March 31, 2011

The Battle of Normandy

Recently a few people in work have been interested in gaming. While I will never convert them to true wargaming I can get them to play board games. So in an attempt to combine the two I introduced Memoir '44. This is an excellent game that I can't recommend highly enough. Anyway it was an instant hit. I generally don't like WWII games but this one seems abstract enough that I can still enjoy it. Although having said that I am enjoying the historical context of these battles more and more.

We have experienced enough games now to embark on a campaign. Days of Wonder have released a wonderful campaign book that detail the Battle of Normandy, Unternehmen Fall Gelb and Operation Barbarossa. So to keep it as simple as possible we started with the Battle of Normandy. This doesn't demand too much in the way of new rules or units so we could jump right in. This is a report on the first section of the campaign called Flanking Caen. No matter what happens here the Germans lose. What they are atempting to do is limit the effectiveness of the Allied advance and inflict as many casualties as possible.

Battle One: Securing the Flank
The 49th Infantry Division advanced on Fontenay Le Pesnel on the 25th of June, 1944. Their objective was to take the town and the town of Raury. This would protect 15th Divisions flank as they attempted to outflank Caen. Aarrayed against the 49th Division was the 12th SS Panzer Division and some elements of the Panzer Lehr. The Allies succeded in capturing Fontenay Le Pesnel but despite some hard fghting around Raury the heights and the german artillery there were left intact by the end of the battle.

Battle Two: Capturing the Crossing
Despite the failure of the 49th Division operation Epsom commenced the next day. The 15th Scottish Division and the 31st Tank Brigade attacked the german positions. The 11th Armoured Division was then called up to strengthen the attack. This broke through the village of Cheux which was heavily fortified by the Germans. The 12th SS Panzer Division were unable to bring their tanks to bear in time enabling the 11th to seize the initiative and push towards the crossing. The Allies spectacularly captured the bridge without too many casualties and dug in for the night across the River Odon.

Battle Three: Withdrawal from Hill 112
Operation Epsom continued and on the 29th of June the 11th Armoured Division had a tentative hold of the hill on the far side of the Odon river. However the Germans counter attacked along both banks of the river with the 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisons supported by mechanised elements of the 2nd SS Division. The British called up artillery reinforcements. A hasty attack from the Germans resulted in their armoured units being cut off and wiped out forcing the battle into a stalemate. The British Commander, Lieutenant-General Dempsey was worried however and withdrew across the Odon leaving hill 112 in German hands.

Battle Four: Hill 112
The attack on Caen began on the 7th of June. The 2nd SS Panzer Corps were tasked at this point with holding hill 112, a strategic point the Germans belived was key to victory in Normandy. On July 11th the 43rd Wessex Division attacked the position. The 102nd SS Heavy Panzer Division was dug in in the area near Maltot, a small village. The British advanced into a meat grinder. Initial casualties were incredibly high almost forcing them to withdraw. Action in the fields between the village of Fontaine and hill 112 resulted in massive casualties. An armoured push through this village and its nearby neighbour of Eterville however forced the Germans back into defensive positions around Maltot. The 102nd were then able to capitalise on poor position of the forward armoured elements of the 43rd and the Churchill tanks were destroyed forcing the entire 43rd to withdraw.

In the end the Axis were trounced and the Allies won a major victory. The last win games were a victory for the Axis but early casualties were devastating. The meatgrinder that was Hill 112 allowed the Axis some breathing space and instead of awarding a decisive victory to the Allies the 102nd made this only a major victory. Now we proceed to the Breakout section of the campaign. With some luck the Axis could have won the battle for Hill 112 and suffered no casualties but a late comeback from the Allies of the 43rd shattered that hope... Victory or at least a draw was almost within my hands!

March 30, 2011

A sooty rusty Castigator... almost

First thing to say... this is a big 'jack. Thankfully he is done and my wrist is thankful. Just holding this guy up while painting is a punishment. Putting this guy side by side with the older chassis for Menoth really shows the difference. I wanted to keep him whiter than he usually tends to be painted and so I kept the central armour plate white rather than bordering it in red. I black lined the plate but it doesn't come out in these shots. I need to find a way to diffuse the light better so that it shows up the subtlety a little better. I have seen a lunch box with a hole cut in it to fit the camera used! The white comes out very flat in these photographs and while in reality it is very stark there is some shading there believe me! I am going to copy this scheme on the Reckoner who I am looking forward to fielding. With a big gun and the assault order he seems to be much more straightforward. I have no idea how to use this 'jack on the battlefield. He really seems to be a decent 'jack but he is much more specialised and expensive when compared with the Crusader. He seems to be very useful against infantry but getting him that close is always dangerous. The two open fists are a nice benefit and allow him to deal with other warjacks via power attacks. I am looking forward to a field test in the next few weeks.

PhotobucketHere is the finished smoke and soot effect I attempted on the fist. Its not perfect thats for sure. I have no idea how to make it better though. The vents under and over the fist should be billowing smoke. Therefore it should leave a dark grey or black residue. So I used Carbon Black from the Vajello pigments range to try to achieve this. Interestingly this when mixed with a little water looses the black colour and instead goes an almost metallic grey. Using water to temporarily fix the pigments I put this on the surfaces along the fingers where I thought that the soot would leave a stain. As this area is in close and constant contact with the smoke I built up some more layers to give a rough texture to the area. I also trailed this from the individual vents. The picture shows this only a little as the pigment blends a little with the darkened mettalic area. The other thing I tried to achieve was a smoke effect from the mini smoke stack on the arm. This should leave a stain on the shoulder. I think I didn't do enough weathering here. PhotobucketI think I could get away with a good bit more. However I am hesitant as the main problem I have had with weathering so far is over doing it. I also tried the effect on the under head vents like with the Redeemer. This shot is not a great illustration of this however I have noticed that the pigment works very well over the red. Maybe white is a bad colour for weathering over?

Photobucket This shows the engine from the side a little better. The weathering here has really started to look like how I am expecting it to. This process is a tough one to get right as the smallest amount of pigment can have a startling effect and it is a difficult medium to control. Despite all the tutorials on the web describing various ways to achieve rust streaks the best way I have found is to brush the pigment on without any additions. Maybe this is due to the fact of putting it on over white. With a stronger colour as the base maybe this wouldn't have such a strong effect. I know while practising on my Ork Truk that the pigment wasn't as strong at all and that was over a light yellow base. The one thing this way of applying the rust doesn't achieve is a gradual weakening of the streak. This way keeps the streak weak throughout whereas the other people doing this manage to have a very strong beginning and then have the pigment wash out towards the end of the streak. They can achieve this over a really short area too. So I still have a lot to learn. Thankfully the local deals have continued and I have managed to pick up a good few new 'jacks.

March 29, 2011

Interesting discussion - painter or gamer?

Inspired by this post I decided to look at some of the statistics from my own Warmachine collection. Forward Kommander is a nifty site for collating the data and a good way to motivate yourself. Seeing the progress bars slide forward as you complete your projects is nice. It is disheartening though to see them slip back down as you add to the lead pile. As you will see my statistics are not amazing. I would love to blame this on a recent rash of purchases but as you will know from yesterdays blog posts I have a lot of unpainted, half started and almost finished miniatures stretching back to about five years or more of laziness! My Circle is almost complete. At least I believe I have a maximum unit of everything from Primal painted plus one or two extra beasts. I also have quite a few miniatures from Evolution done. In Warhammer I have maybe seven armies fully painted but there are regiments I would love to add to these and I need to make them all eighth edition compatable. Thankfully there are no stat tracking applications available for warhammer!

So the question a painter or a gamer? Well I don't know. I like to paint. Even when I am not playing I continue to paint. I have noticed though that playing is what drives my motivation. I paint much more (though to a lower degree of quality) when I am getting regular games in. Without some deadlines in place I tend to take more time and procrastinate over what to do. So if I had to give up one in the morning it would be a tough choice. Both hobbies, if indeed they are separable, bring different things.For instance I enjoy the social side of gaming be that with my new club in Hamburg or my old buddies in Dublin. There is nothing like relaxing over a pint and enjoying some banter across the table, listening in to the conversations on both sides of you and generally having a laugh. Painting for me is something I do while locked away in my own room for hours. Unless you count various podcasts as company I spend hours alone painting. It is not a social activity. It brings me a lot of enjoyment too as the challenge and the sense of achievement is great. It feels good to get perfect some highlighting or a new technique.

One point I would like to mention is the fact that I enjoy making terrain. Now I think this signifies something deep down in a gamer/painter pysche. I love good terrain and I am quite willing to pay out to get good materials to make it. I easily spend as much time painting a new terrain piece as I would a model. This is because I love the visual appeal of gaming in general. It doesn't matter the genre in anyway. I love everything from Ancients to Sci-Fi and anything that comes between. So for me this indicates that the visual appeal of the games is more important than a lot of other factors. Painted armies are very much a part of this. So I feel I am painting the armies to enhance my gaming experience.

So to round the discussion off, for me painting and gaming are inseparable. I don't enjoy one without the other. If I had to chose between them I would have to pick painting. Its is not an easy choice though.

March 28, 2011

Knights Exemplar ready for action!

Holidays are great. I had a few days off last week and it was so good to relax. I didn't do much painting but thats not the end of the world. I did manage to get some brush action going and I finished the Knights Exemplar. I, like usual, have had these for an age. I remember buying them and painting them just before a holiday in Hungary. Anyway once I got back all motivation for finishing them was gone. So tey have languished on a shelf for about five years now only seeing the occasional game. Generally I forgot that I had them at all and in the Annihilation campaigns I haven't once used them. It is nice to have them finally done however and I can't wait to get them on the tabletop.

As I have these finished that really brings down what I need to get done for the Prime Challenge. Ten Deliverers and ten Templeguard accompanied by a few extras. I still have to pick up the extras but thats not such a problem. The problem is that I am distracted by two massive 'jacks. The Reckoner and the Castigator are sitting in front of my waiting to be finished. I think this week I will focus on getting these done as a reward for finishing the Exemplars!

March 26, 2011

St. Casimirs Cemetery

So having decided last week that I want my Ghoul Clan to essentially operate from a cemetery and hospital complex I need to find one that suits. I selected Chicago and searched through its cemeteries to find a map. For me a map is a must have especially in anything that is modern in theme. It is easy in a fantasy setting to describe a cave or a wood. In a modern setting you need to generate some believability. Also when the characters could easily find these maps on the internet I need to have something I can hand to them and say "hey you search for a few minutes this is what you find". I came up with two that suited. The first one I liked due to the name. It is called St. Casimirs Lithuanian Cemetery. Thats a great name as it immediately identifies the Ghouls inhabiting it as Lithuanian. This will work to give them a distinct feeling and makes it easier to find pictures for the NPC's I might need. Checking through some Lithuanian names I settled upon Kalanta. The Creamtorium will be run by Benediktas Kalanta and family. However the location also includes a High School and some aprtments pretty close to what would be the business end of the cemetery. So while I like the name I think I will go with my second option Rosehill. St. Casimirs is also a little too open for what I had in mind. There are not so many trees so I can't use a nice Google Maps image. This problem is immediately solved by the second option.

Rosehill would seem to be the more prestigious of the two cemeteries I selected. It has a lot more decorative monuments for instance. The map also works really well. I will be lifting this directly out of Chicago and placing it in the city/town I create. I just need to get a hospital plan that I can put across the street and I am all set. I can easily take a lot of photographs and use them without having to go searching. I will stick with the first name though as it suits my purpose best. I just need a plan of the church located there and hopefully a crematorium if they have one. So now when one of the players says "I check on Google Maps as to what the location looks like I can instantly provide them with a picture. I do have the possibility to present this to them on a large screen also so that is nice to have. The problem with that is the fact I can't create a map feature online for the game. Still it is nice to have and it will still let them investigate before they go near the cemetery.

Benediktas Kalanta and family Funeral Home:
Another search on Google turned up this nice floorplan for the crematorium/mortuary owned by the Kalantas. A lot of action will happen here eventually so I think it is important to have a good map. It also saves a lot of work as I would normally have had to draft this myself. I won't reveal the map here to the players as the Kalantas are not stupid enough to put this on the internet. It will be good for me though to mark the places during the inevitable fight that will occur here.

March 25, 2011

Friday Showcase - Queen Helga

Queen Helga was a miniature that I owned for a long long time. This is her second paint scheme given to her in about 2008, once again in an attempt to get my army tournament ready. Having had a few eers thrown my way about my all male army, in comparison to my friends Dark Elves, I dedcided to add in Helga. She was released if memory serves me for the Grudge of Drong a campaign pack for Warhammer in the early 2000's. She was accompanied by a few other characters and the current metal Hammerers in that release. I have collected the Hammerers but I never managed to get my hands on the other characters from that Campaign. I believe they are still available on the GW website as direct order only items. However they were not particularly good. Helga was the best of the bunch and brings a least one unbearded model to my Dwarves!

Photobucket Helga doesn't see much game time anymore as with the new edition points are too well spent elsewhere. With the need to have a Lord and a Battle Standard I can't justify having her replace a Runesmith as a character. In the smaller games that used to be a staple of my wargames diet she would usually feature as the army general. There was quite a long time when I only played 1500 point battles against the aforementioned Dark Elves. Everything nowadays is around 3000 points which at least for my Dwarves is fine as I have a lot of them! It is also interesting to note that Helga bridges the gap between my old Dwarves and the new ones. My old army is mainly painted in blue and white, copying Wayne Englands scheme from a very very old White Dwarf. All the armour from that army was simply silver drybrushed over black. Helga still preserves this whereas all the armour in my latest incarnation of the bearded folk is gold.

March 21, 2011

Broken Lamps are a pain

So I broke one of my painting lamps. Then I fixed it. The I broke it again. Great because I managed to do it right before I sat to paint for the evening. I was trying to take a WIP shot of my Castigator and I was adjusting the lighting to get the angles just right to illuminate the model. I got one shot with which I wasn't happy and then without paying attention I grabbed and attempted to move the lamp. SNAP... I don't know how I did it but the lamp broke in two pieces at the bottom of the stem. However being an ingenious modeller I decided I could pin it. So armed with my drill and some paper clips I managed to get everything together nice and snug. I tested it and all was fine. So setting up again for a better shot I moved the lamp and then it began a slow motion fall towards my pile of almost fully painted miniatures. Well luckily I noticed in time and caught it. Now the lamp is consigned to the rubbish heap and I can't paint in the evenings until I have a new one.

Here is the bad shot of the Castigator. Once I get another lamp I will take another better shot. I should be painting models from Prime but I actually have none left. I am awaiting the delivery of a few models still and while I have Templeguard to do I wasn't that motivated to actually do them. The Castigator also gave me a chance to practice with more smoke weathering which I have been itching to do. Until I have some better shots I can't really show you what I mean but on the left fist of the Castigator I tried to get a good smoke effect with some pigment. Also on the shoulder where there are some exhaust pipes I tried to discolour the nearest armour plates. It came out fine but as always not perfect. At least I have plenty more 'jacks to test these techniques with still. I picked up some more cheap menites this weekend. Rather than being from my local gamestore they come from ebay. So just as I thought my menite pile of unpainted lead was reducing I have now multiplied it by about four.

March 19, 2011

Ghouls - what are they?

These will be the main low level antagonists for the players in my upcoming Hunter: the Vigil game. However their exact nature remains elusive and is something I would really like to tie down. They are represented in medieval folklore already and this depicts them in a number of ways. The most common being the fact that they eat human flesh and that they live in graveyards. They are more often linked with Werewolves or at least exhibit similar traits than they are with Vampires. They are often described in Arabian sources as shape shifters though they generally change into Hyenas rather than Wolves. They are also reported to prey specifically on young children, to rob graves and to drink blood. One of the most interesting traits is the ability to take on the form of a victim they have previously eaten. The definition from White Wolf is:
Slaves to the addictive taste of vampiric Vitae, ghouls trade servitude for that heady substance. Servitude, however, damns them far more than they know, as their unnatural craving drives them to ever greater desperation and depravity. Among those known as blood slaves, there's no such thing as "just one fix."
However this doesn't fit exactly with what I have in mind. It is close but not exact. I would prefer to have the Ghouls act as the minions of a powerful witch rather than a vampire. I suppose a thaumaturgical vampire wouldn't be out of the question.

The Purpose:
The Ghouls are in the game to introduce the players to the World of Darkness. They will be the cause of whatever incident is the first that the players come across. They will then be used to reveal that they are not alone in this World of Darkness but only pawns in a struggle. They will also provide a direct physical threat to the Hunters and will actively seek them out. The fact that they are almost indistinguishable from the normal populace will foster a sense of general uneasiness as the Hunters won' know who to trust.These will give the players that first sense that they have dealt with a problem and succeeded. Some hunting packs of ghouls will be easily dealt with and then there can be some for of a boss monster, maybe that can be a vampire. It could also be a better than average ghoul, I haven't decided. He (it?) can be hidden somewhere within their base of operations meaning that the party have to go in a deal with it.

The Hide-Out:
This is simple. The Ghould need flesh. Human flesh to be exact. Where is this easily available? A crematorium would be good. Who inspects the ashes to really see if they are human ashes and not something else. Combine this with a hospital and a large graveyard and you pretty much have the perfect setting for a Ghoul Clan. It also allows for a gunfight without too much worry that the police will arrive. A graveyard at night won't be filled with people afterall!

What they are doing:
Now here is always a difficult question. Survival is not really an option. If they are merely surviving then they are not going to be noticed by anyone. They can't be just minding their own business. So they need an adversary. I don't want to detail that just yet but the Ghouls must be acting against them. So what exactly are they doing? Killing homeless people might be a trope of the genre but it works. That is why it is a trope! So someone or something is controlling the homeless people. These are then being used against the Ghouls. Why? Hmmm well drawing on the Algol inspiration the Ghouls are in possession of some powerful Taliman and this other power wants it. Infact the talisman has just arrived in the city or is on its way. A play is being made for it which means the Ghouls are under surveilance. So they have reacted and are attempting to remove the people that are being used.

I now have one basic group in the web of intrigue that still needs some development. A good start is half the work after all!

March 18, 2011

Friday Showcase - Bugman's Rangers

While looking through my painting cabinet this week I decided I should showcase some of the other armies I have painted in years past. Dwarves are my second most favourite arm in Warhammer and the one I have definitely got the most miniatures for. The ones shown here are the old Bugman's Rangers. When using them last week the people in the local club couldn't recognise them. That makes me feell old as I remember when they were brand spanking new! These were painted in 2008 for a tournament. As usual they needed to be done quickly and once I had them finished I never went back to improve them. The one thing I would like to do is give all of them shields and to expand the regiment by ten more guys. Sadly these have been out of production for quite a while so it is unlikely that I will easily find more.

March 17, 2011

The slaughter at Orosk

Smoke rose from the centre of the village. Something was burning but the Harbinger coudn't make out what. The snow swirling around had reduced visibility to the point that seeing the smoke was almost impossible. Reznik should still be circling around Orosk she thought. The smoke told her otherwise. It looked like the situation was turning, Reznik had gone in alone and now was paying the price for his impetuousness. Quickly she assembled a paltry force from what she had. The Avatar was still being repaired so he was no use, the damage from the morning had been far more extensive than initially thought. All that was left in terms of Warjacks were an old Crusader, a Revenger and a Guardian. The Crusader was a sad reflection of its former glory but the old battlehorse wasn't ready to be scrapped just yet. He had accompanied her from Sul if she remembered correctly. Back then the 'jack was fresh from the Vassal Mekaniks assembly plant. In terms of infantry should couldn't justify bringing everyone. The Templeguard would be used to hold the line on the ridge so that they could make an effective retreat if needed. The zealots wouldn't be much use in defense so she called to their leader to assemble. If only the Errants had arrived she could storm the village and wipe out the defenders. Now she needed to be cautious and tentatively test the defences in the hope she could get to Reznik in time. With the ever ready zealots and her bodyguard of Paladins she descended from the ridge to discover exactly what was transpiring in Orosk."

The Harbinger of Menoth vs. Karchev the Terrible

PhotobucketThe deployment was interesting due to the terrain. There was a house right in the centre of my zone which would split my army a little. I aimed to load one flank and advance into the killbox on turn one. The house would protect the Harbinger until I needed to bring her out and hopefully the Khadorans would come close to me so that I wouldn't leave her exposed to the inevitable fire from the Widowmakers. The khadorans spread across their zone evenly which suited me. This means that some of the elements on the right would take a little longer to reach my army. Clicking on the screen shots will pop them up good and big so you can follow the action a little better.

PhotobucketMy turn was nice and quick. I advanced as planned into the cover provided from the building. The zealots seized the opportunity to race up the left flank. This would give them a good flanking position if the chance arrived. Everything else also advanced along with the Harbinger.PhotobucketThe khadoran turn was swift. The 'jacks advanced up into position a bit more hesitantly than I thought they would. I really wanted them to pile up the middle. The Widowmakers went straight forward getting into a good position for when I came out from behind the building. That was something I didn't want to do. At least until the time to strike came. I noticed that I had the paladins too far back at this point and I was going to struggle to use them effectively without some luck.

Photobucket I didn't take a screen shot after my turn. I was too engrossed in the action to think of it. You can extrapolate my positions from the wreck markers! Anyway the Zealots continued up the field activating Greater Destiny this turn. This put them into a perfect flanking position. I had to keep the spread to avoid shots from the Destroyers, or at least that is what I thought. Karchev can make weapons magical so I thought they could be damaged. I realised later that they couldn't be. The Guardian ran forward towards the Great Bears. I needed his arc node! The revenger also moved out to block a charge straight into my centre. I was pretty sure he would be smashed but at least then I knew that Beast O' Nine would be right beside the wreck marker. The Paladins moved up but I was too cautious. I should have ran them to get them into positions where I could really use them. The Harbinger then cast Fear of God on the Great Bears which prevented them from using special attacks or taking orders. He then acted againas an arc node allowing the Harbinger to cast cataclysm on the Widowmakers. Sadly I was a hairs breath out of range and I missed. That nice 5" AOE should have toasted them all. Sadly on a miss the spell doesn't scatter. At this point I should have feated. Anyway the khadorans responded well. Karchev feated and with Tow he brought all his jacks forward. Turning his back on me he got them right into a great position to cause some harm! Beast O' Nine charged and failed to wreck the Revenger though he did pull the shield off. The two destroyers charged the Guardian and thanks to a nice critical managed to amputate an arm giving them just enough damage to almost wreck him. The arrival of the Great Bears sealed his fate barely. The Widowmaker Marksman then shot the Revenger and wrecked it. The rest of the widow makers moved to shot the zealots but killed none of them due to my martyring of the Harbinger.

PhotobucketI have to admit I thought I had won the game at this point. The Zealots were in a prime position to fire bomb Karchev. I activated them first and moved in to start throwing. A few were not in range due to the fact that I had spread so far out before. Of the five that could throw three hit. I smattered some damage on the 'caster. If that was a normal caster I think I would have been pretty close to killing them. However Karchev has thirty four damage point. So I really didn't get the result I was expecting! The Crusader charged Beast O' Nine and did some respectable damage. I was very close to removing his arm and his cortex. The Paladins then ran to get into position tieing up as much of the Khadorans as possible. The Harbinger then moved out of hiding and cast Cataclysm on Beast. A terribly low roll and bad position of damage meant neither his arm or cortex were in trouble. Once again at this point I should have over Now I was in more trouble than I realised. I thought I could weather what was coming. Karchev gave some focus to the Destroyers and both of them turned to shot the Harbinger. Sadly my attempt to tie one of them up didn't work and I was just short on melee range with my Paladin. The two shots hit and left the Harbinger on a single damage point. Then the Widowmakers moved up and killed her with a single shot...apt. So the lesson I learned from this: play like a muppet and you will lose!

Annihilation Campaign Two: The battle of Orosk
Battle One: A chance encounter at Orosk
Battle Two:Noon at Orosk

March 16, 2011

Old vs. New

So here is my Repenter. Another model complete for the Prime Challenge. Thankfully this week has been relaxed in some ways and I have managed to get some paiting in over the course of a few evenings. I had some good luck yesterday combined with some bad. I had a lot of my belongings shipped over from Ireland to Germany. Practically anything that could have been smashed was smashed. The good luck part is that I decided not to send the remnants of my menites in these packages! That would have been terrible. I can't imagine that my Crusader and Guardian could have survived despite the best efforts of my pinning. While I know the delivery service can be rough in the handling of packages mine really must have had some fun. There were wooden boxes inside that were cracked. So I will have to wait for a visit home to pick up my remaining faithful but at least they should arrive in Germany intact this way. At least I have been able to adequately build up my forces here so that I can play with the rest.PhotobucketHere is a rear shot just to prove that I actually paint the backs of my miniatures! We used to joke that GW miniatures were only painted in the front and thats why they could paint so many so quickly! Looking at the shots here I notice I forgot some stuff, mainly the black lining on some of the armour plates. I also need to do the bases once I have the varnish applied to seal the pigments. I am going to do this as a big batch towards the end of the project as I am lazy at the moment and it feels good to get the models off the painting desk and into the painting cabinet! I have a varnish for the water pools on the bases but as the brushes need to be cleaned with turpentine I don't really want to do it individually. It is an acrylic varnish but for some reason I need turpentine to clean up after it... I wasn't paying attention to the bottle. It was also pretty expensive so I don't want to waste it.

Photobucket Here you can see some weathering again. I have finally managed to get the chipped armour to look how I want it. With the previous three 'jacks it came out fine but not really like it looks in other peoples tutorials. Here you can see the arm plate. The strong lights I needed to get this in focus destroyed the highlights on the armour but you can see the chips pretty well. Even though this area didn't get much hairspray on it you can see that the chips here are much finer than before. Rather than large sections coming off I managed to get some lines and dots in too.PhotobucketThe secret was to apply the hairsparay and paint as mentioned before. The once you are ready to make the chips simply brush some water over the area and leave for about fifteen seconds. This will then soak through the upper layer of paint and then you can begin the process. It gives a much much finer result and is a lot easier to work with. I discovered this half way through this 'jack so I don't expect to really get it perfect until I am doing in on the Castigator. All I need now is to really figure out where the damage should go. It always looks best if placed in a logical manner.

PhotobucketThis is my original Repenter, who is sitting in Ireland. This is the first Warmachine model I ever painted. I came upon these pictures when I searched through a mass of pictures I had stored. It is interesting to see the difference in painting styles. I think this guy was done in 2004 though I can't be sure. It was about the time Escalation came out I think. I find it hard to remember when I really began to play as it was very much a slow grow thing. Warhammer Fantasy was the dominant game in our group at the time and Warmachine was very much the junior partnerPhotobucketThe metals are done very differently for sure. You can see, hopefully despite the poor pictures, that they have a much darker shade. For gold I tend to use a much brighter highlight now rather than shading down. I like the gold to be bright and reflective. Also the armour plates have a much stronger shading. This is fine but a difficult method to get correct and one I definitely hadn't mastered back then. I don't know if I have yet either! Most interesting is the tone of the miniature. What I have painted now is a very cold scheme whereas before it was much warmer.

March 15, 2011

Hunter: the vigil

I am planning on running a Hunter game within the next few months. Once the Ravenloft game is finished with of course. It is going well and I hope it continues but I am planning for the inevitable and I want to jump in while there is a gap in everyones roleplay sessions. Everyone wants me to run Gamma World to I would prefer Hunter. Gamma World is fine but I can't easily tell a story in that game. I am struggling a little with what story exactly I want to tell even with Hunter and therefore how to tell it is really causing me some problems. I would like a slow exposure to the World of Darkness background to the players for sure. Only one of my players is familiar with the game, though he is very familiar. I will probably ask him to play some form of occultist to explain how come he has that much knowledge. The rest don't have a clue so this means I can easily use what I want. I would like the horror part of the game to be high and to have a lot of tension.

This then easily leads into an overall but limited arc. Something has happened, a process has started. If the players don't stop the process something worse happens. So immediately they are on a time scale. They will not know exactly what is about to happen but they know when it will happen. Lets just say when the Moon is next full. So within twenty eight days they need to define and accomplish their goals. The next thing is the horror. This can come in many forms and it will serve to heighten the tension. Shock is one form but an insidious atmosphere of horror generally serves best. To create this one needs to give the players something very familar and friendly and then slowly change it to the unfamiliar and unfriendly. So their hometown should at first be a perfect society and then over the progress of the campaign it becomes something else entirely. The woods on the north of the town where the players enjoyed picnics with their families is revealed as a nest of Werewolves. The sewers hide Vampires while a coven of Witches are the caretakers at the homeless shelter. Defining these themes will take a while but will be worth it in the end.

One of the things I really want to include are Ghouls. I am not sure how to do this but as they are my favourite of all horror monsters I should be able to find a place. The local mortuary/crematorium/graveyard should be a fine setting. Though what role should they play? Well as in the Hunter rulebook Ghouls or at least a form of them are described. For me they will be the introductory horror. The first experience that the characters will have with the otherside. In some way the ghouls will effect the lives of everyone in the group bringing them together and providing an initial motivation. Thankfully some research from the link above has turned up a lot of useful information on the creature including the fact that a star is named after it, Algol. Even better this star has an occult tradition from the middle ages. Thats a lot of fuel for my inspiration.

For instance having Algol and its stronger influence when within 6° of a planet being the event that the players need to race against instantly gives something to work with. It is also a Behenian Star meaning that it was used in the creation of talismans and is associated with diamonds and black hellebore. The latter is a well known poison. Even better than this is the fact it is associated with the summoning on daemons! What better associations can you get for a World of Darkness game?

Further Campaign Thoughts:
The Ghouls
The Cemetery
The Witches

March 14, 2011

Rocket power would seem to need some smoke

The Prime Challenge continue this week with another model finished! This guy has been calling to me for many years but I never bought him. Why I can't be sure as he really seems on paper to be awesome. The Redemeer is the only light Warjack from Prime that I need to complete for the Challenge. However I have managed to get a cheap Repenter and I will paint him up too. My orignal one sits in a box in Ireland. I am not sure who he combines well with. I guess Severius. Eye of Menoth really must boost the rockets a lot and he has enough focus to get this guy fully charged up for a salvo! It might be a while before I get him onto the table though as I don't have any games scheduled for a while except for the Annihilation campaign where I can't use him.

PhotobucketI painted the Redeemer in the same way as my Crusader and Vanquisher. The white I kept pretty simple and flat. There is some shading there but it can be subtle and while I should put more emphasis on it I think it can ruin the look of the Warjacks. The large flat surfaces don't really take a strong contrast in colour well. I din't paint a menite symbol onto the 'jack as I was lazy. I could have freehanded one on but to be honest that was going to represent a lot of work and the purpose of this army is to game with not as a showcase piece. The red is a simple scab red with a fine highlight of blood red. On the armour sections this is hard to make out but on the skirt it came out fine. I need to figure out a way whereby the red on the armour trim takes the highlight better. I once again don't want to go too extreme.

PhotobucketHere you can see some of the weathering finished. The light I was using has washed the colours out of the photograph a little but you can hopefully still catch the effect! This little vent is located on the side of the jack's head. To me it looks like somewhere either for excess steam or smoke to vent through. I dedcided on smoke and took out my black pigment. I then simply brushed it in as best as I could to the top of the vents and achieved a nice sooty effect. I continued this up the front of the Warjack where the smoke should leave a stain. It came out much darker than is apparent in the photo. Its a nice and simple effect. Also you can see the paint chipping here. In this case I used the hairbrush technique. However I am still not proficent enough and I make a lot of mistakes. The main thing I do is to lift of the base coat and undercoat at the same time! However for the next 'jack I have something else to try and hopefully I can get the chips to look more realistic.

March 10, 2011

The Blade Itself

I just finished reading The First Law series over the last few days. I was recommended the first book by a friend. It was so good I had ordered the next two before I finished reading it. It is low fantasy in general with few monsters and a little bit of magic. Which generally makes for a better fantasy book in my opinion. I still have about twenty pages to finish on the third book but the story has wrapped up. The setting is nicely evoked and well described. It is also fairly original in some ways though the cliché of the frozen north filled with Vikings and the south being a desert filled with Persians are once again here. The north is described well and the culture is also given a good description throughout the series so despite it being much the same as other books it is fine. Very little action happens in the south so not much attention is paid to it. The charcter development was pretty good for the most part and the characters themselves are interesting.

The second and third books continue the story and have excellent pacing. I was particularly impressed by the build up towards the battles in the second book. The character development is a little forced during this book for one character but thats only a minor thing and it didn't effect my enjoyment of the story. So now I just need to decide what I read next... not an easy prospect as nothing jumps out at me. At least Steven Erikksons final book in the Malazan series is done and released. Once it gets a little cheaper I will pick it up.

March 8, 2011

Your soul is mine!

It is cheating I know but it counts... As part of project Prime I want to have everything done to a decent standard. I painted the High Reclaimer a long time ago. He was my third 'caster. I haven't used him much as everytime I do I lose. I just haven't gotten into the style I need to play him yet and I know it will take a lot of games before I do! The tiny control area and expensive spells make for a very difficult play style. The feat is excellent, in general, and the gathering of souls should help. However I generally find I am getting sould when I don't want them or when I really can't benefit from there use. His tier list doesn't really provide me with much inspiration and its constituents are models I don't have or at least don't have painted! I will have to check the Lost Hemisphere blog and see what they have to say. There are a few articles there about the High Reclaimer.

Here is what I repainted. Nothing major to be honest but the muscles were painted back before I had really figured out how to do skin. As you can see this is now much improved. It had been so bad that people had pointed it out on occasion. The skin isn't perfect still but as it took me maybe five minutes to paint I am not complaing. It isn't like the rest of the model is perfect either. At least now he is done and in my opinion looking fine. I hope he won't be relegated to the back of the shelf and he might see some game time... I also put some dirt on the cloak. This is in keeping with a lot of the menites I have done recently. If I want them to look like they are walking around in a swamp I can hardly have them in pristine condition! Over the dark grey I put some mud coloured pigment. While the coverage isn't fantastic like this it does give a nice impression of dirt. I was impressed how easy it is to apply. It is definitely something I will check out with different shades to see what nice effects can be achieved. With a little bit more patience and concentration I think I can get a better effect.

March 7, 2011

Distracted already but trying

While I managed some productivity this weekend it was on the low side. While I would like to blame THACO for distracting me I can't as they had a Fell Calls episode dealing mainly with Temple Con and Dale's efforts to get Mark and Jim to restart playing the game. What really distracted me was the assembly of four 'jacks. While two of these are from Prime and one of them is a 'jack I have never owned the other two are what took my time. Rather than solely collecting Prime I mananged to spread my purchases across three books. I picked up a Redemeer, a Reckoner and a Castigator. Firstly I have to say I am not sure if I really like the design on the Reckoner and the Castigator. Putting them beside the Crusader I have assembled really makes him look small. For me the Crusader is the quintessential menite warjack. Having these two on the battlefield diminishes the impact of the Crusader. However they are great models in their own right. The faces tend to be overly corvine for my liking. They are massive however and really will dominate most other 'jacks. The detailing is superior to all the other jacks but they still don't fit together perfectly. The engine pipes don't even come close to connection points. Still you won't notice this much and the rest of the detail makes up for them.

I pinned everything together except the body to the legs. I can never manage to get that join to work correctly so I tend to ignore it for pinning purposes. The joint their tends to be strong anyway. I did manage to glue the Reckoner in such a way I had to break the model there. Instead of having him looking to his left I turned him to the right. This meant however that the gun arm was tucked in very close to the body and I wouldn't have been able to paint it properly. The other two warjacks I passembled are the Redemeer and another Repenter. All of these models were close to half price so when I saw them I picked them up. Although I have come to realise slowly that the gaming stores in Germany put the prices of the Irish ones to shame. So my judgement on what is half price is slightly biased due to what I am used to having paid.

I also airbrushed these guys and thankfully it was an almost pain free process. The base coat went on nice and even in a few minutes. The hairspray did the same. When I got to the white the next day I was having a lot of trouble. The amount of propellant left in the GW can was pretty low and while I could get air out of the brush I couldn't get paint out. The pressure of the propellant was too low to force paint up and out of the underslung jar. I rectified the problem by putting the propellant can into a dish of warm water. I don't recommend you to try this as it may be dangerous. Instantly upon being placed in the water I could hear the gas bubbling out of the liquid. When I sprayed I was then getting too much pressure. I was able to relieve that by simply spraying the back of the spray catcher I use for a few moments and once everything was back to normal I got a good fine mist from the gun. I will have to experiment a little more but the variable pressure delivered by the can during its lifetime seems t present problems of its own. I would suggest that anyone using this particular airbrush with propellant to always have two cans ready for use.

So to the Prime Challenge, I have two 'jacks ready to be painted while my Repenter is a duplicate I don't mind redoing him especially as all my old 'jacks are in a box back in Ireland. I will try to leave both the Castigator and Reckoner at the back of the painting desk so that I can remain focused on the Prime material. I will be doing weathering like I did with the Vanquisher and the Crusader on the two lights. I have tripled the pigments I have and hopefully mixing them up a little will help me to get better rust colours. Getting these two warjacks out of the way this week will be nice and I can continue a little with my Templeguard. Getting them done will be really nice! They represent the biggest task, at least that I have on my painting desk. The Deliverers I haven't yet bought so I can ignore them for a while...

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