Sunday, April 25, 2010

From the Desk: Pandora Progress

After struggling to find painting time, I managed to get the better part of today for it. I spent most of that time working on assembling the Angelius, and painting Pandora. Here's a shot of the work in progress. I'm definitely deep in the throws of frustration with this model. I'm sure once it starts to come together more I'll feel better, but right now I'm feeling like I should just hit it with a hammer and move on. Painting it in two pieces like this is necessary, but adds more frustration due to the awkwardness of working with it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Highborn Tactics: Units

In this first installment of my thoughts on Highborn army construction, I'm going to focus on unit selection. Obviously there's importance in which caster you pick as well, but I'm going to sidestep that issue for the moment since caster choice has a lot to do with play style preference. I'll just highlight that my experience of playing Highborn spans the following casters: Fiona, Ashlynn, Madhammer, Gorten, and Bart. I have yet to play the other mercenary contracts. Also, for the purposes of discussing unit selection, I'm going to leave out some of the small character units, like Aiyana & Holt. For simplicity sake, anything that I've never personally fielded I've marked with a *, so know that any comments following them are strictly theory-machine.

Steelhead Halberdiers - What is there to say about these guys. They are sort of a basic trooper. Cheap, effective, mobile, and they have reach. Nothing spectacular, and nothing really terrible. I can't say I'm a huge fan of them though, mostly because the models seem like a pain in the butt to assemble and paint.

Steelhead Heavy Cavalry* - Out of all the Warmachine cavalry, these rank #2 in my book, right behind Cryx. They have a fair amount of damage dishing power. However I've typically stayed away from cavalry due to their being expensive.

Steelhead Riflemen* - Maybe I just don't get it. Why would I ever field these when I could get a unit of Long Gunners? These guys gain a reroll on CRA attacks and 1 point of SPD and 1 of POW, but lose so much in comparison. I'd rather spend the 1 extra point for the Long Gunners, provided I wasn't going to use my Cygnar unit slot for Gun Mages that is.

Hammerfall High Shield Gun Corps* - I haven't fielded these guys yet, but my initial thoughts are pretty lukewarm. In shield wall, they are tougher than Forgeguard. Their ranged attacks are quite comparable to Steelhead Riflemen. They're pretty cheap. It's just the SPD 4 that makes them a hard sell. Perhaps under the Searforge contract I'll be more enticed.

Horgenhold Forge Guard - I've tried to love these guys. Under the right circumstances they have been awesome. However they tend to have far too many bad match ups. They're just so blasted slow and easy to hit, and in the new MK2 ranged meta, they just have a lot of trouble making it to the fray. Even at ARM 18, they are easy bait for most things. At SPD 4, they get out-threat ranged by almost everything else. Granted, with Ashlynn's Quicken and her feat, they can really wreck some havoc. However these guys are not first wave attack troopers.

Sea Dog Crew - These guys sort of underwhelm me in MK2. If you pile in enough of the pirate solos, they gain a fair amount of synergy. However the tipping point gets pretty expensive. Plus, I find that my Highborn lists have enough toolbox to them already that adding more stuff to coordinate gets complicated. I will note however that I am a huge fan of the Riflemen attachments.

Press Gangers* - I can't really speak to this unit. They seem interesting, and for so few points, I'd love to work them in. I just haven't mustered up the desire to try them out so no real opinion one way or the other on these guys yet.

Cygnar Mercs:
Long Gunner Infantry* - If I didn't make it clear above when talking about the Steelhead Riflemen, these guys are a good choice. They have been a Cygnar staple for years, and having them in a merc list is definitely useful.

Arcane Tempest Gun Mages - I can't say enough good things about these guys. They bring an element to the army that nothing else possesses. I should note that not including the UA is rather silly, since True Sight grants even more utility that the Highborn contract has trouble mustering. I'd classify these as a staple unit for Highborn contracts.

Precursor Knights* - In reviewing these guys, I'm suddenly wondering why I would ever field Forgeguard in place of these guys. They have better threat range, equal ARM in shield wall, and with the UA can hit even harder on a key round. The one key advantage of Forgeguard is that they are always that good, regardless of UAs and special rounds. On the flip side, these guys bring spell immunity to the table, which is an interesting feature.

Character Units:
Cylena Raefyll & Nyss Hunters - I love this unit. They have been worth their cost almost every battle I've fielded them. They're fast. They're accurate. They're remarkably potent in melee. And they are hard to hit!

Captain Sam Machorne & the Devil Dogs - I want to like these guys. Probably with a few more games I'll be more positive about them. With the right support (like Ashlynn's Quicken spell) they can bring something interesting to the table. Most of all, Sam has the Pronto jack marshal drive to use with non-Rhulic jack options, which is really useful. However this is a unit that clearly needs good synergy to help them out.

Greygore Boomhowler & Co.* - Again, another unit I haven't tried yet. On paper though, these guys seem great. I definitely feel like this is a unit that might perform quite well. They bring some of that classic troll toughness to the table, and with a good weapon selection to boot.

Wrap Up:
So where does this leave me? Well, there's definitely a couple units I want to try out still. However, there are also some staple units that take precedence. Nyss Hunters and Gun Mages are pretty much my go-to units because of their high defense. With Fiona or Ashlynn's feat up, they are pretty much unhittable. However, I'd love to hear other opinions out there. Combo suggestions, other synergies, etc.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

How To: Stripping Models

After a bit of a hiatus from my painting desk, I'm finally getting back to action. I was cleaning up my painting desk storage areas and came upon a box full of old models. Some of them were primed poorly too. I had been looking for some test models to replace my existing one and this looked like a good opportunity for another tip entry. Today I'm going to go over in gory detail how to effectively strip models. I know there are many posts out there about how Simple Green is great for this, but I wanted to actually post a tutorial for those that would like to see proof.

  • This tip is geared towards stripping quality, not speed.
  • I've only really done this seriously for metal miniatures, and not plastics or resins, so reader beware.
  • Simple Green is the key to this tip. Not only does it do the job very effectively, but it's biodegradable and non-toxic.
  • Simple Green will dissolve glue bonds. Typically if a model is on a base, or has parts glued, it becomes easy to separate the parts after soaking for a week.

  • What you'll need:
  • Glass jar with lid
  • Simple Green cleaner
  • Old toothbrush
  • Rubber gloves (optional)

  • How To:
    Step one: Get a jar to toss all your models into. Preferably one that will provide a good water-tight seal, and is clear glass so that you can see what's going on. Then toss all the models into it!
    Next, get your bottle of Simple Green. The easiest place to find it is automotive stores. Whether you get the spray bottle or the big bottle of refills doesn't matter.
    Now fill up your jar! The important thing is to make sure that all parts of all models are covered up. You'll probably want some air in the jar just to make it more effective when you shake it. Once filled, leave it for several days. Every so often, gently shake the jar. This accomplishes a couple of things. First, it shakes loose pieces of primer and paint from the models to let the cleaner do more work. Second, it causes the models to rub against each other and help loosen more primer.
    In this photo I'd left my jar for 2 full weeks. Again, I'm more focused on quality and less on speed. I wanted to make sure every bit of old primer got removed. Remaining bits of primer will fill in model details and defeat the purpose of stripping.
    Next, take the jar to a sink partially filled with warm water. Bring an old toothbrush and start scrubbing. Sometimes you get lucky and a model comes out completely clean, like this one. You'll notice in this photo that I'm wearing rubber gloves. The Simple Green, although bio-friendly, is pretty rough on skin during prolonged contact, so I highly recommend wearing gloves.
    Sometimes, not so lucky, like this old Psyker model. In this case, take the toothbrush to it and scrub a bit, rinsing as necessary to make sure you get all the bits off. A few seconds of scrubbing and typically...
    ...all the primer comes off easily, like with this one.
    After scrubbing each model, rinse them off real well in the warm water and set them aside to dry thoroughly. And you're done! If you're willing to wait a couple weeks of soaking, you can literally be looking at a matter of minutes worth of work.

    Sunday, April 04, 2010

    Death Marshal #3

    Last of the three Death Marshals! This one had some additional work on the magical flames coming out of the coffin, but otherwise he was pretty much done from the assembly-line work on all three.

    What went well:
    * Painting all 3 together for the initial work, and then working them individually helped a lot. It also helps that it was only a group of 3 of them, rather than 6 or 10 like I'm used to with WM/H.
    * The coffins. Based on the feedback, the coffins obviously worked out quite well. I'm probably happiest with them over everything else about these models.
    * Different, but uniform. I feel like I did a pretty decent job of keeping a uniform tone to them all, but also captured the unique details of each pose.

    What could have been better:
    * Faces and skin in general were not my best work. I think some additional color would have helped, but I just didn't quite get that pasty-goth kind of look that I wanted.
    * Being clumsy. I mean seriously... I dropped the one model off my desk. I broke the arm off the jumping one when attempting to pin him to the coffin. I have expected to accidentally spill a pot of paint on the third one. At least the recovery processes weren't so bad.

    Well, 3 more down from my Malifaux backlog! Eventually I'll get there I'm sure. These models, like the entire line, were a joy to paint. Not that I dislike the PP line, but I definitely have a more consistently pleasant painting experience with the Wyrd line. At least so far that is. Pandora's avatar form is up next so we'll see how that goes.

    Saturday, April 03, 2010

    Death Marshal #2

    The second of the three. Some minor trivia about this one... When I was clipping him off of the basing pin, he slipped out of my hand and fell off my desk to the hardwood floor. It's the rare times like these that make me re-think my standing-height desk and hardwood floors. *sigh*

    This one was a little disappointing to attach since it sort of floats a bit above the coffin unfortunately. Otherwise it was pretty easy. I have to admit this is my favorite pose of the three of them too.

    Thursday, April 01, 2010

    Highborn Tactics: Initial Battle Report

    I was originally just going to write a battle report for a game I played on Tuesday night. However, the post quickly started to grow and take on a life of its own. So instead, I'm going to do a series of posts with my thoughts about the Highborn mercenary contract. This is sort of a departure from my normal painting posts since it deals specifically with the Warmachine game itself, so for any of you visitors out there looking for painting posts, don't fret, I'm still working on painting projects. This is just a cathartic exercise for myself. For this first post in the series, I'll focus specifically on the battle report. Regarding the photo: please note, there was a lot of proxying in this battle since we were both trying out some new stuff that we don't own yet.

    The Setup:
    Mission: Overrun
    Khador (Lance): Zerkova (tier 4), 2 Berzerkers, Marauder, Doom Reavers (6+UA) x2, Greylords, 2 Koldun Lords
    Mercs (me): Ashlynn, Mariner, Vanguard, Devil Dogs (10), Mangler (JM'd by Devil Dogs), Forgeguard (10), Dougal, Bokur

    The Throwdown:
    The Zerkova tier 4 list was crazy. Khador won the initiative and went first, which meant the Doomreavers were on my side of the table on round 1, and the jacks were already touching the control zone. Talk about being in my face. From there things went from bad to worse. The Doomreavers kept making tough rolls and destroying any plans I had to pronto the Mangler around and into the flank. On the other side, the Forgeguard went down like a house of cards. Eventually as I started to thin out the Doomreavers though, the jacks started rolling in and causing even more problems. In the battle of attrition, it wasn't going well for the mercs. However, Dougal and Ashlynn were the stars of the show, surviving long enough to clear out the left flank of Doomreavers and sneak around into the control zone. Eventually Ashlynn survived just long enough (by keeping Admonition up and camping 5 focus) to sneak around, ignoring the jacks, and get a run on Zerkova to finish the job. This was, however, a large piece of luck. At that point, only Ashlynn, Dougal and 1 Devil Dog were left for the mercs, while Khador still had 3 fully functional jacks, a Koldun Lord, a Doomreaver, and a Greylord. I have to point out that originally an abnormal dice roll finisher off Ashlynn beforehand, but we decided to ignore it and play it out, so it's actually a combination win/loss.

    The Dice:
    I think it important to note that Lance's dice rolling was on fire. On the Ashlynn feat round it was almost moot from the number of high dice rolls. Doomreavers were making lots of tough rolls, and generally the luck was with him. I on the other hand had medium to low luck on dice rolls. Not abysmal, but below average. However, the dice rolls alone were not what put the merc army through the meat grinder.

    The Takeaway:
    Zerkova is not a closer, and that's basically what kept me alive. Despite the amazing dice for Khador, that's not what crushed my army. The Forgeguard were completely outmatched by the Doomreavers, with their (at best) 18 arm not affording them any protection against pow 13 weaponmasters. The merc jacks were also pretty outclassed by the Doomreavers. And without enough ranged shooting, the Doomreavers were mostly left unchecked. In hindsight, I think that putting Quicken on the Devil Dogs would have been smarter than putting it on the Forgeguard, but even then the matchup was poor. I was at least hoping to pronto the Mangler into a good position and lay out some serious hurt, but that didn't work out either.

    Next post: Units available to Highborn...