Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lots of Painting

Thus far I've been spending the majority of my vacation painting. Unfortunately, as yet none of it has been 40k related, and only a little of it has been miniature painting!

First I painted my bathroom.

Then the kitchen.

Then the living room.

And finally I got to working on some LotR Orcs I've had for a while and started working on a while ago. I had been batch painting them, and as such most of them were pretty close to completion. So I was able to complete the lot of them in one day. 49 of them, in fact. These guys have been hanging over my head for a while now, so I'm glad to finally finish them!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Mini Photo Studio

In the past I took photos of my miniatures by placing them on a large piece of white posterboard, shining a desk lamp on them in an attempt to get some light from a different angle, and then taking flash photos, and trying to make them look good using Photoshop. It got the job done, but was far from ideal...

No more! For Christmas my wife got me a "Mini Photo Studio" from I'd seen it online a while back and thought "hey, that's neat", but I never thought about actually buying it. Now I have it!

Here are my first test photos. I think they came out pretty well compared to my old method!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

By Request: Epic Pictures

By popular demand, I took some pictures of my various Epic scale forces. Some of them are in a state of disrepair, and I caution that the paintjobs are woefully out of date, but here they are.

Back in my days of playing Space Marine with some fanaticism, I collected and fielded an entire chapter of Space Marines, my homegrown chapter, the Nightblades.Now the chapter is somewhat depleted, as I cannibalized some of them to paint up other Space Marines from other chapters.

Back in its heyday, the Nightblades' usual foe was the Eldar from the Yriel-Dyann craftworld:The Eldar were formidable opponents, and the superheavy grav-tanks, the Tempests, and the Eldar Exarchs caused me untold amounts of frustration. As did the Eldar Phantom Titans, which unfortunately got lost in the shuffle, so I don't have pictures of them. Suffice it to say, one of them was armed with twin Pulsars, and pretty much vaporized my titans with ease.

Speaking of which, here they are, Bellator, Pugnator, and Venator:
As you can see, they've seen better days, and are due for some attention from the Adeptus Mechanicus.

My Space Marines were on occasion aided by various other forces, including the Imperial Guard:
Imperial Knights:
and the massive Imperator Titan, the Iustus Potestas:

Occasionally, my Imperial forces ended up fighting the forces of Chaos, represented here by one of their Titans:

The Ork forces never got to see battle, but I still started building a force anyway. In the future sometime they may still take to the field.
The Orks, of course, had to have some heavy support.

After Epic 40k was released, I started building forces using the new strip bases. I ended up cannibalizing some the Nightblades to make my Ultramarines force:
Also, as an experiment, I wanted to paint up squads from other chapters, so I did up a squad each of Dark Angels, Space Wolves, Blood Angels, and another homegrown chapter, the Sea Warriors.The Sea Warriors were an experiment of mine, even their name wasn't set in stone. Their symbol was similar to that of the Dark Angels or Blood Angels, but instead of a winged sword or blood drop, the Sea Warriors had a winged trident.I had not developed the chapter background all that much, other than that they had a nautical theme.

Monday, December 21, 2009

An Epic Inventory

Back in the mid 90s the game I played the most was Space Marine. The game was fast-paced, exciting, and the casualties were always horrendous. While Epic 40k and Epic: Armageddon are certainly good games, I still have a bit of nostalgia for good ol' Space Marine.

Back in the day I had collected a disgusting amount of Epic scale miniatures, and recently I started digging through some of them to see what I had. I decided to whip up inventory to get a better idea of it all.

Dark Reaper Stand2
Dire Avenger Stand4
Exarch Stand4
Fire Dragon Stand4
Guardian Support Weapon46
Guardian Stand42
Harlequin Stand4
Howling Banshee Stand2
Jetbike Stand15
Phantom Titan2
Prism Cannon2
Ranger Stand4
Striking Scorpion Stand4
Swooping Hawk Stand4
War Walkers3
Warlock/Farseer Stand12
Warp Hunter2
Wave Serpent2
Wraithguard Stand4
Imperial Guard
Assault Stand7
Bike Stand10
Command Stand33
Leman Russ12
Leman Russ Demolisher3
Ogryn Stand11
Ratling Stand4
Rough Rider Stand10
Tactical Stand28
Imperial Knights10
Knights Paladin
Knights Crusader3
Bike Stand3
Boar Rider Stand3
Bubble Chukka Speedsta3
Command Stand21
Grot Stand8
Heavy Weapon Stand3
Boyz Stand3322
Kommando Stand3
Lifta Droppa Speedsta1
Mega Gargant11
Nobz Stand11
Shokk Attack Gun6
Stormboyz Stand1
Weirdboy Stand2
Space Marines
Assault Stand116
Bike Stand911
Command Stand47
Devastator Stand133
Land Raider515
Land Speeder511
Librarian Stand1
Scout Stand21
Tactical Stand6288
Terminator Stand10
Titan Legions
Imperator Titan1
Warlord Titan3

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Back in Action

After about a month of sickness and other things competing for my attention, I finally was able to do some painting last night, completing three Lotr Orcs. The picture doesn't really do them justice, but that's ok. Hopefully I'll have some more time in the near future to keep up with the painting!

One more thing I thought I would mention is that one thing I started about two years ago is painting the completion date of my minatures on the bottom of their bases. That way I can just look at the base and see how old the miniature is, and also compare old ones to newer ones to see if my painting skills have improved (or gotten worse!)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The past month...

The past month has been very slow in terms of my 40k hobby, much of it being out of my control. First I got a cold which laid me up for a week. After having recovered, I was able to work a little bit on miniatures, but then I got hammered by sickness again that in all probability was the H1N1 virus. The whole family was sick for a week of hell. We're all essentially better now, but I still have a lingering cough that won't go away.

In the intervening week we've gotten a new living room set (a hand-me-down), painted the kitchen, gotten one car repaired and are in the process of looking to replace the other. Needless to say there hasn't been much time for 40k. Grrr...

I haven't played a game in months--I've been busy doing other things, and my usual opponent Badelaire has been busy taking graduate classes, so it just hasn't happened.

Hopefully in the next month or so that will change. In the meantime, however, I have managed a little bit of fun--I've had the opportunity to play paintball a couple of times. A ton of fun and a bit of exercise.

The audio is a little crazy--the sound of my gun is insanely loud, while everything else is pretty faint, so be prepared. There are also subtitles to the video, which help the video make a little more sense--if you mouseover the icon at lower right you can turn on the captions if they are off.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fort Hood

When I heard about the tragedy at Fort Hood, Texas, last Thursday, I was shocked and saddened by what had happened.

Little did I know at the time that I had recently met one of the wounded soldiers. Back in October I had the opportunity to meet a woman named Joy. I did not get the opportunity to talk to her much, but she seemed like a very nice person. Apparently soon thereafter she deployed to Fort Hood, and was one of those shot by the gunman.

Yesterday she had surgery to repair the shattered bone in her arm, and I am glad to report that she is recovering well.

My thoughts go out to the families and friends of all the victims.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Busy busy busy...

Sorry about the lack of updates over the past few weeks--a bunch of things have been competing for my attention, for example...

The little one has been keeping my hands full:
I also had to put up with trillions upon trillions of these things, which kept me out of commission for about a week:

Still and all, I've managed to work on a few things, including this Shas'ui for my Ethereal's Bodyguard unit:

I've also been working on some LotR miniatures, but I don't have any pictures of those right yet.

I've also begun migrating my battle reports from being hosted on comcast directly into the blog. So far I've only done about a dozen or so, and it's been relatively easy since they are simple--just some text and pictures. Once I get up to battle report 33, however, things are going to get significantly more complicated...right now I'm not sure how I'm going to handle it.

More updates once I have something worthy of reporting...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Warhammer 40k: The Movie(?)

It was nerd-dom at its finest. The setting was my wedding reception (well, post-wedding dinner), April 26, 2008. Among the attendees were two rabid 40k fans: my friend Badelaire and my cousin Tyrant. Amidst the general revelry the topic of 40k came up (duh, what do you talk about at weddings?). Tyrant and Badelaire were discussing the possibility of a Warhammer 40k feature film, and naturally I had to jump in.

What we could all agree on was that we would all love it if such a movie was made. The technology exists now that filming a live-action film in the 40k universe is feasible. The argument then arose that while a 40k movie could be made, would one be made, especially in the near future?

Basically Tyrant came down on the side that there will undoubtedly be a 40k live-action movie in production within 5 years, while Badelaire and I disagreed. After a heated argument, we came to a gentleman's bet: If a live-action 40k movie was in production, with the intention of general release to theaters (that is, not straight to DVD and not an all CGI movie), as determined by announcement/press release being made by a reputable source (e.g., IMDB), by April 26, 2013, Badelaire and I would buy Tyrant a ticket to the movie. If a movie was not in production by this date, Tyrant would pay us each $1,000,000 US. (Actually, that last bit isn't true. Tyrant didn't offer us anything if he lost the bet...)

The gist of our arguments for or against were as follows:

Tyrant's arguments for a movie being made within 5 years:
  • Such a movie would be an incredible marketing tool for GW products.
  • While making a live-action movie would undoubtedly be a large investment, the rewards from a successful movie would be huge and well worth it.
  • While there may be fears of negatively publicity because of the "darkness" of the 40k universe, this is no different from any number of other sci-fi movies being put out these days. Also, "any publicity is good publicity."

Darkwing's and Badelaire's arguments for a movie not being made within 5 years:
  • While a movie would be an immense marketing tool for GW products, GW is doing just fine and does not need to expand into this market.
  • The additional exposure could in fact be detrimental to GW--already GW has to combat an image that it is brainwashing young minds with images of slaughter and worship of dark gods, etc. This is manageable now, but if a blockbuster movie came out, there might be a backlash that GW would wish to avoid.
  • To do a 40k movie justice would require a big investment. With the economy the way it is and the state of the business, GW might not want to foot the bill just yet.
  • The 40k background is immensely rich--in all of that, where do you even start in choosing a movie idea? In order to attract new customers, you'd want something representative of what GW and 40k are all about, while leaving enough mystery for people to want more--the movie is, after all, essentially an advertisement for GW. At the same time you want to avoid things that appear like movie cliches (E.g., a Space Marine vs. Tyranid movie would have some people dismiss 40k as a clone of Aliens or any number of other derivative works)

I'll update this list as I think of more arguments we had come up with (after all, we had the argument 18 months ago).

Monday, September 28, 2009

First Games of Space Hulk

After owning Space Hulk for nearly a month now, I finally got to play it. I met up with Badelaire yesterday and played two games, both Mission I: Suicide Mission, first as the Genestealers, then we swapped sides and I played the marines.

In Game One Badelaire's marched down the corridor, killing stealers along the way, until on one turn Badelaire neglected to put a marine on overwatch, allowing one of my stealers to get close, killing that marine, and then the Heavy Flamer behind him, winning me the game. Both of us taking lessons learned from Game One, we replayed the mission with me as the marines. This time I advanced quickly down the corridors and had to change my plan midstream, as the genestealers were piling up awfully fast. Having lost one of my scouts, I resorted to firing the Heavy Flamer to clear a path, which proved decisive. Using it again I blocked off more genestealers, allowing me to make a made dash for the control room. Aided by a lucky draw from the Command Point pool, I was able to get to the room and flame it, winning me the game.

I do have to say that timer on the Space Marine side adds immeasurably to the tension and excitement. It keeps the players focused on the task at hand, and forces the Space Marine player to be decisive. On the other side of the coin, the fact that the Genestealer player has untimed turns can be used to the Space Marine Player's advantage. When the Genestealer Player is thinking about what to do, the Space Marine player can use that time to plan his next turn. In my own experience, I tried to plan very quickly and move most of my marines fast, and then take some time to consider the best use of my command points.

As for the game experience itself, I noticed that some of the genestealers were a pain to fit on the board next to other genestealers, mainly the ones standing on girders, i.e., the ones with the larger bases.

Finally, I want to add that while the map for Mission I seems very simple--all the marines have to do is walk down the hall and turn left--the simplicity gets lost very quickly as the genestealer start filling the hallways. It ends up being far more tense and exciting than the simple map would lead you to believe.

And now for Badelaire's take on the games:
Playing two games, one as Terminators and one as Genestealers, I can definitely see the fun in even a short and simple mission. Being able to use the different special rules, such as Overwatch or Guard, as well as the "blip" rules and the different sorts of weapons, gives you a variety of options. Just like Chess or Checkers or a lot of other very well designed boardgames, I can see Space Hulk to be a game that takes an hour to learn, but far longer to master.
A few random thoughts come to mind.
  • Even though some missions rely on a lot of movement on the part of the Terminators, sometimes it might be best to avoid advancing for a turn and instead focus on setting up Overwatch and hosing the Genestealers. Getting too close and allowing an assault is a bad idea.
  • Heavy flamers are your friend. Not only are they potent weapons, but their flame template works great to block the advancement down a passageway. Used carefully, a Heavy Flamer can definitely turn the tide of battle.
  • If you're playing Genestealers, use facing to your advantage. Coming at the Terminators from multiple directions that force them to position themselves so they are looking in different directions means they have to waste precious AP to turn and face you, and also allow you to move in on them "unseen" as well as allow for flank attacks (meaning a tie goes to the attacker).
  • It might not seem all that effective at first blush, but the Terminator's shooting can be really effective. You'll have to decide on a case by case basis whether the Move & Shoot maneuver or standing still and using Sustained Fire will be more effective, but with a little luck and a few Command Points, a Terminator can clear a corridor of several Genestealers in a single turn of shooting.
All in all, I really enjoyed the game, despite being the loser in both. I'd definitely be up for more games, especially trying out options like Lightning Claws, Assault Cannons, and the other Terminator goodies.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sobering thoughts about my own complacency

Since I put up my "Miniatures Queue" on the right hand bar of my blog, it's kept me very aware of the mountain on miniatures I own that I have yet to paint. As every gamer knows, once you start collecting, it's hard to stop and you quickly fall into the wargamer's trap--you always buy miniatures faster than you can paint them. Since I've been collecting miniatures for 22 years now, I've had plenty of time for the mountain to grow. Being out of college and having a real job with disposable income didn't help.

At this stage in my life I'm at the mercy of other competing forces, but the goal remains the same--conquer the mountain and paint up all the miniatures! This goal is probably ultimately unattainable, but having nearly 500 miniatures in the queue is ridiculous.

Supporting/raising a family means two things--I have less time to paint, but also less money to spend frivolously on more miniatures. So these two cancel each other out somewhat. Other good news is that I'm not all that interested in getting new armies that are in GW's immediate future, for example Space Wolves and Dark Eldar, so that leaves me some time to stay focused and work on the miniatures I already have.

But still the task is very daunting. I did some calculations, trying to be somewhat realistic. I took the miniatures in my queue, and tried to come up with an estimate on how long it would take to paint them all. Based on the various demands on my time, I estimated it would day me 2 days to paint an infantry model, 3 days to paint a mid-sized model like a cavalry model, crisis suit, or terminator, 1 week to paint a vehicle, monstrous creature or character model, and 2 weeks for uber-projects I have planned. This doesn't mean I'll be spending every waking hour on painting, but rather painting when I am able.

The results are sobering. Based on my calculations, I'll finish painting up all the miniatures currently in my queue on February 27, 2013. Yipe.

This outlook date will be subject to change as I complete and/or buy new miniatures. But I'm going to put an "Estimated Date of Completion" up on my miniatures queue section. This will hopefully serve two purposes--stop me spending money and get me painting more miniatures!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Chimera Command Vehicle Conversion: Completed

Well, here's the completed command vehicle. The vehicle number is 66, denoting the Battalion Commander.
On the front, the spade is the brigade symbol, while the 1-5 denotes 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment.

Some shots with the Missile Rack deployed:

With the rear hatch down:
This picture has the driver's hatch open, exposing the driver.
And finally here's the Battalion HQ section, deployed for battle.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Command Vehicle Chimera Conversion, Part 8

Rivets rivets rivets! This time I put in a lot of little details. Rivets all over the place, some reactive armor plates on the turret, handles on the maintenance panels on the tracks, packs etc., all over the place.
I was having problems with the turret (mainly the missile rack in locked position) banging into the top of the driver's hatch when I traversed it. Therefore I had to have driver's hatch hinge with a low footprint--and I finally figured it out--one pin coming out the side connecting it to the rest of the hull, and a small hinge sticking out the left side of the hatch. and I forgot to take a picture with the hatch open, but I'll rectify that later.
I had to do a bit of surgery on the missile rack, as despite my best efforts, in the locked position it was just too low, and banging into things all over the place when I traversed the turret. So I added a shim to raise it up a bit (you can see the white plasticard shim I at the attachment point of the mount to the turret). Now it clears the driver's hatch just fine.
Aside from some very minor tweaking, I'm about ready to paint this up!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Space Hulk: Opening the Airlock

My copy of Space Hulk arrived last night (yes, I succumbed to temptation). I know that others have already seen their store's copy, or even been lucky enough to be tapped to paint up their store's minis, like Ron over at From the Warp, so most of this post probably isn't news to everyone. But I figured I'd post my first impressions of the box's contents anyway.

First thing's first. It's heavy. Just for kicks I had to weigh the thing (by standing on a scale and holding it), and it came to 8.4 lbs. Most of that weight is from the board pieces--they are pretty sturdy, and there's a lot of them.

Because of this extra weight, the box itself has to be sturdy. Rather than the single or double layer of thin card that comprises most of GW's boxes, this box is made of sterner stuff. It's a much thicker card that measures fully 1/16" thick.

Chopping open the shrink wrap, you get a big whiff of that new box/shrink wrap smell, and get to see the goodies inside. The miniatures look awesome--lots of detail, and easily the match of if not superior to most of the plastic kits out there.

Taking out all the miniatures sprues, there are the thick card sprues of all the floor pieces. They are wrapped in their own plastic wrap. From the picture, you can see that the miniatures look to have damaged it a bit--but it just damaged the packaging, not the floor pieces themselves. The floor pieces/counters are all packaged painted side in to protect them--all the of the cool stuff is facing inward, which was a smart idea.
In addition to the 5 dice in small ziploc bag, you get four more ziplocs to store your counters in--another nice touch.

The board pieces themselves all look grim and dark--which adds to the mood of the spooky Space Hulk they are supposed to represent. The old tiles were more "cartoony" in nature, and looked very well-lit in comparison. The new ones are a big improvement.

Are the new tiles and the old ones compatible? The short answer is yes. The pieces will fit together perfectly. The old tiles are 1/16" thick, while the new ones are a heftier 1/8" thick, but you can use them together just fine, with perhaps only an aesthetic loss.
Some old tiles together with new ones

The old doors were perfectly serviceable--in fact, it was cool to have a stand-up card model representing them. But the new ones totally blow them away. They're bigger, beefier, and awesomer.
New Doors vs. Old Doors = No Contest

I haven't had time yet to delve into the rulebook and mission book in any detail, but they have the look and feel of color comic books--that is, their covers are made of the same paper as their interiors (unlike, say a 40k Codex). The rulebook is 23 pages, the mission book 47.
It was almost a shame to punch out the floor pieces from their sprues--they just looked so nice and pristine. But here they are, laid out in their little piles. The card sprues themselves, made of that thick material, has to be good for something, so I can't bring myself to just chuck them in the trash. Perhaps I'll think of some use for them.
Finally, here's the various counters piled up--same stock as the board pieces, so they are pretty sturdy.

Well, my first impression of the game is that it's pretty awesome, and I'm eager to try it out. Since it's a self-contained game, I'll be taking care of this thing and keeping it all together to keep it intact. I know it'll be a while before I can paint up all the minis, but fortunately I have enough terminators and genestealers lying around to proxy when I get around to playing the game. Which I hope will be soon.