Tuesday, February 23, 2010

5 Games In One Weekend

Nothing stacks up the fun like a spontaneous visit from a good friend and a full weekend of Warmachine. My buddy Mike came down and brought his Retribution and we managed to get in 5 games! Clearly I'm not going to do a battle report for each, but I'll summarize and hit some highlights. The majority of the games were experiments for both of us to figure out what works best.

The Battles:
The first 3 games I played all Madhammer, and Mike played Kaylyssa and Ravyn (I'm sure I spelled both of those wrong). We played 35 and 50 point games, and both armies tended to be pretty infantry heavy. These games were really helpful learning experiences for both of us. I was trying out all kinds of combinations of mercs with Madhammer to decide what best fit my play style.

The 4th game we played was actually a 2-on-1 game of Madhammer and Ravyn teaming up against Lance's Khador combination of eButcher and eSorcha list of 70pts. This was a seriously pounding battle. Madhammer got killed first, and then eButcher went down next. Then finally eSorcha went down with Ravyn pulling out the win.

The 5th game we played was Mike and I at the LGS, and I rolled out 35pts of Reznik goodness against Ravyn. In a brutal display of punishment for my tactical mistake, Mike nearly assassinated Reznik on the top of turn 2. Reznik was down to 5 damage remaining, and was set on fire! Due to extraordinary luck, he managed to survive and (as the picture above shows), the Avatar brought home the victory. Sorry Mike, but I couldn't help posting the shot of Ravyn trapped in the Avatar's Gaze.

The Highlights:
* The Mage Hunter Strike Force (with the UA) is just crazy awesome. When Ravyn snipes them, it's terrifying. Ignores LOS? Really?!?! Seriously, these guys were MVP's almost every game. Why would you ever not take them?

* Madhammer is super fun to play. I had a great time playing him. He's a toolbox of options and brings some good synergy with some of the other mercs I love to play. I think Mike would agree that putting Primed on Alexia and her Risen was pretty brutal.

* Pairing a Dawnguard Scyir and a light jack made for a pretty nasty flanking team.

* When the Ghordson Basher manages to pull off a slam, it rocks the house. Mine sent eSorcha's bonded Devastator hurtling 7" out of a control zone.

* Stormfall Archers behind a wall of Houseguard Halberdiers was pretty awesome, especially when sniped. I learned the hard way that Ranked Attack now allows anyone else in the army to see through that unit. Very cool stuff!

* No matter what you are, there's a magic threshold of DEF 15 that really improves survivability. Nyss and Gun Mages both tended to do very well for me for that very reason.

* In my book, Madhammer has 2 warcaster attachments: Dougal and Reinholdt. Both are pretty much auto-includes.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lady Justice

After a long break from the Malifaux models, I have circled back on them. Lady J had been sitting on my desk, primed, for months now and I was feeling guilty for not having even put a spot of paint on her. True to my charter, I spent extra time working on her. She's got some mistakes and problems, but overall I think she turned out fine. I should note, I haven't played a game of Malifaux for quite some time now, but the models still hold my attention.

Also, while working on this model, I used a wet palette the whole time. I'd recently seen the tutorial on Jeremie's video about the wet palette and it gave me just enough extra information to try it out one more time. Rather than just use it for a couple things, I specifically used it for everything except when I needed to make the odd wash or glaze, for which I used the ceramic palette. Overall, I had a very positive experience of the wet palette. Enough to justify buying a better setup to use it more extensively.

What went well:
* Working one area at a time - For this model, I worked on logical section at a time to completion before moving on. For example, I did skin, then shirt, then pants, then hair, etc. This actually worked out quite well for me. The nice thing was seeing a section come to completion before moving on. The hard part was that until I was nearly done, it was hard to get a better sense of how the overall color balance would turn out.
* Wet Palette - This worked out great. Perfectly thinned paints and the ability to keep working with them and re-mixing as I went was super useful. I only wish P3's came in droppers bottles.
* Red Hair - Per my previous post about using Kuler to create swatches, I implemented that swatch in the process of painting the hair. It worked out quite well. I also implemented advice I had gotten from EricJ to "ignore the sculpting of the hair" to a fair degree. How that shook out is that I treated it as a textured surface, but did not use washes to shade it. Instead I used 2BB techniques to shade it as if it was a flat surface. Working over a white primer base and the thinning from the wet palette did the hard work of creating "texture" to it.

What could have been better:
* Chalky finishes - Some regions of the model have a sort of chalky finish to them. I'm starting to learn a bit of why this happens, but I'm still not great with avoiding and/or fixing it. More thin glazes are what I've heard, but I guess I didn't apply enough of them.
* Better use of complimentary colors - I should have thought out my color scheme a bit more ahead of time instead of just deciding as I went. I think the color balance is not all that great, and I did a poor job of using complimentary colors to shade with.
* Silver NMM - It's just not as good as it should have been. Probably needs darker shading.
* Fine details - I had some trouble with some of the fine details and picking them out properly. The belt is an example of where the belt loops and very top of her pants don't have enough distinction between each other for the eye to properly track.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Very quick post here for the Templar. This wraps up the plastic jack kit. This was most definitely a speed painting job. I have to admit that I really dislike painting these stocky Protectorate jacks. The lines and surfaces of the model are just frustrating and it is hard for me to really get at all excited about it. So, I muscled my way through this one and got it done. This model was definitely painted just for table play. I was going to snap additional pictures of the various configurations, but my camera's battery died and I didn't feel like waiting for it to charge back up.

As a side note of process, in order to paint the various magnetized bits, I put together these little holders. They're just wooden sticks with metal alligator clips on the end for them to stick to.

One last note before I go, there's a definitely one advantage to plastics. When I was getting ready to take it outside to seal it with gloss coat, I accidentally tripped and every part took a 4 foot header to the floor. Amazingly, no damage was incurred to the paint job!

Ok, now it's on to painting something a bit more inspiring to get me energized again.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

How To: Using Kuler to Create Color Swatches

I'm starting to appreciate the "science" aspect to painting more and more, especially in regard to color. It's one thing to just slap a base coat down, throw a highlight on, and then wash it with a shading wash. It's another to paint in a way to represent reality. Don't get me wrong, I do my fair share of quick painting to get models on the table, particularly for models I'm primarily painting just to play. However for the last year I've been trying to train my eye to better understand the colors I'm seeing in the real world. It's actually quite fascinating once you stop and look closer. What follows is a new technique I've added to my toolbox to help in that regard. This was inspired by starting to work on the Lady Justice model, and her predominant feature: long flowing red hair. I've tried red hair before and had, at best, mediocre success. Time to step up my game!

The first step was to find a reference photo. A quick Google photo search turns up plenty of options. I scanned a few and settled on this one. I've included the link to the original site, which has nothing to do with painting of course. I won't elaborate too much on why I chose this photo too much. The key reasons are: 1) It matched the tone I was looking for, and 2) It was large enough to provide good detail so that when I load it into Kuler, it would be easy to pick out various color zones. That leads me on to the next step...

Enter the magic of Kuler! There's definitely other ways to accomplish this same goal, but I'm going to use Kuler because it's free and easy. Simply pop it open in a browser, hit "Create", and then "From an Image". Then you upload your reference photo. Kuler will automatically attempt to guess what colors you want for your theme, but that's not why we're here. You'll see that it gives you the image with 5 targets to move around. Simply move the targets around and they will display their target pixel's color at the bottom on the swatch. For this photo, I moved them all to various points of the red hair to get a sense of the color variation. If you want to create a Kuler account, you can save your swatches for future reference.

Something fascinating about red hair is that it isn't really all that "red" most of the time. It's more brown and orange than anything else. The swatch above shows that it's got a lot of flesh and tan tones to it. All of these colors have red components to them, but are not dominantly red.

Armed with my Kuler swatch, I now embark on trying to mimic those colors. I've got a bunch of plasticard pieces sitting around to create actual physical swatches with. As you can see here, what I've done is put down some paint that I think fairly matches the first color from the Kuler swatch. Unfortunately trying to photograph both my laptop screen and the swatch together doesn't do it justice. However, in this case I managed to match pretty closely using just P3 Umbral Umber. I then repeat this process for the other colors of the Kuler swatch until I've filled out my plasticard swatch.

And here's the finished plasticard swatch. I labeled the back for reference. This will definitely come in handy in the future. There's clearly plenty of ways to accomplish this same goal. For example, I've heard of other painters using notebooks to keep notes of particular color builds. For me, having swatch cards like this will come in very handy I think. This will also be useful as I start to work on Lady Justice's hair.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


The Vanguard is an intriguing model to assemble and paint. It has sort of a hunched pose to it, with its legs bent down quite a lot. I'm not really a huge fan of the legs and considered trying to rebuild them, but in the end it seemed like too much trouble. I can always to a second one eventually if I get that motivated. Otherwise it's a pretty nice model. The shield afforded a nice opportunity to put some battle damage on it to represent its shield guard ability. I didn't want to overdo it, and I think I captured just the right amount of battle damage. Other than the right hand, I decided to avoid any battle damage anywhere else, to represent how it was doing its job using the shield and not its body.

Nothing much extra to say here. It's really another speed paint job, but I tried to put some decent zenithal highlighting practices to work on it.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Yay for Mercenaries!

Another slightly delayed and pictureless battle report. I got two games in the other day with my merc selection and these were two incredibly fun games. Here's the highlights...

Battle 1 - 35pts:
Me: Ashlynn, Vanguard, Nomad, 2 Forgeguard(6), Gun mages + UA, Herne & Jonne, Dougal, Bokur and Stannis.
Henry: eDoomshaper, Mulg, Axer, Mauler, Fennblades(10), Fell Caller, Chronicler, Swamp Gobbers.

This battle was actually more about testing out stuff than a serious throwdown. I won the initiative and used the opportunity to rush up towards the middle, putting Quicken on one unit of Forgeguard and Admonition on Ashlynn. The trolls likewise rushed forward and spread out, with the Chronicler putting that loathsome song on the Fennblades to knockdown enemies that kill them. Both of us had positioned troopers in the way of our heavy hitters. At this point I had a decision to make. Due to the positioning of my heavy hitters and the threat of Mulg and the Mauler, I decided to take a sort of balanced advance plan. Dougal used his mini-feat and then his action to boost up Jonne's gun. Herne and Jonne opened up, clearing out multiple Fennblades. Then the Gun mages opened up, killing some more Fennblades and also managing to push back the Mauler and Mulg by 3" with thunderbolt strikes. The Forgeguard then charged and eliminated all but 3 of the remaining Fennblades which failed their command check at that point. Stannis moved up as well taking a shot, and then the Bokur and Vanguard took up flanking defensive positions for Ashlynn who advanced and camped her 4 focus. I specifically move her up and told Henry to go for it with Mulg and see if he can kill her. Boy was that a mistake! Mulg was easily over 12" away, and probably more like 14-15". The Mauler advanced and 2-handed threw Stannis at the Vanguard, just barely catching Ashlynn and knocking her down. It was super borderline and probably a 50/50 roll, but I gave it to him to taunt him into committing Mulg. Then eDoomshaper put wild agression and rush on Mulg and feated. From there it was just a whirlwind of obscene abuse. Mulg charged in and started clobering his way through things, using overtake and goad to close in easily on Ashlynn with 4 fury remaining. At that point it was academic.

In review, I could have played this game much more conservatively and feated with Ashlynn and hung back, but it was an interesting test. Mulg is a serious beatstick, and even without eDoomshaper's feat Mulg's overtake would have gotten him there which is just frightening. The arguments about his being overcosted are now firmly in the realm of being ignored by me. Sure, eDoomshaper is a great combo for him, but the overtake was really the star of the show for him.

Battle 2 - 50pts:
Me: Fiona, Buccaneer, Vanguard, Alexia, Gun mages + UA, Mariner (marshalled by Gun mage officer), Aiyana & Holt, Dougal, Nyss Hunters (10), Bokur, Sea Dogs (6 + 3 riflemen).
Henry: eAsphyxious, Reaper, 2 Deathrippers, Wrathe, Soulhunters(5), Tartarus, Bane Knights(10), Withershadow, Skarlock, Gorman, and probably other stuff but I forget.

This battle turned into a mercenary toolbox display. Again I won the initiative (shocking), and rushed forward, putting Nanokian Brand on the Mariner, Teglesh Mark on the Buccaneer, and Roth's Mercy on the Nyss. The Cryx army moved into position, with the Soulhunters running to engage the Nyss, and Asphyxious throwing an AOE and killing Aiyana, Holt, and 3 gun mages. It was time to show what mercs can really do. The first challenge was clearing a bit more of a hole in the middle, so gun mages and sea dogs opened up with a hail of bullets and cleared out a couple key bane knights. Alexia also used the opportunity to command a Bane Knight to kill his buddy. Then the Buccaneer, fueled with 2 focus, attempts the assault charge on Asphyxious. This went wrong in a couple ways. First, Asphixious was sitting in a Gorman cloud and thus def 17, so the Buccaneer needed a 12 to hit, which he missed. Second, he ended up in melee range of a Bane Knight, thus negating his Teglesh Mark. Doh! Despite the failed attempt to knock down the enemy caster, the Mariner stands firm, takes aim, and fires a sniped shot. I'd like to point out that with Dougal's mini-feat and snipe from the Gun Mage marshalling, he's got a 20" range with that deck gun. He had to use his boost in order to hit, but BAM, he laid some damage on the caster, which is always good news. However, I now faced a dire situation. The Nyss managed to cut down a couple Soulhunters and keep the flank held but I was going to be in trouble the next round, so Fiona marched forward, camped on her 5 focus, and used her feat. The following Cryx round was hilarious. The -1 die prevented taking hardly any casualties, and forced the Cryx to try and tie up key things in melee. The poor Buccaneer got blinded by Gorman and then cut into little pieces by the Withershadow, which promptly re-assembled him into a bonejack, the first time I'd ever seen this happen. The Bane Knights ran up and engaged the Gun Mages in melee, and the remaining Soul Hunters engaged the remaining Nyss. Tartarus, in a rash display of anger, charged forward and threshered to kill half of Alexia's remaining risen. Asphyxious laid out some spell action through the arcnode, but failed to hit his target. Due to an unfortunate dice roll, the Reaper failed to hit the Mariner with his harpoon, and thus 2 more focus went to waste. All-in-all, Fiona's feat made the Cryx army cry trying to hit def 13-15 troops on a single die to hit. There was much smiling on the merc side of the table. At this point, I could see how things would eventually turn out: Cryx would grind me down. It was time to pull out all the stops. Fiona dropped all her upkeeps and held her 7 focus (no bonus due to poor positioning of sea dogs on my part). I had a narrow path down the middle that needed to be cleared for my master plan. The Nyss cut down a key Soulhunter to clear the left side of the lane. The sea dogs ganged up and cleared a key Bane Knight on the right side of the lane. Then Alexia slid to the side, sacked a risen to boost herself up, and commanded Tartarus to do the unthinkable: walk back and stab Asphyxious. Success! Tartarus turned around, walked forward, and brought his blade down on his master. At the command of his client Fiona, the Bokur then ran up the lane to 4" behind Tartarus and smiled with confusion as hit orders. Then Fiona steps up to the plate. She Teglesh Mark's the Bokur and promptly starts rolling out the Influences on Tartarus. Slash! Slash! And down goes the evil Asphyxious at the hand of his own minion!!

I can't express just how amusing this battle was. Henry was cracking up at the amusement that was my merc force. For me it was like one of those huge Christmases where you just keep opening presents with new surprises. The flexibility of Fiona continues to amuse me, and her feat doesn't pose the same logistical challenge to me that Ashlynn's does which makes her less difficult to plan around. The entire army brought such a toolbox of options for me that it would be hard to pick an MVP, but Alexia is definitely on the short list. I'm very excited about mercs and really feel like MK2 has brought them up to a respectable level of competitiveness.

Anyway, thanks for bearing with another long battle report. This weekend I'm hoping to get some serious painting time in, and perhaps even another battle.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Resurgence Recap

Resurgence has come and gone (a few days ago now), and the event was a blast! This is unfortunately a photo-free post of the event. All 3 of my games took the full time allowed and I didn't get a chance to wander around and take shots of the other games going on. Even my games were intense enough that I didn't remember to take pictures during
the battle. Overall that was a good thing though.

The Event:
This tournament was a hit. There were 14 players there, several of which I had never met before. In talking with some of them, there were a few that had played years before, but were just now getting back into it due to MK2. And despite opening it up to Hordes players as well, it was an entirely Warmachine event. I'm not positive on the exact breakdown, but there was pretty good representation for all the factions, looking roughly like this: Cygnar - 2, Protectorate - 2, Khador - 4, Cryx - 3, Retribution - 2, Mercs - 1. I have to give a shout out to my LGS as well. There's a different event organizer now and he had the tournament ready to go right on schedule. And other than a couple hiccups with assigning matches in rounds 2 and 3, everything went pretty well for being a new organizer.

My List:
25pts: Kreoss, Crusader, Devout, Zealots (10+UA), Choir (6), Knights Exemplar, Vassal, 3 Wracks
35pts: Kreoss -> eKreoss, + Avatar
50pts: Crusader -> Fire of Salvation, + Repenter, Hierophant, Orin Midwinter, Paladin, Covenant
I had a couple key goals to my list planning. First, I wanted to get the Avatar in as soon as possible, which meant I had to do some jiggery-pokery with swapping in eKreoss at the 35pt level. That also meant I needed to make sure the core of my list was already contained in the 25pt list, including the Vassal. Second, I wanted to have a serious Menoth knot, with an array of denial that would cause serious problems. It doesn't really come together until the 50pt level though, at which point the knot is in full swing with lots of spell denial, and knockdown protection.

My Matches:
My first match was against a pretty typical Deneghra list. This battle was actually pretty close, but my opponent played his army extremely well and with impeccable timing of his abilities. The match actually came very close to being won on scenerio by myself, but I ran out of time.
My second match was against the other Protectorate player who had brought a Testament list with lots of troops. Not surprisingly, we tarpitted in the middle and just kept punching each other in the face. I don't really feel like either of us had the upper hand during the match. Again, we ran out of time during my turn, but this time it would have been hard to actually clear the middle zone. In a longer time game I would have been able to grind it out pretty easily.
My third match was against Henry and his eSkarre list. We'd played almost this same exact battle previously. It really is a painful match because eSkarre's feat is just brutal, especially in a smaller model count battle. I ended up forfeiting a bit before time ran out because there was no way for me to really pull it out. The highlight of the battle though was when the Deathjack marches up, arm locks the Avatar (preventing both Enliven and the shield bonus), and the promptly attacks a zealot standing next to it which was Sancrosanct. Bam! Knocked down! There was much laughing at the moment as Henry realized his folly. Still though, a well played game.
Overall the frustrating thing about my first two matches was losing the initiative and then running out of time during my 3rd turn. In the case of the first match it probably made the difference between a win and a loss. The whole "dice down" thing really isn't my favorite thing. My biggest criticism of the event was that there could have been less time sorting out the pairings between rounds, and spend more time actually on the rounds.

The Results:
In the end it turned out that Retribution won the event. I was pretty shocked actually. The final match was a battle between Khador and Retribution. Unfortunately I was unable to get much more detail about the championship battle. I think that the specifics of the scenario caused a number of ties to take place, and I noticed that Retribution player was routinely done early with all his matches, which means it was likely that he was pulling off assassinations every time. I myself won the Protectorate coin, despite a pretty dismal record. I have to say, I really like the coins as rewards instead of the trophies from the SR4 tournaments.

The Community:
Overall I was pretty impressed with the players there. Everyone seemed to have a good time and I didn't see any serious rules debates. All 3 of my matches were quite civil and very enjoyable.
A shout out goes to Henry for being our Press Ganger lite, in the absence of our previous PG who has moved on to a different game now. *sigh*
One final note was that I got to be a part of a little community support behavior myself there. One of our Cygnar players had a Stormlance model that had broken right above the hoof. So I brought my trusty pinning kit (dremel, brass rod, glue, files, etc) and did a quick repair job for him.