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.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Grey Guardsmen

Over the past week I've been having a lot of trouble with my satellite internet connection which kept me from posting. It would seem however that things are working again thanks to my wife and some sharp scissors, and so back I am! I apologize for the absence as I really don't recall much of what I had planned to write. No doubt it would have been great stuff though, I'm sure.

I have had yet another change of heart and have decided to wait a bit on the Orks and instead shift my attention to the Imperial Guard. Previously I identified one of the main causes of my lack of painting as being the amount of time I spend on prep-work so that I end up burning out on a project before ever getting to the fun part. It occured to me that focusing on Orks would mean starting entirely over again and thus further delay any actual painting. Meanwhile I have the core of a Cadian army fully cleaned and assembled that has been gathering dust for at least the last five years that I'm sure would be quite happy to finally get some color put on them. Since realizing this I have begun looking through the new IG Codex as well as even cracking open my unread 5th edition WH40k Rulebook. So now I am looking forward to putting together a Baneblade or Shadow Sword so that, whenever I do get around to my Orks, there will be something big for the Stompa to fight.

There is a new problem however as I really don't know how I want to paint my IG Company. This is in fact really an old problem as this is why I never got around to painting any of my Guardsmen. I did paint a couple of test figures but could not find a scheme that excited or motivated me. Thus without a compelling color scheme I simply stopped assembling soldiers and went on to something else. Well it's time for me to finally make up my mind and get painting because even the wrong scheme will be better than plain grey plastic and shinny metal. Even as I write that I know I don't believe it... I really do need a plan about which I can be enthusiastic.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Forty Years of Squat

Today is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing and the first time humanity has ever set foot on ground not of this Earth. Hmmm, considering that much of the moon's actual mass is probably of terrestrial origin this isn't entirely true but you know what I mean. From 1969 to 1972 the Apollo program made six total trips to the Moon. I was born in 1977 and so for my entire experience of life it has been a fact that humans can travel in space and visit other celestial bodies. Thinking about that even today blows my mind... I appreciate the accomplishment and am not jaded with regards to the challenges involved in sustaining life in such a hostile environment. But as a fan of NASA and space exploration in general it truly pains me to see the embarrassing state of the current American space program.

I grew up with the space shuttle and have seen essentially no progress from them for the full extent of my lifespan. The Hubble telescope was cool but it's going to be gone soon, and meanwhile the International Space Station continues to suck up huge amounts of the Agency's resources to achieve what? Just a science lab floating around in space! It's such a lame goal that it is completely understandable to me why people don't care anymore. The public is not interested in NASA, though I think there is still a general interest in space exploration.

So what went wrong? My belief is that NASA became just like every other Federal agency. During the early years of the American space race the agencies responsible, primarily the USAF and then later NASA, were home to not just big-thinking scientists and engineers but also daredevils and adventurers as well. The very spirit of exploration is that of adventure and the embracing of risk. But over time NASA became another enclave of career-minded bureaucrats and politicized scientists. Rather than aiming to achieve something great, it seems that NASA at least as far back as the Challenger explosion has simply sought to justify its own budget. Risk aversion and the desire to not screw up have killed that sense of adventure and Americans know it.

There is no reason why we have not already landed on Mars than a simple unwillingness to do it. The technology to do so exists but the people in charge see to it that instead we plan out thirty years of remote exploration by means of satellites and robots, after which maybe they'll be willing to begin taking steps towards landing humans on our planetary neighbor. Everything gets simulated and tested to ad nauseum with the goal of exposing the people involved to the least chance of coming to harm, both to the physical body as well as their careers. But that just seems to me to be so anathema to the spirit of exploration that it becomes small-minded and petty. To make the space program, all the President would have to do is come out and say that America will have colonists living on the moon by 2020, and NASA will make it happen. And if they won't do it, I will.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Fate of Luca Brasi

Curse you Games Workshop!! Ahhh! I feel like that dude in The Godfather, "Just when I think I'm out, they keep pulling me back in!" My goal was to sell most of my GW stuff but just like so many times before I find myself being drawn back once again. Damn. It was thinking about that blasted Stompa and reading up on the new 40k expansion, Planetstrike, that got my imagination drifting back to it. Also my brother has suggested a couple of times recently that we get a game of 40k together, something in the past I would have never snubbed. I therefore now have another GW mail-order shipment on the way and I haven't yet even posted one thing onto eBay.

I do still plan on selling pretty much everything I had mentioned before, I just haven't had the time to get the lots organized and pictures taken. In the meantime I have been dusting off my 40k codecies and looking through stacks of old issues of White Dwarf for the 40k articles that I had largely ignored. Qutie a few months ago I had finally said, "Enough! No more 40k ever!" I don't know how many times I've done this before, but this time I thought I really meant it. Maybe it will help being able to go back and forth between historical and Warhammer project so as to protect against getting burned out with either one. I'm not suggesting that I am burned out with my HYW: English, I just have some serious cleaning that I need to do before I can get back to painting. I am however thinking about having some Orks and Marines going at the same time... we'll see. At a very minimum I would like to paint the starter armies from Assault on Black Reach and then go from there. If I can eliminate much of the stuff I've been hanging onto for years and years, then I don't expect that I would mind so much having a few extra painting projects to compete for my attention so long as they are all one's that will be eventually be painted.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Warehouse Firesale

For quite a while now I've been expecting to sell off as much of my accumulated gaming stuff as possible. I've been hoarding wargaming supplies and miniatures for as long as I've been a gamer so I've therefore amassed a sizable collection of hobby items over the last couple of decades. Every time that I have moved I have tried to cull my pile at least a little bit but never to any significant degree, although the last time I did manage to throw out a decent amount. I am happy though to now have a source of hopefully easily liquidated assests as my wife and I are working to relaunch my business after a year and a half of poor investments.

Even though I have sworn off Games Workshop in the recent past, I am not entirely prepared to sell every GW product that I own. I'm pretty confident though that I will be able to find plenty to stock my future eBay store. As for unpainted minis, I plan on keeping my Orks and Imperial Guard collections should I ever get the WH40K bug again (I actually suspect 40k Orks could be a likely project at some point... I absolutely love the plastic Stompa kit!). With regards to Warhammer Fantasy, however, I am not so certain. I think I am going to sell off everything except my Wood Elves and Orcs & Goblins collections. We'll see though, I still am pretty sentimental about my Dwarfs even though I am not too crazy about either their miniatures or their rules in the game, both of which I find kind of boring. If I were however to keep all five of those armies, that would end up being a fairly large mass of unpainted plastic and metal. Hmmm, what to do? Regardless, there is a lot that I know I can sell without hesitation that I should be kept busy enough without having to worry about Dwarfs and Elves for some time.

Let's see what I can think of without having to peek in the warehouse to assist my memory:

40K Eldar 2000+ points
40K Tyrandis 2000+ points
40K Marines 1000ish points
40K Chaos Marines 1000ish points
40K Plague Marines 1000ish points
WFB Empire 2000+ points
WFB Chaos 2000+ points
WFB Skaven 1000ish points

That makes for at least 12,000 points of unassembled and unpainted miniatures, and most of them would still be considered New-In-The-Box as well. I have no idea how much I'll be able to get for all of this... it sucks to be having to do this in the midst of the economic recession. I'm also not sure if I should sell things in big lots or if I am better off trying to sell individual box-sets. I've also got many individual and loose figures that I could sell, including quite a few that are considered rare. Those I am more reluctant to sell as they really do not occupy that much space. There's a lot I can sell before I get around to those oldies.

I'm looking forward to being free of all this clutter. My hobby has been too encumbering for too long. It will be liberating to be rid of those things that I will never get around to painting. I don't need it and I tired of having to cart it all around with me. Libertas!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Road Pains

We're home, and after only fifteen hours in the car too! Yaaayy! We didn't leave yesterday until 3:30pm and promptly had to turn around to pick up the baby-monitor and a few other things we forgot. So at approximately 4:00pm we were once again underway, this time with the VW-bus fully loaded. I got probably four or so hours of sleep while my wife drove for the first eleven hours (thank you Starbucks!!) and then it was my turn as driver for the last four hours. We got home just before 7:00am and right on time for the baby to wake up after getting what seemed to be a full night's sleep. I therefore transfered from driver-duty straight to baby-duty and am currently enjoying the effects of sleep depravity and body aches from being in the car for so long. Fortunately because we were able to keep her on her normal schedule I am at the moment getting this chance to write because the little one is taking her mid-morning nap. Considering my state of mind, maybe I'll watch some crappy sci-fi movies. An episode of MST3K sounds like just the thing for me right now.

It feels so very good to be home! And at some point I will get to sleep in bed as well... sweet!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Going Home

It's been fun, but of course all good things must come to an end. After almost two weeks away from home, it is finally time to get the family bus loaded up. Per our usual efforts at preparing, we left everything to be done on this the morning of our departure. I let my wife get some extra sleep and in the meanwhile I've got the baby feed and spitting-up and ready for the day. I think all of my stuff is packed but that's only a small fraction of the entire amount with which we have to contend. There's still so much more though that it may not be until this afternoon when we are actually ready to get on the road. All I know is that I miss my bed and my cats and yes, I miss my painting too. I want to be home.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Loved In China

Until last night our vacation was going well despite the lack of getting any additional sleep than what I would normally expect. I did however get piss-drunk last night with my brother-in-law while playing Army of Two (great game!!) and as a result I am currently residing in marital purgatory... I feel pretty awful about it and am also more hung-over than I have been in more than a year. As much fun as I had, it's just not worth it.

As a special bonus to what I am feeling I have also been watching CNN's coverage of the Michael Jackson memorial. This hagiography of MJ is really making me sick. There must be something terribly perverse about our culture to so elevate a person such as he. I hope that this is another case of the media existing within it's own bubble but I suspect that there is in fact a significant portion of the world's population which has been genuinely moved by this death of a pop-musician celebrity. It seems to me pathetic. Perhaps I would be more sympathetic if I were not already feeling so bad but as things are now, I really could care less. Unlike many of my peers I never was a fan of Michael Jackson and have instead always seen him as little more than a sad and at times disgusting person. On a human level I feel sorry for him and understand that he was probably in a lot of pain. I believe the primary thing that bothers me is this ridiculous treatment of him. I wouldn't mind if the coverage were at least honest but this attempted apotheosis of the self-styled King of Pop is making me want to puke... well, maybe it's the booze, but still, enough already.

Americans do not have royalty of our own, so we therefore make celebrities our kings. How unfortunate is that? So be it... Requiescat in pace, Michael.