Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Doldrums of Magic



As a follow-on to yesterday's post about Storm of Magic:

We've got one local player, Arromanche (who maintains the Army Builder 2.2 WHFB files), who doesn't normally play in tournaments any more, but he always stops by to help out and play ringer if one's needed.  He really hates magic in 8th edition... and Storm of Magic is a bridge too far.

Early in the planning, he offered "I'll help out but I am NOT playing. The very word MAGIC means no way."

Totally reasonable, and the help's always appreciated (he knows the rules and books better than I do, better than you do, and better than both of us combined)... but I thought this was funny, so:
The Very Word MAGIC Mans 'No Way'

Practitioners of the Arcane Arts are well familiar with a phenomenon known as the "Arromanchic Doldrums," when furious Winds of Magic inexplicably and unexpectedly (inexplectably!) ebb-- even during the most tempestuous of magical storms.

During any Magic Phase Arromanche observes the beginning of, instead of using the Wild Magic rules, use the following rules:
  • Roll 3D6 to determine Winds of Magic
  • The dispelling player receives the sum of the two highest rolls as dispel dice, treating the second highest roll as a d3 rather than a d6. If the two highest rolls are doubles, treat both as d6s.
  • The limit of power and dispel die pools is 18.
I'm proposing using this rule at the tournament. So far one participant and one non-particpant have said they think it should be used... nobody's said it shouldn't. I'm still debating whether I should use it or not.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Storm of Magic Test Game


I might have mentioned that I'm running a Storm of Magic tournament in January: more to motivate folks to give the dang format a try.  The book came out, folks (myself included) bought the book, the cards, Arcane Fulcrum kits... and then never did anything with them.

So, between that, my actually painting some Fulcra, and Eric McK making the call to let folks spend 25% of their points on random Forgeworld & Storm of Magic choices at the (very successful, non-Storm of Magic) Toys for Tots tournament earlier this month: I decided to go ahead and get something on the schedule.

Key is trying to make accessible to folks who felt like paying who weren't chumps who'd bought the book or felt like playing with the Scrolls of Binding and such.  I'm a fan of inclusive.  So, the format's 2,500 points: percentages are based off of that (so, 625 minimum Core, 625 maximum rare, etc), and lists can spend up to 500 points on SoM choices (because in SoM you get an extra 25% to spend on those things, we can pretend you're running a 2,000 point army).  Those SoM choices are totally optional: if someone wanted to show up with their usual 2,500 point army... they'd be fine.

I finally got the chance to get a game in last night: when SoM first came out, I pushed miniatures around the table with Sean for a few hours while we had the book open nearby, but I don't think that counts.  So, my game with Casey was my first serious attempt at a SoM game.


I ran my usual Skaven list (the Empire's still being assembled), with two Grey Seers instead of the Seer and the Warlord, and with two Warp-Lightning Cannons as my Rare choices (no Doomwheel, no Hellpit) and just one unit of Gutter Runners.  I spent my M&M budget on a Lvl 3 Fimir Banelord and a Chimera.

Casey ran a normal 2,500 point list: two units of Mournfangs, a horde of Bulls, a Slaughtermaster and a Firebelly.

I won't do a turn-by-turn battle report, but I will do a braindump of impressions from the game... and that's actually why I'm writing this post:
  • We didn't finish.  We didn't really come close to finishing.  In just over three hours, we got in three full turns.  Now, a lot of that is because we chatted: with each other, with other folks... but decision paralysis from having a bajillion magic dice and an extra 8 (him) to 18 (me, if you count Lore of Shadow) spells to spend them on.
  • The Scrolls of Binding didn't seem to break anything.  They offered me a lot more choices (a flying monster, a Shadow caster), but I don't think they turned the tide of anything, really.
  • Did I mention the decision paralysis?  With so many dice and so many spells, it was kind of a lot of work to get through a Magic phase.  That shouldn't be a surprise, but it is something to keep in mind when approaching the tournament.  Know your spells, try to have a plan.
  • We did not have a single dang miscast.  Not one.  Several double-sixes for dispelling, but never for casting.  Huge bummer.
  • We didn't do anything with Cantrips.  My heart tells me that that means we were doing it wrong.
  • On paper, it looks like the only thing that matters are the casters on the fulcra, and that everything else is just getting pushed around for the heck of it.  That wasn't my experience at all: the units on the ground are how you supplement your caster's attempts to push guys off of Fulcra.  
  • Feast of the Fallen makes me sad.  Wow.
I'd definitely like to see us (locally, at the very least) adopt Eric's 25% "random stuff" budget.  Cataclysm spells and Fulcrums aside, it'll breathe some new life into armies that are starting to feel stale to their owners, open the door to clever and interesting conversions... and not be too bad, really.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Big Build Progresses

Things have been quiet 'round here, but I've been extremely busy over the past two weeks.

That's right!  That's:

  • Halberdiers x49
  • Cannon x2
  • Mortar
  • Weapon Crew x9 (not pictured)
  • Steam Tank
So, yeah.  Lots more to do before I can start fielding the army without proxies, but this is a solid start.

What's interesting is how different assembling these guys is from the Skaven.  There aren't many pieces (which is great), but I've got to put a lot more effort into assembly and gap-filling.


The halberd/spear design's quite clever... but as often as not there's a clear seam (or worse, a gap) between the halberd head and the haft.  So, I've been doing two passes of liquid green stuff (apply, dry, clean, repeat) and then some superglue over it.  The results are just fine, but it feels like a lot of work.

Also, I need a lot more practice getting the arms to fit against the torso.


Sometimes, it's a non-issue.  Other times, there's mad gap-filling to do.

Anyway, mostly, I'm just getting used to assembling new miniatures, trying to get it out of the way, and trying to do it without it feeling like a chore.  I really do like these models: they're characterful, floofy, and in desperate need of good orthodonture.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Nordland Test Model


It's done.  I'm very happy with it.  Color notes can be found here and here.  I'm definitely going to roll this.




Now, I just need to commence The Big Build.

Friday, December 9, 2011

FwoshfwoshfwoshweeeeeeeBOOMBOOMBOOM



I knocked out a Helstorm Rocket Battery back on Monday.

I hadn't planned (and, still don't exactly) on fielding on of the Rare artillery choices, but I ended up with one and I figured that, because I hadn't planned on fielding one, it'd be a good place to start.  (Less severe consequences  if I screwed up, see.)

It came together pretty quickly.  I've yet to knock out the crew: I figure I'll do all the war machine crews together at once... also, they'll wait for me to figure out how I'm going to base them and work them into a scene.

Not much painting difference here: I highlighted the yellow different and I used a slightly different metal wash.

Instead of Golden Yellow, I tried a Iyanden Darksun / Menoth White Base mix on the Marienburger (the results of which I, like a doofus, forgot to photograph)... then I snagged a bottle of VMC Sand Yellow and tried that here.  It's lighter, maybe too light, but I'm lazy enough / obsessed with easily replicable results enough that "bottle color not perfect" > "mixed color."  We'll see how it works on an infantryman: I'm doing up a Nordlander halberdier test model now..

The metal wash was sort of what I used on my Skaven (3:2:2 - Water : Asurmen Blue : Badab Black): instead I stuck with the glaze ratio I've had a lot of luck with, plus some of the amazing P3 Armor Wash: 6:3:3:4:1 Water : Asurmen Blue : Badab Black : Matte Medium : Armor Wash.  It's a great tone, but the flow was waaaay too thin for my tastes.  I'd like to thicken it up a bit.

Anyway, here are the pictures:




Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Empire Test Game


I got in a game with the Empire last night, running pretty much what I listed here (save that I dropped the Obsidian Amulet and an Archer and upgraded one Mortar to a Helstorm Rocket Battery), and went up a not-particularly hard Chaos Warriors list that looked something like:
Lvl 4 Sorcerer of Slaanesh
Lvl 2 Sorcerer, Fire
Lvl 2 Sorcerer, Death

Warriors x50 - Full Command, Mark of Khorne, Extra Hand Weapon,
Marauders x50 - Full Command, Mark of Khorne
Knights x6 - Full Command, Mark of Khorne

Warhounds x6
Warhounds x6

Giant of Slaanesh
A horde of 50 Chaos Warriors can be a tough nut to crack, but I didn't have to worry about Gateway or anything, so I wasn't complaining.

I was proxying damn near everything, so I got a lot of comments about how my troops looked like rats.

Overall it was a good, close game that I completely lost.  Some assorted, unordered thoughts to follow.

  • What cost me the game was forgetting about the Prayers of Sigmar every round.  The ability to make a unit Unbreakable was, quite literally, what cost me the game.
  • I misfired once, and the Engineer was around to catch that.  I don't expect that to happen most games.
  • But the Cannons were great.  Having a flat Strengh 10 feels so much better than the random-Strength shot the Warp-Lightning Cannon gave me.  I miss the template at the end... but I'm happy to be able to shoot things in the face and know they're in trouble.
  • The Helstorm actually did okay.  I need to work out the ideal distance to drop it from my target, but it hit some dudes more often than not...
  • ... which is more than I can say about the Mortar, which was generally disappointing.  That's a little strange.
  • Halberdiers didn't feel like they were delivering... but they went toe-to-toe with a Horde of Chaos Warriors for three rounds of combat, so I probably shouldn't complain.
  • Swordsmen were okay: they performed about as well as I could have asked.
  • The Lvl 1 Beasts caster accomplished precious little. I should consider bumping him to a Lvl 2 (or giving him a new Lore) so he can get more done.
  • Knights were a disappointment, but I don't know if I'm expecting too much from them.  I lost only 2 of them to 24 attacks from the Warriors, and then the remaining 7 of them killed 5 Warriors.  That's not bad, but... they just didn't hit as hard as I thought they should have.  I also completely forgot to do the mounts' attacks (not used to having cavalry), but I doubt they would have made much of a differece.
  • I miscast twice.  Each time I rolled a 9, which meant that all of my Priests and Wizards took hits.  Blech.  In the last turn, I managed to kill off my little Priest and Battle Wizard with it.  In fact, I think my opponent did 1 wound, total, to any of my characters, while I was able to five.
  • The Shadow Wizard Lord didn't pull much off, but that's because he understandably kept getting dispelled.  I really liked having his options, though: he's not likely to go anywhere.
  • I need to read, learn, and internalize the FAQ.  I lost my Steam Tank to Purple Sun.
  • Archers were the dang MVP of the game: they did better than I could have expected shooting things (mostly because my opponent's dice were bullshit and kept failing his 1+ saves), but really because they were champs at redirecting chargers and getting in the way.

I'm going to fiddle with dropping the knights (though I should give them another chance) and seeing what else I can do with the points.

I've painted up the Helstorm (the weapon, at least, not the team): I'll try to have some pics up soon.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Marienburg Test Model


I knocked out a test model in no time last night.  There are some things I'm extremely pleased with, and some things that make me glad this is a test model.

First off: here's the finished model:





So, clearly: this guy's painted up in Marienburg and not Nordland colors.  I thought I'd give it a shot.

He looks pretty good and came together in no time at all.

Ultimately, though, I think I'm going go with Nordland instead of Marienburg.

I don't think this scheme works very well.  The red and blue are bright enough to make the yellow look pretty dingy.  I don't want dingy: as a rule, my style runs towards bright and away from grungy... and particularly with The Empire, I'm looking to embrace the pajama-pants, floppy hat dandy brightness.

There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • I think the yellow will look okay against the blue (I'm going to try it on another model when I can get my hands on one); it's the red and the blue that brings it down.
  • My yellow paint is dead. My Iyanden Darksun and especially my Golden Yellow.  Better quality paint will help a lot.
  • I don't think I can do brighter yellow.  It just tends to look weird.  So hopefully removing the red will make this less dire.
I'm super-stoked about how his face came out.  Given that I haven't painted a person face in a long time, I think this looks great.


The base is so-so.  Forgettable.  That's okay, though: there's still time for me to see if I can come up with something more inspired.

The model didn't go together as well as I'd have liked: it was from a bitz-order and I'm not sure the head I got was meant to go on the body: there's some dodgy glue and greenstuff at work in the neck (which is why the head got painted separately).

Overall, it looks pretty good and came together very, very quickly.  Faster, even, than my clanrats (almost certainly because of my regrettable decision to use GW Bronzed Flesh / VMC Dark Flesh as my primary skin tone as well as picking out the rings on every little tail).

I can totally do this!

What do the rest of you think?

Painting notes behind the cut...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What's Next

So, I've decided Necrons are a no-go.  The games I've played with them haven't felt right, and what little inspiration I've found for painting them is wholly uninspired.  Holding out for the rumored Tau update (I'm super-pumped to revisit Tau, my first army, but I can't bring myself to do it this side of an update) feels like the smarter move.

But, I've got to work on something and, more pressingly, my birthday and Christmas are coming up, so I've got to have something hobby-related to put on a list.

So, I've decided to move on the Empire thing that's been rattling around since late August.  Pajama pants and feathered hats, here I come!

I took advantage of TheWarStore's Black Friday sale to load up on some battalions, and I've assembled another test model to fiddle with.  

The key to what I want to do is nautical-themed, "Fist of Manann" type army.  Nautical iconography and such.  The only decision point I'm hung up on is whether I should do them as a Marienburg force or a Nordland force.

Initially, I'd decided on Nordland.  I'm starting to rethink that, though.  Googling around for ideas turns up a disconcerting number of swastikas (seriously, WTF Norway?), and reading deeper into the fluff turns up that Nordlanders tend to assert Sigmar- and Ulric-worship aggressively to try to make up for their mixed-Norscan heritage... which undermines the Manann thing I'm going for.

Marienburg hits all of the points that Nordland was supposed to hit (which makes sense, given that Theoderic Gausser claims rule over it), but without the bumpkinhood that comes with Nordland.  They've don't lose any of the nautical conversion potential, and their independent, mercenary nature offers room for some more creative conversion.

On the other hand, Nordland lets me paint up a Bill the Goat.

Anyway, I need to noodle on this a bit.

In the meantime, the a first cut of what I look to be running is:
Lords
Arch Lector of Manann - General, Heavy Armor, Sword of Might, Shield of the Gorgon, Van Horstman's Speculum
Wizard Lord - Lvl 4, Shadow, Seal of Destruction, Crimson Amulet

Heroes
Battle Wizard - Lvl 1, Beasts, Dispel Scroll
Captain of the Empire - BSB, Shield, Armor of Meteoric Iron
Master Engineer
Warrior Priest - Heavy Armor, Shield, Warhorse, Barding, Biting Blade, Obsidian Amulet

Core
Halberdiers x39 - Musician, Standard Bearer
- Archers x15
- Free Company x15
Knights of the Albatross x9 - Musican, Standard Bearer, Banner of Eternal Flame
Swordsmen x30 - Full Command
- Archers 15

Special
Great Cannon
Great Cannon
Mortar
Mortar

Rare
Steam Tank
I've no illusions that there's room to improve this.  What I'm starting out with looks a lot like my Skaven army... but with better troops, better, more reliable shooting, more magic options and stronger magic defense.  There's no Plague Furnace equivalent in there, but... this is a start.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Arcane Fulcra!


I'm still rattling around, unsatisfied, with a Necron paint scheme that's fast but isn't terrible.  At this point, I'm pretty sure I'm just not going to bother.

As a change of pace, I decided to knock out the Arcane Fulcra I put together back in July, when they came out.

Painting notes follow the picture dump.

Magewrath Throne!






Balewind Vortex!




I tried a lot of weathering here.  For the most part, I think it worked out.  There were definitely some problems with the Throne, though: the verdigris wasn't thin enough and it definitely obscured some detail.

For what it's worth, I tried zenithal highlighting on these guys.  I don't think it shows, though.

Brass
- GW Bestial Brown
- GW Shining Gold
- GW Burnished Gold
- Verdigris wash

Verdigris
I mixed GW Goblin Green, VMC Light Turquoise, VMC White, water, rubbing alchol.  No good ratios... just go thin!  I brushed it on heavily and then immediately dabbed the heck out of it with tissues.  I think this bridges a good gap between verdigris-as-stuff-that-pools and verdigris-as-exposure-to-rain, which is sort of what I took away from this.

Iron
- GW Tin Bitz
- GW Boltgun Metal
- GW Mithril Silver
- Rust wash

Rust Wash
This is a mix of GW Dark Flesh, GW Blazing Orange, P3 Armor Wash and water.  Again, it's all eyeballed here.

Natural Rock
- Ceramcoat Charcoal
- Apple Barrel Pewter Grey
- Ceramcoat Quaker Grey
- Wash: 3:2:2:1 - Water : Badab Black : Matte Medium : Devlan Mud

Carved Rock
- P3 Cryx Bane Base
- P3 Cryx Bane Highlight
- P3 Hammerfall Khaki
- Wash: 3:2:2:1 - Water : Devlan Mud : Matte Medium : Thraka Green

In case you haven't noticed: the 3:2:2:1 wash mix is my special sauce.  It turns the wash into more of a glaze, which makes the colors its washing over richer and more interesting, and cutting the wash 2:1 one color to another produces really neat results.

Also, this is a flip-flop from how I've been doing terrain.  With the rest of my stuff, the Cryx-based colors are the natural colors and the more pure grey is for carved rock.

Finally: hot-damn, I'm still totally in love with the Cryx Bane Base / Cryx Bane Highlight / Khaki progression.  It's such an interesting, natural color.

I did miss a spot while keeping wash even, though: :(


Vortex
- P3 Meridius Blue
- VMC Light Turquoise
- P3 Arcane Blue
- VMC Light Blue
- Turquoise wash

Turquoise Wash
I really need to figure out how to replicate this, because I plan on using it extensively when I revisit my Tau army.  It's P3 Turquoise Ink, a lot of water, a lot of matte medium and a little GW Asurmen Blue.

Bone
- GW Dark Flesh
- P3 Menoth White Base
- P3 Morrow White
- GW Devlan Mud

Anyway, what do people think?

Friday, November 18, 2011

More HDR

Nothing fancy here: when I took the Gremlin / Necron photos on Monday, I thought I'd try some Fantasy-themed HDR / backdrop  photos.



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Necron Test Model

So, I knocked out a Necron test model over the weekend.


I don't like it.  I don't think it works at all.

The highlights don't work well.  The model's boring.   It looks odd.  The proportions look off thanks to the black / bone contrast.

The face looks creepy, but just doesn't work.


I've been thinking about how I need an "I don't give a fuck" army, where I get to see how the other half (folks who just want to play and don't care about the hobby aspect of the game) lives.  It just takes me so damn long to paint an army, it gets frustrating, you know?

I thought Necrons could be that army: I think they're neat, but I'm not emotionally invested in them or anything.  That's why I thought maybe I could get away with something so explicitly unoriginal.

Also, holy poop, I'm terrible at wet-blending.


Back to the drawing board!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gremlins, Batch 2


Well, I finished up the Gremlins I've been working on.  (I'd have finished them last weekend, but I ran out of Bestial Brown and it took me forever to remember to buy more.)

Here they are:






And more fiddling with backdrop/terrain/HDR:





Thursday, November 10, 2011

Necron Test-Run


I got in a test game with the new Necrons on Tuesday.

Here's the list I threw together.  I'm sure that it only bears passing resemblance to any Necron list I'd be playing six months from now, but I've got to start somewhere, right?
Necron Test List - 1,850

HQ
Nemesor Zandrekh

Elites
Triarch Stalker
Triarch Stalker

Troops
Warriors x20
- Cryptek - Eldritch Lance, Solar Pulse
Warriors x9
- Cryptek - Eldritch Lance, Gaze of Flame
- Ghost Ark
Warriors x10
- Ghost Ark

Fast Attack
Canoptek Scarabs x6
Canoptek Scarabs x5

Heavy Support
Annihilation Barge
Annihilation Barge
Canoptek Spyder x3 - Fabricator Array, Gloom Prism
I proxied everything with AT-43 Therians, which wasn't terribly inappropriate (though they were all on bases that were too big).

I ended up playing against Ashley's Slaaneshi Daemons.  It was pretty brutal: I wrecked them pretty badly.  That shouldn't be too much of a surprise: these Necrons are really hot when it comes to zapping infantry... and she had a lot of infantry.  I've got to get in a few games against Imperial Guard to see how it copes (if at all) with a parking lot full of transports.

Some observations:

  • Nemesor wasn't a whole lot of use here.  The special rules didn't make a huge difference, and she didn't have enough units with special rules to take a way.  I opted to not Deep Strike anything, so that didn't make a difference, either.  I'm curious to see how he fares against armies that leverage special rules more, though: he seems like a really good choice.
  • The Triarch Stalkers were amazing.  A double-tapped multimelta's not bad, but making everything else twin-linked became a little obscene.  We can pray that Tau Markerlights are this effective.  What's better than 50 gauss flayers shooting at a unit?  50 twin-linked gauss flayers.  Zap.
  • Ghost Arks were pretty sweet.  She had a hard time cracking through Quantum Shielding, which meant they were pretty safe, and they belched out an obscene amount of fire.
  • Scarabs did okay, despite the fact that there was no armor for them to munch on.
  • Annihilation Barges were okay, but I'm not sure how useful they'll be against armor. The Tesla rule was pretty dang crazy: at no point did I not get at least one Tesla hit.  So, with 5-8 (yeah, that happened) S7 shots, I should be able to handle transports with them at least.
  • Spyders didn't get the chance to do much: I need to work to keep them in range of the scarabs.
What have other folks' experiences been with the Newcrons so far?

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