Saturday, 21 May 2016

267: The new GW, a refreshing change

Its been pretty hard not to notice the change in GW recently. We've seen:
  • the release of "Start and Army" bundles with actual savings 
  • the re-introduction of Facebook groups for GW, Forgeworld, and Black Library 
  • the tantalising possibility of the re-release of perenial fan favourites like Blood Bowl and Battlefleet Gothic 
  • now we've had the call for questions and release of an FAQ that actually seems to answer real questions with actually thought out responses that while perhaps not perfect, definitely look like they are trying 
  • and AoS is going to get a points system, and not just willy-nilly, but one that builds on the work done by the tournament community and has had input from mega tournament organisers and pillars of the AoS community HeelanHammer, Bad Dice, and FaceHammer (check their podcasts if you don't already, they're really good). 

You can hardly argue that GW isn't trying to become a new company and one that so many of us have been clamouring for for many, many years. What strikes me is that a lot of this seems to coincide with the stepping down of Tom Kirby as Chairman of GW. As of 1st January 2015, Tom Kirby was no longer in charge of the direction of GW and if what I suppose is true, GW made this change just in time. While Kirby was perhaps a necessary evil when he first took the helm, his drive for profits over community involvement and seeming impression that GW was infallible was producing a truly poisonous relationship between company and customer.

I've been so pleased to see the changes in GW, and look forward to whats coming in the future if they continue this course.

Monday, 2 May 2016

266: 1500pts game, GSF vs SM&Eldar

I got in a game recently against my co-blogger Colonel Fazackerley, we're taking part in a little tournament of local gamers, playing the Forge the Narrative missions. This game was mission 4 from that pack which is the diagonal deployment setup, the primary objective is 6 objectives setup evenly across the board which are scored cummulatively with the winner the first to 8 points (but with the option of a draw if both achieve 8 in the same turn), the secondary objective was the Emperor's will, and the tertiary objective was slay the warlord. The usual 3 additional GW objectives also counted.

I was trialling some of the new formations from the Space Marines codex, and CF was running Space Marines and Eldar.

My list was:
Gladius Strike Force - Iron Hands Chapter Tactics
Battle Demi-Company
Chaplain in Terminator Armour
3 x 5-man Tactical Squads with Missile Launchers
3 Bikes with 2 Grav-guns and a combi-Grav
5-man Devastator Squad with 4 Missile Launchers
1st Company Task Force
2 x 5-man Sternguard Veteran Squad
5-man Terminator Assault Squad with Thunder Hammers and Storm Shields
Storm Wing
Stormraven Gunship with Assault Cannon and Multi-Melta
2 x Stormtalon Gunships with Skyhammer Missile Launchers

CFs list was:
Farseer on jetbike
Unit of Jetbikes with Warlock
Unit of Dire Avengers
3 Eldar Flyer Formation
Space Marine Captain on Bike with Primarch's Wrath
Unit of Marines on Bikes
Unit of Assault Terminators with mixed weapons
Devastator Squad with mixed weapons

CF won the roll-off and nominated me to setup and go first. I setup first, mostly down in my corner as you can see in the image below, CF only set up a few units, all hidden away as much as possible to be out of sight, as you can see in the image below that.

Turn 1.1: I shuffle around a bit, don’t really do much.  Score 2 primary objective points.

Turn 1.2: CF does the same, casts conceal on his jetbikes (I don’t yet know what this does yet, see below).  Scores 2 primary objective points.

Turn 2.1
All my planes and termies arrive. I go bold with the termies and try to deep strike them in behind CFs lines, they scatter just enough for one to clip the table edge and mishap, CF places them in bottom corner with only his bikes anywhere near.  My Sternguard jump out of the Storm Raven and land fine.  Most of my firing goes into the jetbikes, but due to their Conceal and Jink they have a 2+ cover save so I don’t do much.  Score 2 primary objective points.

Turn 2.2
CF’s planes come on and despite jinking (and I struggle with 4+ cover saves all game), blow both my Storm Talons out of the sky.  The third plane kills my bikes that are out in the open because I was gunning for his jetbikes.  The Bikes fire on my termies but do nothing.  The rest of the army moves around a bit and shoots some but does little damage otherwise.  CF’s Devastator squad has climbed the big fort so is scoring 3 objectives this turn putting him one ahead. Looking forward I need to make sure he doesn’t score 3 next turn otherwise he will win primary.

Turn 3.1
My Stormraven moves to be out of sight of Eldar planes as much as possible (starting a dance that will last the rest of the game), but can use turret to still target them forcing two of the planes to Jink to reduce their shooting effectiveness.  My Termies move up to attack the Bikes, and the rest of my army advances to get maximum firing ability on CFs Terminators who landed midfield in the previous turn.  Most of my armies shooting kills off a few of the Terminators.  I manage to kill off a few models so CF is only scoring 2 primary objectives.  My Terminators roll box-cars for their charge so the bikes cannot escape and are annihilated.  Score 2 primary objective points.

Turn 3.2
There's some shuffling and shooting, I lose a few guys, but no squad is destroyed.  Amazingly, despite the planes targeting a 5-man Tac squad in the open with all their AP2-3 shots, the 6+ FNP of the Iron Hands, and the Warlord trait I rolled (everyone can use my Warlords Ld) definitely does work for me and the unit refuses to die or run away.  CFs Terminators are advancing on my “base” to disrupt.

Turn 4.1
My Terminators advance on the left and clear off CF’s home objective.  The Storm Raven moves around again, trying to keep out of the way of the Planes.  Some shooting takes down one of CFs Terminators, but otherwise I can’t do much other than force 2 of the planes to jink again.

Turn 4.2
CFs Terminators charge one of my Tac Marine units.  More of CF’s army moves back towards his home objective to take out my Terminators.  CFs shooting does little.  Amazingly, my Tac Marines are charged by the Terminators but don't die in the combat!

We are both over 8 points on the primary objectives at this point (I have 8, CF has 9), so the points for the primary are shared.

Turn 5.1
I do some general shuffling but there’s little left I can move, or want to otherwise I’ll not be controlling my home objective.  Amazingly, my Tac Marines still don’t die in combat with the Terminators and actually manage to kill one of them.
Turn 5.2
My Terminators who have been protecting CFs home objective are gunned down by the Captain on Bike, Dire Avengers, and one of the planes.  There's just my Chaplain left controlling CF’s objective, an heroic last stand.  CFs Terminators finally kill my Tac Marines, perfect as they’ll be open to more shooting next turn.

If it ends here, I’d be holding both home and away objective.

Turn 6.1
I barely move, there’s no need.  I should have moved my units around my home objective to completely block off a 3’’ area around it so it couldn’t be contested.  My Storm Raven goes into hover to block off CFs objective and protect the chaplain.  I take out the terminators near my home objective with massed bolter fire.

Turn 6.2
Because I hadn't properly moved my guys around my objective, the jetbikes jump across the table and are now contesting my home objective.  What shooting that’s left doesn’t really affect my home objective.  All the shooting at the away objective finally kills off my Chaplain, gaining him Slay the Warlord and the Tertiary objective. Crucially, CF didn't move his units close enough to his objective to contest it.

If it ends here, I’m holding the away objective (hovering Storm Raven), and the home objective is contested.

Turn 7.1
Again, no movement as I’m where I need to be.  My army shoots at the jetbikes wiping them out so I control the home objective again.

Turn 7.2
There’s nothing CF can do about my home objective as I’ve got 3+ units in range to contest, 2 with ObSec.  All the shooting at the other end of the table kills my Storm Raven, and the Dire Avengers and Captain on Bike run in to claim that objective.

It ends with a draw on the secondaries, both claiming 1 each.

The Final results
Primary (tied):  CF 7 (+3 FA choices destroyed), AG 7
Secondary (tied):  CF 8, AG 8
Tertiary:  CF 4, AG 0
Additional:  CF 2 (first blood, slay the warlord)
CF 24, AG 15.

A very good game, cagey due to relatively evenly matched armies. There were a few significant points that really affected the outcome of the battle:  
  • My Terminator mishap, I was ambitious with my placement and it cost me meaning they weren't up to much for a large part of the game.
  • Pouring all my fire into the Jetbikes on turn 2 not realising Conceal would give them a 2+ Cover Save was a waste.  That shooting could have comfortably taken out the Dire Avengers or a similar unit which would have had a bigger effect on the game.
  • CF taking out both Storm Talons in turn 2 really reduced my damage output.
  • Losing my bikes as they’re out in the open trying to kill the Jetbikes meant I had no mobility. I should have been more careful and wary with how I used them (I put it down to them not being painted as we all know the curse of the unpainted model).
  • 6+ FnP kept me alive on a number of occasions.
  • I got a lucky long range charge on my terminators in turn 3 which helped slingshot them up the board.
How I'd do things differently if I were to play the game again?
CF played the game better than I did, and his added mobility meant I was always chasing.
That said, if it had ended any time other than turn 7 and I’d have won on the secondaries and wouldn’t have lost my warlord.  I probably should have sent my bikes around the other side of the large castle to keep them protected so they could cause trouble in his back field.  If I’m adapting this list, it’d be good to have more mobility.

My final thoughts are on the psychic phase. This is really the first time I’ve faced up to the new psychic system, and I’m not a fan.  While I get that I only have the D6 dice to try and stop powers, it just doesn’t really feel like there’s any strategy in it.  Needing 6+ to cancel warp charges, unless you have loads of psykers to bump the number of dice you have, means that in an average turn you can at best block ONE warp charge. Anything that is cast with more than a single charge is effectively unstoppable, and difficult to stop even if you have a bunch of psykers in your army. I agree that an army like CF’s with more psykers should be able to dominate the phase, but the ability to harness so much more easily than deny meant that it was just another phase in which as the opponent you are an observer rather than taking part. I much prefer the system from Fantasy where you add up the values on the faces of the dice rather than using thresholds, you really had to consider how many dice you put towards dispelling in that system, even if you had an army with little or no magic. Perhaps if dispels were on 5+ rather than 6+ it might make it a bit more interactive because chances were better, or if rather than having to match the casting value, each dispel nullifies one of the harnessed charges so you can bring a successfully harnessed power back under its casting value - this would lead to an element of bluff and double-bluff between you and your opponent, do they throw extra dice so you can't bring the value back under the casting value, or do they chance that you are holding on to reduce the casting of a different power.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

265: Fort Vallum

This project took me almost a year. I got a wire cutter for it. It also toppled over any lingering resistance to getting an airbrush.

In a little while I will post up some rules, and ask for some advice. 


I will also do a few posts on how I made it.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

264: 2015 in recap

As the end of each year approaches, I like to look back at the year, see what I've achieved (sometimes more than I realised - last year), and to have a think about what I'd like to do in the new year which often follows as a new years resolutions post.  It helps me to keep stock of my progress, and try and know where I want to go in the coming year.

Its been quite a quiet year for me, with "life, the universe, and everything" somewhat conspiring to swallow up the majority of my spare time.  In rough order of what I achieved, I started the year painting the Treeman/Avatar after finally developing a suitable molten metal technique, and managed to bring it to near completion later in April.  I also managed to finally post a picture of the majority of my skaven army as they are painted.

In May, the blog added its first additional contributor - ColonelFazackerley, who probably produced most of the years material, posts:  245, 246, 249, 250, 251253254255, 256258259, and 261.

I eventually got back into gaming, and as the new Necrons were revealed to be a little more powerful than expected.  I also had to add Tomb Blades to my force, as they are a requisite of the new Decurion Detachment.  GWs relentless release schedule also saw the release of the new Space Marine book, and I promptly gave in and acquired StormTalons which needed a little conversion.

A big part of my year was taken up by my trip to Japan, where I discovered Gundam.  I've got a lot of potential material from that trip, but it'll take me a while to get any of that posted.

Last but not least, I managed to paint my Fire Warriors.

This year, I also set myself a relatively modest 5 goals as part of my New Year's resolutions.  All were partial successes, I posted pictures of those models I hung onto, but have gotten rid of most of the Tyranids, got rid of a lot of my old models that were hanging around but still have more to be rid of, made progress on One Force but didn't complete everything, and the same for other painting projects.
  • Post pictures of all the models I painted during 2014
    • Skaven army, the Tyranids, One Force marines (Mk II and Mk IV)
  • Continue the clear out
    • Tyranids, Space Wolves (most of them), a lot of spares and bits and pieces
  • Complete painting One Force as it stands
    • 5 Mk V marines and jump-packs, 10 Mk III veterans with combi-weapons, missile launchers for all squads, Master of the Forge
  • Complete standing painting projects
    • Skaven warp lighting cannon, Treeman Avatar, Tau Firewarriors and Riptide, and any other bits and pieces I have lying around that I've forgotten
  • Return to blogging
I'll keep on plugging away, and see where I get this year.
Happy New Year to you all.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

263: Firewarriors

(No, I'm not posting on Julafton, this just happens to be scheduled for today,
Merry Christmas, God Jul, and assorted Winter Solstice greetings to you all.)

In the time its taken me to change the paintscheme on these guys, the Tau have had 2 new codexes, its a testament (if you want) to the speed of the current GW release cycle, or more likely, how slow my painting is these days.

A simple white paintscheme with blue accents.  The guy below is meant to be a Cadre Fireblade stand in or similar, hence using a lot more blue in his scheme.

A couple of examples of the regular Firewarriors.

Unfortunately, I went a little bit overboard on the battle damage.  It hasn't totally spoiled them, but they wouldn't ever be front and centre if I lined up the army. More practice needed.
Looking at the pictures, I realise I haven't done the lighting effects I wanted on the weapons so I'll go back and do that sometime, but these guys are packed away now so it'll have to wait.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

262: Tomb Blades - the obligatory Decurion choice ;)

Not the most groundbreaking post, but here's the tomb blades I started about 6 months ago when the new Necron codex came out.  They are a pain to build, extremely intricate with lots of fiddly little bits that have to be put together in a very precise order.  They do paint up nice and quickly and easily, and I've found them to be surprisingly useful on the tabletop as well, a nuisance unit and good for grabbing objectives either late in the game, or as you pull the cards when playing Maelstrom.

Standard paintscheme as with all my Necrons, and as ever, I've magnetised the weapons so if I want to mix up the options.

Friday, 4 December 2015

261: Recovering from varnish frosting

I found a way to fix frosted models!
  1. put the pieces in an electric fan oven at set to 50 degrees C (120F) to pre-warm them. 
  2. oven started cold, and I only left them in for 10 minutes throughout the process I am describing. I would not do this with resin or thin plastic bits (swords etc).
  3. I took each piece out, sprayed it, and put it back in again.
(Gas oven would be a bad idea: water is a combustion product, so they are intrinsically more humid)

The longer version.

 I had sprayed the guns for my Crimson Death (which are magnetised) with dullcote a while back. It was cold and humid, and I got the dreaded frosting. This was a bit of a downer, and it has taken a while for me to get the drive back to tackle the job.

The guns are mostly black with green gems. I repainted over the black, as it was quick (I had just painted black and edge highlighted), and the frosting stood out over the black worse than the green. My gems have a 5 step highlighting process that I could not be bothered to do again. The black came out looking shiny in places and matte in others, so really needed matte varnish again.

Warming and spraying again worked well. It made the black matte, and on the gems that I had not repainted, it actually removed the frosting. I can only assume the solvent in the dullcote re-dissolved the frosted layer and this time dried properly because is was warm and the humidity was low. I imagine that if the original frosted layer had been too thick, this would have been less successful. These gems were frosted, and this is them after the fix.  

The formation.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

260: Mobile Suit Gundam - Assemble

A ways back in July, while in Japan, I bought a model of a Gundam, and finally I can show you the build.  Kind of apt with the current re-launch of the Tau and all.

Firstly, despite everyone touting GW as the best model builders in the world etc. etc., they've definitely got a thing or two to learn from BanDai, the kit is staggering in its design and complexity.
Take a look at the sprue below.  You may notice that the plastic has two tones of grey, that's because they are able to cast the sprue in at least two stages to produce pieces that are already articulated, with extremely complex joints and sliding parts, some actually cast within other parts to move like pistons.

The whole kit is press-fit, I didn't need a drop of glue, and the only time I used any tools was to remove the parts from the sprue, clean the odd mould line (far, far neater casting that GW), and to cut a few pieces of piping to length that were inserted into joints to represent hydraulics.

The kit was essentially two kits in one.  The first was the fully articulated skeleton of the model that you can see below.  Every joint was articulated with a very wide range of motion.  In fact, as I continued to build the model I discovered more and more points of flexure and the number of poses that you could build is mind-blowing.

Once the skeleton is built, you add the armour panels to make up the final model.  The different parts are cast in their appropriate colours so you don't even need to paint, and as before, every single piece is press-fit, highly secure, and there are individual pieces for every sub-part of the skeleton so none of the articulation is lost with the build.

The final result is absolutely brilliant, with multiple hands that can be swapped to allow different weapons to be gripped, all sorts of moving parts, and so much possibility.

Best of all, since returning, I've discovered that you can buy them on Amazon and other online retailers, so this guy might just be getting a friend sometime in the future.


Sunday, 20 September 2015

259: Individual minis: a zombie for the horde

Particularly for 40k, it makes sense to paint a batch at once. Probably a squad, squadron or formation.

It can start to feel like a drag, and standards may slip. Modelling and painting an individual mini is a way to experiment with new time-consuming techniques without it turning into a hassle.

Here's a one. After a particularly brutal defeat (using my Iron Knights against my friend's Death Guard), I rewarded my opponent with an Iron Knight zombie for his horde. I did not have any spare legs, but then zombies don't need legs.

There's greenstuff guts and mushrooms, UHU mixed with paint to give glue-string gore, and some weathering experiments. Kudos to the first person to identify the source of the head.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

258: Photos of minis with an Android phone: Open Camera

Open camera is an Android app that is way better than the stock google camera app, when it comes to photographing minis.

One problem with the google app is that it will not focus. The auto focus keeps changing, so you just think it's sharp, then as you take the picture it blurs again. Open camera has a focus lock.
Under the dot menu, there is a padlock. Tap that to lock the focus. The camera will focus where you tap on the screen. Apart from that, it will not change. You can make fine adjustments to the focus by moving the camera closer or further from the subject.

Its a good idea to have an uncluttered background. A white sheet of paper curved up the wall is popular. The auto-exposure will then give you a dark image. The model can be almost silhouetted at worst, a little muddy looking at best. The exposure needs compensating for the bright background. In Open Camera the brightness setting is right on the main screen. It will then use it's standard algorithm for guessing the exposure, and brighten it up from that baseline. Then you can see tonal variation on the model, not the tonal variation on the paper.
If adjusting the exposure seems like too much hassle, then use a mid-grey background.

Here's a work-in-progress shot using Open Camera.


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