Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Death Marshal #1

This is the first of the three Death Marshals. I'll wait until I've completed all three to do a complete recap of the entire painting experience For now I'll just note some specific things about this model.

For the base, I needed to create a more obvious reason for the coffin to be resting in the way that it was, so I painted up a piece of pumice to look like a rock and rested the coffin on it. Some specific small details that I also rounded out are highlighting the static grass with some pure white, and putting a bit of a shadow on the top of the coffin around where his coat hangs.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Immovable Objects vs Cygnar and Mercs

Sunday I was host to a 2-on-2 game of Warmachine, and it was a really fun time. It was 35pts each of assassination goodness. Sorry about the terrible pictures. I forgot to switch off macro-mode and it screwed them all up, but I didn't realize it until I uploaded them today.

The Lists:
Team Awesome:
Cygnar (Aaron): Stryker, Lancer, Stormclad, Defender, Long Gunners (6), Stormblades (6), Journeyman Warcaster, Squire
Mercs (me): Madhammer, 2 Blasters, Basher, Herne & Jonne, Gun Mages (6 + Officer), Nyss Hunters (10), Dougal, Reinholdt, Stannis
Team Immovable Object:
Trolls (Henry): eMadrak, Mauler, Axer, Champs (5), Krielstone Bearer (4 + Elder), Fennblades (10), Fell Caller
Khador (Lance): eSorcha, Behemoth, Devastator, War Dog, Fenris, Widowmakers, Widowmaker Marksman, eEiryss, Koldun Lord, Harlan

The Throwdown:
Rather than try to recall a turn-by-turn replay of the game, I'll hit some highlights. On one flank the Nyss faced off against the Widowmakers and eEiryss near the stream. On the other flank, Fenris and Harlan faced off against Stannis and the Long Gunners. In the middle, an impressive troll brick formed up with Champs in the center, and the beast on one end, while the Behemoth and Devastator took up the other end of the line. Behind that line were the Krielstones, eMadrak, and the Fennblades, while eSorcha stood carefully behind a wall further back. On the other side in the middle was a mish-mash of all the Mercs and Cygnar.

Some of the highlights from the battle:
* The Behemoth got plenty of good scatters with the mortars, taking out 4 of the 7 gun mages on the first round.
* Jonne laid out some great template action, taking out eEiryss, the War Dog, and some Fennblades on Madhammer's feat turn.
* Concentrated attacks from the Cygnar/Merc force took out both Troll beasts before they could get into the fray, negating eMadrak's fury generation potential.
* Stannis and the Long Gunners held their flank like champs. By the end of the game, Stannis had racked up 5 kills: Fenris (after being dismounted), Harlan Versh, 2 Fennblades, and a Fell Caller. Two of those he killed on defensive strikes!
* Although the Basher got to grand slam the Devastator into the Behemoth, eSorcha's follow-up feat round was crushing, leveling the Basher, a Blaster, and the Lancer all in one turn.
* eMadrak's feat was brutal, with a single Fennblade killing almost all the Long Gunners, not to mention the champs nearly getting a solid run on Stryker.

In the end, eSorcha went down first. She was just a bit too close and Stryker caught her with an earthquake. At that point it was a concentrated ranged effort by a large contingent of models to pile on enough damage to finish her off. eMadrak went down a couple rounds later, but only after another extremely focused effort along with a key earthquake hit on a nearby Fennblade. It's important to note that Team Awesome, although awesome, didn't have the hard hitting power needed to really punch through the Devastator and Behemoth. Both of those jacks remained relatively untouched the entire game. It was merely the concerted efforts of the Basher and Gun Mages to keep those jacks at bay by pushing/slamming them back that prevented them from causing massive casualties.

The Closing Thoughts:
[Note: The following closing thoughts are, let's say, paraphrased]
* Scott: Wow dang! That was a ton of fun! And Stannis is just the man.
* Henry: What the heck? Where'd this Stannis guy come from? I mean seriously, taking out a Fell Caller on a defensive strike! Crazy! I'd heard the legends of Stannis but didn't imagine it was all true.
* Lance: STANNIS!!!!!
* Aaron: At first I was concerned about that one flank, but then Stannis rolled in and provided the kind of leadership you only see in a Conan movie.

I'm sure the above quotes will garner a comment or two. In all fairness, here's a list of MVP's for the game:
* Mercs: Stannis - For being an outright stud and killing 5 dudes.
* Cygnar: Stryker - For bravely stepping up with the earthquakes, even after his arc node was down.
* Khador: Behemoth - For generally being terrifying, and mortaring the heck out of stuff, along with wrecking the Basher in nearly a single hit (eSorcha feat round, charge attack did 24 damage in one hit).
* Trolls: Champs - Cause nothing takes a licking and keeps on hitting like Champs.

Monday, March 29, 2010

From the Desk: Death Becomes Them

Work has been really crazy lately, so my painting pace is behind where I'd like to be, but I still managed to get some work done on the Death Marshals. I got them worked to this point with basically just cleanup work and the coffin flames left to do. I decided that the best way to tackle the remaining work is to base and finish them individually from here on out so that I can focus more on each one's unique details. I'll post them each individually as I complete them.

In other news, I got a 2-on-2 game of Warmachine in yesterday (for which I'll post a battle report tomorrow morning), and I finished watching the first season of The Last Airbender. I really enjoyed the series. It's probably the little kid in me that enjoys it so much.

Also, as a part of my normal scanning around for sources of inspiration, I found this rendition of Wyrd's Perdita that is just fabulous. Of particular interest to me is the cactus on the base. So small, and yet so well rendered!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

From the Desk: The Last Paintbender

Quick post before getting some sleep. I managed to carve out some additional painting time today and continued to work on the Death Marshalls. Terribly reflective photo, but it gives you the general idea. I worked the pants, boots, and coats (in that order). Getting the pants and coats done gives me a real sense of accomplishment and progress on the models, even though there's a ton of detail work left to do.

I also started watch Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series. It's pretty entertaining so far, although I've only watched a couple episodes so far. I also watched the Miniature Mentor series with Jennifer Haley on Monochrome techniques. It was pretty interesting to see that she doesn't thin her paint very much in comparison to other people that they've featured before.

At the request of a previous comment, here's my notes on how I painted the coffins. It's sort of a quick summary of the paints and techniques and not a super detailed set of steps.
0) Prime in white - This is important since I started with washes
1) 2 washes of RPP Desert Tan (about 8:1 dilution)
2) wash of P3 Beast Hide
3) wash of P3 Gun Corps Brown
4) controlled wash of P3 battlefield brown
5) WP highlighting of RPP Desert Tan (following zenithal highlighting)
6) thin staining of VGC Sepia Ink
7) controlled wash shading of VGC Black
8) additional WP highlighting of P3 Beast Hide and RPP Desert Tan
9) 2BB P3 Battlefield Brown around the chains to make them stand out a bit more
That's my best recollection of what I did. The multiple layers help create more variation of color, and I didn't worry about blending too smooth since the color shifts help reinforce the wood grain look.
The NMM chains were a bit simpler:
1) Base with VGC Cold Grey
2) 2 washes of VGC Black (3:1 dilution using part water and part flow medium)
3) Highlight mix of VGC Cold Grey and Ghost Grey (1:1)
4) Further highlight VGC Ghost Grey
5) Further highlight VGC White

Anyway, sleep is calling to me since I have another hectic week ahead of me.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

From the Desk: Coffins

It occurred to me the other day that I haven't been posting much on my blog lately except when I have a finished model or an entertaining battle report. Now in all fairness, life has been kicking my butt pretty hard lately, so I've had a decent excuse for not posting more. However there's a fine line between being busy and being lazy. So, to combat laziness, I'm going to start posting more in-progress stuff and random notes. In order to give myself more of an excuse to do so, I'll also give mini-reviews of the junk I watch while painting. And when I use the word "junk", it really is junk sometimes. Netflix streaming is awesome, but for some reason my MST3K sub-brain takes over during the movie picking process and I end up watching a lot of really stupid movies.

Today I carved out a bunch of time to start working on the Death Marshalls. More specifically, I worked on their coffins. I basically used a combination of washes, 2BB, wet palette, and some basic point highlighting. The only thing amazing really is the amount of time I spent on them. I'm really trying to lavish more time on all the Wyrd models and these guys are very fun to work on. I do have to say, the time I spent speed-painting Cryx models using wash techniques really did pay off in terms of being more confident with washes. I feel like that really helped me get a good base coat on these coffins the way I wanted it.

Today I watched two things. First was an episode of the TV series The Greatest American Hero. It was just as silly as I remember it being. I also watched an installment of Miniature Mentor about battle damage. This was very good. I highly recommend the series to anyone looking to learn new skills. The camera work continues to impress me. This particular tutorial around battle damage was definitely informative, but I can say that the amount of battle damage is a bit more than my preference.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Madhammer vs Mortenebra (round 1)

I labeled this as "round 1", because I highly suspect that there will be more games of this combination in the future. Henry and I had a blast in this game. Anyway, on to the battle report:

The Setup:
Scenario: 50pts, Assassination
Me: Madhammer, Basher, 2 Blasters, Nyss Hunters (10), Forgeguard (10), Alexia, Gun Mages (6+UA), Herne & Jonne, Dougal, Bokur, Aiyana & Holt
Henry: Mortenebra, Deathjack, Harrower, Nightmare, Biles (10), Pistol Wraith, Warwitch Siren, Withershadow, Gorman

The Throwdown:
This was actually a pretty fast battle, despite my swarm of infantry and it being 50pts. I won the initiative and went first, rushing towards the middle at my typical stumpy-dwarf pace. I'd positioned the Forgeguard centrally with Nyss on one side and Alexia/Gun Mages on the other. The Cryx force surged in, slightly favoring the side with Alexia and the Gun Mages, mostly due to the terrain I suspect, but also because the Deathjack was further up due to AD. I pushed in closer, used Madhammer's feat, and took a few shots. I rolled good damage on the Harrower, but unfortunate location rolls meant it didn't lose any systems. This is where things nearly got completely out of hand. You'll notice in this first picture my positioning after my 2nd turn. And then...

...the Harrower rolled in. I had not really thought through just how effective the Harrower could be against infantry. Between threshering on the first attack and buying extra attacks with the accumulated soul tokens (and continuing to chain based on those soul tokens), it cleared out the entire unit of Forgeguard and 1 Nyss. Geez! The Nightmare then trampled in, killing 2 more Nyss and buying an attack to kill Aiyana. And then the Deathjack rolled in and clobered Alexia and a Blaster. It was a pretty hammering round to say the least. However, victory still lingered within my grasp!

First the Bokur moved up out of the Basher's path. Then Madhammer advanced, put Redline on the Basher, and took a case-cracker shot at Mortenebra putting some damage on her. Then the Basher slamed the Harrower back 8"(!), taking out both it and the Pistol Wraith at the same time. This cleared a path for the second Blaster, which advanced and sprayed Mortenebra and due to the powerful shot, put some more damage on her. Then the Gun Mages advanced around, did a little clean up, and more specifically took out the Warwitch. This cleared the path for the Nyss who then charged in and finished the job. It took leveraging everything left in my army in order to pull it out, but that's what a "No Quarter"-style win is all about.

The Post-Game:
Man what a fun battle! It was Henry's first time running Mortenebra, and only my 5th or so game with Madhammer. It was fast and furious, but very entertaining. I think there were a couple key things that contributed to the fun from my perspective: First, the caster selections are entertaining. I've had discussions with multiple players now about how some casters suck the fun out of the game because they shut down armies and general remove your ability to just play your army (eDeneghra, Kreoss, Sorcha, eMagnus, Baldur). Motenebra and Madhammer fall into the category of where their feats boost their own armies rather than handicap (or downright stall) their opponent's army, which keeps things more entertaining. Second, both armies had more of the "toolbox" feel. Lots of features with lots of flexibility, and many choices to make each round.

Now, for the MVP awards:
* The Harrower - Good lord! 11 mans in one activation! 11!!! Level up baby! That whole soul-chaining thing is just badass.
* The Basher - Hooray for getting a slam off! I'm still not 100% convinced he's worth 7pts, but when he pulls off a Redlined slam, it definitely brings home the bacon.
* My dice - I have to acknowledge the fact that my dice didn't betray me, and when I needed to hit, I hit. No tragic rolling of 5 on 3 dice to miss a critical attack or anything like that.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Durgen Madhammer

Rounding out my initial Rhulic battlegroup is Durgen Madhammer. In the first few games that I proxied him, I had a great time, and I'm really looking forward to getting more games in with him. This model presented me with a couple of key options that I feel obligated to point out. First, the visor comes separate and can be positioned as desired, so I opted to go with it closed, mostly because I felt it gave him a slightly more surreal look that I liked better than with the visor open. The second thing was the spare ammo, which I attached to his hip. This came separate as well, and after painting and roughly positioning it, decided to go ahead and include it.

What went well:
* Painting him with the rest of the jacks helped speed up the process as well as create more uniformity to the whole group.
* Using a wet palette for metals was helpful. I wasn't really expecting it, but it was helpful, especially when trying to mix shades of gold and silver together to create better highlight colors. I need to give this some additional practice and see what it will achieve.

What could have been better:
* There are a few places where the metals look a little too cartooney due to too much blacklining contrast. Overall I felt like I got some good practice with metals in, but some of the detailing work is still eluding my skills.

Overall this battlegroup was a lot of fun to do. It also afforded me an opportunity to practice more with doing real metalics, which I personally prefer the look of to NMM. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and I do acknowledge some very impressive work done with NMM. However I just prefer the look of real metalics and would like to refine my skills with them much much further. Hopefully the experience of using the wet palette will open a new door for me.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ghordson Basher

Next off the Rhulic assembly line: the Ghordson Basher! This compact but potent creation features a heavy duty smashing front, strong powerful legs, and a tail hitch for a convenient 10-ton towing capacity! Seriously, the tail hitch is probably my favorite feature of the model. It makes me laugh every time I look at it.

This model was worked on at the same time as the Blasters, and Madhammer in order to keep the look fairly consistent. Again, more paint wear to represent usage, and even more verdigris on the bronzes to show extended use in dank humid tunnels.

What went well:
* Painting these at the same time as the rest of the battlegroup really helped keep things looking consistent.

What could have been better:
* The numbering was not quite as crisp, but still readable.
* More challenges with placement on the base, but much more reasonable than the Blasters.
* Flat plates on the legs made for some challenges around zenithal shading choices.

For my own future reference, here's a quick summary of the painting process:
Prime: black
Steels: heavy drybrush Boltgun Metal, wash Badab Black
Bronzes: Shinning Gold, wash Gryphon Sepia, selected wash P3 Turquoise Ink
Verdigris: selected wash Arcane Blue, selected wash Necrotite Green, selected wash VMC Smoke
Reds: (all wet palette) base Skorne Red Base, highlight Khador Red, first shade Skorne Red Base + Meridius Blue (3:1), second shade Umbral Umber
Steels: highlight Boltgun Metal, second highlight Mithril Silver
Bronzes: highlight Shining Gold, second highlight VMC Brass

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Grundback Blasters

Fresh off the assembly line: 2 new Grundback Blasters! These nasty little buggers, often referred to as part of the "gun bunny" family, are a part of the Madhammer battlegroup I am currently working on. Although small in size and point cost, I've found them to be an amusing addition to my merc force. Sprays are very potent in MK2, particularly in clearing off infantry from an engaged heavy, and these little guys are champs at that job.

Before talking about painting these, I'd like to mention the assembly. They posed a bit of a challenge in a couple ways. First, their feet are not exactly basing friendly. Big wide flat feet are amusing, but hard to position reasonably, especially when I paint the model off of the based and attach him later. Second, the joints all required pinning as the joins are less than perfect. I ended up doing a combination of pinning and green stuff to get them all together.

As far as painting goes, I decided to go with a metal-and-red scheme, since Madhammer strikes me as a bold sort of fellow. Red is the color of fire, and blasts, and well... more fire! So that's what I decided to go with. Just like the Vanguard, I wanted some battle damage on them so that they appeared used, but not broken down. In order to do the battle damage, I used the same technique as before. Specifically I did all the metals first, with metal everywhere. Then I used the wet palette and added the reds afterwards by controlling the transparency and layering the red on. This gave it a look like the paint was partially worn/blasted off in places. I've become more and more fond of this technique as I use it.

What went well:
* These were fun to paint! Quick, easy, and not at all frustrating (except for the normal tedious nature of bronzes).
* The numbers for each of them, although not Rhulic characters, turned out good. I like the industrial formatting of them.
* The bases worked out great. I used a little red in the shading of the rocks to tie the whole scheme together. My wife even went out of her way to comment on the bases, so I take that as a good sign.

What could have been better:
* More time as usual.
* Better planning around the bases so that they positioned better.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Arcane Tempest Gun Mages

Sometimes I am caught off guard by a model. I think to myself "Wow! I love those! I want to paint those!" If they aren't in my primary factions, then I often wait or look for an opportunity to paint them for someone else. In the case of the Gun Mages, MK2 made them available to the mercenary Highborn contract, which made me very excited. I proxied them one game and found them to be excellent. I rushed out and bought them soon after. I stuck them to bases temporarily and played them unpainted while I was finishing up previous projects. Then I started painting them and... they were tedious. Not just a little tedious. They were painfully tedious. I honestly couldn't explain why either. Painting units is frequently soul-crushing, but these were especially so for some reason. I finished them up, and they aren't great, but they are finished. So it got me thinking... why were they so painfully tedious to paint?

1) Units are tedious. Duh!! Painting a whole unit of models together can be frustrating. So much time gets spent in the beginning and so little progress seems to get made.

2) I primed these white, and I often have a problem with being frustrated with my progress when painting over white. It has to do with the color balance to the eye. I typically don't base coat everything before doing shading and highlighting, so I'll get to this point where half the model is done and the other half is stark white. It makes my eyes angry.

3) Although these models appear like nice simple sculpts, there was something about the color choices I had and the surfaces available that just didn't seem to jive. I think used much more of a brown palette and eliminated the green that I'd have been happier. Unfortunately that didn't become clearer to me until I was nearly done. *sigh*

4) Rushing to get them done obviously got me cranky. I was sick of proxying other models in my battles while I tried to get these guys done. Lesson learned: Don't field something until AFTER it's painted.

Most of this is no revelation to anyone out there I'm sure. This just felt like a chance for me to step back and pay attention to where my own personal desire to paint is gravitating towards and aim more in that direction.