Thursday, November 29, 2012

From the Desk: Judicantbelievehowmanypieces!

Seriously: 63 total pieces. This is going to take a while to put together. I do have to say though, the castings look really good and hardly any mold lines on first inspection. I'm stoked to get started on this project.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gaming Innacuracies: Parallax Effects

Ever sit on the other side of the table and watch as your opponent moved a model and you thought to yourself "Gosh, it seems like he moved way more than he should have"? Well it's entirely possible that your well-meaning opponent was the victim of a parallax effect. And what's more, you might have done it yourself as well. Curious to understand more? Read on!

Disclaimer: I'm not a formal mathematician.

What is a Parallax Effect?
Although strictly speaking, a Parallax is the apparent difference in position of a single object based on 2 different viewpoints, for the purposes of this article I'm reversing the object and viewpoints. In gaming speak, the Parallax is the effective error encountered when measuring is done from a closer position than the distance being measured. More specifically, when I go to move a model I typically hold my tape measure above the model and then move the model using the tape measure as a visual guide for where to move my model to. What's wrong with that? Well let's take a closer look...

How does it work?
So this diagram shows the math behind the situation...
The top corner represents the viewpoint (or where your eye would be). The line in the middle of the triangle is where the tape measure is being held, with Y being the distance above the table that it's being held. M is the distance attempting to be measured, whereas M' is the projected distance due to the displacement of the tape measure from the table surface.
In order to keep the math fairly simple and straightforward, I've assumed that the angle of the two sides joining at point A (the start point of the measure) is a right angle. If it wasn't, the math gets much harder. However with this simple assumption then the calculation is simply a ratio between the sides. I've done the basic algebra to solve for M'. Now that the math is out of the way, let's look at some examples...

What are some examples?
First let's talk about moving a model. Most small based models are 2" or less in height, so let's assume that we're holding the tape measure 2" above the table. Next, let's assume that we're standing about 24" above the table surface (I took a sample of myself standing at my dining room table), or 22" above the tape measure. Now's let's assume I'm moving my Knight Exemplar forward 5" in a straight line. Using our math from above, we discover that the 2" displacement of the tape measure results in an actual movement of 5*(22+2)/22 = 5.45", almost half inch.

Now let's look at measuring an AOE. Let's say I've just dropped the 3" AOE on an Ironclad. This time I lean in closer to the table (12" above the table surface), and due to the height of the Ironclad I have the template 3" above the table surface. Now the math gets further exaggerated. Normally the radius of the template would be 1.5", but due to the displacements it creates an effective viewing of 1.5*12/9 = 2". So your 3" AOE has suddenly become a 4" AOE, all due to not moving the viewpoint appropriately.

Now let's look at an extreme example. Let's say I'm about to surge across the table with my Uhlans on the first turn, running a full 16". And let's say I've leaned in a bit on the table so I'm only 18" above the table surface. And due to the height of the models, I've got my tape measure 3" above the table surface. What's the net effect on the movement? Well instead of 16", the angle of viewing turns it into 16*18/15 = 19.2". That's over 3" of extra movement!

Ok I know what some of you are saying out there, and no, it really isn't that bad in practice. Lots of things help mitigate it: looking to the side rather than from straight above, laying down the tape measure closer, and actually moving your head around just to name a few things. But there are definitely times when having a bit more precision is important. Let's look at some alternatives...

What are some alternatives?
First is obviously to lay the tape measure down right on the table. This is not always possible, particularly when lots of models are jammed in. But if it's in option, it definitely helps.
In that same vein, when doing a charge, doing a combined measure of the move and reach all at once before touching the model is great. Sometimes moving the model first results in some introduced inaccuracy. If the distance is at all in question, then I declare the charge and measure both at once to make it clear whether I was in range or not. Again, not always feasible, but when possible it helps eliminate contention.
Next, try rolling the melee gauge when measuring small movements. Set the melee gauge on the table against the model's base. Then gently "roll" the gauge up on it's corner, keeping it in contact with the table. Then just slide the model forward so the base touches the gauge again. This lets you measure 1/2", 1" and 2" very accurately. I'll do this a lot when I need to maneuver a model around a bunch of other models/terrain but the total distance traveled is critical.
Ask your opponent to check the range. This is particularly common for checking ranged attack distances to targets. Just measure your end and ask them to look over the end of the tape measure to check whether it's in range or not.
Finally, know the AOE and base size matches. For example, a 50mm base is pretty close to 2" in diameter. If a 3" AOE drops on a large based model and you want to see if models nearby are in the AOE, use the 1/2" end of your melee gauge to check the distance between those models and the hit model.

When should I worry about parallax effects most?
Ok, so let's talk frankly here: All the above stuff is good to know but how often is it important to pay attention to this? In an ideal world we would have fancy gaming tables that would light up from below and show you what's in an AOE and how far a model could move, but we're a few years from that probably. And by it's very nature, moving physical models around is going to have some amount of inaccuracy. On top of that is a balance between accuracy and not bogging the game down. So what's a good practice for when to make attempts at being more precise?
I tend to bring in the more accurate methods when distances in the following two key types of situations:
    Distances are not clearly obvious to my opponent (or myself). I'm particularly of this for charges since a failed charge is pretty critical.
    Critical models are involved. It's one thing when an AOE lands on a bunch of tightly packed Temple Flame Guard, but another thing when Nicea is potentially clipped by an AOE.

Closing thoughts:
Well hopefully I haven't put you to sleep with all this. I think much of this was already intuitive to many players, but the other day I pointed it out to my opponent and they responded with "Oh, hey, that's a good point." So after doodling the math during a very boring meeting at work and plugging in a few sample numbers (and being shocked at the results), I figured a post on the topic wouldn't hurt.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Finally done, after sitting around a long time. Proteus once again gets me to a complete set of painted beasts for Legion. Before I dive into the analysis, I want to reflect on plastics.

This was my first plastic warbeast kit to paint and I have to say that cleaning up mold lines on plastic models is just not my cup of tea. It's a different process from metal that I just don't do nearly as often. Cutting into a model with a knife is always more dangerous than using a micro-file. I'm sure eventually I'll get used to it, but for this project I missed a bunch of mold lines and it burned me in the final painting effort. Although I understand the move to plastics, I have to say my preference is still for metal. I'm just more used to it. For warjacks it is easier to clean up mold lines in plastic since many of the surfaces are fairly flat, but for the Legion heavies, it can be pretty challenging to clean up all the little spots.

What went well:
* Basing turned out nice. In particular the broken rocks in front help break up the visual look but not create too much distraction.
* I remembered to paint the rune before sealing!
* Chitin came out pretty well again. Nice to know that after not having painted this large chitin for quite a while that I could still replicate the look.

What could have been better:
* Again, cleaning up mold lines better would have helped.
* Tentacles could have been a little better, but to kick it up a notch I would have had to carefully highlight and shade each tentacle individually.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

From the Desk: Weekend Roundup #16

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving! There's not much to show or talk about on my painting desk this week, but I wanted to get the post in anyway. For the casual reader, I recommend just moving on to the next blog to catch up on. Just a bunch of random updates here and no pictures since the holiday stalled out a fair amount of my activities.

Proteus is done and I'll post pictures of him tomorrow (hopefully). The Shepherd and Throne didn't get any action this week, nor did any assembly happen.

I took the time to clean up my miniatures cabinet, mostly due to a chance invasion by my son. So I cleaned out a bunch of old junk terrain and used the crate to store all my good terrain in, and put that crate out in the garage. That freed up space in my case so that I could move stuff around and have a more sensible arrangement.

My pre-ordered Judicator should arrive this week as well which is exciting. Of course it will be hard to stay focused on the Throne once the it arrives though. At this point though I basically have 3 models I want to finish during the next 3 weeks. Normally that shouldn't be a big deal but when 2 of them are huge-based models, it's pretty daunting.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Wrapping up another solo model for Legion here. The Succubus could have gone far better than it did unfortunately. This definitely turned into a "fighting with paint" situation. This analysis is going to be longer than normal so I'll dive right into it.

What went well:
* Extensive pinning work on the arms and wings saved me lots of heartache later, since those connection points are very thin.
* The base color worked out really well, despite only needing 4 colors to get it done.
* Uhm, yeah, and she's done. Honestly I don't feel like a lot went well with this model.

What could have been better (or went completely wrong):
* This particular copy of the model had horrible mold lines. I mean really terrible. And this model doesn't have a lot of meat to cut into. Unfortunately I didn't notice the mold lines when I bought it. I still should have gone back to the store and asked to swap it once I got it open.
* Speed painting this model was a double edged sword. It got done, and with relatively little time needed, but still left me pretty unsatisfied.
* In general I just found myself fighting with this model. It happens every so often and it's disappointing when it does happen. However I find that it's just important to wrap up that model before starting any other projects.
* Lots of ugly blending transitions and mistakes that never got properly cleaned up. Again, was just sick of fighting with the model.

As a final note, I think this model was sort of a mixed bag. I was excited to get it and paint it, but something about it just really broke my spirit. Perhaps it was the irreparable mold lines that was the root of the problem. Or perhaps it was the sculpt itself. I can't help but wonder if an alternate sculpt would have been more inspiring to paint. You know, perhaps something like...Spud's custom sculpted Succubus (scroll way down to see the results).

Sunday, November 18, 2012

From the Desk: Weekend Roundup #15

Lure of computer games: 2. Lure of painting: 5. Victory: Painting!

First up is Proteus. Made a lot of progress this week. The chitin is mostly done other than final shadowing/highlighting for contrast balance. The base is done painting-wise, but will need some minor flocking probably. I also got the base coating for the skin done which was incredibly tedious. At this point he's about 70% probably. I'm going to push to finish him this week despite the impending holiday and ensuing distractions that may occur.

Not pictured here is the Succubus. She's done! Nothing amazing, but I'll rant about that when I post the final pictures tomorrow.

And, uh, just a quick picture of the completely minor progress on the Throne. Again, just to torture myself with the lack of meaningful progress. The model is not sitting squarely on my desk where I have no choice but to see it. I'm going to need to get the airbrush out some more to speed this one along. There's so much base coating to do that without the airbrush it would be a soul-crushing amount of work to get over the initial hump.

Nothing else to report really. I'm trying to avoid making some OCD timeline of what needs to get finished by when to be at fully painted before my Holiday vacation up north. I'm pretty sure if I did, I would find that there's no humanly way I can make it happen.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Daily Inspiration: 3 Hours Without Distractions

Today's inspiration comes from the Massive Voodoo guys. This post is both awesome and frustrating. Having the opportunity to sit down and paint solid for 3 hours uninterrupted is something I would love to have but rarely get the chance to do anymore. Getting a chance to do that with a good friend pretty much never happens. There was also a post by Meg Maples on the Privateer Press Insider about focusing during painting time which I liked. It's easy to see these sorts of things by great painters and just get jealous or angry. Personally though, I find them inspiring, and it makes me want to figure out how I can create more focus to my painting. As an example of where I fall down, I was painting last night and put on the moving Immortals streaming to my computer while I painted. The results: I did paint during the 2 hours the movie was on, but I also ended up watching a fair chunk of the movie and not getting any actual painting done. I probably could choose movies that are less likely to draw my attention away. Particularly movies that I've seen a lot before. Time to raid the DVD closet I think!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Vassal Mechanic

Nothing particularly fancy here. A quick 3 hour paint job to slam this out. I'm skipping any analysis since it was a speed paint job and nothing really divergent from my normal stuff for Protectorate. Just good to have finished another model after a month of no completions.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

From the Desk: Weekend Roundup #14 (+2)

So rather than cheat with my numbering and account for weeks I didn't actually post, I'm rewinding to where I should be, even though 3 weeks have passed (again) since the last Weekend Roundup.

So I took on a project to paint a full set of the Flagstone bases from Secret Weapon miniatures. It was a project that took me far longer than it should have. I spent a fair amount of time on a few prototypes. My goal was to come up with a painting scheme that would be easy to replicate accurately, was not too terribly long to paint, and yet still looked good. The results are pretty decent. For my own sake, I'll put my notes here on the painting process:
Step 1: Prime white and then base coat white.
Step 2: Wash individual stones using SWW Red Black, Flesh Wash, Concrete, Cool Grey, Dark Sepia, Sewer Water, Stone, Parchment.
Step 3: Go back over Red Black and Cool Grey stones with Sewer Water to darken a bit.
Step 4: Drybrush lightly with P3 MWH.
Step 5: SWW Baby Poop in the gaps between stones to darken. Additional darkening using SWW Heavy Body Black.
Step 6 (moss only): Base moss with P3 Wyrm Green, then wash with GWW Thraka Green.

In my quest to get to fully painted, or very close to it, I'm trying to knock out the Vassal Mechanic real fast. I'm also heavily motivated to finish him since I just pre-ordered the Judicator a couple days ago. This guy is pretty fast to paint. I think this is a total of about 3 hours painting time or so. I'm calling him mostly done. I'm just going to get him stuck on a base and then do any final touch ups necessary.

No photo for this item, but I did a bunch of trimming and prep work on the Extreme Carnivean. Nothing really worth showing at this point. I'll try to do some posts of that project along the way. I'm very tempted to turn it into a competition quality piece, but I'm reserving judgement until I get it fully assembled. The thing is massive and might be a real challenge. On the plus side, the thing is massively awesome looking in pieces.

And then there was some other stuff. I got started (barely) on Proteus by base coating all the chitin sections with P3 Jack Bone. Next will be the layers and layers of washing. I also got a bit more paint on the Sorceress for the Throne. And the Succubus, well, she's got nothing new going on. I'm just including her as self-incrimination of my lack of progress on a model that I really do want to be able to field. All said and done, there are currently 6 projects on my desk at once right now, including the Extreme Canivean, and the Gator Trays (which got no attention at all the last few weeks). I'm really in need of closing out some things and getting focused.

Finally some flagrant display of my excuse for lack of updates. I spent a couple weeks touring around China for work. The trip was both exhausting (5 major cities in 10 days) and exciting (a weekend to bum around in Beijing). I ate amazing food, talked with amazing people, and saw amazing things. I am honestly looking forward to another chance to go out there again, particularly Taipei. These photos are some of my favorite impressions of China.

And I'm out. Now that my traveling is done until my Christmas break up in Canada, I am hoping to get some serious brush time in and close out some of these models.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Battle Report: Feora vs Doomshaper and Mountain King

This battle report is actually blatantly copied directly from an email. Often times when there's a game in our small gaming group there will be an email the next day capturing the amusement of the game for the others that weren't there. This one was pretty amusing, but even more so was the write up by my buddy (and opponent for the game) Lance. I'll let you read his version of the battle.

Some quick notes about terminology. "Paper clip mode" is a term we use to mean being helpful sportsmans to each other. We use this for situations like when someone hasn't played for a few weeks, or we're playing something completely new, or just generally helping each other remember features of our army. I also built my list with no knowledge at all about his list, despite what appears to be helpful match ups for me.

This was an extreme paper clip mode game. Things like me going "uh,
i'm moving them back and not activing that unit, the MK base is F'ing
huge" and scott forgetting he could boost the shots from the battle
engine on the first shot, which we retroactively fixed.

There may have been another round of scott applying damage and me
trying not to die between actions in round 2 and 3, but I think this
is the turn flow.

Scott was sporting;
f'ing battle engine
f'ing nicea (sp, the daughter character solo)
two light jacks, the arc node and the spell protection one
full zealots with monolith bearer
aiyana and holt

I was running;
pDoomshaper tier 3
2x runeshapers
mountain king
min kriel stone unit

When we plunked the stuff down there were a few interesting observations.
- hex hammer from feora does d3 damage when you cast spells,
runeshapers were in danger
- the mountain king is huge, I had problems initially placing my bonus
wall from the tier
- 35 point lists are hard
- zealots + aiyana damage boost + zealot prayer is a crap load of damage output

we played the three control point, one vanishes objective. scott won
the roll, i picked the side with a forest in the deployment zone. the
central area of the board was fairly clear.

scott - round 1!
Zealots take the lead, the battle engine and aiyana/holt go on one
flank. an arc node jack takes the other.

me - round 1!
I throw elemental communion on the MK so it can run 14". I pretty much
shove it out there so it can contest the center point and be within 2"
of the tier bonus wall. I know it can get blinded but I'm just
attempting to anchor down the scenario. Janissa receives elemental
communion and parks behind the wall, off to the side behind the
mountain king. Janissa, arm 19, cover. I smugly prepare to give scott
the finger if he tries to whack her.

we roll. middle control point, aka the one the mountain king would
have been contesting, vanishes.

scott - round 2!
nicea charges janissa and melee-kills her over the wall. Giant foam
middle finger is returned to the case. He uses sprint to engage
doomshaper from behind. OMGWTF. To be fair it was still 8's to hit,
and weapon master charges are violent.

zealots roll into position and pop greater destiny. a few pop bombs on
the MK and set it on fire. Scott misses the earthborn with the damage
boost. If he had hit he would have cleaned it's clock by putting more
zealots on it and a battle engine shot.

me - round 2!
runeshapers on one side move up to take the control point. lob magic
templates and aiyana and holt, decimating them and freeing the troll
people from their tyranny.
Mountain king moves up 5" to engage feora, gorman and a bunch of zealots.
doomshaper and the kriel stone folk fail to kill nicea.
earthborn chills, barely moving and staying where it can get +2spd and
+2 arm from terrain.
runeshapers on the flank with the light jack are largely ineffective,
running up to engage zealots and contest the point.
I feat to try and keep feora from slaying the MK.

scott - round 3!
battle engine contests the point the runeshapers had taken, uses
repulse and shoots two runshapers down.

nicea jabs doomshaper for 8. I take it because I want to hang onto my
other three transfers.

The zealots, in a feat of bravery, walk out of melee with the mountain
king. Many zealots were eaten. One remained behind so I could push
forward. This opened a hole for his light jack to walk in mostly
between the MK and gorman. He pushes gorman 1", out of melee with the
king. Gorman then proceeds to blind the Mountain King.

feora pops engine of destruction and charges the earthborn for a ton
of damage. He was in range to try a flamethrower assassination, but
three fury allowed for too much damage shunting. He took 4(?) points
of damage on his caster due to the doomshaper feat.

feora sets my army on fire.

me - round 3!
the entire kriel stone unit is knocked down from fire/tough checks.
Bad things happened to runeshapers. Doomshaper took 2 or 3 damage from
fire. Due to bad fury management, I only have 5 to work with.

Go time! doomshaper slays nicea in melee and puts fortune on the
earthborn. I'm sitting on 1 fury, aka dead if it doesn't work. The
earthborn boosts to hit on a two handed throw, needing a 9 or 10 to
hit feora. It hits, and I win the str check (12 vs 11 due to engine or
destruction). Feora is hurled into the zealot that is engaging the
mountain king. The blind mountain king starts making pow 19 auto-hit
attacks. Three licks to the center of the feora.

In grand warmachine style, I think both scott and I were riding the
edge of "how to hold this together". He had me wrapped up if I hadn't
of pulled out the assassination. Feora could have easily survived a
round of attacks from the earthborn and then could have dispatched it
or moved on to doomshaper. The battle engine by itself could have
probably finished off doomshaper.

Swapping out mulg, an axer and whelps for the MK in my normal tier
list lineup felt like an ok point trade because the MK takes slams and
power attacks out of scotts portfolio of destruction.