Wednesday, September 29, 2010

POWER!!! etc.

It's been dark and stormy times on my little island these past four days. We lost power on Sunday and only had it fully restored earlier this afternoon. Fortunately I did have the opportunity to check out the initial wave of pictures from Games Day mere hours before the lights went out as the alternative would have been too cruel. Wow, those are some cool models. I don't know exactly what I'll do but I definitely want to mash up a Raider or two for some terrain. Making a Sarlaac pit seems like it would be fun. Once I have time I'm eager to catch up on whatever else has come to light about the upcoming product release.

To celebrate the power coming back on I took the above photograph of my Circle Orboros guys. Since referring to them in my last post I realized that I had not ever taken a group shot of the happy bunch and decided I would set them up once I could charge my camera's battery. How's that for a dorky celebration? Also I looked into how many points they comprise, the total of which turns out to be 21. When I am again motivated to work on this stuff I believe I will next paint a unit of Wolves of Orboros or Tharn Bloodtrackers to add some cheap numbers to the army. I don't anticipate that being any time soon, though.

Prior to the power outage my wife's parents were visiting and stayed with us for several days. I've therefore done very little painting over the last week but I should now be able to get back to it so long as the electricity doesn't go out again. (Fingers crossed as the storms have hardly lessened.) With the hobby time that I was able to scrounge up I assembled the first of my Skorne models, a unit of Praetorian Swordsmen and the warlock from the Skorne starter box. It may not be much but I'm thankful that I accomplished anything considering recent circumstances.

Okay, that's it for the update. Time to paint.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Breaking Fealty

I haven't mentioned Warhammer Fantasy since 8th edition was released when I decided to start a new Bretonnian army. I've been quiet about this undertaking since then because I have not made any progress that seemed positive or worth discussing. The past couple of months have seen me become increasingly frustrated with my choice of army as I've struggled with list after list to make an army that lives up to my early enthusiasm for the chivalrous blue bloods and their filth-encrusted peasantry. I simply cannot find a force hiding in the Bretonnian army book that I like.

When I chose to go with the Bretonnians I was somewhat aware of the challenges this would bring, though not entirely so. It would seem my "careful" consideration was not as carefully considered as I had thought. I was not foolish enough, however, to believe I would be able to come up with a super-tough list capable of competing against strong opponents. All I really wanted was an army to use in some fun games against friends, thus allowing me to return Warhammer Fantasy to my gaming rotation after my interest in it had waned over the lifespan of the previous edition. Yet even with these modest goals in mind I have not been able to put anything together that excites me enough to begin investing the time and money needed for a new army.

So what's a fella to do? For now at least I'm stepping back from my pledge of loyalty to Bretonnia and the Lady of the Lake. While it may cause my Dwarf army to label me as an oath-breaker and refuse to ever fight for me again, I think this is my best option. I don't want to fall into the trap of forcing myself to work on an army I'm not excited about as there are numerous other projects I'm eager to tackle. As a finicky and easily distracted hobbyist, I finally learned that it's almost impossible for me to get very far with an army when I'm less than fully enthused about it. Despite the frustrations necessary to bring me to this point, I am at least grateful to have recognized my issues with the army before putting forth any significant effort.

Eventually I'd like to get back to these Bretonnians though I have no idea when that will be. It feels to me as if the army currently lacks in variety, a problem which is exacerbated by the fact that several characterful units I'd like to include are not well represented in the range of Bretonnian miniatures. For example, weren't there at some point more than five Questing Knight sculptures? Two rank-and-file variants just seems to me woefully inadequate for a unit that should have lots of individual personality. In this particular case I could set about trying to convert or kit-bash some models of my own but that sounds like a lot more than I'm willing to do at this point. Therefore, confronted with an army book that doesn't particularly captivate me and a range of miniatures that leaves me wanting, I think it would be best to set aside the spurs and lance until Bretonnia receives its update for the new edition.

While I'm content to hold off on the Bretonnians, there's still the fantasy itch that needs to be scratched. I started to look again at what other armies I might want to collect but so far nothing has jumped out at me. I thought it would be fun to work on a new army to coincide with the latest edition of the game but it's certainly not necessary. I still have a couple of functional armies which I can use in friendly games of Warhammer, but they've become sort of stale feeling to me over the years. Nonetheless I would like to work on something of a more fantastical sort so as to satisfy that part of my gamer soul not currently fulfilled by chainswords and plasma guns. Hmm, what to do?

Oh yeah, there was that other game that had captivated my attention last winter... Hordes. Or more properly, HORDES!!!! (PP's penchant for capitalization still cracks me up.) The game offers lots of cool monsters, crazy warlocks and spells, and some really bizarre factions to choose from, all of which sounds to me like a winning combination. Plus every model I worked on before was a blast to paint and I doubt I could ever tire of painting monsters. The more I think about, the more convinced I am that this is where I need to look to get my fix of fantasy gaming.

In fact the last miniature I painted before my unanticipated five month break from the brushes was a Lord of the Feast for my Circle Orboros gang. I already have 20ish points of Circle Orboros painted and another 15 points or so worth in boxes, as well as 35 to 40 points worth of Skorne models waiting around in their original packaging. Therefore my plan going forward is to cease worrying about doing something new for Warhammer Fantasy and will instead turn to Hordes for my swords-and-sorcery gaming enjoyment.

Best of all, this is the perfect time for me to return to Hordes as the faction of my dreams is just now being rolled out, the Blindwater Congregation:

Crazy voodoo alligators... I think I may have just fallen in love.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Plant Manager Burns Finished

Last night I finished working on Plant Manager Burns, my counts-as Primaris Psyker for the Blisstonian 9th. Overall I'm happy with the results and will gladly put Burns down on the table, leading his army of disgruntled workers in defense of Sector 7G. I think the astropath miniature turned out well and does a good job of expressing the contempt in which Burns holds his minions. In particular I like the jutting jaw and his pallid complexion.

As can be seen in the pictures there are quite a few things I could try to fix but I'm satisfied for now and am ready to move on. The parchment tacked to his staff turned out rather messy as I was impatient and used a wash without waiting long enough for the lettering to dry. Also the staff itself looks unfinished but I've never been able to paint those properly. I did spend some time trying to fix the weird highlighting on his robes which I noticed in my earlier WIP photo, but a few prominent areas still look pretty funky. Nonetheless these issues don't bother me enough for me to want to put more work into this guy and I like where he's at now.

Plant Manager Burns is complete, up next for painting will be the first squad of Blisstonian 9th penal legionnaires.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Blisstonian 9th WIP

The past couple of nights have seen me working away at the first pair of the Blisstonian 9th, starting with a Penal Legionnaire and my Primaris Psyker, Plant Manager Burns. Initially I tried going with a much more desaturated look but that turned out bland and awful. The grey tones made everything blend together and was boring... in fact worse because it felt like there was nothing on which to focus and was not pleasant to look at. The desaturated effect can look great in more realistic military color schemes, but with this selection of colors it simply was not working for me.

I therefore went back to my original paints to restore the richness of the colors and am significantly happier now with these fuller tones. The guardsman still has quite a way to go but the Psyker's robes are done and show how my army's main colors should look. The boots, gas mask, and other equipment are all a soft, neutral brown while the lasgun will end up being olive drab or perhaps leaning towards a tannish green. I was uncomfortable with how it was all coming together until I at last painted the basecoat for the lasgun and the psyker's staff. Having done so I now feel good about the overall appearance and am confident going forward with this scheme.

[Edit: I realized the morning after writing this that I really wasn't feeling as confident as I had stated here. Perhaps I was trying to convince myself with some painter's bravado, or maybe it had just gotten too late so that I didn't notice the disconnect between my perceived state of mind and how I truly felt. Regardless, the relief expressed in my comments at getting some positive feedback is genuine and accurately reflects my feelings some hours after writing.]

I chose these color to be a change of pace as well as a personal challenge since I rarely use blue and almost never paint with purple or violet hues in any significant amount. It's a shame too because I really like painting purples but only ever seem to use them when working on historical minis from the Alexandrian and Hellenistic periods. I am not, however, a fan of painting blues as I find them both frustrating and even a bit dull visually. I suppose that's why I tend to avoid using a lot of blue on my miniatures. I therefore will be painting purples to have fun and blues as a challenge, hopefully learning how to enjoy them and to establish a more harmonious attitude toward that part of the spectrum.

Really though the most important factor for me is that theses color satisfy my admittedly vague sense of a Simpsonian palette, those colors and color combinations which I feel would be appropriate for my animated inspiration. I wanted something colorful and even somewhat playful but still with a feeling of coldness and menace, or at least cartoon menace, which I think these colors convey. Plus I like how the color scheme looks and it shouldn't be too difficult to paint, so that's nice. I anticipate being very happy with an entire army painted this way and feel good about going forward with my plans. I'll likely finish painting Burns as I begin working on the rest of this Guardsman's penal squad.

Yeah, painting is fun!

Friday, September 10, 2010

My Return to Painting

I painted something! Yippee, it's a Chaos Spawn.

Well, it certainly has been a long time since I previously had anything newly painted to show here. Hopefully this will be the last warm-up miniature that I have to paint for a long time. This particular model has been waiting for something like five years for me to get to it, one of the last few unpainted minis for my Beasts of Annihilation chaos warband leftover from when I was last working on them. I came across him earlier this summer and decided I would save it a little longer until I was about to starting painting again in earnest and would be in need of something on which I could practice.

Since updating the Beasts of Annihilation is one of my current projects I thought working on the Spawn would be a good way of getting back into my painting groove. Having just finished I am very satisfied with the experience. It was fun to paint, I got to have freedom with the colors and techniques used, and I added a cheap throw-away unit to one of my armies. Cool. The best thing for me though is knowing that I have this mini out of the way and now feel comfortable setting into the models that I'm more excited about painting.

May my brushes henceforth stay rust free.

As for the actual painting, I wanted to keep this Spawn related to the Beasts but with a little extra touch of color as befitting its warped natured. The bulk of the creature's body was painted to resemble as closely as I could the army's unit of Plague Bearers. I don't think I was terribly successful in achieving the same effect but I'm happy with the results nonetheless. It was a joy painting the rest of the miniature as I worked with the vibrant colors and experimented with an approach to highlighting and color progression different from my usual habits. I love models like these as you can just be free and try out new things.

One new technique I tried out which can be seen in the picture above was using slightly off-shade variants of white and black to paint the model's eyes. This was described by Brent of Strictly Average not long ago and I tried my best to follow his instructions. I didn't get the shape quite right but otherwise I really like the way they turned out. I think the eyes look appropriately vacant considering this fellow's circumstances and I'm going to look for opportunities to paint more eyes in such a manner. In this case I used P3 paints, going with a 1:1 mix of Thamar Black and Coal Black followed by Underbelly Blue for the off-white center of the eyes. Even with a wobbly looking right eye I am overall very pleased with the results.

I'm considering applying some gloss to the eyes or mouth but otherwise I think he's done. It's truly such a relief to finally get some paint on a miniature and I feel much better already. Thanks, weird Spawn guy!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Killzone: Space Marines and Orks

It's going to take some time to get my new team "Baker's Dozen" ready for use in games of Killzone but I do want to start playing as soon as possible. To that end I've spent some time over the last few days merrily going through boxes of miniatures to see what could be used right away. I made some nifty discoveries which I'll be writing about over the coming week or so, the first of which I am presenting tonight in the form of these two opposing Killzone teams.

The beta edition of Big Jim's Special Operations: Killzone is poised for release tomorrow but I thought I'd enjoy putting together some teams to start getting a better sense of the game. These are likely rather basic teams comprised almost entirely of standard models with very little in the way of special equipment or personal upgrades. I therefore don't anticipate having to make too many changes to them to stay in line with the evolving ruleset or to scale down for lower point games. What follows is a look at the first set of teams that I will be trying out in the coming days, Space Marines and Orks

Killzone: Space Marines - 247 points

Space Marine Sergeant (Team leader): bolt pistol, close combat weapon, frag and krak grenades, refractor field (41)

Space Marines x 7: boltgun, bolt pistol, frag and krak grenades. (112)

Space Marine: flamer, bolt pistol, frag and krak grenades (21)

Space Marine: missile launcher, bolt pistol, frag and krak grenades (26)

Space Marine: heavy bolter, bolt pistol, frag and krak grenades (21)

Space Marine: boltgun, frag and krak grenades, medi-pack (26)

This team constitutes most of what's left from my first 40k army intentionally collected as such. It seems like there are many interesting things you can do for a Space Marines team in Killzone by selecting individuals from all the different types of units available. In this case however I've put together essentially just a tactical squad with a couple extra specialists attached for the mission at hand. The most basic Space Marine still represents the pinnacle of bio-engineering and military training. I like the idea that their standard troopers are on par with the elite soldiery found in many other armies. It's a pretty common theme in GW and Black Library fiction and seemed like a fun way to go for this group.

You say something strange is happening on the planet's surface? Simple. Load Marines into a pod and drop a Tactical squad in to deal with it, whatever it is. Problem solved.

Well, that's the idea behind this group at least. Basic, no frills, flexible, tough... Space Marines.

Killzone: Orks - 250 Points

Nob (Team Leader): slugga and power klaw, 'eavy armour (50)

Nobz x 2: slugga and power klaw, 'eavy armour (100)

Nob: slugga and choppa, 'eavy armour (25)

Ork Boyz x 11: sluggas and choppas (66)

Gretchin x 3: blastas (9)

Again nothing fancy with these guys but there are at least some grots and nobz providing a little variety to the list. The goal with this group was to max out on the number of models allowed in a single Killzone team so that I can try out a more screaming-horde style of play, if such exists at this scale of skirmish gaming. I don't think of these Orks as a specialized team chosen for a particular mission but rather simply those Nobz and their underlings who happened to be closest at hand when the opportunity for a fight presented itself. They're Goffs so I think they'd approve of that approach.

I should be able to start playing games of Killzone this week with only a few scheduling details that still need to be resolved. Until then I'm going to put together some more teams including ones for Imperial Guard, Chaos Marines, Necrons, and Tyrandis, though without anything nearly as vintage as the miniatures featured in this post. I'll also check to see if anything needs to be adjusted for the Ork and Space Marine teams once I've had a chance to read through the new Killzone stuff. I'll post some sort of update to cover all that.

Oh, and there's quite a lot of painting to do as well. Good times ahead.

A classic match-up: blue marines vs. ork clones.

In time I'll report on how things go once I've played through a number of the scenarios. If everything works and Killzone turns out to be as much fun as I hope it will be then I may also attempt writing one or two more detailed reviews of individual games. Regardless I'm sure I'll have plenty to chatter about soon.

Okay, time to paint!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Boring Housekeeping Post

Hi, I hope you're doing well today. As most of the country is likely occupied right now doing fun things for the holiday weekend, I thought this would be a good time to work on some minor housekeeping business here at ye olde Blogspot. My apologies to any readers outside the USA, I'm not familiar enough with your holiday schedules to accommodate for them when planning posts. Anyways... since switching over from one blogroll to the current set of three that I use, I have done a rather poor job updating them with all the new blogs that I follow. I've neglected to do this for so long that it's now grown into something of a challenge to finally address. Should anyone consider going with multiple lists, I recommend that you have a plan before doing so. Any plan. I imagine it would help.

My division of everyone's work into the Itchy, Scratchy, and Poochie Blog categories was capricious and completely arbitrary, foolishly done without any forethought to making future updates. Therefore when Blogger now tries to help me out by offering to "Add to your blog list: Blogs I'm Following," it presents me with a massive list that includes all those already added to the other two blogrolls. And because I've waited more than a month to deal with this in any sort of deliberate way, each time I try to fix this situation I end up having no clue which ones need to be added or where to add them, resulting in even more procrastination and dithering.

Well, no longer. Today's the day that I at last confront this task and in the process hopefully come up with a more rational approach to maintaining the lists of blogs that I follow. Should anyone feel strongly enough about the category in which your blog has been placed, let me know and I'll gladly move things around to satisfy any requests. Not that I expect this to matter to anyone but I thought it best to offer just in case someone felt like engaging in pointless introspection. And for the sake of completeness, if diceRolla were to be so categorized, I think it would be a Scratchy blog.

I know... this was a really dumb post. Oh well, that's the best I've got on this beautiful Sunday afternoon. Take care!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Entering the Killzone

Let me start by saying that the mystery of the Simpsons dice has been solved. Very special thanks go to Sons of Taurus! As a result of his generosity and good will, I'm sure these fantastic dice are loaded with positive mojo and as such I expect great things from them. Thank you so much, you embiggen our hobby with your kindness. This has been for me a truly cromulent experience!

Now as it so happens, Sons of Taurus has recently become formally involved in a project that I am really excited about and he has been working to develop it further. Since returning home from vacation I have been eagerly catching up on all the latest developments with Big Jim's 40k skirmish undertaking, Special Operations: Killzone. I think he's hit gaming-gold with this one and I'm thrilled to see such a cool fan-driven project come together like this. I never understood why Games Workshop kept Necromunda locked up in the Hive, endlessly fighting fairly mundane gang conflicts when there was so much potential for expansion with the inclusion of xenos, Chaos, and the various Imperial military types. I believe Killzone will do an excellent job filling this vacancy in the Warhammer 40,000 universe and I can hardly wait to see what Big Jim and his dedicated Rules Committee do next.

It seems like there's been a lot going on with Killzone recently and that it has generated significant interest with fellow gamers. The updated ruleset is due to be released soon, Big Jim has hit the podcast waves to promote and discuss his creation over at Imperial Vox Cast, and now b.smoove of A Gentleman's Ones reports that he is cooking up some sort of Killzone event extravaganza for Adepticon 2011. Awesome, right?

This has all been too much for me to resist and it appears that I have now fully caught the Killzone fire. It's therefore a fine time to start thinking about a Special Ops team of my own. While I hope to begin trying out the Killzone rules using miniatures already in my collection, what really has gotten me excited is the prospect of putting together a small force specifically for this new skirmish system. Painting the Blisstonian 9th is still my priority but I believe this will be a really fun side project to work on alongside the main army as it presents the opportunity to model and paint a unique batch of characterful individuals. Here then is my idea for my first Killzone team, The Baker's Dozen:

Blisstonian 9th - Special Operations Group, "Baker's Dozen"

Concept: For my first SOG team I want to do something inspired by the "rag-tag bunch of misfits" type of ensemble cast that was a staple of so many classic war movies (the most obvious example of which being The Dirty Dozen). Every model should be unique in terms of overall classification, weaponry, equipment, et cetera. There should be no duplicates, each member of the team must be an individual and a specialist of some sort, and movie cliches are encouraged. The team must be generally related to my current Simpsons army project, the Blisstonian 9th, but separate enough to have its own identity. I do not want to just repurpose models previously assembled but to instead take advantage of this chance to do something new.

Background: SOG "Baker's Dozen" is comprised of those members of the Blisstonian 9th who have been assigned to the most hazardous duties available at Sector 7G. Having each earned Plant Manager Burns' displeasure for a variety of probably minor offenses, these men have been pulled together to deal with the worst that Imperial industry of the 41st millennium has to offer. They're the guys who fill and handle the toxic waste barrels, who risk their lives and sanity in maintaining the Sector's haunted steam tunnel labyrinths, and who are called upon to clear out Burns' corpse-hatch when it becomes clogged. The soldiers who survive these traumatic ordeals become strong and are toughened by the harshness of their daily existence. Out of necessity they develop survival and combat skills not found amongst the other members of their regiment tasked with serving 7G. These factors, as well as their expendable nature due to having unwisely angered Burns in the past, make this group ideal candidates for whatever commando raids and suicide missions are required for the defense of Sector 7G.

Modeling: I'm sticking with the Imperial Guard for this team and want it to be visually connected to my Blisstonian 9th army project, but nonetheless distinct as befitting such a specialized unit. My standard Blisstonians are built using Cadian Shock models with Pig Iron Kolony Militia heads, so to change up my approach a little I plan on building the Baker's Dozen special ops team using the more muscular parts found in the various Catachan kits and then topped off with Pig Iron Kolony Rebel heads. Thus they will be similarly gas-masked as the other Blisstonians and should still be recognizable as Imperial Guardsmen, but otherwise will hopefully look more like the collection of specialized action heroes that I envision.

Points Level: To determine the size of my Killzone SOG team, the range suggested in the current set of rules goes from 175 up to 250 points maximum. My team will therefore be built for the high-end of that scale but it should be simple enough to adapt for smaller games by simply removing team members in excess of the agreed points total. Obviously in such cases Baker's Dozen has taken some casualties on the way in to their objective and thus not everyone has survived for the big, exciting finale. Oh well, at least they'll still get shown posthumously in the tearful closing montage.

Theme upgrade: NA, none purchased

SOG List, "Baker's Dozen"- 250 total points:
Veteran Sergeant (Team Leader): plasma pistol, power fist, frag and krak grenades, Refractor field - 47 points

Veteran: lasgun, close combat weapon, frag and krak grenades, Vox caster - 12 points

Veteran: lasgun, close combat weapon, frag and krak grenades, Medipack - 15 points

Veteran: lasgun, close combat weapon, frag and krak grenades, Commando - 17 points

Veteran: shotgun, close combat weapon, frag and krak grenades, Brawler - 10 points

Veteran: lasgun, close combat weapon, frag and krak grenades, Blade Master - 15 points

Veteran: lasgun, close combat weapon, frag and krak grenades, Resilient - 10 points

Veteran: lasgun, close combat weapon, frag and krak grenades, Targeter - 10 points

Veteran: sniper rifle, close combat weapon, frag and krak grenades - 12 points

Veteran: meltagun, close combat weapon, frag and krak grenades - 17 points

Veteran: plasma gun, close combat weapon, frag and krak grenades - 22 points

Veteran: heavy flamer, close combat weapon, frag and krak grenades - 27 points

Scout Sentinel: multi-laser, Searchlight - 36 points

Questions and Assumptions: While working out the details for my SOG, I encountered a few things which I was unsure how to handle per the current set of Killzone rules. I could have been sensible and just waited a few more days for the next ruleset and its accompanying codex-specific errata to be released, but where's the fun in that? In putting together my list for the team, I have therefore made a number of assumptions and guesses based on what I hope will soon be clarified. My two main questions concern the points value of my team leader and the inclusion of some items of equipment available in the IG Codex but so far not mentioned in the Killzone documents. I'd love to hear from any members of the Rules Committee should you happen to take note of this.

Specifically, if individual IG Veterans cost 7 points apiece (starting cost for a basic unit of Veterans is 70 points and consists of ten models), would the Veteran Sergeant cost the same in a Killzone team or do I need to pay a premium for him due to his improved stat-line? For this initial list making attempt I assumed a starting cost of only 7 points as I could not find any further guidance regarding this question. The other big assumption I made concerns the points cost of equipment available to those units from which I've selected my SOG but which are not covered in any of the Killzone rules. I have no idea if these items (the squad's vox caster and the Sentinel's searchlight) will ever make it into the rules, and if they do get included in the future, I certainly don't know if they will be costed the same as they are in the Codex. As this is only my first team and Killzone is still in playtesting, I felt it would be okay to go ahead and include them in my list paying the cost given in the Guard book. I don't see this being a major problem as I can just ignore the items if need be and accept the slight penalty in wasted points. I do hope, however, that more pieces of specialized gear will eventually find their way into Killzone as I think that would be a neat way of further personalizing our teams.

Okay, that it's for my initial thoughts on Special Operations: Killzone. I'd appreciate any feedback in general, but I'm especially interested in hearing about those possibly incorrect assumptions I made in putting together my team. Of course if I missed any other areas in which I did not properly select my team or calculate its cost, please let me know what I need to do to be in compliance with the rules. I'm excited about getting to try out Killzone and I'm very grateful to Big Jim for initiating and orchestrating this project, as well as to those of you distinguished gamers volunteering your efforts as part of the Rules Committee. Thank you for enriching my hobby experience.