Saturday, 25 January 2014

025. Welcome to some blurred S3 Phone photos, or how I played a game today...

The title says it all really - smart phones make us lazy.  I have a digital camera that always has flat batteries - the solution is not to charge or buy new ones, it is to rely on the phone camera.  As such today's adventures down to the new club Col. Ackland found is documented on my S3 which in the lighting conditions we were in, does not produce the best pictures - but you'll get the gist of the day.

This club meets once a month at a local Returned Serviceman's League (RSL) club rooms which provides a nice big room in which to hold about 14 tables, as well as access to food and a bar.  Today was one of the scheduled sessions and I duly arrived with my 1,350pts worth of Ultramarines and a box of terrain to fill a table with.
The club in action - games underway and hobby talk a go-go
We were scheduled to play a couple of games of Crucible of War as both the attacker and defender.  Unfortunately I only managed one game due to time constraints and needing to get home for my shift with the little one but I still had a good day and finally got to meet Col. Ackland in the flesh (again) and have a chat with some new gamers.

In my game I played as the defender against Andy (who I knew from his previous life as a member of the GW Marion hobby team) and his White Scars.  I let Andy know I hadn't played much in the last two years so he gave me a nice smooth entry back into gaming.  Having said that, he still tabled me by turn 3, but I had a blast rolling dice and talking hobby with him so the result doesn't matter.

Deployment and Andy's stuff arriving - Yes the board is pink - no I don't know why
Reserves - and turn 1 deployment corps aka the Sternguard and Drop Pod
Andy coached me through the phases, and also gave me tips and suggestions as we played - I now have new respect for the humble Krack Grenade!  He also took hold of the friendly spirit of the game I had told him I wanted versus an uber competitive match and let me re roll things I'd forgotten (even when out of sequence) as well as bring things back from the dead when we realised I'd missed a whole slew of rules regarding Chapter Tactic operation and Warlord Traits.  It really was a great learning game, but also one with narrative and that 'cinematic buzz' Jervis is always banging on about.
End of Turn 1 - was not a good turn for my armour pool or my Scouts
End of Turn 2 - not good for most of the rest - my poor Sternguard copped a faceful of bolt shells and exploding weapons
One whole Tactical Squad refused to come on from reserve, but I'll be honest and say the game was done in turn 2 - rampaging White Scar bikers are hard as nails but fully live up to what you expect them to be like - riding down their enemies, Boltguns chugging out an endless stream of shells, and pouncing in and out of combats - great stuff.

All the tables had adequate terrain coverage, with stuff ranging from home made, old Necromunda and early 3rd/late2nd ed card and plastic jobs, newer cities of death and other GW terrain, as well as donated material from the old GW Marion from when it closed down.
An Ork v Guard game in progress over terrain I brought for the day - I'll paint it one day
Nids v Tau over some Necro and donated ex-store gear
Col. Ackland in action against another Guard force
Another shot of Col. Acklands board showing his old 2nd/3rd ed buildings and part of his home made Imperial Fort - it's brilliantly crazy
I had a good day and only wish I could have stayed around longer to get in another game.  I think the lad who runs the club is considering time limits on games as the first rounds went on the near 3 hours in some cases which was a bit excessive for a 1,350 pt game and pushed back the start of the second round seeing a number of players in the same situation as myself where they had other afternoon commitments that meant they had to go early.  It was all good though as I got to walk around and watch a couple of other games (even offering rules advice/adjudication a couple of times which was a laugh given my relative novice status) as well as having the opportunity to soak up some of the hobby interplay.

The next meet up is not for another month, but Col. Ackland and one of the other lads I've played at my place before have expressed an interest in catching up outside of the club for games.  It turns out the good Col. and I live barely 5 minutes from each other so hopefully we can work something out around our family/work/study commitments.

Cheers all,


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

024. Test Tactical Marine Complete - How to improve...

Finished test Tactical Marine, Ultramarine Third Company
I finished up the test mini over the weekend - 
  • tidied off some highlights on the armour, 
  • highlighted the metallics with the old Mithril Silver and then washed the highlights back with the old Badab Black,
  • blacked in the bolter casing and then went over that with a mix of Vallejo Game Colour Black and Grey Black, and then a further mix of those two colours and the old Codex Grey. I then lightened that mix with some old Skull White and then applied that as an edge highlight;
  • free handed the tactical symbol and the Chapter Badge from a base of the old Shadow Grey, then a mix with the old Fortress Grey and finally some Skull White,
  • applied 'dead' static grass.
While I am happy with my final scheme, there are definite areas for improvement.

In the future I am going to mix up a pot of my final blue colour as each time I have gone to paint this chap I have mixed a slightly different shade of blue, even with the wet pallet - that's more a problem of working from the pallet and mixing as I went rather than aiming for a specific ratio.

I also need to work on my free hand - the Tactical symbol in particular is really rough - a combination of me not being too sure about free hand, and the paint not being the right consistency leading to more dabbing than sliding with the brush giving an uneven finish.  I'm tossing up using decals for the majority of figures, and free hand only where the mini wont easily take a decal.

If I go down the decal route it will mean sealing the model with gloss and then another seal of matte once the decal is applied.  I've had mixed success in the past with varnish, but I had a good conversation with Karitas the other day about how he has been doing it and want to at least give it a try.

The other thing I just realised I have missed is the squad designator - I;ll go back and add squad numbers to the inside of the Tactical symbol.

Overall very happy with the mini.  All up its about a week of after work and weekend painting time for me around my commitments to my family and work.  I am going to follow in Stahly's footsteps and tackle my squads two marines at a time - letting me flick between minis while waiting for paint/washes to dry, and gaining progress over doing each unit one mini at a time.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

023. Nostaligic look back - Space Marine Codices through the ages...

I mentioned in the comment section of a previous post that given the week long 44+ degree Celsius heat here in Southern Australia, I have not done anything by way of painting.

Instead I have spent my non family/work time reading - reading books, reading blogs, and more lately reading codices and rule books.

I've been a collector more than a gamer and painter for much of my time in the hobby scene, and I have a bit of a compulsion to pick up old things to fill in gaps in my collections - I am on a constant drive to find good deals on old codices and rules/supplements and the like.

Colonel Scipio over at Palladian Guard recently posted about a fantastic deal he picked up on eBay - a complete second edition 40K set, with all the booklets and minis etc, plus a copy of the third ed book.  He plans on trying out games using older rule sets which I am all for - I've never understood the whinging that goes with updates to core rules and codices - simply keep using what you like!

So to fill in my week while I avoided the heat and keep my current posting trend rolling, I've pulled out my old material, scanned the and uploaded them here in this iteration of my nostalgic look back posts (its now a thing I'm doing - 2 posts on a topic totally makes it a thing).

Army books started out in Second Ed with Codex Imperials.  I'll save it for another post in the future to show of the contents of this and some of the other books, but what it contained inside were the unit summaries for all the various factions in existence in the game at that time - much like what the 3rd Ed rule book sought to do as a transition between eras.  The book came only in the boxed starter game along with the Wargear book, a ton of cards, the Rule Book itself and the Black Codex, as well as a snazzy little flier that I must have read about 100 times before I finally understood what the different colour Marines symbolised.
The book that started it all - 2nd Ed
Companion book to Imperialis - 2nd Ed
The Wargear book essentially gave you the stats for all the varied weapons in use across the races at the time including such delights as Plasma-Missile shooting Missile Launchers, Hand Bows, Squat Exo-Armour and Thudd Guns.

During 2nd ed, GW started to slowly put out Codices as we would know them today, oriented on specific races and factions.  I believe the Space Wolf one came first, and then Ultramarines and Angels of Death (a combined Blood Angel and Dark Angel book).

What I liked about these books were they expanded on the fluff for Marines in general, but the specific Chapter in particular, as wel as including artwork, wargear cards to upgrade those found in the Wargear book, lots of detail about unit and army markings, and at the end displayed in exploded bit form (just like the older White Dwarfs would) the entire range of miniatures available for the book.
The Smurfs own book - 2nd Ed
Angels of all kinds - 2nd Ed
Wolves in space - 2nd Ed
With the launch of 3rd came a book that incorporated into a Generic Marine book, all the Codex Chapter characters (ie the Imperial Fists, Black Templars, Crimson Fists - not Wolves or the Angels though).

This was the book I started with and treasured for a number of years.  At 48 pages it was the smallest Codex out of the series I'm showing here, and included hobby content as well as unit entries (a whole 9 pages of unit entries!!).  This was my most prolific gaming point in my hobby career as I had a stable of school friends I would play with at least 3 times a week.  I only have fond (if hazy) memories of this time of my hobby life.  I've added a few pictures of my favourite parts of the codex.
Sharing rights with all Codex Chapters - 3rd Ed
The whole chapter - simply brilliant
How to lose battles and have fun - No matter how hard I followed these tactics, I still got trounced
As this goes to post (1420 hours) I should be deep into my Tactical Indoctrination class
I'm not actually sure I was active in the hobby for much of 4th as I took a hiatus following my last years of high school and opening years of university study.  If I came back to the hobby during this period, it was at the end of the run.  Similarly, I didn't play much during 5th as my GW fatigue slowly took hold.  While I went on a prolific collection expansion throughout this time, my productivity and game play went right down.

I did game a bit in my local (now closed) store - even playing once against Col. Ackland towards the end of my 'active' gaming period.  The books of this era stayed true to the 'Codex' chapter focus, expanding on the range of Chapter characters included.  Somewhere in there a lowly Veteran Sergeant of the Imperial Fists became the First Company (and Chapter Master nominee) Lysander!

The 4th ed codex included a Chapter Traits section to allow you to customise your chosen (including home brew) Chapters play style - I stayed vanilla.  This was dropped in the 5th ed codex in favour of Chapter specific special characters imposing army wide rules.
The Honour Guard figures couldn't live up to that awesome artwork - 4th Ed
Don't know what to say here - this book saw anger only once or twice with me - 5th Ed
The 6th ed codex has returned from a cover perspective, to where it started with Codex Imperialis - A Power Fist and Bolter waving Marine in the thick of battle.  Like the later edition codices, this is packed with more Codex Chapter detail, modifying the 5th ed character imposed rules to a more general specified Chapter Tactics set - you don't need to buy a character to gain the rules now.  So now instead of playing vanilla (which is still an option) Marines (which would have been what Ultramaines were considered in the past),  I can now choose to take special rules relating to the Ultramarine Chapter!

This book is huge, with oads of fantastic fluff detail, fantatstic artwork from across the years, most of it now in colour for the first time, with awesome mini showcases, and a much expanded unit listing.  For all that, some of the older codices are closer to my heart, for sheer nostalia reasons more than anything.
A stomping big codex at over 170 pages - 6th Ed
So that was my quick look back through the history of Space Marine codices (without exploring all the 3rd ed+ non Codex specific Chapters who between them nearly have another 10 or so books).

In later posts in this series I'll open some of the books up and pull out some of my favourite parts - the old 2nd ed Ork book always makes me laugh - has anyone ever wondered where Orks get their topknots from?!!!

Cheers all - its starting to cool down somewhat now so painting will be back on the cards soon.


Monday, 13 January 2014

022. WIP Tactical Marine (post 2)...

WIP Tactical (Combat) Squad of the Third Company, Ultramarines Chapter
I had a little bit of painting time last night which saw me do a brief tidy up on the blue, add a bit of Guilliman Blue glaze to some of the armour, play around a bit more with the skin tones, bronze in the eagle on the Bolter and settle on red (the Third Company) as my shoulder guard colour.

I've also picked out the next four Marines to receive their paint once I finish of my test subject.  This will give me a fully painted combat squad from one of my two Tactical Squads I have taken in my list.

My test subject needs some highlights on the metallic areas and Bolter casing, as well as free hand tactical symbol and Chapter badge.  I also want to go through and tighten up some of the armour highlights.

I'm quite tempted to follow the example of the Raven Guard in the new Codex and only paint the company colour on the right shoulder guard, leaving the trim on the left the same colour as the rest of the armour.  My test mini didn't have a trim on his left so I don't know how it will look.  It suits the Raven Guard but may not suit my Ultramarines.

Just the quick update tonight.  Cheers all,


Sunday, 12 January 2014

021. WIP trial Ultramarine...

WIP Ultramarine test Tactical Marine front shot 
I have kicked on tonight with a test Tactical Marine to trial my Ultramarine scheme.  Apologies upfront for the photo quality, I'm using the iPad to take the photos and lodge this blog post so it's all a bit new for me.

The painting has gone fairly smooth thus far.  The base layer I put down with the airbrush has come out quite purple so it has taken two layers of my next chosen blue to get to the tone I was aiming for. I have been using Vallejo paints with the first base and layer being from the airbrush line (Dark Sea Blue base followed by Blue Angel Blue).  Tonight I applied by brush a mix of Model Air Blue and Model Colour Dark Prussian Blue.

I made use of a wet pallet for the first time tonight which has helped me mix my paint and kept it fresh through the whole session.  Brilliant little bit of kit that I wish I had stumbled onto earlier.  My dilemma now is do I continue to apply my chosen final layer by hand or try and mix it and push it out through the airbrush.  The airbrush gives a lovely smooth finish but the colour is desaturated as it is going on thinner.  By hand though I have created some unexpected brush strokes.  It's been so long since I painted a Marine that I made a rookie mistake and went back over parts before the prior pass had fully dried.  You'd think after spending the week painting the house I would know not to do that.  I don't think I would make that mistake again but I don't really fancy applying each additional layer on the forty odd marines I have in my current list.
My wet pallet.  Lovely way to keep paint fresh and massive help in blending colours.
As well as applying the next layer, I also kicked on with edge highlights.  Believe it or not this is the first Marine in fifteen years I have ever edge highlighted.  I've always been to afraid to try before but with these lads I am aiming to lift my painting quality to high table top standards with display quality on my character models.  I downloaded a copy of the how to paint Space Marines that GW put out when they released the new Codex and reviewed a number of posts by Stahly and Garfy from Tale of Painters  to figure out where to put my highlights.  A few have come out a bit rough and thick but I have gone back through with my blue and tidied up the worst of them.

I also went through and did my flesh tone on the skin and the skull and wreath on the backpack and shoulder guard including a little free hand ULTRA on the wreath which I never do so it's a mini full of firsts. I've put down the base coat for the silver metallics and washed them with Abaddon Black.  They just need a highlight now.  The only decision I need to make is what company to have my force belong to so I can do the shoulder pad trim and also what colour bolt/weapon casings to do - I'm tossing up plain black with grey highlights or classic red but worry that might be a tad strong against the darker blue I have opted for.  Thoughts anyone?  Additionally I fancy chipping these guys up a bit but don't know what colour to use as the base for the chop.  I'm thinking the old Charadon Granite with Bleached Bone highlights.  Again comments/thoughts welcome.

I'll leave it at that for tonight.  It felt good to pick up a brush again after a couple of weeks break.  It felt even more refreshing to paint a Marine after so long, particularly one in this scheme.  I've been thinking about it for long enough it was good to get on with it.

As always, happy hobby all.



Friday, 10 January 2014

020. Lessons to pass on...

I have spent the last three days intermittently cleaning up old Space Marines.  Why you may ask?  Well thanks to the esteemed Col. Ackland, I have found a local club to which I will be going in a few weeks time to throw dice and move little plastic men around a roughly 4x4 or maybe 6x4 MDF board - that's right I will actually be playing a game!!

To that end I busted out a copy of Battlescribe and my Space Marine Codex and jiffied up a couple of lists to suit the mission parameters the group Nobs have set up and then went raiding my shelves for pieces to fit the puzzle.

My Space Marine collection has grown from a couple of units purchased when I relied on saved pocket money and birthday and Christmas money when I was 13, to over 250 Marines of various types.  A number of them have had up to 3 different colour schemes (Ultramarines, my own DIY Silent Guard grey (not Space Wolf) marines and a few lucky chaps have even been Minotaurs in an ill fated Badab War army).  This meant if I wanted to relaunch my Marines as the good old boys in blue, I'd need to do some stripping and recolouring.

I had intended just to re prime, but having a talk to one of the club Nobs got me thinking about throwing unpainted stuff down on the table v painted.  Now, with the speed I go at I wouldn't have a painted army anywhere near ready in time for the game, but I could at least have a base layer down, and maybe the start of some of the detail work which would be better than bare plastic or plain black.
Oh so much blue - Over three days I managed to get time to strip, clean, re-prime, lay down a base and layer with the airbrush - now its brush work
Into the simple green my chosen minis went and then it was a bit of an archaeological journey and the purpose of the blog title - cleaning up minis.  Cleaning up the old paint and varnish on some minis, notably a couple of Assault Marines produces an effect much like you see on those archaeology shows where as you strip back layers you can see what a thing used to be - in the case of the Assault squad, after getting rid of the top layer of varnish, I uncovered a layer of grey, then a layer of bronze, another layer of grey and old citadel inks, a rough Chaos Black primer layer, then some patchy old school Ultramarine Blue (the old bright blue before the lads of Macragge wen tall moody and dark) and finally a really patchy brushed on layer of skull white which was pretending to act as a primer coat.

Amongst that I also discovered some quite shocking mold lines and extruded sprue which I had to go through and clean off with a hobby knife and file.  This made me have a laugh as I reminisced about how 13 year old me who lacked the hobby tool chest 28 year old me currently enjoys, would make do with a blunt pair of scissors, some crusty old resin glue and some blunt needle files I'd filched out of the old mans tool box.
These have anly ever been Silent Guard but are destined for a respray at some point - they add to the above boys in blue to round out my planned units for the upcoming gaming day
Which brings me to the point of the article.  As a 'hoary old veteran' I think its now part of my hobby duties to try and pass on some basic lessons to new blood entering the hobby - namely basic mini prep skills, shortcuts, and handy tips and tricks (even if it is just pointing out alternative tools to the GW branded stuff).

The group I have joined has quite an active facebook presence and it is brilliant to see hobbyists of all ages posting stuff up, asking for feedback, and being genuinely helpful.  I am really looking forward to helping out some of the new young guys as they take their first steps in our world.  I'm not claiming to be a font of all knowledge, and uber hobby supremo, but if I can help another hobbyist avoid horrible mold lines and rubbish sprue clean up then I think I will have done a good deed.

Final thoughts for the day, a package arrived bringing me something I had ordered prior to Christmas (so no broken resolution about spending yet) which consisted of some MrHobby Metallic paints (Gold, Bronze, Copper, Brass and Iron).  This is a type of paint you apply and then buff to the shine you want.  It can be sealed and weathered.  FW listed it in their Masterclass books and I fancy using it on my Titan when I go back to that.
MrHobby Metallics - should be fun to tinker with
And that'll do for now.

I know my first resolution is already out the window (ie paint the stuff already on my desk before moving on) but that's ok - if there's one thing 10 years in the public service has taught me it is to recognise and move with change!

Happy hobby guys,


Saturday, 4 January 2014

019. Resolutions...

So its that time of year when our blog feeds are full of resolutions and reviews of the year just gone.

Looking back on my last 8 months my blogging has been irregular but I have had a few real life events that impacted that - namely the arrival of my gorgeous daughter and changes at work.

2014 doesn't have any planned large real life events so I hope to maintain a more regular schedule of hobby coverage and activity.

To give myself a resolution or two in the interests of providing some focus to my hobby time, I have decided on a couple of things.

First, paint whats currently on my desk.
Whats on my desk care of a phone camera
It adds up to:
- the Mordheim warband I started and then stopped in late October/early November.  This includes a random Elf figure which I believe belongs to the Mordheim setting but for some reason I have put him on a 25mm round base.
- a Contemptor Dreadnought that has been loafing on the desk for months or longer (eek - could he have been there for over a year - highly likely).
- the Prospektor Ork.
- a lone FW Veteran Guardsman I built the other night when I was pottering around my bits drawer.
- 8 (not sure what happened to the other 2) Tactical Marines which I will use as my training unit to start off my Ultramarines.

Why paint these and not something else that is more likely to fit the need for resolution 2 below.  Mainly they are out already and have been on my desk for ages.  I'm sick of pulling new things out and putting unfinished stuff back into the cabinets - I'd much rather develop the habit of putting finished stuff away.

The second resolution is to get out and formally start playing again.  Last year I had one game of 40K (the only game of 6th ed I've played) and a couple of games of Infinity.  This year I want to find some regular opponents and have regular (at least once a month) games.  The helpful Col. Ackland has pointed me in the direction of a local gaming group which I have joined electronically pending a first visit to the club rooms.  It looks to be made of lads and other sundry ne'er do wells from the old GW store I would frequent before it closed.  Not only do they play 40K (and I presume fantasy) but also Infinity and other games - so there should be opportunity for me to use more of my collection than just my GW stuff.

Hopefully, joining a group and having a regular schedule of games will give me more drive to paint and get the stuff above done quick smart so I can start in on my armies proper.  In my prior gamer life, having regular games and wanting to only field painted miniatures was a great drive to get stuff done.  Now I didn't have a kidlett then but hopefully I can work around that little bug-bear.

I guess the final resolution I want to impose on myself is one of thrift - no more frivolous spending.  In the past I've been fortunate to be part of a dual income relationship where money to spend on miniatures never seemed o be lacking - with the missus out of work this is no longer the case.  As such, no more discretionary spending.  I actually will still have stuff turning up care of a few unfulfilled Kickstarters but otherwise I don't want to see new stuff coming into my home unless its paint and glue.

So that's that folks, I hope the Christmas and new years breaks have been good to you all.