Tuesday, 17 January 2017

+ inload: Throng of Nog +

+ Throng of Nog +

The dramatis personae of the Hall of Nog – Left to right: the Runesmith Tremblestave; Thane Nurnanog and his scyldbearers; the Weartling Cwichelm; and Kazasturn, Gesith of the Cyng.

+ A marching to war +

+ Played a game of Warhammer 9th edition Age of Sigmar last night; a 600pt skirmish that pitted the dwarfs of Nogthrong against the unquiet dead of the barrows. The points limit was largely down to 'what have you got vaguely painted' more than anything else – so apologies for the rather basic paint job on some of my dwarfs! +

+ While I had played a (rather cool) scenario written by Bob Hunk, this was my first foray into commanding more than one unit, and in a traditional clash of opposing forces. We played a scenario from the General's Handbook that revolved around capturing points on the table. + 

+ I don't have many pictures from the game, but here's a picture of the Wight King in combat with a unit of Longbeards. For future reference, it turns out to be a fairly poor idea to send troops to take out Wight Kings, as they regain wounds when they kill enemy models – much better to send likely-looking heroes to duel them! +

+ The Thane of Nog, bashing some skeletons heads in, slightly ashamed of the unfinished nature of his troops. +

+ A unit of Longbeards on the left flank proved vital in holding the battleline steady, and preventing the skeletons from pushing on to the ill-defended (but valuable) home objective. +

+ My first impressions are positive. The game was smooth, I felt that I had some interesting decisions to make, and the dynamics of the game remained immediate, revolving around order of combat each turn, rather than in army list generation and early-game manoeuvring at the cost of late-game interaction. For this reason, the game remained tense right up to the end. +

+ Of course, perhaps this was due to the fact that dwarfs and skeletons are amongst my favourite fantasy tropes, and a clash of infantry lines (rather than the general 'Kaiju-fight' of certain game) is right up my street. I'm keen to give the game another go, perhaps at around 1000pts. +

Thursday, 5 January 2017

+ inload: ...to the new+

+ ...to the new +

+ I was the happy recipient of a copy of Burning of Prospero (BoP) at Christmas, and last night saw me digging it out to start building. I had toyed with the idea of converting the set using the 'true scale' method, but eventually decided that I'd prefer to save the time and just enjoy having a stand-alone boardgame – I enjoyed Battle for Calth (BaC), but cannibalised a lot of the pieces for my truescale marines, and so it's sitting there a little forlorn. In any case, the models are fantastic straight out of the box. +

+ In addition, there are quite a few other Thousand Son/Space Wolf forces in my gaming group, the PCRC. By building them straight off the sprue, I'll be able to field them alongside the others for a properly apocalyptic game with no wonky sizing issues at some point in the future. +

+ Here is one of ten enlarged test pieces (a Space Wolf, in this example), and the only one to receive paint. I very much like the dark chromatic grey paintscheme I worked out, and will definitely be using that on the Vlka Fenryka for the game. It's essentially a glaze of thinned Charadon Granite over a grey-primed figure, which is then partially removed using a clean cloth or finger while still wet. This creates a very natural gradient. +

+ Models for the game +

+ While the models in BoP are lovely – it was a genuine pleasure to sit down and simply build stuff straight off the sprue – I couldn't resist adding a few personal touches to my set. Having lots of bits left over from BaC, I decided that these figures would combine parts from BoP and BaC, alongside a few parts from my bits box, in order to make the two opposing forces in the game visually distinct. +

+ Members of the Rout. To my mind, the Vlka Fenryka are pragmatic above all else, so I'm not really concerned with uniformity. Instead, I am aiming for a more visually brutal, dynamic look for the VIth Legion, mostly based around the Mark III set, but with suitably parts swapped in to suggest the slightly archaic look of the Legion. While these are the Loyalists, they're only nominally goodies. I wanted to play on that slight dichotomy and give them a look similar to Chaos marines in 40k. +

+ I definitely want to have a light touch with any 'wolf' parts. The crests here are a good example of what I think feels right to me, though I may add a pelt or charm or two. It's the difference between using a feather, and using a chicken. +

+ In contrast, I've built the arrogant warrior-sages of the XVth with a much cleaner, more uniform look. As befitting their studious (some would argue war-shy) nature and open, civilised culture, I've opted for the most advanced armour broadly available to the Legions: Mark IV 'Maximus' armour. In order to introduce some variety, I've kitbashed extensively with the Mark III armour from BoP and Mark IV from BaC, but have heavily favoured Mark IV helms and backpacks to contrast with the grilles and pipes of the Mark III I'm using on the Wolves. +

+ You'll spot a few Forgeworld pieces – the lighter greys – scattered here and there, particularly on the Sergeant. These are included for variety of pose as much as anything else. +

+ A close-up of the sergeant and a couple of others. +

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

+ inload: From the old +

[exload subroutine: GOODCHEER – date spindle MMXVII]

+ From the Old... +

+ Hope everyone had an enjoyable break over Christmas, and we're all raring to go. The start of a new year is a good time to stop and take stock of things, and this applies as much to hobbies as the more fundamental parts of life. +

+ Backburner projects can niggle. This has been the case for me with both my Warhammer Dwarfs and my Warmachine forces in general. Stepping over that initial hurdle and just getting started with them has been a bit of a hurdle – it's always easier to go with an existing project, as there's less thought required in terms of techniques, painting methods and so forth. As a result, the models remain in storage, unpainted, unprimed, or even unbuilt. No glorious battles for those poor souls. +

+ Fortunately, the same things that dissuade you from the first steps of a project prove to be the things that are most rewarding when you do get started. The challenge becomes rewarding, and your enthusiasm is rekindled. The start of 2017 proved the perfect chance to get another unit for the Throng of Nog built. +

+ I've left the shoulder pads off these fellows, as it opens up the fairly limited poses a little more. Aside from a few trims here and there to alter angles and weapons, these are straight out of the box – the aesthetic of these models is pure poetry; just what I picture for the dwarfs of the Warhammer world. +

+ I also continued putting some paint onto the Protectorate. I'm working in fairly small chunks, and aiming to get a game or two in as a staging marker/deadline. Pictured here are two solos nearing completion (the vassals at the front right), plus a light warjack and the ubiquitous choir. +

+ I believe the men of the choir are some of the oldest sculpts that Privateer Press still produces, but they've a perfect example of a solid concept executed decently. They're not great sculpts from a technical point of view (the fabric of the tabards around the waist is very angular, for example – I initially mistook it for unusual hip plates!), but they portray a really strong image and are full of character. For me, they represent a style of miniature – hand sculpted and cast in metal – that has great nostalgic value for me. Such figures share much the same appeal as the Oldhammer movement. +

+ Digging these figures out and getting them one stage further to their finished state was fun and gave me an odd sense of relief. I realised that I'd been feeling misplaced pressure from my hobby; which is silly, really. I'm sure some of you will have felt a similar misplaced sense of expectation, so I'd encourage you to use the new year as a reminder that none of this really matters – for me, it was exactly the thing to relieve my end of year hobby malaise and get me enjoying myself again. +

+ What have you got on the backburner? Consider this a little encouragement to engage with your hobby and start the year off on a productive note; with no sense of pressure or expectation. Good luck! +

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

+ inload: CCC – Warmachine, Blood Bowl and Inquisimunda, oh my +

+ Post 300 tick [CONFIRM]+
+ audio-exload: [FANFARE] +
+ Resume standard +

+ Transmission restored +

+ A brief period of hobby malaise and generally being busy has left this blog a bit fallow, but I had the chance to sit down and do a bit of painting last night. 2017 is shaping up to be a good one [APPEND/ADDENDUM: famous last words, 2016] at least in terms of our hobby. +

+ I don't think my predictions of what I'll be working on have ever proven quite correct, but it's always nice to have a vague plan, so when I inevitably go off-piste and am stuck for inspiration I have a record of what I could do. With that borne in mind, I'm planning to get some stuff painted for games that I've not played in a while – specifically, Protectorate of Menoth for Warmachine; a Blood Bowl team for the Tallowland Invitational that I'll be running come February [more info in an upcoming inload], and – should that Christmas Elf decide I've been good this year – some of the VIth and XVth Legions for Battle for Prospero. +

+ Sticking with Warmachine for the moment, I was working on a Sanctifier – a heavy Warjack – last night. It's still WIP, but coming on nicely:

+ The inspiration for the scheme was a cross between the warm reds and yellows seen in the Eastern Orthodox Church (the background for this army draws upon the pseduo-Russian Khador and the desert-based Protectorate of Menoth) and construction equipment. +

+ Yellow symbolises both divinity and corruption in Christian tradition, which fits with the odd dynamic the Protectorate of Menoth have with their Warjacks – namely that they're a bit suspicious of using magic, and thus the men and women who build and maintain to their warjacks are seen a 'necessary evil'. As I understand things, the Warjacks themselves are seen with similar ambivalence – valued for their power, but not whole-heartedly embraced. There's a bit of doublethink inherent in the faction which rather appeals to me. +

+ The scheme is looking a bit muted and mustardy at the moment – it's a base of Averland Sunset with Dark Flesh used for shading, and the addition of Dheneb Stone and Vallejo white for highlights. I'll be adding some layers of yellow ink to add some vibrancy, and likely be introducing a little red or green as it looks a little 'Imperial Fisty' at the moment. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I'd like to use the opportunity the Protectorate offers for something a bit different. +

+ The boiler on the back was fun to paint – a mix of Boltgun Metal and brown was used, then sepia ink and Nuln Oil washes. The glow (again unfinished) is simply Vallejo Scarlet added wet-in-wet. +

+ The Menofix (the Sanctifier's main weapon) has been painted with a slight marble effect. I didn't want it to draw too much attention from the body of the machine, as I felt this would detract from the impression of bulk and mass. As a result, it's painted in dark, fairly muted turquoises. + 

Monday, 7 November 2016

+ inload: Intrigue at Warehouse CCLIX – Part III +

+  Warhammer 40,000 2nd Edition battle report – part III+

This inload stems from others – Part I of this battle report can be found here [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+], and part II here [+noospheric inloadlink embedded++

With the alarm raised and the sentries concentrating on the Space Marine, Magos Manderghast broke cover on the eastern flank and took the opportunity to dash towards the alehouse.

Atticas, zealot of the Church of the Astral Ascension, peered around the stasis chamber. Keeping his cool, he checked the seals were intact, then made a short dash into cover behind a market stall.

Like Manderghast, Northgrass had broken cover – but in his case he had a target. Old wood spalled off the market stall as he failed to draw a bead on the zealot with his laspistol.

Atticas's lips peeled back – too far, from too many teeth – in a horrific grin as he fired his shotgun one-handed. Despite bucking wildly in his hand, Northgrass crumpled to the ground. Veck cursed – seeking ammo! How had these brigands and criminals sourced Arbites' gear?

+ Shotguns don't get much respect, but they were more than enough to take out Northgrass, who was using an Imperial Guard lieutenant's statline. +
Northgrass' agonised grunt as he hit the floor was all the sound he made. In any case, oddly-shaped silhouettes arriving at the edge of the battle-zone told Veck that the Church had a rather greater presence in the area than he had suspected.

+ The scenario, adapted from Necromunda's The Raid, saw groups of individuals arriving from reserve once the alarm was raised. In order to bring a group on, the player has to roll under the number of individuals in the group. Bob Hunk had wisely decided to play cautiously, with three groups of three (each a mix of one purestrain and two hybrids), and one of two. This meant a steady stream of reinforcements poured on to the battlefield as the game unfolded. +
Urgently contacting his teams, Veck declared, 'There's no chance of retrieval now – whatever's in that stasis chamber is clearly important: destroy it.' Arcimboldo vox-clicked his assent and slammed into it, his power sword raising great cracks across the armoured surface.

The Church wasn't sitting idly by while their prize was destroyed – they beetled forward with pace and firepower, though a combination of the cover provided by the stasis pod and his mighty armour saw the small arms do no damage to the Space Marine.

His presence revealed by the shotgun's blast, Cymgin and Toria took time to aim before using their longer-ranged autoguns to shoot Atticas. He slumped to the ground, his blood painting the monument. He crawled away before the kill could be confirmed.

A purestrain genestealer was simply too dangerous to be ignored. Arcimboldo knew that he alone of the group stood a chance against the bio-engineered terror, and so broke off his attack on the stasis chamber. Robbing the genestealer of the initiative, he charged it. 

Providing cover, Magos Manderghast took a pot shot at the advancing hybrids, planting a las-shot between the eyes of the foremost one.

The genestealer darted forward – but its speed worked against it in the enclosed space. It barrelled into Arcimboldo, who interposed his power sword: the great blade ignited and reduced the alien to a husk.

A minor triumph achieved, but time was running out – more and more cultists were arriving. Ferlinghetti and Sergeant Tempest barked a warning to the other Blenheim troopers: they were being flanked.

Worse, it was clear the Church had excellent supplied. While the first responders were armed with the sort of low calibre pistols and shotguns the Inquisitor might have expected of a backstreet cult, Manderghast reported from his advance vantage that the latest warriors were carrying military grade autorifles and even heavy weapons...

Before Veck could relay the warning, one of the cultists opened up with a Marathon 7 heavy stubber. Most of the heavy lead slugs impacted on the monument with dull clatters of bursting marble, or whined past, but a number hammered into Arcimboldo will dull reverberating clangs – knocking the Space Marine back, battered and bleeding.

Grim-faced, Veck relayed information to the rest of his team at lightning pace, directing his forces across the open ground safely. Ferlinghetti and Tempest sprinted towards the stasis pod, the underscribe briefly pausing to check on the fallen Northgrass.

+ Classic 2nd edition tokens! +

Bleeding and furious, the injured Astartes ducked into cover and drew his boltpistol...

The Church presses in on the battered Inquisitorial team... Can the Hangman's Rope destroy the stasis pod before the scuttling man-monsters close in?

Tune in for the closing part soon!

Friday, 4 November 2016

+ inload: Storage and display +

+ I think miniature figures look best within some sort of larger setting, diorama or large base that makes them look ornamental, such as bell jar displays, which make them look appealingly like Victoriana. As a result, while I'm proud of the figures I paint, they're not necessarily the first thing I want on display.+

+ Most of my figures are thus packed (fairly) neatly in storage or otherwise away from sight. Mostly, they lurk in the excellent Kaiser Rushforth [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] cases I own, which stack up in a cupboard and keep things safe. +

+ This was also useful when I was renting, as they're sturdy enough for transport. Now I'm a bit more settled down, my thoughts have turned to having something rather more decorative in which to store my figures. In any case, my Court of the Sun King project, being a lot more 'arty' than my usual stuff, offered a perfect excuse for a small, elegant box. As a result, I've been looking around for a writing slope. Yesterday, it arrived: 

+ Gaze in wonder at the pink polka dot wallpaper the previous owner put in the spare room +
+ It's walnut and brass, and is decorative enough that I'm happy to have it out on display, as I think it's a beautiful thing in and of itself. It's not purely form over function, however... + 

+ The cotton wool things are explosion markers +
+ The top storage is usually upside-down when the slope is in box form, so I don't want to store figures there. However, it's ideal for all those bits that I always used to lose – measuring tape, templates, dice etc. It'll also store objective markers, rulebooks, army lists and other bits that don't mind being bumped about a bit. This is invaluable for me; I've got a terrible habit of turning up at my mates' house with an army, but missing the rest of the stuff I need to play! +

+ The other end is the business end. Here, figures can be stored – I'll be cutting a small amount of foam to shape in order to keep them a bit more secure and snug during travel. Note that there's also space for brushes, paints and pencils, so it'll double-up as a portable paint station. There's not a huge amount of space for storing figures, so it wouldn't work for a big 40k-scale army, but it's ideal for the smaller number of figures that the Court of the Sun King project will include. +

+ Quite aside from transport and storage, I'm hoping this box will be practical during gaming, by offering somewhere to place rulebooks, dice etc. and generally keep the table itself clear of clutter. +

+ I like to think it's the sort of thing that Inquisitor Veck would have; and so it's a fun little pseudo-'in universe' prop, too. Little details like this all help to add to the atmosphere, and remind us that we're exploring imaginatively, not just rolling dice. +

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

+ inload: Intrigue at Warehouse CCLIX – Part II +

+ A Warhammer 40,000 2nd Edition battle report – part II+

This inload leads on from an earlier one – Part I of this battle report can be found here [+noospheric inloadlink embedded++

Fireworks proved the perfect distraction for the Hangman's Rope, as the ill-disciplined warders of the Church all seemed to turn away from the approaching Inquisitorial team.
+ [APPEND] A real stroke of luck for me – or inauspicious dice for Bob Hunk as the scatter dice (used to determine the direction the sentries would end up facing) nearly all seemed to fall facing the opposite long board edge. +

The soldiers of Blenheim, along with Ferlinghetti, crept along the overway with their autorifles trained on the nearby Church sentries. 

Veck gently opened the door to the old house and crept in to find a more commanding viewpoint while his warriors advanced. Arcimboldo showed the preternatural fieldcraft skills of the Astartes in staying hidden, despite his bulk and wargear.
+ This raised a good-natured question about whether Arcimboldo – in his bright orange power armour and flaming swords and candles  – could hide (in the 2nd ed. sense) behind the hedge, which came up to his chest. We looked it up, and the text had the following extract, which had a neat answer to our question:
+ For the purposes of this game, then, we decided Arcimboldo could hide behind the large hedge – but I wanted to point out a broader point, which is that gaming is a dialogue between two (or more) players. Later editions of 40k – and many more modern games – have tried to tighten up the rules to reduce the chances of arguments; but to me that misses the point which 2nd edition made explicit: 'Common sense is required here'. + 
+ Ultimately, any set of rules is going have at least some gap for interpretation (as that's what gives players agency to make decisions), and so rather than putting the onus on the rules to marshal the players, we should expect players to act in a way that advances the purpose of the game – the enjoyable exploration and advancement of a story. +

At a word from Veck, the time came to strike. Arcimboldo leapt over the hedge and in just three bounding steps, closed the distance to the Leavelooker's covered stall, where a sentry had taken shelter to light a furtive lho-stick. Reaching out, Arcimboldo closed his great armoured hand over the lurking sentry's head, silencing him as he snatched the man backwards over the stall.

The Astartes twisted slightly and broke the man's neck in a clean stroke – raising no alarm. He took in the dead man's appearance – and his twin hearts began to race as he saw the tell-tale signs of xenos interference.
"Genethieves!" he murmured to himself.

The remaining three sentries were oblivious; their cargo stored and ready to go. Atticus, an aspiring zealot who was nominally in charge of the duty, shifted his honour-staff into the crook of his elbow so he could rub his hands together to warm them.

Northgrass crawled across the ground to the low wall, then looked back up to the overpass, where Cymgin and Toria were lining up shots.

Two stuttering barks rang out, one after another. The first punched into the sentry, who stumbled confusedly before the second spread his brains across the cold earth. Again, the alarm remained pointedly silent.

+ With two sentries down, the field is looking well in Veck's control. +

Atticus shifted his staff back into his grip – and happened to take a glance to his left as he did so. What in the...?

The fourth sentry's form was too hunched and distorted to allow him to pass unnoticed in crowds – but his metahuman 'blessings' made him invaluable as a sentry, enhancing his vision slightly. As a result, at a brief gesture from Atticus, he was quickly able to make out the shape of the Space Marine.

Unfortunately for the sentry, it didn't make him invulnerable to mass-reactive shells. Whipping the boltgun round, Arcimboldo's snap shot detonated with a ear-splitting crack that spread the cultist across a wide area.

With that, the chance for stealth was over – Atticus frantically began ringing the hand bell he carried, raising the alarm. Arcimboldo's brow creased as he unsheathed his power sword and ignited it with a fiery flourish. He began to advance on Atticus as unstoppably and inevitably as the wrath of the God-Emperor.


+ To be continued +

+ Why a Space Marine? +

+ This part of the report mostly looked at the Astartes' point of view, and I wanted to add a few notes about the army lists. The atmosphere of the game we were creating owed much more to Dan Abnett's sublime Eisenhorn and Ravenor series and the more modern interpretation of the Astartes that has sprung up. To represent this, I ended up cooking up a statline based on a Master Inquisitor as a basis – giving Arcimboldo 3 Wounds and 3 Attacks, as well as elevating his physical statline far above a regular human. +

+ Making decisions like this obviously requires prior discussion and approval with the other player – fortunately Bob Hunk's an easygoing soul who was quite happy to see a 'movie marine' approach in terms of rules. +

+ While it's fun to see a powerhouse romp through opposition once or twice, they're a bit one-dimensional. For the sort of undercover operation that games of this style – narrative explorations – offer, I might have been better off with some hired muscle, local beggars or bribed officials. They offer equal modelling and painting opportunities, and precisely because they're a bit less reliable, they're more fun for both sides. +

+ Certainly Ferlinghetti, a cowardly scribe, and Atticus, a minor zealot of the Church, started to develop and become more memorable characters; and started cogs turning in both players' minds as to where the narrative can go next. +

+ Generally speaking, I'm not sure on the value Astartes bring to games of this scale. At this early stage of the game, I was a bit concerned that he was going to waltz through the poor genestealers and give Bob Hunk a bit of a sour taste. As you'll see in the following inloads, that's not quite what happened in this game, but it is well worth asking yourself the motivation behind wanting to include characters of this 'power level' in your own group. In my case, it was a wish to get a model I was proud of on the table; but I'm unsure if Arcimboldo will appear next time without a pressing narrative need. +