Friday, 30 September 2011

Painting Tips and Reviews - New Page

I'm not an expert painter and the miniatures that I produce are only really average at best. However, like most of us I'm always looking to improve my techniques and find the best materials.

I'm now keeping a record on this blog of the tips and hints that I find, hear, or figure out through trial and (often) error. This will be on a new page, that you can see under the header, as well as in regular posts. I'm also going to keep a note of paints and brushes that I use, and importantly, how I use them; mostly for my own reference, but they might be of use to others too.

Here are my first two reviews, looking at a couple of the brushes I use most often at the moment:

This is probably the brush I use most often. It reminds me of the third gear on an old mini that I used to have - you can get started with it and push it really far before you need to think about using something else. Although it's called 'insane detail' it's actually a very useful size to use for a range of applications, as it helps me maintain a steady pace, instead of letting me being tempted to rush ahead and get a job finished. The quality of the hair seems really high for a relatively inexpensive product and I've not had any issues with forking or bending. 

This is a real workhorse. It's also the only Citadel brush that I've used that hasn't turned out to be complete rubbish - all the others are now used for bases, adding large area washes, and even for applying PVA glue - that really tells you what I think of them! The fine detail brush, on the other hand, is never far from reach, although it does seem to be showing signs of wear after a couple of weeks of use. This brush is probably a false economy and I probably won't buy another, but it's worth it for a beginner.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Big Painting Conundrum

I'm at a crossroads and I really need to think hard about which way to turn. I'm suffering from what I've come to call the Big Painting Conundrum.

Over the last few days I've been looking at painting guides online and at pdf copies of the How To Paint Citadel Miniatures book and the very interesting Ultimate Miniatures Painting Guide from Cool Mini Or Not. I've been watching The Painting Clinic Channel for a host of tips, and I've found the perfect solution for painting red. When I got back into gaming about 18 months ago it took me a while to progress onto painting - just putting the miniatures together and playing a handful of games took up a lot of time.

Now I've really got the painting bug, the nagging question is... How much effort to put into painting? I'm at the stage where the 'undercoat, base coat, wash, two levels of highlights' approach is pretty straightforward and looks to be producing some good enough tabletop miniatures. Although I don't have any aspirations to enter into competitions with my painting, part of me really does want to develop my skills as far as is possible.

Yet I'm troubled by the notion that to reach 'the next level' as a miniatures painter will be a very heavy investment of time. Let's say that to be competent at the stage I've outlined above it's taken me very approximately 25-30 hours. What will it take to reach the next stage of accomplishment - I mean in terms of the finished look of the model - and will the time investment satisfactorily match the improvement in appearance? Will it be worth it when considering the accumulated additional hours per miniature?

Over the coming months I will have to settle on an approach and a preferred set of techniques. But for now, these are the best tips I've found or have figured out through trial and error, and I'm certain that they match most people's experiences (although I think they're always worth repeating, even if just for my own benefit!): 

  1. Be patient - probably the easiest thing to forget! - getting it right takes time
  2. Experiment and accept you'll go wrong every now and then - I know I have and sometimes in ways I'd not realised at the time
  3. Thin and mix paints all the time, while being as painterly as possible within your ability - this is what I'll be working out over the autumn/winter
  4. Never cut corners on materials - crap paint and crap brushes equals crap finish and there's no way to avoid that
  5. Sit properly in a well lit area and don't hunch your back - ouch! 

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

House Rules for Warhammer 8th Edition

I've always liked tinkering with rules. A few months ago I ran a short greenskins v dwarfs campaign with Dr Bargle that included a number of scenario specific rule sets. For example, in one battle a column of wolf and boar chariots dragged a number of spear chukkas. These used the following bespoke rule set: 

  • Movement of the chariots is as normal and the spear chukkas are already loaded - the chukkas can be released in a turn of the controlling player's choice and MUST be released if the chariot is destroyed or enters close combat
  • On the turn the war machines are released, roll on the artillery dice to determine direction for facing
  • Now the loaded shot is fired due to the chukka crashing into the ground - resolve the shot using the BS of the crew with any normal modifiers. 
Much incompetent-goblin-fuelled hilarity ensued. Recently, however, along with the members of my regular small gaming I've got to thinking about some more solid 'house rules' that we could use. The purpose of these rules will be simple: to help ensure an enjoyable and characterful game. None of us are interested in math-hammer, hero-hammer or mega-unit-hammer. We all adore pouring loads of narrative into all our gaming exploits - we are, at heart, roleplayers of the old school. And so, with more than a hint of trepidation (knowing what the internet can be like...) I've decided to chart the development of our house rules on this blog - I've included a separate page for just this purpose here.

Our first rules for play testing are as follows, and are an attempt to keep the scale of battles lower than 8th ed often encourages, and to allow for tactical diversity in objective-based play:

(i) Any unit with individual models with a basic points value greater than 5 pts cannot be larger than 25 models;

(ii) No unit may have more ranks than files - e.g. a unit with a width of 5 models can be no more than 5 models deep.

I will keep a record of how these influence our games and any amendments we make to them. 


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Where the magic happens...

I am not by nature the tidiest person. And collecting, modelling and painting wargames miniatures is a hobby that lends itself to a great deal of clutter. All in all, it's a 'perfect storm' kind of situation. Over the past eighteen months (since I got back into collecting etc.) our house has got progressively more clogged up with my hobby bits and pieces - there is, for example, a massive sprue pile next to my bed that I am trying to ignore and my wife is constantly reminding me of... Our house isn't massive and with the back bedroom soon to be turned from my 'junk room' into our second child's bedroom I needed to find a more flexible way of working. 

The games tray with works-in-progress: Grave Guard command, Marienburg command units, Sea Elf pistolier
So in an effort to make a contribution towards positive marital relations I've bought a few things to help keep things tidy; namely, a tool box for storage of paints etc. and a games tray to use as a workstation. I actually got these a couple of months ago, but... well, I'm the kind of guy who needs a long run-in time for a project...! This morning I finally got around to sorting them out - and here is the evidence 

The games tray and the tool box.

Top layer with paints

Bottom layer with glues, basing materials, etc.

My painting corner
Above is a picture of my painting corner, resplendent with the lamp that my wife calls 'ugly' but that I'm rather fond of.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

The gathering of the undead warhost begins...

I like mixing up my painting projects because I either get bored very easily or just get tempted away by something new. That's why it helps to have a number of armies/projects on the go at the same time. I've been collecting the odd undead model for a while without much direction, but I recently decided to dive in properly and start a Vampire Counts army. There are some many good models made by lots of different manufactures that it will be impossible to ever 'complete' an army - this is why I'm so keen on collecting humans together with the Marienburg theme: the possibilities are endless. Anyway, here are the first two undead models to leave the painting tray. A Wight Lord and a Tomb Banshee (both metals from GW).

Wight Lord and Tomb Banshee
Back view
The main aim with working on these two models was to experiment with colours, generally the mix of the green, red and blue, but also more specifically with getting the rotting/aged look without losing the sharp colours and contrasts. I'm particularly happy with two aspects. Firstly, the metals on the Wight Lord: here I used Tin Bitz and then successive dry brushing with Bold Gun metal, Chain Mail, and finally Blazing Orange - I think this has achieved a pretty good rusted look. Secondly, I'm pleased with my experiment with the green: here I used Scorpion Green and then a wash of Leviathan Purple, followed by highlights of the green again, mixed with different parts of Skull White.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Mantic Men

I really like the undead models from Mantic - I'll be using them to gather an undead war host during October. I've just heard that they're planning to release a human army too. This has been much anticipated on Empire forums and I'm very much looking forward to seeing the early releases. I just hope they're up to the standard of the skeletons and dwarf models rather than the oddly spindly elves they do. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Old Grumbler Complete!

No, not a reference to myself (boom boom), but the name of the first complete Marienburg war machine - and, in fact, unit. A scenic base will follow, although this won't be for a while as I have LOADS to work on.

A crew member

Old Grumbler and 'his' crew, the Marienburg Miners 
All in all, very pleased with this lot. Great practice for paining the Marienburg colours of yellow, red and blue. I decided to focus on the yellow to get the maximum challenge from the miniatures.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Hey man, how you doing? What's ya name? Nice to meet ya, I'm Andy. What ya working on at the moment?

That was how I was greeted this morning (with accompanying handshake) when I popped into GW to pick up some brushes. I'm so used to this now it just sort of washes over me.

I got to thinking about this when I read this post at fighting fantasist, where he notes that on a recent visit none of this happened to him. I suppose they do this to most people - the matey sales pitch - but I always feel as if they make an extra bit of effort for, shall we say, the older customer with independent means (i.e. a job and doesn't live with their parents).

I've found going in with a toddler to be a very interesting experience, as they've even tried to suggest that I might like to get an army started for him (he's two). While I do see him as a future gaming opponent, it might be asking a little bit too much to get him into WFB just yet, as he may have trouble calculating save modifiers.

As a final thought, my brother was once approached in a GW store when looking over a box of miniatures by an eager chap who said (and I kid you not): 'So, a chaos man, eh?'

Painting yellow often left me feeling blue, until now...

It's taken me a while, but I've found an excellent and speedy way to achieve a very pleasing yellow. Here's an example from one of the waiting-to-be-started-painting-jobs:

This sea elf pistolier is a conversion from the Island of Blood set (purchased from eBay). I cut back the original arms and added the spare arms from the outriders/pistoliers sprues after making outriders from that set. For the yellow here I've base coated in Army Painter Matt White, then used the Formula P3 Yellow Ink (pictured) from Privateer Press, with an Orgyn flesh wash in the recesses. This is the first time I've used one of the P3 range and I'm incredibly impressed - the pigment is strong, it's easy to apply and the coverage is smooth. I'll be trying some more of their range over the coming months, along with some of the other Army Painter primers, when I get started on my long-desired Vampire Counts army.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Ogre cannon and dwarf crew

One of my (many) ongoing modelling and painting projects, here's a 40k ogryn converted with bits from the OK lead bleachers sprues, along with a dwarf crew to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible - this will play as a cannon and I'll make up a scenic/vignette base, once I've figured out what it'll be...

Monday, 19 September 2011

Apparently, it's national 'talk like a pirate day'

I have no idea why people are whining about Dreadfleet. It looks good to me, board games are great, and Games Workshop have a good track record for stand-alone games. If you don't like it, guess what? Don't buy it! Certainly (as was pointed out to me today), don't moan about GW being an evil empire and then complain that they haven't spent their time putting out another twenty quid plus army book...! The game-play will probably been marvellous, given the quality of the games development team - and if you look at the sprues on the website, there's plenty of opportunity to use the islands as objective markers. Plus, the 'seascape gaming mat' looks like it could easily be scaled-up for use with other pirate-based skirmish games. Overall, seems like a win-win to me.

All aboard!

Battle Report - versus Greenskins

A couple of Saturdays ago my Marienburg army had its maiden battle against a force of greenskins led by a rather nasty goblin warboss and featuring savage orcs, spider riders, river trolls and mangler squigs. The orcs and goblins were actually my own but were ably fielded by frequent gaming opponent Andy - no photos this time, but I'll be sure to get some for the next match-up and all future battles.

My List

1 x Wizard Lord (Level 4) with Talisman of Preservation - 255 pts
1 x Master Engineer with Hochland Long Rifle - 85 pts
1 x Battle Wizard (Level 2) - 100 pts
1 x Master Engineer - 65 pts 

20 x Hangunners with marksman - 165 pts
25 x Halberdiers with full command - 145 pts
15 x Huntsmen - 150 pts
10 x Crossbows - 80 pts
10 x Crossbows - 80 pts
15 x Swordsmen - 90 pts

Great Cannon - 100 pts
Mortar - 75 pts
5 x Pistoliers with outrider and musician - 104 pts
15 x Great swords with champion - 162 pts 
5 x Outriders - 105 pts
Volley Gun - 110 pts
Rocket Battery - 115 pts

TOTAL: 1986 pts

The early stages of the Marienburg artillery (including custom built volley gun) 
The Set Up
Pistoliers and crossbows on the right flank with the volley gun, facing spider riders. Centre of the field is the cannon, halberdiers, crossbows, great swords and swordsmen, facing goblins, trolls and a doom diver. Left flank has the outriders, handgunners and the rocket battery and mortar, facing savage orcs. Wizards are placed with the main troops, while the engineers attend to the grouped war machines.

Vanguard Turn 
Spider riders advance down my right flank, pistoliers move to counter. Outriders advance and turn to open up field of fire.

Turn One
Greenskins advance straight across the table at a march, suffering no animosity. I fire off all ranged weapons, mostly in an attempt to kill the manglers squigs that are moving ahead of Andy's lines. Doom diver kills a great sword. I don't move any of my infantry as I'm not keen on having them mashed up just yet. Wizards manage to inflict wounds on the trolls and halt their advance with lore of fire - also hex the goblin general. Outriders reduce wounds on mangler squibs but don't kill them - similar result in the centre of the field. Volley gun opens up on the spider riders but misfires twice (one re-rolled by the engineer) resulting in an explosion. Crossbows panic and flee the field.

Turn Two
Spider riders survive the volley gun and charge cannon; however, the spiders amazingly fall short on the dice roll. Squigs advance so my lines stay where they are. Doom diver kills several great swords again. Wizard lord get off purple sun, which takes out a number of the night goblins, but they hold. Outriders fire again on the other squibs along with the handgunners, eventually destroying them. All other ranged weapons pepper the greenskin lines, while the cannon blasts the goblin boss in the spider riders, fortunately causing panic and sending them fleeing from the field.  

Turn Three
Much as before, although there is now animosity among the savage orcs. Trolls now getting in charge range over a hill in the centre of the field. I realise now that I can only realistically play gun-line tactics. Doom diver misfires and is destroyed. Another purple sun vortex is (rather reluctantly) cast at the goblins, slowing their advance again.

Turn Four
Cannon shot kills a troll and goes through the savage orcs, who are then panic after being hit by the mortar, outrider and handgun fire. The goblins suffer casualties from crossbows and are reduced to panic. The battle ends.

Marienburg victory.

An interesting game, if not a really exciting one. Plenty of opportunity to get to grips with the artillery and other black power elements of the force, but little in the way of hand-to-hand combat - certainly no chance to use the detachment system. Also there was a lot of turn drag, as neither of us were that familiar with our armies.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Invaded by Nurgle!

Marienburg was briefly invaded by the forces of Nurgle today... but never fear, it was just a model that my brother bought and I had the pleasure of putting together - my first time with the finecast resin. It was really impressive and I can't wait to get something myself. Anyway, here's a photo - as usual I couldn't resist a bit of kit-bashing, so this guy got some wings to make him a little more suitable for warhammer fantasy.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Painting human flesh

It's difficult to get flesh to look right, but I think I've found a good approach. I used to start with Citadel Tallarn Flesh on a white or black undercoat. However, while this provided good coverage, I found that the pigment of the Tallarn Flesh was a little heavy - probably because it's from Citadel's Foundation range. I still use it on my ogres, but for humans I now do the following: base coat Army Painter Matt White, then a thinned coat of Privateer Press Ryan Flesh, covered in a liberal wash of Citadel Ogryn Flesh. It looks a little like this:

This is very good for a quick first stage and it gets a reasonable contrast between the highlighted and shaded areas on the face and hands. Once the clothing is done, I'll return to do another wash in the deepest areas, then several layers of highlighting with the Ryan Flesh mixed with Skull White.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Ogres of Marienburg - Stage One

Here is the first stage of progress on some ogre maneaters that I'll be using as unit fillers.

The Imperial ogre in the middle will be going into the greatswords, while I think the Araby fellow will be with the swordsmen. Not decided on the pirate yet, but I do have a large unit of Wargames Foundry pirates he could slot into; decisions, decisions... In other news, a slight update to the standard bearer for the halberdiers unit. I realised that I hadn't topped the standard off (as it were), so I added some great weapon arms that I had spare from the Vampire Counts grave guard (along with some other bits) - pretty pleased with it so far:

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Making unique command groups

I've never been one to use models just out of the box, and command groups are ideal for a spot of kit bashing. Here are two works in progress.

Firstly, the command group for my main halberdier unit.

Nothing too fancy here because with the halberds getting the unit to sit together without folks falling all over the place can be a nightmare. The musician uses the flute from the handgunners sprues while the head and body are from the state troopers set. The champion uses a state trooper body along with the head and massive warhammer from the Empire general sprues. Sharp eyed readers will already have noted that the standard bearer's body is from Perry Miniatures, with head and arms supplied from the GW state troopers bits.

Now these chaps from my swordsmen command group are a good deal more interesting. I'm going to have fewer ranking-up problems here, because this is one of the units where I'll be using ogres as unit fillers. Across the three models I've utilised bits from the state troopers, militia, knights, and pistoliers kits. I'm really glad that I've been able to make the most of the coat/capes from some of the spare outrider/pistolier sprues that I've got - they make for really dynamic looking models. Hopefully, once they have a lick of paint, they'll look great advancing across the battlefield.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

A Storm of Greatswords

Some recently acquired greatswords are taking a well earned bath in nail varnish remover, while I take a trip to Westeros. These are the early 1990s metal models - I got 12 off eBay for a pretty fair price (new current plastics are stupidly expensive!)

These will eventually go into a mixed unit with some sea elf swordmasters (those arrive today and are from the Island of Blood set) and the Imperial ogre maneater - I'm also thinking of adding a dwarf model to the front row, I just have to find a good looking one with a great weapon.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Welcome to the Capital of the Wasteland

Good day to you, weary traveler, and welcome to my modelling, painting and gaming blog. Over the coming months (and maybe longer...) I'll use this gazette to catalogue the expansion and exploits of my soon-to-be legendary Marienburg army.

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