Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015, Thank God That's Over

What a lousy year.

Looking back at my blog posts from the past year, there was a lot of substantial content. Not as much scenery as I would have liked, but some pretty decent modeling projects and tutorials.

In the real world however, things were substantially more dire. John Stewart and Steven Colbert leaving Comedy Central; the loss of celebrity icons like Leonard Nimoy, Wes Craven, Yvonne Craig, Christopher Lee, Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister; all the lives lost in the terrorist attacks... On the bright side, the US Republican candidates all seem determined to escalate to World War III, so I guess we'll have that to look forward to.

On the tabletop wargaming front, we got to witness the death of Warhammer as we knew it (and along with it, some pretty entertaining wargaming podcasts). I feel like the gaming community is still deciding where the fate of fantasy wargaming will fall– Age of Sigmar, 8th Edition, the 9th Age, Kings of War, something else perhaps?

Speaking from my own experience, my gaming group's hobby mojo was stagnated. One local shop had some Age of Sigmar preorders, but the Fantasy game night is dead and they are liquidating their Fantasy inventory. Another shop that I don't get to often enough seems to be switching to Kings of War, but I don't know if Age of Sigmar is altogether dead there. Some Warhammer podcasts are embracing Age of Sigmar, while others have ended, but I don't know of any NEW podcasts that started up since Age of Sigmar began. So, all in all, I can't really say whether Age of Sigmar is a success or not. I think (as I had predicted) it is likely a wash.

The Final Campaign Update

Our Campaign has officially crapped out. The last update was in September of 2014, but we've been trying to maintain progress. It's been slow going, to say the least, and I think we're finally at the point where we should just call it quits.


Our Players

Justin Cunnane: Chixl's Warhost (Lizardmen)

Jason Pierson: Waaagh Blackfang (Orcs & Goblins)

Rob Hawkins: Skryre Lord Skreekits' Lightning Engineer Cult (Skaven)

Turn 13



The Skaven besieged the city of Malko (territory 64) in an effort to wrest control from the Orcs. It was a massacre, the Skaven were unable to take the city and their banner was Scattered.

Atop his wyvern, the warboss readies his troops behind the walls.


Goblin war machines occupy the towers.


The Skaven battle line, ready for assault.


Warlord Skabsis and his Clanrats, carrying ladders.


Gutter Runners deployed, their poisoned slings at the ready.


Their siege tower destroyed, the remaining forces rush toward the walls.


In the end, the Clanrats could not take the walls.


The Skaven banner attacking territory 74 suffered horrible losses was also Scattered. Against the Lizardmen in territory 12, the Skaven sufferen only a minor loss– A difference of less than 300 victory points would have been a draw; Justin won by 396 points, so my army retreated back to the tower of Tor Anrok.



Turn 14

All-out war erupts across the Skaven and Orc front... But no one has any time to play.



In territory 75, the Skaven massacre the Orcs. Jay had been consistently taking a gigantic block of 70 Orc Boyz, a medium sized regiment of Black Orcs and a medium sized regiment of Savage Orcs. I managed to break the large block of Orc Boyz and inflict approximately half casualties on the other two units using the Plague spell and the new Stormfields' rattling cannons.

When I faced Jay again in territory 76, the battle was much closer. He deployed his Orcs in a semicircle around his Rock Lobbas in an effort to prevent me from attacking them with my infiltrating Gutter Runners. The Rock Lobbas killed my Screaming Bell on turn two. Then the Stormfiends tunneled up and shot up the Black Orcs, wiping them out over the course of a few turns. and over a few turns. Jay's Rock Lobbas scored 2 hits on the Stormfiends, but only inflicted 1 wound each time, which wasn't enough to kill even a single model. The Gutter Runners infiltrated turn on turn two, and by turn four had eliminated two of Jay's Rock Lobbas.

I had eight Warlock Engineers as chaff, and they were able to hold up the large Orc Boy unit and prevent them from getting too close. Jay tried to use the Hand of Gork spell to get them into position, but the unit was just too large to effectively position.

The Grey Seer, having survived the destruction of the Screaming Bell, moved over to my Skavenslaves and continued slinging spells like Plague. He scored a solid hit on the Savage Orcs and then it spread to the Orc Boys. The Savage orcs charged my Stormvermin, but my assassin failed to kill Jay's warboss, and the unit broke. The Stormfiends then shot them to pieces. The battle lost, the Orcs retreated to territory 79.



That's where we called the campaign. In the final standings, Jay's Orcs have the clear advantage with my Skaven coming in a close second. Justin's Lizardmen are third, with Josh's Ogres, Lou's Dark Elves, and Steve's Empire all eliminated respectively.

In retrospect, perhaps a good idea for future map-based campaigns would be to end the campaign once half of the players have been eliminated, rather than letting it limp along with only a couple remaining players who find themselves battling each other four or five times per turn. It also gives a bit of power to the the players who are in the middle of the pack, allowing them to play "kingmaker," so to speak. As the bottom tier is eliminated and the top tier scoops up large swathes of territory, a mid-tier player can strategically eliminate himself when one of his allies is on top.

In our case, that would mean that after Steve and Lou were eliminated, Josh or Justin could have dropped out, bringing the player eliminations to the halfway mark and ending the campaign, giving the victory to myself or Jay, depending on who was on top at the moment.

I think we were all getting fatigued with the campaign though, and then the End Times and end of Warhammer as we know it just killed any drive to do, well... anything for the hobby.

The Future of Warhammer

I've finished all of my outstanding Skaven modeling projects, so my attention has turned back to my Vampire Counts. Not sure where I'll land on the Warhammer front. The guys have been mostly against Age of Sigmar. I have yet to play a game using any of the army building comp packs. Hopefully those will allow for some balanced army machups. I've only got three Age of Sigmar games under my belt so far and, while they were all fun, they mostly felt like they weren't balanced– That is, the games were won or lost because the army builds weren't comparable.

Everyone talks about scenario play, and how the books contain all these great scenarios. So the game that boasts free rules is great if you purchase a bunch of $60 or $70 books. For me, that's never going to happen because I have ZERO interest in the story of the Age of Sigmar, and I can't justify that price for a few pages of scenarios. I just listened to Garagehammer's lackluster review of the Seraphon Battletome, and it gives me little hope that any of the armies from Warhammer will see any justice in the new age. Sure, the Slaan themselves have escaped the Old World and can call up their former legions from memory, or stardust, or whatever-the-hell, but what about the mortal races? Have your Empire or Bretonnian generals and heroes also slipped their earthly bonds and been magically transported thousands of years into the future? No? Then I guess they're just dead.

I can't remember if I said this in a previous post, but as far as I'm concerned, my armies' mythology is still rooted in the Old World. I'm fine with using Age of Sigmar rules to represent Old World battles, but the idea of my Skaven characters surviving thousands of years into the future, or even my necromancers and vampires existing eons later in the Realm of Death is kind of ludicrous.

A local store is trying to get regular Kings of War tournaments off the ground. They've been holding one each month, and I think they have a decent following. So I might try the Kings of War route. but even if that pans out, it will still be "pretend Warhammer." I'll be imagining that my army is still a force in the Old World squaring off against "Chaos Dwarfs invading Sylvania", instead of Abyssal Dwarves fighting in Mantica. Whatever.

On to 2016

A lot of my blog time this year was spent playing catch-up from missed posts. I think next year I'll be treating the blog as more of a project log, with weekly updates of whatever I'm working on, rather than holding out until I have full-blown tutorials and completed projects to post. And, of course, more terrain.

'Til next year!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Painting Ethereals

The Vampire Counts range contains a lot of ethereal models– banshees, spirit hosts, the mortis engine, and hexwraiths. I've been sitting on these models because I was never quite sure how I wanted them to look. In the past, my banshees and spirit hosts were simply drybrushed with grey and white but the new, ubiquitous blue-green hue of ethereal models has started to grow on me.

I had painted a bunch of banshees during the End Times campaign, but I was never happy with the result. I attempted a subtle wash over some white primer. They were fine to get some models on the table but the color wasn't quite what I was looking for.



During my recent Skaven blitz, I had painted the smokey plumes from the plague censors with an effective technique using only a few green washes over a white primer coat. I was able to dial in my wash technique and get a really nice transition between the white smoke and green glow of the warpstone.



After digging around online, I found some techniques and colors that worked pretty well, and decided to have another go at it on my newly assembled spirit hosts. The idea was to come up with a formulaic process that could be easily replicated when I get to my other models like the mortis engine.

Painting Ethereal Spirits

For this technique, I am using some of the Citadel shades and technical paints. They are simultaneously the greatest things and the worst things in the world. On the one hand, they result in really smooth shadows and glazes. On the other hand there is only one way to use them, and deviating from using it straight out of the pot can lead to terrible results. GW Lahmian Medium, at least, allows you to thin them, but adding any water ruins the properties of the shade. You also need to cover the entire area in one go, without portions of the shade drying because, once it begins to dry, painting more over top before the coat is completely dry will cause it to peel and flake, leaving deposits, lines, and "crumbs" on your otherwise smoothly shaded miniature.




I picked up a pack of large brushes to use for the washes and drybrushing. A fine brush was also used for the details. The list of paints I used are as follows:

GW Citadel Paints

Lahmian Medium

Nihilakh Oxide

Coelia Greenshade

Dryad Bark

XV-88 (brown)

Screaming Skull

Formula P3 Paints

Thrall Flesh

Cryx Bane Highlight

Gnarls Green

Menoth White Highlight

Gun Corps Brown

Cold Steel

Quick Silver

Other Paints



Liquitex Transparent Burnt Umber Ink (Brown Ink)

Vallejo Game Color Ghost Grey

Model Master Medium Green

Testors Dull Cote

Model Master Navy Aggressor Grey (spray)

Assembly and Priming

When assembling the spirits, I was meticulous in cleaning the mold lines. Not that the lines were excessive, I merely wanted to ensure that there wouldn't be any seams that might capture the wash and be made more prominent. Each base has three spirits that fit together into a swirl of ghosts. I assembled and primed each one separately to ensure proper coverage in the recesses.



I stuck some double-sided tape over the attachment points so I wouldn't need to scrape the primer away before gluing the plastic together.



After spraying the models with white primer, I removed the tape and completed the assembly of all of the spirits hosts. I attached them to their bases, making sure they could rank up cleanly.



Each host base was then attached to a priming stick for the next spray step.



The models were given an all-over spray of Testors Model Masters Navy Aggressor Grey, and then a top spray of white primer.




The first step is to give the spirits an all-over wash. I find that Nihilakh Oxide is a little too blue, so I added some Thrall Flesh to give a more green hue. The ratio is a little difficult to gauge because I mixed a large batch. I poured a fair amount of Lahmian Medium into a cup and then added a few brushfuls of Nihilax to bring the color up. Then, I added a couple drops of Thrall Flesh. In these shots, you can see the color before and after I added the Thrall Flesh.




Then the wash was painted over the entire spirit with a large brush, taking care to cover as much as possible in a single pass so I wouldn't get lines at the edges of the wash where it may have dried.



Once the wash was completely dry, I mixed up a batch of Nihilakh Oxide, Thrall Flesh, and Ghost Grey, and drybrushed this over the model. The intention of this drybrush was to bring the color back up on the raised areas and eliminate any points where the wash may have pooled outside of the recesses. I kept the brush very dry to avoid any brush streaks.



Next, I used more of the first wash and a fine brush to paint it into some of the recesses. These were recesses that I wanted to darken a little more, or that may have filled in from the drybrushing. I also painted it more heavily on the undersides of the spirits and on their hands to shade the gaps between their fingers.



I wanted the bottoms of the spirits to be darker, so I mixed another wash of Lahmian Medium, Coelia Greenshade, and Cryx Bane Highlight. The ratio was about three parts Medium to one part Greenshade, and one part Cryx Bane Highlight to add a little grey into the green. This wash was painted heavily on the bottom of the "tails" of the spirits, and a little thinner as it blended up toward the body.



After the wash was completely dry, I mixed another wash of equal parts Lahmian Medium and Coelia Greenshade and painted this over the lower areas of the spirit to add a darker green shade in the recesses.



The next stage was to smooth over the mid tones and fix any places where the washes were patchy. To do this, I used the colors from above in various combinations to match the mid tones and build highlights. There were three main steps:

First was to match the mid tone using Nihilakh Oxide, Thrall Flesh, and a little Coelia Greenshade to keep it from getting too bright. This was used to blend the middle area where the green transitions from light to dark.


Then I started to build up the highlights using Nihilakh, Thrall Flesh, and a little Ghost Grey.


More Ghost grey was then added into the mix to brighten the highlights.


Finally, I mixed equal parts Ghost Grey and White and painted the brightest highlights on the head tails, faces, and arms. With that, the ethereal portion of the model was finished.


The weapons needed to be picked out with metal, so I base coated them with Cold Steel and then washed them with the following mix: Three parts Coelia Greenshade to one part each of Lahmian Medium, Nihilakh Oxide, and Thrall Flesh. I also used the wash to shade the fingers gripping the knives.


Once the wash had dried, I touched up the fingers with Ghost Grey.



Normally I add the basing elements during the assembly process but, because the models were primed white, I wanted to tackle the tombstones separately and rely on the natural brown of the ballast as much as possible to minimize any potential splatter onto the nice, clean spirits while painting those elements.

The Tombstones were all affixed to a stick with double-sided tape.



They were primed black and drybrushed with successively lighter layers of grey, mixed using black and white with a little Screaming Skull.


The bases were painted with Dryad Bark and the skeletons with XV-88.


Then, the skeletons (and the skulls with the tombstones) were drybrushed with Screaming Skull, then washed with a mix of Brown Ink, XV-88, and a touch of Lahmian Medium. Once this was dry, a much drier brushing of Screaming Skull and then Screaming Skull with a little Menoth White Highlight was applied.


I touched up the ethereal wisps around the skeleton with a mix of Coelia Greenshade, Nihilakh Oxide, and touches of Thrall Flesh, and Cryx Bane Highlight. I found that adding a little Gnarls Green into the mix allowed me to increase the opacity while matching the color. This was thinned a little with water and glazed over the chest, shoulders, and around the skull. Finally, more Thrall Flesh was added to the mix to punch up the highlights on the tendrils.


I super glued the tombstones on the base and then used white glue to add the ballast.



Once the glue had dried, I painted the sand with Brown Ink to darken it just a bit, then drybrushed up with XV-88, Gun Corps Brown, and Bleached Bone.



The Edges were painted with Model Master Medium Green and then the whole model was sprayed with Testors Dull Cote.



The final touch was to add static grass and paint Quick Silver on the edges of the knives (I saved this step for after the Dull Cote so the metallic paint wouldn't be matted by the Dull Cote).



The Finished Spirit Hosts:



'Til next time!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

New Corpse Cart and the Undead Queue Leftovers

If any of you remember my Shelf of Shame post from 2014, you'll know how long this thing has been kicking around. Part of the delay in finishing it was work and other, tastier projects that kept popping up. Then I went on a big Skaven push while my buddies and I were involved in our Warhammer campaign. Mainly I just didn't want to basecoat, wash, blend, re-wash, and highlight all of that rotting flesh on the corpse pile.



I don't even remember when I actually started this model. I think I assembled it when I was still in Seattle. The cart sat in that stage for at least four years, but it's finally finished. The model was converted from the "stock" cart with the wooden cage frame. This one has been adorned with Chaos spikes and the cage was replaced with a spiky fender around the wheels. The cart is also festooned with carrion birds. The largest of which are from the old Nurgle Chaos Lord's sign post. This is why I couldn't find more crows for my cornfield and there's only one lonely bird on the scarecrow; the rest are all on this rolling buffet table!


The front of the cart has also been modified with the body from the Corpsemaster's spear. The corpse has been impaled on a spike and is being pecked at by a crow.






Now I have two of these bad boys to roll into battle. The flaming skulls (representing the Balefire upgrade) are pegged in place. I'll eventually make a pair of bells so I can replace the Balefire with the Unholy Lodestone upgrade. I had left the Corpsemasters off of them because I was intending to keep the rider separate to distinguish whether or not the cart was being used as a mount for a Necromancer, but I'll likely paint them up at some point and pin them onto the corpse piles. Each cart should still have its own driver, even if it's not a Necromancer, per se. (In Age of Sigmar there's no longer the option to put a Necromancer on a Corpse Cart.)


I wonder if GW is ever going to get around to making a new zombie kit, one with proportions that more closely match the zombies on the cart. They are officially the oldest plastic kit in the Vampire Counts range, going on 17 years now. (Ha, look at me, talking about Warhammer like it's still a thing!)

With the completion of this cart, there are only four unfinished projects from my undead Shelf of Shame:

The Hellsteed– This model just needs a paint job and a rider. But unfortunately, Hellsteeds aren't an available option in the Age of Sigmar Vampire Count warscrolls. Even under the substitute warscrolls, it doesn't acknowledge the Vampire on Hellsteed, probably because they never made a Hellsteed model. I suppose it could pass as a vampire with wings and a hellsteed, but I'm pretty sure that's an "either / or" situation. I'll figure it out once GW releases an Age of Sigmar FAQ. (I was almost able to finish typing that sentence with a straight face!) I'm still building my Vampire Counts force with 8th Edition Warhammer sensibilities, so maybe I'll get around to finishing this, but the enthusiasm is gone, so probably not.



Vampire Battle Standard Bearer– As I mentioned in the Shelf of Shame post, I need more loose bats to put on his cloak. But, like the Hellsteed, there's no option for a vampire to carry an army standard in Age of Sigmar. I'd be fine using this model to represent a wight king with an Infernal Standard, but I already have a wight with an Infernal Standard. The whole point of making the vampire was that there used to be different rules for the two different character types. So, I don't know where this guy is headed. He's not past the point of no return, so I could replace the banner arm with something else. I'm already considering replacing the sword with a smaller, more vampire-y version and shortening that arm because it sticks out much too far. Either way, this model is too nice to not use for something.


Mounted Battle Flag– This guy, on the other hand is definitely getting finished. He just needs paint and the banner.


The Winged Ghouls– Ugh, these things. I'm not sure I have the motivation (or the time) to work on a major sculpting conversion theme across an entire unit of 40 infantry. Back in the parts bin!


First in the pipe, though, are the new Spirit Hosts. Once I nail down the ethereal effect, I'll be able to move on to the Mortis Engine, and then some of those Morghasts that I hear all the kids are crazy about.


'Til next time!