Thursday, 27 September 2012

Meet the Flockers


Last week, in an optimistic spasm of idiocy, I said Maisey and I would finish refurbishing the Beard Bunker’s  tired old fail-fest of a Realm of Battleboard over the weekend. Pinning myself down to a deadline has previously resulted in my being late by over two months. I thought myself a fool. And yet, behold:


This whole... on time thing is a bit off-colour for the Beard Bunker. It’s probably Maisey’s fault. He’s the organised one. I can’t even find my own elbow half the time.

Anyway, in an emphatic departure from its predecessor, we’ve gone for a late summer look to the grass on this board. It’s a bit greener in the flesh than it is in these photos, but still, the overall effect we were aiming for was more dead and yellowy than your standard gaming board.

I’m not going to go over the techniques we used in-depth; as mentioned in my previous post, Battlesandbiscuits have solid tutorials on table painting and flocking. We’ve gone for a pretty conventional palette of paints – so as to fit in with the majority of our fantasy bases – but for those of you who’re interested, I shall at least tell ye which colours we done used.

Basecoat. Pour homme.

Scorched Brown? Nope, but Homebase did their best to produce something almost identical. One £3.50 mixing pot provided more than enough paint for the basecoat.

Cliffy Byro.

We then drybrushed the cliffs with a dark grey, again a tester pot from Homebase. Mmmm, emulsion. The colour was, I should add, a lot darker than it looks in the photo. After that, we busted out the keg of faux-Khemri Homebase Brown we got for painting our desert board. I swear Homebase aren’t paying me for a plug. Because obviously the Beard Bunker has such a huge audience that we get marketing requests from massive corporations all the fudging time.


As we were unable to remove the water effects from the previous paint job, we covered them with tacking putty and painted around them. Obviously we had to touch up a few bits afterwards, but it was relatively painless.


The rocks were given love. Fortress Grey love. Yay contrast. If you can’t tell, the bit with Fortress Grey is on the right of the image.

i SIEVED THIS!

Scorched grass went around the edges of all the board sections to ensure consistent joins. For our secondary flocking colour, we blended in Silflor’s late autumn flock, which we picked up from Antenocitis Workshop.

Several glue-filled hours later, Maisey and I emerged triumphant. Mostly.  His phone had a thousand words to say on the subject:


There are one or two bits I would've done differently in retrospect, but overall, I'm really looking forward to playing a game of Fantasy on this bad boy.

~Charlie

Monday, 24 September 2012

I Was Uncool Before Uncool Was Cool


I went to Games Day Today Yesterday, and I’m going to pop up a quick, disorganised and rambling post about my day.


What I did at Games Day.

 I met my friend Gareth shortly after opening, and we spent a considerable amount of the morning looking at the Armies on Parade and Golden Demon entries.
After a curry, we went to the Forgeworld Stall where we queued for what must have been, literally, agonising, minutes. – The sales areas have been seriously sorted the hell out and are as slick as a Transocean drilling operation in the Gulf of Mexico.
Surprised at the lack of queuing pain, we had a bit of a mooch around the design studio stalls, and then went to Forgeworld where we had a decent old chat with several people and saw a lot of new stuff.

Leaving the Forgeworld area, we had one last look at the Golden Demon stuff (including scoping the slayer sword winning zombie dragon) and then sat down for the awards.
(Sorry about the photography, it is sporadic and a bit shaky. You’ll have to use your imagination for the most part).

That was a brief synopsis, I’ll go through a few of these areas in a bit more detail.

Armies On Parade.
The one I voted for

I spent a good chunk of time looking at the Armies on Parade and it’s a funny competition. For a start, qualification is by regional knock out, so the quality of entries varies massively. In some stores the only entry goes through, in others there is stiff competition and what turns out to be the equivalent of a seasoned veteran gets to go to Games Day.

Secondly, there seems to be some confusion about what the entry should actually consist of – I think that it is clear that the competition is not simply a painting competition, and those entries that consisted only of well painted models plonked down onto a painted realm of battle tile failed to capture attention and win. Good painting (and particularly, a dark or muted colour scheme) suffers from a lack of good lighting – these entries are not lit by Golden Demon style halogen lamps
Steve Jobs' iCrons?

The entries that seemed to garner most attention (and the ones that I liked the most) were the ones that consisted of a strong narrative or idea, with integral scenery on the tile and a degree of modelling and painting expertise.
Ork Shanty town. Love it.
Certainly, the entry that (I think) won did not display the best painting. It was, however, well modelled, and told the story of tyranid infestation of a remote and isolated imperial outpost on a jungle world. Highlights included a fluorescent spawning pond; a lictor painted so that it seamlessly blended into the undergrowth and a number of infiltrating stealers crawling over the walls.

In truth it wasn’t my favourite, but it obviously captured the imagination of the other voters. My favourites included:

A beautifully painted Space Wolf force about to blow the asbestos right out of an exquisitely painted Kairos Fateweaver as he materialised from a smashed Rhino.
An Ork infiltration of a high rise (over 3’) Imperial City block

An Ogre incursion into a beautifully modelled Empire settlement built on the side of a snowy hill
Stupidly, I forgot to photo any of them, so you'll have to imagine them. If it helps, they were ace!

Overall, the painting standard in the competition was very high. However, there were few entries that succeeded in properly blending the force into background.  It may be the case that the scenery has become more important than was originally intended by the designers of the competition.
Nevertheless, it is my firm intention to enter an Army on Parade into next year’s Golden Demon.

New Stuff.

The Forgeworld stand was over crowded with new stuff. The majority of which was on the Horus Heresy side. There is a new super heavy Land Raider variant with a titan class laser blaster bolted through it. It looks a little odd, but it wasn’t finished.

There was a new display board (based upon Istvaan?) that looked a bit like this:
So Angry! 
Dakka Dakka!
Yup, that’s Angron leading the charge.

Curiously, the white of the World Eaters was sponged on rather than painted, and it gives the models a pleasing, grainy and battered texture.

On the Warhammer Forge side, the model for the Mourngul is complete and looks as unpleasant as it is described in Monstrous Arcanum.
Oooh, Spicy food goes straight through me

I talked at some length with one of the designers who is working on the K’Daii Destroyer - That’s right, Charlie, there’ll be a model for it soon. Apparently, it is relatively common for a Forgeworld designer to work on forgotten or sidelined projects in their spare time and then get the finished sculpt green-lighted for production once finished. This probably explains why every now and then a model or two for a ‘non-project’ range will suddenly appear – like the Tau XV9 battle suits a couple of years ago.
I also found out that Forgeworld work 1:1 when producing their models – no 3-ups or CAD for them, just hard sculpting graft. I am impressed
Finally, and as a bit of a rumour – it appears that the Adeptus Mechanicus will be playing more of a role in the upcoming Imperial Armour book.

Golden Demon Winner.
Was staggeringly well painted. The rotting red on the wings was so vibrant that it looked like the painter had replaced the plastic muscle strands with light gathering amber rod. The pictures don’t do it credit. The banner work and the intricate etching on the shoulder plates also showed a fine painting ability that was difficult to see, let alone replicate.


To make it betterer?
I genuinely think that the Golden Daemon entries should be accessible as a one way system, so that you can move from one to the next without constantly bumping into people or waiting to find a gap.
 I also think that someone should punch the amateur photographers who think that it is their God given right to push to the front of everything so that they can take photos for their blog or website or Bell of Lost Souls or whatever it is. That sort of behaviour might be acceptable in the Colonies, but in the UK there is no excuse not to wait patiently in a queue. Harrumph.  

Overall.
I had a great day, the people were friendly, the crowds weren’t too bad and the event was a huge amount of fun. The design and production staff were all approachable and interested in answering questions and the standard of painting was unreal.
I’ve come away feeling energised about the hobby, excited about future projects and I now have my next years’ goal in sight – Armies on Parade! Just got to decide what to do first.


Assistant Kogz, signing off.

Monday, 17 September 2012

The end of the grass is nigh


The Beard Bunker’s oldest Realm of Battle board has been showing its age for some time. We bought it when they were first released, and I have several fond memories associated with it, my favourite of which was coming home from work to find Maisey sitting on the sofa, a pair of clippers in one hand, and a 2’x2’ tile in the other, surrounded (and I mean surrounded) by mashed-up skull flakes.

Skull flakes are not a breakfast cereal (for anyone except the inhabitants of the Imperium), but the byproduct of what happens when you remove the one thing about the RoB boards Maisey and I find a little, er, silly – that is, the ball pools made of skulls. Why the chap who sculpted said boards thought this was a good idea, I’ve no idea. Various theories as to their purpose abounded, although my favourite was that of a fellow hobbyist, who posited that the Old World was in fact a giant bean bag full of skulls.

Anyway, Maisey and I (mostly Maisey) hacked and drilled those guys out to make rock pools, painted them up, and covered the rest with grass. We even took the time to fade different colours of static grass into each other to break up the texture. It looked delicious. We left it in our then-gaming room, a conservatory (known to visitors as the Nerdservatory). The sun proceeded to drain the colour from the grass. Add a leaky ceiling and a few ill-advised mug deployments, and you have a shabby-ass piece of lame.

The time has come to strip that bad boy back down and start again.

Here then is part one (part two being some photos of the finished product). I’m not going to go over a how-to on painting and flocking the thing, as Battlesandbiscuits have good, in-depth tutorials on both painting and flocking gaming boards, and I’d only be repeating their wisdom.

What I can talk about is that which we did over the weekend: stripping the grass off a board so that it could be re-painted.

The main thing is that PVA – the glue used to stick the grass on – is soluble. So, here’s what we did:

1. Improvise a tub/bath/paddling pool. We used a plastic dust sheet (available from DIY stores for very little money) and then propped it up at the sides with a cold frame (you could use anything – bricks, a wall, your mum... whatever, really).


2. Fill it with water, and stick a RoB tile into it face down. Why face down? Because RoB tiles are buoyant.


3.  Leave it alone for ages. Like, 3-4 hours. You could probably leave it for less time, but whatever.

4. Get a cheap and nasty floor brush and scrub. Scrub like a person possessed.

I scrubbed this!
5. Swear profusely when you discover there are a few random patches that don’t come off no matter how hard you scrub. Experiment with various hard-edged tools and old toothbrushes before discovering that fingernails iz best.

6. Rinse any loose grass off, and leave to dry.

Those boards look really weird with half the basecoat
scrubbed off. Like satellite photos of an oil slick, or something.
In previous posts I’ve said things like “we’ll have the thing finished in a week” only to produce said finished product about six months after we suggested. “Or not at all,” Maisey says, peering at the screen over my shoulder and thinking of part two of “Tanky Tank Tank.” But seriously, if I don’t have a good Fantasy table by the end of the weekend, I will be sad.

In fact, here’s one promise I’ll keep: if I don’t have a finished RoB board to show you next Monday, I’ll post a picture of myself looking sad. Very sad. There may be tears. And violins. And tears.

~Charlie 

Monday, 10 September 2012

The impossibly fast passage of time


Over eight months ago, Jeff posted his plans for the army he’d be using in the Beard Bunker’s campaign. Meanwhile, only a few days ago, Maisey said he felt like he’d dropped the ball in not getting a vampire painted for his skellingtons. That may be, but at least he’s painted a Necrononcer by the name of Mallick.* I haven’t even painted a single character yet. In fact, the best thing I’ve got is a Green Stuffed butt crack. There’s only four months left before I’m meant to have this army ship-shape and ass-kicky. Until now, my plan for my Hochlanders ran thusly: “Bimble along and paint things in green and red when you fancy it.”

Well, yeah. That there ain’t enough beans for a stew, grandma.

...

Turns out I’m almost as good at painting Hochlanders as I am at making up American-South-sounding metaphors. Ooooooh, self-buuuurn. Self-flagellation aside, I’d better get my posterior in gear. Put simply, I need a plan.

When it comes to concocting a plan for a new army, there seem to be two schools of thought: one, plan everything and stick to it, lest ye trundle off the rails. Two, to start buying pretty things and keep it up until you can put them on a table and shout “I made this!” with childlike glee.

There are disadvantages to both of these methods. Proponents of method one can feel beholden to their plan even if it stops being fun, and the I Made This! crowd often end up with a dragon, three elite units, and fourteen beautifully painted character models.

I suspect the way of joy is a balance of the two: plan your army, but be ready to change said plan if it’s not working. Don’t just stick blindly to your guns. Half of being organised consists of assessing your progress and amending your plans accordingly.

My plans always seem to go like this:

1. Decide what I want.
2. Decide what I need to make what I want rules compliant and fun to play with/against.

What I wanted was a unit of scruffy knights and a big unit of handgunners. Hochland’s famous for its fine quality blackpowder weaponry, so having a bunch of them seemed in keeping. Also, my other Empire army isn’t very shooty, and I wanted this one to be different.

What I needed was to not turn this army into a gunline. Those are boring to use and to fight against; no-one needs that. So, that meant having enough missile troops to make the shooting phase a meaningful one, but also not taking artillery that’d be useless in the close confines of the Drakwald Forest (stick to the theme, stick to the theeeeeeeeeeeeme!). I also needed some infantry regiments; so far I had nothing that could take a charge.

After prodding the Empire Army Book for a wee while, this is what I came up with for the first two thousand points:


However, the roster’s only half the story. With concepts I’m unsure of (like “will that many missile troops actually do anything?”) I find it helpful to visualise how the army will deploy. Behold:


The bottom of the image is the Empire table edge, the top faces the rest of
the table. The odd-coloured blocks denote characters.

The left flank is definitely the weak one. During deployment I’d probably stick the centre of the line down first, and then switch up the flanks depending on where the enemy’s deploying. Another weakness I’ve tried to account for is the army’s inability to deal with big monsters. To that end, I’m packing a level two wizard using the Lore of Death, which specialises in hurting individual models.

Oh, and a really finicky note (in case someone thinks I'm thpecial): between making the deployment map and the roster, I changed a regiment of handgunners into a detachment. Obviously, now that they're a detachment, the Helblaster isn't going in between them and their parent unit.

So. What do y’all think? Is this army a big slice of retard pie, or am I on to a non-cheesy winner?

Either way, I’d better get painting.

~Charlie

*Necrononcers are Necromancers who, on ethical grounds, only animate the corpses of pervs and serial molesters.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Knights of the Silver Drake


So far, my army of Hochland only has foot troops. Now admittedly that makes sense for an army that spends most of its time in the Drakwald Forest, but I’ve already mentioned that the army’s general will be Erhard von RĂ¼diger, the Grand Master of the Silver Drakes.

Well obviously, I can’t have a Templar Grand Master and not include a regiment of his knights, or in this case, Knights of the chapter’s Inner Circle. In this post, I have pretty pictures of the first four (of eight). And some of the Order’s backstory. Because yes.


The Empire Knights kit is a relatively dated kit now, but has aged comparatively well. They’re pretty much historically accurate models in heroic scale (hello, Perry twins), but I feel like their helmets make them look like a poor man’s Brettonian. With the Middenheim army’s Blazing Suns, I got around this by using pistolier/outrider heads to Germanise those dudes right up. However, I wanted the Silver Drakes to have their own look, and once I’d written their backstory, I realised that the pistoliers/outriders just didn’t have the right look for them. They’re a very no-frills order who would most probably be frowned upon by the likes of the Reiksguard (although I imagine the White Wolves would have big love for them).

Lest ye were wondering, here’s the short version of their backstory:

The Order of the Silver Drakes are a small chapter sworn to protect the inhabitants of the Drakwald Forest from the predations of beastmen, goblins, and everything else that lurks in the woods. The job of patrolling the forest roads falls to Hochland and Middenland’s soldiery, and whilst the Silver Drakes have been known to assist these patrols, their modus operandi is to seek out leaders among the forest denizens and slay them, be they cunning Goblin leaders or hulking Doombulls, thus trapping the foe in a constant state of internal power struggles and taking the pressure off Empire settlements.

Lances are of little use in the dense terrain of the Drakwald, and so the Silver Drakes employ a variety of cavalry hammers, great hammers, and even zweihanders. They will, if terrain is too dense, dismount and engage on foot, although generally they prefer the impact and manoeuvrability that comes with a warhorse.


Unlike many (but not all) knightly orders of the Empire, the Silver Drakes do not require that aspirants be of noble birth. Through great feats of arms and honourable conduct, anyone can be recruited. This has led to the Silver Drakes being regarded by some as little more than a band of ruffians, and the rarity with which they commit to aiding patrols has led many a bitter state trooper to believe that the knights are interested only in the glory that comes with killing infamous leaders rather than standing at the coal face with everyone else.

As for the origin of the Silver Drakes' name, or information on their Grand Master, I shall leave that for another time.

Until I have over two thousand points, I’ll probably only have the one regiment in my army. However, as their Grand Master is the general, it seemed only right that the regiment in question should be the Order’s Inner Circle. This meant I wanted them all to be individuals; every member of the unit has a different weapon, and a different head. They’re a kitbash of the Knightly Orders, State Troops and Greatswords boxes. It just would’ve seemed wrong to have a unit of “Inner Circle” knights without them looking less regimented than your average band-o-cavalry.



Of course, everything has its hurdles. For these guys, it was a faulty batch of plastic glue from GW. I built them, and a week later, they started falling apart. Plastic models aren’t supposed to do that. Disappointed, and a little miffed, I picked up some replacement glue from GW (they were very civil, and replaced my glue for free). Unfortunately, when I came to stick the grass on this week (months after painting these first four, I shame-facedly confess), this is what occurred:

When riding through wooded areas, it's important to keep an eye out for
low-lying branches.

Yeah. GW make beautiful models, but I no longer trust them to make poly cement. Other kits that fell apart thanks to the two bad batches of plastic glue include: a tactical squad, thirty orks, a scratch-built warbuggy, five Grey Knights, a fortified manor, and all forty of my Hochland State Troops. To re-glue these models, I have to shave off the crystallised plastic glue first, a very time-consuming process. I just gave the tactical squad to Jen, who then spent an entire day restoring them to their former glory. To cut a long and inventive list of expletives short, I have switched to Humbrol glue, and it is both reliable and significantly cheaper. Thank you, Humbrol. You stick my world.

~Charlie

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Dark, Vengeful thoughts...

Hello all! In lieu of a real hobby post (sorry! Read here to find out why!) I open the proceedings for the Beard Bunker review of Dark Vengeance.

The plan is for all of us who have gotten our hands on the box and sprues within to give you our impressions thus creating a collaberative review!

Jeff: First thought, whoa. Seriously, I was all ready to dismiss this as a way to get the smaller rulebook and palm the rest off on ebay. Then I saw it. From the box art to the book via beautiful models there is precious little not to like.

Ok, so real thoughts now. Haven't played the missions yet so don't know what teaching value this will be for new gamers, hopefully the other guys can help? For hoary old vets like me, the box has the non back breaker rulebook, duh, and some of the most stunning snap together models I have ever seen. Seriously, these things have layering of detail and pose that you will not believe. Its all made possible by some seriously innovative part design that I don't believe would have been possible in pre-digital sculpt days. Some of the "cuts" in the multi-parts have to be seen to be believed. The delicacy and detail of elements of these guys cannot be overstated. The DA company captain's sword is so thin and sharp I feared I would break it cleaning the injection points!

Something I noticed straight away is the army composition. BOTH OF THESE ARE LEGAL ALLIED FORCES. Sure, you have too many DA characters but it means you have choices. This means that it matters not a jot if you have a Dark Angel army or a Chaos one. You can use the contents of this box in your armies.

Do I have no gripes at all? No, there are a couple of little ones, the only one that did make me go "oh, oh well" was the repeat of the tentacle reload backpack. This is such an obvious and cool piece that it will stick out that there are two of them on the squad. Surely they could have swopped it onto the non-repeat sprue and put a less recognisable part on the repeat? Oh yes, the numbering in the assembly diagrams. At least two parts, probably more are completely the wrong number. Not a problem for me as the pictures do the job but it's like that scene in Oceans 11, they've planned a heist down to the last detail and then forgotten to check the batteries. Seriously, was no-one available just to do the mildly labourious job of holding up a sprue and checking each bit has it's proper number? I'm not mad keen on the DA captain pose either, especially compared to the wonderful librarian. But really these are tiny, tiny midges buzzing around the delicious slice of cake that this box represents. Irksome but have spoiled my enjoyment not one jot.

Now, public service announcement. I have carefully experimented with all the models and can tell you this: Do not glue some of the componants to the chaos guys. Seriously. The horned carapace and fist armour on the Hellbrute (and oh dear god how cool he is) need to be left off for painting. Likewise the chaos captain's sword and backpack. Several of the chosen backpacks and a couple of arms need seeing to. Oh, and if you are lucky enough to have a limited edition chaplain, basecoat the inner lining of the cloak before sticking him together as it is a bear to do afterwards! Trust someone who knows! Mercifully he was the only one I'd glued before noticing. It's all down to the very, very high quality of the layering and the ability to have cut ins which we are just, just not used to. Anyway, the idea is that the other guys will edit this post and add their two cents worth below so I shall turn the floor over to the rest of the bunker dwellers!

TTFN

Charlie: There's little I can say that Jeff hasn't already covered. If left to my own devices on this post I'd just nerdgasm all over the bus, and you don't need that. You really don't. The Dark Angels are very impressive, and unlike Jeff, I like the understated pose of their captain, but it's the Chaos sculpts that have bowled me over. I'm so, so excited to see Chaos Cultists become a reality, and them Chosen is da bomb, what? They're like the concept art, but on a sprue. Glorious.