really didn't get that many chances to field this army in a competitive environment using the previous set of rules. I am thankful though that the current version of Codex: Tyranids is compatible with the updated core rules as I am now really curious as to how well Hive Fleet Hydra will fare in 5th Edition. I've got a sense that the game's new reliance on true line-of-sight shooting could significantly change the way the army performs, though I have no idea whether it will be a net benefit or loss for this particular army list. For a Tyranid army it has a decent amount of shooting but almost all of it short to medium ranged, and with only a single Venom Cannon able to reach targets more than 18 inches away. Therefore I suspect it should be possible to use the new LOS rules to more effectively hide my units behind cover without having to lose too much of my own firepower in the return. Only in battle, however, will this become clear.