Thursday, September 30, 2010

Painted Slaanesh Possessed Marine / Sorcerer

The Wormtongued Slaaneshi marine was assembled a little while ago and has been sitting, staring at me waiting for a paint job ever since. He eventually got painted in the dead of the night (in between changing nappies) and so isn't quite as good as I wanted him to turn out.

The robe is a purple colour, highlighted (a little too much) in pure skull white. I think it is this aspect of the miniature that I find most disappointing -- the white lines should have turned out much, much thinner. I think I selected the wrong brush to paint with that night!

Not withstanding that, I like how the purple of the robe has turned out and am pleased with the reds of the head and arms. The power armour has been picked out in blacks and metallic colours and isn't too shabby at all. I think it would be a straight forward job to reduce the extent of the white robe edging and mark this miniature "pop" a little more.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shadow Sword: Part VIII. Base Coat

Red, black and silver. There's something very threatening about those colours, even if I've missed out on adding in bronze for the full Khornate trifecta. Although I had considered some Nurgle colours, I wanted my Shadow Sword to look like it had come from a renegade Forge World, rather than been corrupted from the decaying powers of Nurgle (otherwise I would have built a plague reaper). I also wanted to avoid the camouflage colours that are commonly seen on a number of Imperial tanks -- neat as they are, they were not for this tank, in spite of nominative determinism of the name and function of this superheavy.

Hence, I have chosen red as the primary base coat colour for my Shadow Sword. I have left the black of the under coat showing through in a number of places (and drybrushed silver), with an accent colour of bleached bone on selected locales. Perhaps the most remarkable thing is that I didn't even use a full paint pot of mechrite red as the base coat. I still have some (tiny) amount left over! I'm sure it'll come in useful when I get to the next stages of painting.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pink Horror Evolution

Back in the Realms of Chaos days, pink and blue horrors had their own individual miniatures. The pink horrors were noticeably happier, chuckling and downright devious looking. On the other hand, the blue horrors were more morose, glum and miserable looking with a wicked depressed violence brewing under the surface. They were also slightly smaller than their pink brethren. Their dynamic was invariably a pair of raised hand and a maw of teeth surrounded by an expressive pair of eyes and a tail.

Fast forward to the early 2000's, and the miniatures got a long needed update. I liked this era of Tzeentch miniatures very much. The horrors became a whirling mass of arms, tails, mouths, teeth, eyes, and flames. Moreover, they also featured horrors-within-horrors. This type of miniature is one that I very much liked. As can be seen in my other posts, a number of them look like the inner blue horror is trying to get out of the pink one.

The modern era plastic pink horror (pictured) is a compromise of the previous iterations, with a few new touches added in. More noticeable than previous examples is the abundance of accessories such as bracelets, bangles, gemstones and feathers. This is not a bad thing, but I did have a preference for "naked" horrors. I suspect that the accessories are a throwback to the old mark of Tzeentch that granted followers a random magical item. I like the multiple arms, but on the other hand, I really miss the blue-in-pink aspect of the mid-2000's metal horrors. The new horrors are also larger than their earlier counterparts. Again, not a bad thing (unless trying to hide / get better cover saves).

Overall, their evolution seems to be a subtle blend of old and new. Some things added, and still some things blue :-)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Top 3 Things I Miss from 4th Edition

Here's a question for you: What are your top 3 things or rules that you miss from 4th edition Warhammer 40,000?

The answers from me are probably the following:

(1) Target Priority.
I really, really like this rule! Genuinely! There's just something about a horde of tyranids scuttling toward you that screams "shoot the closest!" Taking out the big warrior bugs hanging out at the back would not be my priority if I were faced with a horde of scuttlers leaping toward me! Unless I was more afraid of disobeying the imposing squad sergeant's command to shoot those bugs at the rear, that is. I'm very sad that this rule died in 5th edition.

(2) "Get Hot" getting hotter with rapid fire.
It used to be the case that if you rapid-fired a plasma gun, you stood a better chance of hurting yourself. Somewhat perversely, I liked this idea. I can certainly recall a number of incidents where I took a gamble and rapid fired a plague marine plasma gunner, only to have him heroically die as he took out a pesky bike rider (or equivalent). I can see why this rule was dropped however -- its just not too much fun having to remove models due to overheating advanced technology. Have they not heard of heat sinks? Hence this is more of a nostalgic thing for me rather than being sad at its loss (like the target priority rule).

(3) Gun-line armies.
I don't know, but there was just something special about seeing a large army of foot soldiers (outside their usual coffins that used to be rhinos), dug in, and taking aim at an opposing army. I don't see too many armies like that any longer.

And ... If I had a fourth choice, then I would probably go for the old area terrain abstractions. Yes, I know, true line of sight is neat, but area terrain had its appeal as well.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Image Processing 101: The Background Level

This post is part of the FtW collaborative posting on miniature photography.

I want to share with you something so very very basic, that it often goes unsaid. It is one of those tips that I probably should have known about when I got in to miniature photography and blogging, but it never really "clicked" for me until a few months in.

If you're just starting out in the blogosphere and miniature photography, then this is for you. It is all about getting the background level of your image right. Now, there are lots of fancy ways you can do this in paint shop, or gimp. But I want to concentrate on the beginner. So I'm going to show you how to do this trick in Microsoft Office Picture Manager. Yes, really!

Once you've opened up your image in said utility, go to the menu options and click on edit pictures (A).

Then, on the right-hand side, you will see a series of options. Click on "colour" and then click on the "Enhance Colour" box (B).

At this stage, your mouse pointer will magically transform in to a crosshairs. Click on a portion of the image that you think should be white (C).

And that really is all there is to it. You have now set your background level to white and enhanced the colour, and overall quality of your image in next to no time whatsoever.

For the technically inclined, the reason why this works is that each pixel in your image has a certain value. What is set as white when you open up your image may only occupy a few pixels (if any!). That means that the dynamic range of your image is vast ... and your colours are limited to that dynamic range and probably squished in to the lower regimes (especially if the image was taken in poor lighting). By changing the background level, we re-set the maximum level (i.e. what is white) and effectively alter the dynamic range of the image (by truncating colours that were previously above the new white value) so that it brings out the colours in your image that may have previously been cramped toward the lower end of the pixel values.

I first learned this trick when messing around with astronomical images. To enhance astronomical images, we define what "black" should be and truncate pixels below a certain threshold (i.e. the background sky noise) to a pixel value of zero (i.e. black). But I've digressed enough for today!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mighty Empires: Oasis in the Badlands

Having wanted to try out a desert Empires tile for a while, I decided to take the plunge with this piece. As well as a variety of texture to play around with, it also features a small lake in one of the corners.
For the painting, I under-coated the entire piece in black, and then applied a dehneb stone base coat. After drying, I applied an ad-mixture of brown, black ink, and blazing orange all over the tile. To accentuate the colours, a dry brush of the stone base coat was blended with blazing orange and selectively applied.

To bring out the relief in the raised, or mountainous, portions, I applied a watered down black ink colour around the base of the hills. This creates a strong illusion of depth in the work. Meanwhile, the oasis in the corner features several layers of blue (starting with light blue toward the outskirts and deeper blues in the middle) surrounded by a small extent of verdant green colours to suggest life is thriving around the lake.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Email in: 1000 points of Nurgle Daemons

Email in:
Ive been lurking here for a bit and really like your blog. I saw you were trying to make a Epidemius / nurgle daemons list a while back. What would you recommend for 1000 pts of fluff filled nurgle daemons with Epi?

Thanks for your question! Yes, I did try to make an Epidemius list a while back, as can be seen from some of my earlier posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). If I were trying to construct a mono-Nurgle Epidemius list at 1000 points, with fluff, then I would try something like this:

Epidemius (110 points)
Great Unclean One, Aura of Decay, Cloud of Flies (185 points)
7 Nurgling bases (91 points)
7 Plaguebearers, instrument (110 points)
7 Plaguebearers, instrument (110 points)
7 Plaguebearers, instrument (110 points)
Daemon Prince, Mark of Nurgle, Daemonic Flight (170 points)
Daemon Prince, Mark of Nurgle (110 points)

Total = 996 Points.

To be honest, my experience of Epidemius at this points level is not good -- he doesn't work out too well usually! But the above list has a couple of pros: several monstrous creatures to get the Tally up quickly (including a prince with wings to chase down some of the faster movers!), a Great Unclean One as a big road bump (don't forget to use the aura of decay repeatedly -- it counts toward the Tally!) and a few squads of plaguebearers and nurglings. Each plaguebearer squad has an instrument for reasons outlined here. Hopefully the instruments will become surplus to requirements quickly enough.

On the Con side: there are no icons in this army. Risky, yes. But the icons are expensive, and if you're playing daemons, you probably won't mind the randomness of deep strike too much. And most importantly, this army is SLOW and will struggle against a large bunch of rhino-riding marines. You need to optimize your deep strike to pin in some select juicy units. Use your quicker miniatures to reach close combat as soon as possible and deploy Epidemius with one of the plaguebearer or nurgling squads. The nurglings will be amazing if they manage to get pumped up by Epidemius.

There are also no Beasts of Nurgle in this list ... if you want to experiment with them, then perhaps swap out a squad of plaguebearers and see what happens. They're roughly equivalent to about 2 plaguebearers each, but I'm unconvinced about them at low points levels. But for the sake of the fluff, give them a go if you're tempted. Use proxies as well if you can whilst you're experimenting, since mono-Nurgle lists are expensive to purchase.

Let me repeat: this is not a tournament army by any means, and is far from optimal. Expect to get pounded. But every once in a while, ...and maybe against only certain armies..., you could have an amazing experience!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Many-Armed Horror

How many arms can fit on to a plastic horror of Tzeentch? Lots, of course!

This particular plastic horror has six arms attached (I was going to aim for nine for fluffy reasons, but was worried they'd clutter the miniature a bit too much!).

The new plastic horrors come supplied with a range of two or one arms that can interchangeably be attached at the shoulders. Thus, it is easy to create, two, three, or four armed horrors. In some ways, they are very reminiscent of the old genestealer hybrid models of twenty or more years ago (they were also supplied with a combination of one or two arms attaching to a given shoulder).

This miniature was assembled as a regular four armed horror -- i.e. two lots of two arms at each shoulder. A fifth arm was attached to the side of the torso on the left hand side of the miniature (the close fist). A little bit of green stuff helps to blend the pinning job I've done to hold it in place. The sixth arm juts straight out of the mouth of the horror! To do this, I've had to shorten the arm, remove the tongue of the horror and pin it in place before the mouth is glued over the top. Only a few of the horror heads have a wide enough maw to permit this sort of conversion, so if you're thinking about copying this approach, I strongly recommend dry-fitting your arm in the maw of the horror before you go ahead and chop or glue.

I think I'm going to have the sixth, mouth arm painted in blue eventually; suggestive of a blue horror trying to get out of the pink one! In some ways, I like the idea of the whole blue-in-pink horrors. It is something that the new plastic horrors are missing, I feel. At least in comparison to the older metal horrors of the mid-2000's.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Assorted Thoughts on Assembling Plastic Pink Horrors

The perils of the old metal Pink Horrors of Tzeentch (and Flamers) have long been documented. The new plastic horrors present a different challenge. So today, I'm writing down some randomly ordered thoughts on assembling these warp spawned creatures. For me, it all comes down to planning rather than just launching right in to things.

  • The bodies are all numbered on one side of the sprue. It is important to pay attention to the numbering and not simply chop everything out of the sprues and pile them up in a big mixed-up pile(!)

  • The heads are largely NOT interchangeable.

  • Given the above point, it is tempting to swap a few heads around -- particularly if you want to use both of the heads that go with body number 1 (the champion head, and a regular / normal head). I wanted to replace one of the beaked heads with the normal, spare head number 1. But that takes green stuff work!

  • Unlike the bodies, the arms ARE interchangeable.

  • Given the above, I'd suggest planning out which combination of arms you want on each body. And by "planning out", I mean going as far as dry fitting the arms to see which ones look best on a given body. And which bodies you want 4 arms, 3 arms or 2 arms on. If you don't have at least a few three armed horrors, then the rest will all be two or four armed. I like the three armed ones -- I think they look very Tzeentchian.

  • I didn't use the instrument -- largely because of the tactica I worked out.

  • The arm with the knife extends over the head. It has the potential to clash with other arms. Either use this arm with the icon (as per the suggestion contained in the instructions), or dry fit it carefully.

    The image is of one of the four armed horrors that I assembled from the plastic boxed set. He's a very dynamic beastie that seems well suited to four arms!
  • Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Painted Resin Bases

    A batch of resin bases from back 2 basix, painted up all at the same time and to be used to mount up some of my new plastic Tzeentch horrors.

    The bases were undercoated in black, and then drybrushed using dheneb stone. The stone colour was the applied in an even block to the raised portions of the ruins. In the recesses, ultramarine blue was applied followed by a deep blue inking. Nothing further was done to these blue parts. For the raised areas, a wash of sepia was applied. Highlighting of the edges was achieved with a mixture of dheneb stone and skull white. I will (as a final step once the miniature is attached) go around the bevelled area of the base in chaos black to finish off the appearance by getting rid of stray dry brush strokes.

    Previous examples of this type of base can be seen on my older Tzeentch horror miniatures. The new bases are an iteration of that paint scheme, but updated a little so that they appear different to the previous ones. I may apply some static grass eventually, but that is a tale for another day.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Poll Result: Which Expansions You've Played Recently

    Thank you to everyone who took part in the poll on which expansions you played recently. The results were as follows:

    Apocalypse: 40%
    Cities of Death 25%
    Planetstrike 14%
    Spearhead 3%
    Battle Missions 44%
    Kill Team 48%
    Linebreaker 1%
    Planetary Empires 4%
    Other 3%

    As predicted by a few commentators in the original posting, Battle Missions performed wonderfully well, probably in large part due to the fact it is a simple bolt-on to regular 40k, particularly for those bored of standard missions. Unsurprising to me (but perhaps surprising to other folks) is how well Kill Team performed -- better than Battle Missions even(!) Such a strong performance from 200 point games is great.

    Also performing well is Apocalypse. The long-term impact of the "use everything" game is still looking strong.

    Planetstrike gained 14% -- not as much as I thought it might. Perhaps this is indicative that Apocalypse is the most favoured variant 40k game.

    Spearhead hasn't done well at all with 3%. Especially given it is the most recent "release". Even Planetary Empires is doing better than Spearhead (I confess that I am a fan of Planetary Empires myself!).

    Okay, those are my thoughts. Anyone else want to add anything?

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Costings: Death Guard Army

    Inspired (or worried?!) by a few other posts in the blogosphere, I thought I'd sit down and compute how much money I've spent creating my core Death Guard army list. I'll use pounds in the analysis below since I usually order from the UK.

    Daemon Prince -- could be 20 UKP with the new miniature, but I built mine from a Forge World plague ogryn (18 UKP) with dragon wings (6 UKP).
    Dreadnought from Forge World -- 26 UKP (body), + 7 UKP (left arm), + 7 UKP (plasma cannon)
    3 squads of 7 plague marines in rhinos. Assuming they're just basic chaos marines, that's 3 boxed sets (3 x 22.5 UKP) and 3 rhinos (3 x 20 UKP).
    1 predator (27 UKP)
    2 Vindicators (2 x 27 UKP).

    That comes to 272.5 UKP ... and that is before I add in lots of bits like zombie parts for my plague marines and so forth.
    Better not tell my wife.

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Probability of a Plague Marine getting hot

    What is the probability of a plague marine plasma gunner being removed from play due to the "gets hot" special rule? Just for reference, I'm going to go through the quick statistics 101 calculation.

    To "get hot", the marine needs to roll a 1 to hit. To be removed, the marine has to fail both their power armour save (3+) and their feels no pain save (4+). (Note that the feel no pain rule still applies in this case). So the probability of all that happening is

    1/6 x 1/3 x 1/2 = 2.78%.

    For comparison, a "normal" marine doesn't get the feel no pain rule, so they will be removed 5.56% of the time (i.e. twice as often).

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Death Guard Infantryman

    Inspired by the recent Forge World releases and harking back to my memories of the original plastic space marine boxed set, I decided to have a go at assembling a bolter with a close combat attachment.

    This Death Guard plague marine is made from the dedicated Forge World resin parts, the rest of the miniature is standard chaos space marine and space marine bits. The bayonette is from soul grinder bits (I think!). The end result is one that feels like a miniature from an earlier era. And also slightly heresy-era / pre-heresy in appearance (ignoring the plague marine decay!).

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Evaluating Blessings of the Blood god

    Is Blessings of the Blood god worthwhile?

    Heralds of Khorne, bloodthirsters, flesh hounds, and daemon princes of Khorne can all select (or already have built-in in the case of flesh hounds and Skulltaker) the Blessings of the Blood god upgrade.

    For a modest sum of 5 points (double that in the case of daemon princes), the blessings provide the miniature with an invulnerable save against force weapons or aggressive psykers using their warp abilities to bring down Khorne's chosen ones. And to be fair: the invulnerable save is the best in the entire game! Who else can get a 2+ invulnerable save? There's not many. It's better than a storm shield on a loyalist terminator!

    The draw back is that it can only be used in very specific circumstances: when a wound is caused by such weapons or powers. Hence it is somewhat unlikely that the miniature will find itself in such a situation. Sure, against opposing chaos sorcerers and loyalist librarians, it is going to be excellent. But knowing that the miniature has such a defence in the first instance may ensure that opposing miniatures suitably armed will preferentially avoid the Khorne miniature on the gaming board. Of course, the daemons player may be well advised to go after and directly hunt down such characters themselves (particularly flesh hounds who seem well suited to this chore), but often there may be better targets.

    It is the other side of the ability: the resistance to psychic and sorcerous powers that may see more use. But again, knowing the existence of the blessing in advance may mean that opponents do not use such powers against the Khorne miniature.

    Hence the blessings can be more of a deterrent than of actual utility in many games (perhaps with the exception of a squad of flesh hounds or a character paired against or intentionally going for a librarian, or equivalent). Therefore, for 5 points, it may well be worth while taking as an upgrade.

    The final point that I want to make about this ability is that the way it is worded directly means it targets wound-causing sources. Against powers such as the chaos space marine Gift of Chaos power (the one that turns models in to chaos spawn) it has no use! It also has no use against daemon abilities such as warpfire -- they're not psychic abilities (page 73 of the codex).

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Gravestone Objective and Marker

    A very simple and effective marker and/or objective can be made by taking a gravestone from the Warhammer zombies boxed set and gluing it on top of a standard w40k circular base.

    This particular piece was painted up with only a small number of dry brush strokes followed by some detailed in a near-white colour on the bones of the gravestone and illegible (or alien?) writing dabbled below it. Static grass was then applied to the rest of the base to finish the job off. Overall: a very easy build and paint!

    Sunday, September 5, 2010

    Sweeping Necrons with Daemonettes

    In the small number of games I've played daemons against necrons, I've learnt that the I need to totally avoid any Monoliths that may be on the board, and any C'Tan. Instead, my tactical aim is to aim for a phase out victory by destroying all necron warrior squads present and forcing their vanishing.I attempt to do this by putting my bloodletter and daemonette squads on the front line. In particular, the daemonettes have assault grenade equivalents that are useful against the (usually) static (4th edition style) gunline warrior squads holed up in scenery.

    The trick is to take enough daemonettes and bloodletters to overcome any incoming gauss weapon fire. And then charge. With any luck, the necron's leadership value will be reduced to something suitably low. When they flee, the high initiative of the daemonettes is nearly always sufficient to give a sweeping advance.

    Meanwhile, if there are any C'Tan on the board, I'll aim to tie them up with plaguebearers or other Nurgle daemons. They're useful in this situation due to their poisoned weapons which always wound on 4+, and their general tar-pitting utility. Monoliths are then either completely ignored, or I will just bait them with a Great Unclean One or daemon prince as a road bump.

    In many ways, this is no different to the way in which many players attempt to play against necrons. But with their deep-strike ability and high initiative, I've found daemonettes to be neat exponents of this tactic; given a reasonable deep strike on to the gaming board.

    Saturday, September 4, 2010

    Badab War, Part 1

    Forgeworld has released teasers of the first part (of two) of their Badab War series. This releases takes Forgeworld in a somewhat new direction -- exploring a war that has been documented since the early days.

    More details here, including some great images. It looks awesome!

    Friday, September 3, 2010

    Night Fighting Note to Self

    Note to self: Night fighting rules apply to game turn 1 in a Dawn of War deployment.

    Secondly, a couple of strategems in Planetstrike (Darken the Skies, and Dawn Assault) can also provide night fighting rules if purchased. (Anyone out there still playing Planetstrike regularly? See the Warpstone Flux poll here)

    Night fighting rules can help daemon armies on the turn they arrive survive against incoming firepower...

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Poll: Which Expansions Have You Played Recently?

    There are now a number of Warhammer 40,000 expansions to the core game. Cities of Death, Apocalypse, Planetstrike, Spearhead, battle missions (I'm listing both kill team and linebreaker as distinct from the core battle missions), and even Planetary Empires can all have a place in the greater context of the game.

    I'm interested to know which of those you play? Do you play some expansions more than others, and some not at all?

    I'm starting up a poll (right hand column) to see which of the expansions you play, and what ones are popular vs. unpopular. Please only tick the boxes for the ones that you played recently (I'll leave it up to your good selves to determine what you each mean by "recently"). If you've long since stopped playing a certain expansion despite having the capacity to play said expansion, leave a comment below and tell everyone why.

    This poll will close in 2 weeks time.
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