Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Photo Woes, Et Cetera

My internet is messing with me and I'm having a lot of trouble uploading pictures right now. I don't really know what's going on or how to fix the situation, it just seems like I can't get anything more added. I still haven't figured out if I can do a gallery section on this blog so I was just going to do a separate entry for each finished miniature. Since that does not appear to be a viable solution, I am going to rethink this and hopefully come up with something else. For now though the only photo I could get to load is the one above which is pretty similar to one I posted quite some time ago. You can see in this new shot, however, that I went a little heavy on the varnish and therefore he's now a little bit shiny. Oh well... live and learn.

We've had a lot of wet weather in my area of the country and I haven't done any painting in about a week now. I'm pretty disappointed about that but I had nothing primed so what could I do? After finishing the Scout squad last week we had several days of rain and so I moved on to assembling my Circle Orboros Warpack. Fortunately my experience with them went much smoother than those Scouts, which surprises me because I've gotten used to plastics being so easy to work with compared to metal. I think I may have even been unconsciously avoiding larger metal kits because of all the hassle they've caused me in the past. I'm pretty sure the last big metal kits I worked on were the Ork Dreadnought and Killer Kans which were nearly impossible for me to assemble. I feel better having learned that those particular miniatures were notorious ill fitting and difficult to work with... apparently I'm not the only one to have experienced genuine pain trying to get them to hold together. I'm happy those guys in particular are finally getting released as plastic kits because the metal versions probably did more than anything else to drive me away from the hobby for two years.

With all that still seeming fresh in my mind, my introduction to Hordes miniatures was really a joy as I was expecting it to be so much more difficult than it proved to be. There were a couple of tricky things to contend with but overall nothing that made me get frustrated or mad. I even made my first successful attempt at pinning heavy components! The spine things jutting out of the Warpwolf's shoulders didn't fit perfectly and were a bit fiddly, and there were also some minor gaps that needed filling with greenstuff. All things considered though I am very happy with these miniatures, they are beautifully sculpted and look fantastic. I really want to get painting them right away but am conflicted because of all those Dark Angels that need to be painted as well. So what should I do? Do I listen to my head and turn my attentions to those Scouts, or should I go with my heart and start painting my monsters for Hordes?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Jumping In

One of my resolutions this year is to learn to play at least one new game, which will be either Warmachine, Hordes, or Flames of War. I've been checking around the internet a little bit over the last few days to get a sense of what I might be interested in concerning these games and how I should go about deciding which to pursue. After trips to two not-so FLGS, I purchased today the Open Fire! intro box-set for Flames of War as well as a Hordes Circle of Orboros Warpack box. I'm excited to begin playing around with them even though this is probably not such a great time considering how much I have to paint over the next two months, but oh well. It's all for fun. Here are my initial thoughts about the three contenders:

Warmachine: Cool miniatures but I'm intimidated by the bulk of the metal kits. I purchased both a Cryx box-set and one for Cygnar when the game first came out but never really went any further with the game even though I thought it had a lot of potential. It looked fun, I just didn't have time for it. New rules and the beginning of plastic releases makes me think this game has a bright future. I plan on buying the new rulebook but will probably wait to see how their plastic range develops before I go too far with this game for now. I'm confident I will eventually want to give the game a full hearted effort. Right now I would go for either Khador or Mercenaries.

Hordes: The monsters and beasties for this game are some of my favorite miniatures currently in production. They just look like they would be a lot of fun to paint, though I'm a little confused about how the game plays. Fortunately a new rulebook is being prepared and should be released in the near future. I'm really excited about this opportunity to get into a game when it's fresh out of the gate. Until the new rules come out I plan on painting whatever dudes catch my fancy and have decided to start with Orboros. After the starter box I'm probably going to do some more guys from that faction as well as some Skorne figures... I love those monsters with the huge tusks! I also think a number of the Minions range for this game look fantastic, especially the Gatorman Posse and the two special Gatorman dudes. No matter what, I want to paint them.

Flames of War: I was very enthusiastic about this game when it first launched. I remember as a kid when I was first getting into historical wargaming wishing that there was a good system for representing the 20th century. With Flames of War it seemed like my dreams had come true... I loved everything about it. I mean, it's historical wargaming with awesome 15mm tanks! I had the start of two armies for fighting out Rommel vs Monty in North Africa, as well as a pretty good stack of books. But I quickly realized that it was way more complicated than DBA and I therefore had little chance of being able to get anyone to play the game with me. I was frustrated and set it aside. The last time I moved, however, I thought I would never have time for this game and threw out everything. It seems like there is now strong support for this game, even in my area. And I love the new Vietnam era figures that are now being released, so I think this might be a good time for me to revisit FoW. I do not however want to repeat my previous attempt and dive in completely. For starters I really have no idea what time period or army I would want to collect, there are just so many interesting possibilities. Thus I feel that I should be content with the Open Fire! box to familiarize myself with the game before I go any further. I am right now however very tempted to get a bunch of Nam dudes and helicopters just for the sheer thrill of painting them. That's something I've wanted to do for a long, long time.

So that's where I am with regards to my first steps into trying out some new games to play. Along with adding variety to my wargaming diet I also appreciate that this increases the diversity of miniatures to paint. And who knows, maybe it will even inspire me to go back and get more done on some old, neglected projects like my DBA armies. I believe good things will come of this.

PS - Farewell, Conan. I look forward to seeing wherever it is you go next. NBC, you can suck it!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dances With Aliens

I don't know where my camera is so I've decided to post a final WIP of the Dreadnought taken with my mobile phone. All I did after taking this photo was to add a little more grass along the right side of the base and then touch up a couple of areas of highlighting. Finally I varnished and then glossed the lenses. And in the meanwhile I'm going to continue my search for my wayward camera. I apologize for falling behind on the visuals lately, it should pick up soon.

Tonight I finished assembling the Space Marine Scouts and I gotta say it, I am not impressed with this kit. I had already passed on using Scouts with bolters/heavy bolter because I think those minis are some of the worst in that range. The dudes with sniper rifles looked marginally better to me so I worked out my list to include them instead and I was looking forward to having them in the army as I really like the background for scouts. Plus I've always had a soft spot for them since their first plastics were released as part of the game Advanced Space Crusade... man, that takes me back... can hardly believe that was twenty years ago. Wow. Alright, now I'm getting nostalgic. Sorry.

Okay, back to the sniper Scouts. I don't like 'em. I had a surprising amount of trouble getting them put together, and while I'm no expert I'm also by no means an inexperienced modeler. I'm really not satisfied with how the heads fit on any expect the sergeant, as well as having numerous problems with the missile launcher guy. Once I had all of the torsos glued to the legs, I realized that the legs for the one with the squad's heavy weapon had cords across his holster that would only make sense if he were armed instead with a sniper rifle. Oh well, serves me right for trying to follow GW's lousy instruction sheet. I ended up gluing a grenade and pouch at the end of the cords to hopefully disguise somewhat the incongruence. I'm actually now considering going back to the squad of Scouts with bolters because at least then I get the fun of using a unit more like those over which I was just getting all nostalgic and weepy. On the other hand, the ones with sniper rifles are assembled and ready to be primed, so I should probably just push on and make the best of it. AdeptiCon is just 64 days away!

I know I'm pretty to late to game on this last thing, but I did really enjoy Avatar despite many of concerns about it being strongly confirmed. I thought as a sci-fi movie it was great and I was blown away by the visuals and the whole experience of the IMAX 3D presentation. I doubt I've ever been so engrossed and drawn into a movie before, and of course I loved all of the amazingly cool military hardware... that stuff was sweet. What drove me nuts though was that the obvious plot was more ham-fisted and sermonizing than even I expected. I can understand why people are freaking out about it because it is a good movie, but I would have preferred a more subtle approach to the themes and less cliched characters. My ideal would have been just a straight up action sci-fi like Aliens, but I'll take Dances with Aliens if it means getting to see some utterly insane 3D battles.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Great Devourer

Today I found curled up in my mailbox my copy of Codex: Tyranids so I'm assuming that it got delivered on Tuesday, but I just didn't think to check in the regular mail... kinda thought it would be sent via FedEx or UPS to avoid this very thing. Instead it went by the regular USPS which goes a long way in my mind to explaining the delays in shipping. This has taught me an important lesson about GW's mail order service, which is to never order from them unless it's going to require them to ship in your items in a box. I'm optimistic that the book will flatten out with time, it's just an annoyance after all. Now begins the fun part of absorbing the new information and rules, then a whole new cycle number crunching and list building... yeah! Hooray for math!! Hooray for lists!!

I'm excited to see what type of army of I can put together and just maybe get in a few trial games with my brother. I never bought into the whole 'Nidzilla style of play that was so popular with the last edition, and even though I've heard that horde swarms are viable with the new Codex, I'm not convinced that my bugs are going to be that much better. I appreciate them lowering the points value of the little bugs, but it looks like everything else became more costly to take so I don't know really how much different Hive Fleet Hydra will function on the table. Nonetheless I'm looking forward to the process of learning how the army works now. So far the only thing that's jumped out at me as affecting the organization of my army is the change of Ravener broods increasing to a minimum size of three. My army has four Raveners groups into two groups of two each, but combining them is not possible within the restriction of WYSIWYG as the two broods are armed differently. I may just lump 'em together and count them all as being armed identically, it just won't sit well with me. Also some of the bio-morphs on other broods may cause some trouble too but those should be easier to either make use of or to simply ignore. We'll see... I'll probably start posting lists soon, as well as my thoughts on how the army has changed.

Yesterday I varnished the Dreadnought, successfully avoiding any final mishaps such as excessive shininess, and got the optics glossed and sparkling. Finished! Even though he took basically a month to do, I am still really happy with him and had lots of fun from beginning to end. I feel like I really pushed myself on this one to try new techniques and get the most out of my painting and modeling abilities. Still no camera though so I'll have to wait before I can show it off. I still think I can improve on the extreme highlighting but regardless of that I am quite pleased with my Brother Abraxos and expect great and heroic deeds from him. I'm now thinking about ordering some resin arms from ForgeWorld so as to take full advantage of having things magnetized. It's also been recommended to me that I look into getting a second Dreadnought, especially one equipped with a Multi-melta, so that I can run them in pairs. It makes sense to me as single Dreadnoughts have never seemed to perform particularly well for me, either getting immobilized or else having their arms blown off fairly early into the game. Oh, and also putting them in Drop Pods too... at this pace though all of that is going to have to wait until I get some higher priority units painted up. Time for some Troops!

Last night I got started on the Scouts squad and made more progress on them tonight so that all they need now are heads and whatever little bits I decide to add. I ran into a problem last night trying to figure out which legs needed to go with the various torsos, but I think I have come up with a solution that shouldn't be too labor intensive. Were I not going to see Avatar tomorrow during the day I would probably be able to start painting them tomorrow night. I expect therefore to complete their assembly and be ready to prime them on Friday so that I can begin painting them this weekend. Although I'd probably rather keep working on my minis than go see a movie, this is the first chance my wife and I have had to go out in many long months. She's really excited about Avatar, having heard all sorts of things about how spiritual it is or whatever, but I am not so thrilled which is weird considering how much of a geek I am for sci-fi and animation. I just don't want another sermonizing morality piece, especially one that is almost three hours long. Sorry but I just don't see James Cameron as much of an authority on these matters. Aliens is one of my favorite movies so maybe I'll be surprised, I'm just suspicious of all the hype.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Cold Vacuum of Space

First off tonight I would like to announce the auspicious launching of my new blog, The Cold Vacuum of Space. I decided yesterday that I wanted a separate place for me to post material specifically related to Warhammer 40k, though I still plan on maintaining this blog just as faithfully as I have in the past however many months. I'm interested in trying to get some feedback and whatnot, as well as the potential to help contribute in my own way to the larger gaming community. I know that I could do more with diceRolla to get that type of interaction with other online nerds but right now I kind of like having a low profile. Nothing really should change around here... if anything I foresee this hopefully improving the quality and content of this journal. I plan on simply taking the more interesting and polished 40k material that I post here and transferring it to TCVoS, perhaps with some alteration or editing but I doubt much. And of course if anything cool comes about thanks to the new site, I will filter it all back here as appropriate.

The other big news is that I finally finished painting the Dreadnought! Woo-Hoo!! I just finished gluing static grass onto the base about 20 minutes ago and that was the last step. It feels really good to be done and I am very happy with how everything has turned out. If the weather cooperates tomorrow then I will get him sealed, I'll gloss the lenses, and that will be that. Nice! Still no camera though but I'll get pictures posted as soon as I can. I feel like I learned so much during the whole process of working on Brother Abraxos and at times it really challenged my skills. Even though on somethings I don't think I really got the hang of technique until I had almost finished that step, for the most part I believe I was able to get the effect for which I was aiming. All things considered, I am quite satisfied. Yeah! I don't know what is next for the Dark Angels but I do know that I will be savoring this one. So that's it for now, bye!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lost In The Warp

My copy of Codex: Tyranids did not arrive today so I'm a bit disappointed right now. I've never been let down before by the Advance Order service offered by Games Workshop which is why I was so sure that my book would be delivered on the day of its release. In fact I have become accustomed to actually getting things a day or so before the official release date. I am optimistic therefore that this is just some fluke and not indicative of how they will operate in the future. It seems like I wasn't the only one to not receive my order on the promised date, therefore perhaps there was some sort of systemic failure that screwed up their shipping. On the GW website it says my order was dispatched but I have a feeling it's been listed that way for at least a week now. It looks like I just need to exercise some patience and everything will be okay. Even though I know I would have enjoyed playing around with the new book and reading through the updated fluff, ultimately I think I am grateful to have gotten another night of painting done instead. I feel like there's so much painting to be done that any extra time that I spend with brush in hand is a small victory for me.

On the subject of painting, I'm now very close to finishing the Dreadnought whom I have decided to name Abraxos. I hope to have pictures of the completed model soon, assuming of course that I find the camera which I appear to have lost again. (Hmm, maybe it got sucked into the Warp along with my Codex: Nids.) Tonight I am particularly happy with the lenses that I painted, attempting for the first time to represent the effects of light reflecting off of the optics. I think they turned out well and will look really nice when I add some gloss varnish to make them shine. I'm confident that I will have wrapped up the painting by this time tomorrow night. Other than going a little crazy from painting green lines I have thoroughly enjoyed working on Brother Abraxos, Dreadnought of the Dark Angels Sixth Company. I think it's going to be a lot of fun seeing him purge the heretics... flame on!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ten Weeks Out

AdeptiCon is now seventy days away, giving me ten weeks left to get my Dark Angels painted and packed. That deadline is creeping closer all the time and I have a considerable amount of boxes and sprues untouched. I really want to have them ready to go with me, but as a backup I did unpack my old generic Chaos Marines from around '04. Since they already fit into my army case everything would be taken care of and totally simplified. I'm having fun painting my Dark Angels and I don't want to rush, so my Plan B really will only be as a last resort. It will be fun to spend some time working out lists for what I have using the more current Codex: Chaos Space Marines. I anticipate getting extra painting time in the coming weeks so perhaps I'll be able to pull this off anyways.

I do also have my Tyranids that I could use, though I would prefer not to as I'm sure there will be plenty of bugs running around in the coming weeks and months. Why? The new Codex: Tyranids is released tomorrow! I've had my copy ordered for a couple weeks now so I am excited to see how Hive Fleet Hydra fares with the 5th edition book. Even though I have been reading a lot of internet chatter about the new book, I made sure to take all of it in with a bit of skepticism until I see it myself. Regardless of the changes that are inevitably coming, it really won't affect my current plans for my Tyranid army. I do not want to buy any new Tyranid models for as long as possible... ehh, with the possible exception of a Trygon. That thing may be just too amazing to pass up. Otherwise, no new Nids! Just like in the fluff, my bugs will have to adapt. This should be easier to do since I'm scaling down my army builds from 2000+ to the 1000 to 1500 point range. Also I don't want to worry about trying to figure out how to cram all of them into foam... Tetris was never really my thing.

After yet another week of diligent painting I am still not done with the Dreadnought. Turns out I significantly underestimated how long it would take to highlight the myriad hard edges on this model. Early on I started to panic a little over this extreme highlighting style that is still new to me, as well as questioning whether or not I even had the right colors picked out. I decided that I just needed to keep going with it and I'm pretty happy now that I did, although there were times when painting all those little green lines did become tedious. I still have the final layer of highlighting to do tomorrow so I am hopeful that it will all come together nicely. I've made a lot of progress on all of the non-green details, even including a freehand company badge. Not too shabby, I'd say. Once all of the painting is done I will be sure to get some pictures posted. Plus I'm happy to report that I varnished the Librarian today with Matte Sealer so he is now completely finished! And he's not too shiny either... hurrah!!! Pictures of him will be coming soon as well.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Forever Entombed

So much for being done by the weekend, right? I'm still painting away on this Dreadnought, now hoping to maybe be done tomorrow night. Like the Librarian before, it won't be totally finished until we get some warmer weather so that I can spray on the sealer... of course this would turn out to be one of the coldest winters on record! I wasn't able to get any painting done on Thursday because the whole night was taken up by paying bills, but otherwise I'm happy with my progress even if it is not the pace I had anticipated. I've now gone back several more times to repaint details and some elements of the arm pieces, this after saying earlier that I had a good idea of how I was going to paint this dude. I think I've finally got everything settled though as I now have at least a first coat of paint applied, including all of the details and bits. Hopefully it should just be a matter now of highlighting where appropriate and then letting go! I'm feeling good about this and how it is coming together... see you soon!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dreadnought WIP

I've gotten a few more nights of painting complete and I feel like I've been making good progress on the Dreadnought. The arms have slowed me a bit as I've gone back a couple of times to repaint some areas which I couldn't decide whether I wanted them colored metallic or else green. I think I've got it mostly figured out now, although I will feel more comfortable once I look again at the example Dreadnoughts pictured in Codex: Dark Angels. I started using my set of the new Games Workshop paint brushes and have been really happy with them. I don't know what it is about these brushes but it feels like the paint goes on smoother than their previous generation of brushes. Also I appreciate their increased weight and the grippy texture as it feels like I have more control when using them. I'm hoping to have the painting finished by Friday so that I can get the next unit assembled over the weekend, either Scouts or Tactical marines.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Future Is Now

Hello, 2010! That's right, we are no longer living in the present but have officially moved into the future tense. Even though we still don't have the anticipated space colonies, jet packs, and whatever other cool futuristic things we all dreamed of as kids, we do have plastic toy soldiers to have fun with until our flying cars arrive. I might not be able to visit another planet, but I can invade one with horrible alien monsters, with the help of my minis and some imagination of course, and that's not bad!

Like probably every other blogger on Earth, I've been kicking around ideas for some New Year's Resolutions to share should anyone have interest. The main reason I've decided to do this, however, is so that I can check back on myself next year. I've never been big into the whole resolution-making thing and normally don't bother making any. The times that I have made them, however, have been invariably futile as I quickly forget whatever it was I had resolved to do. So hopefully having this record will potentially help me follow through on my goals this year as there are numerous things which I would like to accomplish. What follows then are my 10 resolutions for the year 2010. Some of them are be pretty ambitious for me, but why do this if I do not aspire to great things?

1. Paint for at least 4 hours per week, on average.
2. Complete 1000 points of Dark Angels in time for AdeptiCon.
3. Paint at least two 1500 point armies for Warhammer 40k.
4. Prepare a complete collection of terrain and scenery, consisting of the following elements: Realm of Battle Gameboard, 3 Woods, Gaming Hill, Arcane Ruins, 2 Imperial Bastions, Skyshield Landing Pad, 3 Aegis Defense Line sets, 2 Moonscape/Crater sets, Battlescape, Fortress of Redemption, and a Crashed Imperial Aquila Lander.
5. Drink more water.
6. Learn how to play either Warmachine, Hordes, or Flames of War.
7. Spend no more than $100 per month on wargaming purchases.
8. Lose 52 pounds (approximately 3.7 stone).
9. Play at least one game a month of 40k.
10. Be super sweet to my wonderful wife and baby!

Alright, so that's it for now... Happy New Year!