Sunday, 18 November 2012

Geek Week Episode Three

Well folks, that is it, the Geek Week is over and time to inspect the spoils of the final days, first, I'll take a squint at my Dwarfs:

As mentioned last time, I was rewarding myself with a Bolt Thrower. I'm really chuffed with figuring out a new wood method: Steel Legion Drab with Rakarth Flesh woodgrain all bound together with Agrax Earthshade wash. I don't hold with this new idea of Dwarfs only using metal. Kinda daft.

Also in the vein of rewarding myself for a week of solid painting I thought I would add another rank of Slayers to the unit. These five are the pirate slayers to give them their nautical feel. Long Drong the pirate slayer captain will be the Giant Slayer of the unit and deserves a slightly closer look.

Gotta love that Macaw on the shoulder, all the colours just balance the beard so, so nicely. Check real world references when painting animals as you will always, always forget important details.

And finally, the first hero for the Dwarfs! Runesmith Dwalin Gravenrune is finished. He was surprisingly swift to complete being mostly made of shiny metals. I went with adding plenty of gold to him rather than the brass that the more common Dwarfs are festooned with. This was for two reasons; the Runesmith is supposed to be rich and more importantly he is stuck in the Longbeards. A long bearded, armoured, grey haired bloke among 20-odd other long bearded, armoured, grey haired blokes needs something to help him stand out.

So what has Geek Week done for me? Well, the Dwarfs are looking a hell of a lot of more like an army than it did at the start. Everything in that picture above was bare metal at the start of this thing. It has taught me that a week of solid, focussed painting with a bunch of mates around to keep you motivated and entertained can achieve some quite astonishing results. Speaking of astonishing results...

Buttons. BUTTONS! You knows it.

Charlie: OK, so I only have eleven finished state troops to my name, but I'm really happy to have finished sculpting Amelia. The results make me reasonably happy, even if there are scrappy patches and imperfect surfaces. Whilst I have a lot left to learn about sculpting, there are a few useful bits of advice I'll share in a later post that'll show the step-by-step process of the sculpt. Now I just have to decide how to paint her...

Jeff: Now unfortunately poor old Emma has had to work this week but because the camera was here we decided to do a Previously on Geek Week for her too. Take it away, Emma.

Charlie: the keen-eyed among you will note that Jeff likes these
knights so much that he's piratically branded them as the product
of PVP.

Emma: CHARGE! Thanks to the wonderful Jeff I now have some close ups of my Chaos Warriors so far! Unfortunately, high quality photography serves to highlight the flaws in my painting (as opposed to the other guys where it reveals lots of insanely minute clever details) but meh, I'm still pretty happy with this first stab at an army.

Charlie: said branding is kind of the Photoshop equivalent of
a dog weeing on a particularly fetching lamp post, n'est pas?

I had lots of fun painting the grumpy expressions on the bareheaded warriors.

Charlie: or just evidence of about two and a half years of
Photoshoppy autopilot.

So now they are alllll finished. Just about. *hides the handful of unbased warriors in the middle of the unit* Thanks be to Maisey and Charlie for your tips and painting advisory service :)

Speaking of Maisey... Maisey: I've got nuffink mate. Xbox ate me. Maisey has been bashing away at a few things but has churned most of his progress early on.

Jeff: And this is what a table looks like after a week of insane painting. I've actually tidied up (bottom right) so it was even more extreme before this shot was taken. Lunacy. Anyway, we are all returning to our real lives now - ironically for me that means more painting - so normal service will be resumed!


Friday, 16 November 2012

Geek Week Episode Two

Shirley: Flatulence; moderate, gusting good.

Jeff: Well, the festival of sweat-shop style painting, dubious humour and ill-advised dietary intake that we know as Geek Week continues. Maisey and I are still churning out models at our usual rate, and Charlie is doing something complicated with green stuff and optimism that he assures us will yield awesomeness any time now.

So, on with the show; my Dwarfs have had a major boost to their numbers as the Ancient Mariners - Longbeard Warriors - are finished:

I'm using the newer plastics as the Longbeards because, well, they've got longer beards. The older models look younger (go figure) so they will be the warriors. Sharp-eyed readers may well be wondering, "why the hell there is a kraken on the banner?" Well, the army is from Barak Varr - the Dwarf seaport - and the family in question are former shipping magnates. Thus I am using plenty of nautical imagery along with the sea green and foam white colour scheme to help get that point across. After two block units I am rewarding myself with a war machine next. Well, I say block units... combined, they don't rival Maisey's next offering.

Maisey: So, as Jeff has mentioned above, I've been fairly productive in the last few days (well that's almost a lie, I spent most of today slaving away over a hot xbox) below is the second of the three zombie hordes. The third one is on it's way, just another 30 Zombies to go before I can live the tri-horde Zombie roadblock of doom dream.

As a distraction from the massive ranks of rotting flesh and other nasty bits and bobs, I've painted this chap:

I was never planning on a Cairn Wraith in the army, but the model is far too tasty to ignore. I've avoided adding any colours that might tie it to the rest of the standard army; I've done the same thing with the Zombies, Ghouls and Varghulf, simply because these all feel like feral and wild creatures drawn to dark power rather than things that were deliberately raised by the vampires for their own devious means.

The Battle-Standard Bearer below was mostly complete before Geek Week began, I just had to finish the banner and base it.

And then just to ensure that we all have some content today, the green stuff jockey Charlie will now present a "Previously on Geek Week":

Charlie: Having a competent photographer in the house means that we can now give you a decent photograph of the Blades of Taal, and their banner (what done featured in the freehand painting tutorial). There are still ten more to buy, but for now, feast thine eyes upon the upper-class majesty of the unit champion, Josef von Brecken. And a flag.

I swear it's been a productive week for me, it really has. How do I know? Because the still-mysterious Amelia von Lessing now has buttons. BUTTONS.

Jeff: And that is all, folks. More Geek Week later on, but for now we return to brush-blistered fingers, stooped backs and squinting eyes. Remarkably, we're having a good time.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Geek Week Episode One

Junk food! Filthy humour! Headache-inducing bouts of laughter! Geek Week is here, and we've got the pretty pictures to prove it. As I type this, the Beard Bunker's painting table looks like a cross between a sweatshop and the zombie apocalypse. I'll let Maisey explain why later on.

The experience is as enjoyable and as humiliating as I expected it to be. So far, Maisey's painted 25 skeletons, based 20 zombies, and painted another thirty. Jeff's produced a unit of sixteen deeply charming Thunderers. And what have I got to show for myself? A finished volley gun that was already half-done when the week started.

So. Frakking. Slow.

In my (limp) defence, I've also mostly painted five handgunners and done some sculpting on Amelia (more on that project later in the week), but for now, here's a picture of the army's Helblaster:

As with much of my stuff, I've tried to model the crew in such a way that you get a sense of their character. The chief gunner (the chap with the telescope) is an academic from Nuln more than a soldier of Hochland, and generally stands about fussing over ballistics equations rather than just eyeballing the target with an expert eye and kicking the boom lever. To his left is a simpleton crewman who hasn't worked out that it isn't worth covering your ears until the one competent member of the gun's crew has finished loading the damn thing.

"I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with M."
"Misfire, sir?"
"Shut it, you."

As with most of my kustom artillery bases, they're made with a movement tray filled up with bases of varying sizes gap-filled with Polyfilla. The engineer's table was a fairly comedy conversion; I took one of the books-strapped-to-planks from the Flagellants kit and used a razor saw to slice the book right down to its cover, creating a piece of paper on some planks. Add some legs, you've got a table. The addition of an open book from the Battle Wizards box completed the thing, after which some time was spent gawping at Da Vinci's notebook for freehanding inspiration.

And now, here are Jeff's Thunderers, standing behind the shield fence he modelled a while ago. Take the mic, Mr Jeff!

Jeff: Greetings Beardlings, my lord, it has been some while since I posted anything on the Bunker! Thankfully, the Geek Week is upon us and the intention is to break the back of the army in one glorious week of painting glee masquerading as a holiday. Given that I would like to get some games in with these short bearded blokes at the end of the week I split the monster 3k list into a more manageable 1000 point chunk to prioritise. The Thunderers - Dafnir's Deadeyes - are the first fruits of that labour. 

This little chap is one of my favourite Dwarfs ever, he is just wonderful, oozes character and so I'll use him to talk about the painting. The overall scheme for the army is a green-blue-grey and white that - hopefully -brings the sea to mind, these chaps coming from the great Dwarven sea port of Barak Varr after all. The blue-green-grey is Incubi Darkness highlighted with the addition of Russ Grey. Originally I had a dark storm-cloud grey as the alternate colour but decided that this was far to similar in tone to the primary. Instead I went insane and decided on White. Yep, I voluntarily chose one of the hardest colours to paint! It did also create a wonderful conversation between Charlie and I where I asked "should it be a greyer white or a boner white?" There was a long beat before Charlie asked whether "boner" was really the word I wanted... In the end a Bonier white was the consensus. This is achieved by a clean coat of Ceramite White with a thin skim of Seraphim Sepia and a re-highlight with the white. I'll talk about other aspects of painting Dwarfs later in the week as otherwise all of my posts will be the same: "so yup. Painted more Dwarfs..." and with that I shall hand off to Maisey:

Maisey: BRRAAAAAAIIINNNSSS... Well, not brains actually but BOOOONNNNEESS (Clackity Clack Clack). The Bonier chaps below are the third unit of skeleton warriors out of four that will form the backboner [really Maisey, really? -Charlie] of the army. They have been split into two units of spears and two of hand weapons and shields, hopefully creating holding units so my killy units can get into the side of things and make a wonderful mess of things. In smaller games, the skeletons can do this on their own, using the HW&S guys to hold at the front (with their parry saves to keep a few more of them from being re-deaded) while the spears get into the side with the higher number of attacks to do the damage. 

As with all of my skeleton-based units they have the fleur de lys as their banner icon but with a slight variance in the design.

Right this moment I'm waiting for the wash to dry on the current batch of 30 zombies. The aim for the next couple of days to expand the zombies from a respectable horde of fifty into, what we agree is the correct number of zombies, which is to say, three hordes of 50. I'm rather close. Just a bit more basing and the second horde is complete, while the third horde is 2/5ths of the way done. In order to break up the George A Romero filmset that my corner of the table has become I'm going to chunk through the fourth and final unit of skeletons. I might treat myself to a character to reward myself later. 

Right, back to the brains... BRAAAAIIIINNNNSSSS.

Charlie: Yeah, um, thanks Maisey. Next on BBC2, here's Shirley with the weather.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Breaking in a new army

Whilst most of us don’t even know if our campaign armies will work on the tabletop, Maisey has forged ahead and played his first game with the 2,300 points he’s painted. And why isn’t he here to tell you about it himself? Because he and Emma are off to Wales for the next few days. I’m told there will be ponies.

Now then, today’s post is going to talk about how to maximise your tactical learning from the first few games you play with a new army, and also to reveal some fairly awesome plans we’ve got for next week.

This is the first time Maisey's painted a Warhammer Fantasy army to this size, although he's played a few large games of Fantasy before, and has played many smaller games with his Vampires. As he saw it, his biggest challenge came from the following rule:

“Units with the Undead special rule cannot make march moves unless they are within 12" of the army General (or have the Vampiric special rule).” – Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts.

Maisey was categorically not down with bumbling slowly across the tabletop whilst my four artillery pieces hammered him from afar. Controversially, this meant deploying them in what military scientists are now calling the Big Brick of Death.

Maisey: I see your Empire battle line, and I raise you one Big Brick of Death.

Maisey’s deployment kept him moving quickly in the first few turns, but gave him something of a traffic jam when the lines engaged circa turn three or four. Specifically, his Grave Guard simply weren’t relevant until the Undead army had already lost Philippe and his unit of Black Knights to some halberdiers (who only triumphed, it should be added, thanks to the help of Thaddeus’ Light Magic).

In the end, the army’s first big outing met with defeat. This can be very demoralising for a hobbyist; you spend months painting an army, put it out on the table with an expectant grin, and then watch the Ulricsberg Stonewalls* batter their way through it.

See the trees between the big guns? That’s where my mortar used to be.
It blew up in turn one. In fact, three out of four of my artillery pieces blew
themselves up during the course of the game. It was not a battle won
with ballistics.

The best thing you can do after your opponent has just suffered a terrible case of Shiny New Model Syndrome is to immediately sit down and discuss what went wrong, why, and what he can do to fix it next time.

In Maisey’s case, I felt that his deployment was what really hamstrung him, so I had a go at deploying his army to see what I could come up with. The results were very different – much more of a conventional line, but still capable of allowing all the Undead units to march (it was a close-run thing; Etienne - the general - was only in range by about a millimetre of the most distant units on either side).  We debated other things as well, like the importance (or not) of being able to march at the expense of a solid formation, but the important point was this: Maisey left it with things he wanted to try next time, rather than a sense that his army didn’t work. It’s a beautiful, solid army, and like any experienced player, he knows that he’ll only master it with practise, but talking to your opponent after each game is the best way to maximise your strategic learning. Unless, of course, your opponent wouldn’t know a strategy even if it was gently chewing his nose off.

Now, in other news, next week. Next week is news. Why? Because it is Geek Week. What is Geek Week? It is the week where Jeff comes up from the murky recesses of Wales, and Maisey and I are both taking a break from work. We’re going to spend the entire week painting and enjoying humour of such appalling childishness that it would make a toddler tut.

What does this mean for you? Lots of pretty pictures. I’ll be doing something stupidly optimistic with green stuff (because there should be female battle wizards as well as male ones, dammit), Jeff will be farting out Dwarfs at a rate of knots, and Maisey will be leaving the rest of us in the dirt.

It is going to be a seriously concentrated dose of hobby, and I’m practically weeing myself with anticipation.


*Mark pointed out to me that the Stonewalls probably have strong views on gay rights. At the time, I hadn’t heard of Stonewall, and it still seems like an unwelcoming name to give a gay rights movement, but you know what? Pff, whatever, I have strong views on gay rights too. Perhaps my Greatswords have the WFB equivalent of the Blood Angels’ Black Rage, and see homophobia wherever they look.  And then hit the homophobia. Hit it with six foot claymores.