Friday, April 30, 2010

Hailed vs. Hated: New Blood

After the Blood Angel’s misbegotten attempt to recover Sanguinary High Priest Vassar’s lost relic, in which the Arrugginiti laid their wretched claim to both the Chalice of Saintly Healing and the Banner Encarmine, the Blood Angels were stunned and reeling with grief from the base terror of their loss, and from the nauseating obscenity of the thought that these objects were in the vulgar clutch of Chaos mitts. They came from seemingly nowhere, the Arrugginiti, from the impenetrable substance of the warp itself perhaps, and immediately after the ambush they flung themselves to action throughout the breadth of the system. Although these subsequent engagements were relatively minor in scale and brief, they were nonetheless numerous and stinging -like a fog of hornets. And while the purpose of these small battles remained troublingly elusive, unlike the calamity of Vassar’s Chalice, the Blood Angels were incensed to the point of blind fury at the wanton gall and the incessant arrogance of Arrugginiti antagonism.

To be sure, there have been some bright moments of the Blood Angels. Although reports are still percolating through administrative filters, for his part, Brother Fractus -the sole survivor from that horrible initial encounter- appears to have imposed himself upon the newfound Arrugginiti nemesis with a single-minded, righteous fervor.

Again, while the Blood Angels losses were not egregious in either personnel or reliquaries in these subsequent engagements, the effect was nevertheless oddly enlightening, provocative, and still somehow maddeningly obscure. Who were these grotesques that appeared without even so much as a whisper through the ages? What did they know, and for what vulgar purpose had they deposed Blood Angel relics?

The answers to these questions and more remained elusive.

And yet, unbidden, the Blood Angels were beginning to feel that they were coming to familiar grips with this mysterious enemy. Figures were emerging through the haze, personalities clarified and defined. Some particulars were vague, granted, but squads like The Fateful stood out for their bloody-minded belligerence, and were immediately recognizable targets for Blood Angels ire. Oh, for the opportunity to meet them once more. Blood Angels’ hackles lept at the mere thought.

Others figures, though prominent and recognizable, remained also notably more elusive. Who, for example, was the ham-fisted Terminator Champion with the vicious, daemonic weapon that had been spotted wrecking mayhem among the ranks of the put-upon 5th Company? And what roll exactly did this prominent but previously unknown figure play in the Arrugginiti machinations -he who had already taken such a savage toll in Blood Angel trophies?

The Blood Angels 5th both dreaded and dearly desired the coming confrontations, for their fallen brothers, for vengeance, for justice, for the Emperor, for their wounded pride, and their history, for their honor, for the unspeakable offenses.

… and for the answers to these maddening riddles.

True to form, this guy is not quite finished yet (it would be a shame were I to actually post a mini that's 100% completed). I'm not sure what direction to take his banner. The Arrugginiti already sport two Blood Angels inspired banners, and I thought perhaps this might be a good opportunity to paint one for old Nurgle; We shall see.

Well. Needless to say, there are some tremendously big things in store for any/all that have been following Dark Templar and I as we engage in this bold, transatlantic endeavor, very big things indeed. In fact, I’d hazard to say that we’ve really only just started.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tyranid Week: om nom nom nom

This big beasty is a fine representative of what I’ve always liked about the Tyranids (even though I only played them for one, short summer), and that would be teeth and claws and spikes and more giant spikes and all those other pleasantries. Like many of you, I was absolutely stunned by the film “Aliens” the first time I saw it. Space Hulk, therefore, was a glorious revelation to my young mind both because it introduced me to the concept of Terminators, of which you can quite easily see my continued fondness (see: Onorevoli, Book Wardens, etc), and because it clearly nods to (and perhaps winks at) “Aliens” in the fundamental substance of that game itself.

When the Carnifex first came out, I remember being completely stunned. I bought one impulsively –without having painted a single Genestealer since Space Hulk first came out a veritable lifetime ago- and I remember being almost light-headed with anticipation, cloudy with visions of a new, ravenous horde springing from the depths, from unguarded air vents, from underneath the very floor boards.

And then I got home and put him on the shelf for what seemed like several years (but I’m not exactly sure. Does anyone remember when the plastic Carnifex first came out?). Regardless, he collected dust until Ref and I needed something like an NPC army for a campaign we created in 2006. The idea, originally, was that the Tyranid force could be played by either of us our armies spread into the undiscovered territories across a four-page map that I stitched together (as you may have already intuited, we didn’t have much by way of experience with campaigns at that point, still don’t really). In the end, Pitmann handed it to me with his Iron Warriors, and he never even had to bother fielding the Tyranids once. Not once! That was a tightener. On the upside, I got to play my hastily invigorated Tyranids quite a few times that summer, but they were soon relegated back to the margins where they've been ever since.

Nevertheless, the Tyranids reemerged after a several-year hiatus for the re-release of Space Hulk this summer. I still love that game, and I am equally enamored with the new models therein. Just wonderful stuff. Certainly, it helped rescue teach of the models in this week’s posts from obscurity. Although perhaps less impressive, I’ve felt a bit married to the “purple” theme in the army. I’d no intention of starting from scratch, and the purple is genuinely quite distinct from all of my other armies, but I still felt that my hands were somewhat tied when it came time to put paint to brush.

I’ve tried to ensure that all my SH stuff can play double-duty, and these Genestealers are no exception. The basing for these models comes from Dragon Forge’s Tech Deck range. As ever, I recommend. In fact, I’ve just placed another, unrelated but rather large order with them, which will be the substance of future posts, no doubt.

(p.s. if you’ve ever wanted to find all the horrible little problems with your painting –say, for example, a thumb print smeared across the base of your Carnifex- take a photo of it. These details will just pop right out for you. ugh).

Did I mention that I love Space Hulk?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tyranid Week: Mutation is Their Specialty

Admittedly, my attempt to recast the Magus (thanks Magilla, I couldn’t remember his name) into something like a Broodlord is rather tenuous, but I think these guys lend themselves much more readily to the modern iteration of the Tyranids. If/when my humble but hungry Tyranids see tabletop once more, I will cast these guys as “counts as” Gaunts of some description (again, I’ve got to read the new codex). That seems a reasonable and viable transition and, really, any excuse to get this crowd in motion would be a good enough excuse for me.

As with the Magus (cough, broodlord, cough), I collected these figures simply because I think that they are super, super cool, and because I desperately wanted to paint them. This happens to me with modest and survivable regularity, and in these odd cases I am forced to let the more pragmatic details work themselves out. They always do.

Usually, I'm not a fan of models that seem a bit too two-dimensional -what I call the "Egyptian" pose- that casting sometimes necessitates. Here, the right arm holding the knife best exemplifies what I mean. It's a flat and a little bit awkward posture that clearly chooses function of casting over the form of the actual model. In this case, however, the third arm compensates quite nicely, and brings the pose back into the body rather than simply evoking a flattened insect.

I'm also quite fond of these models because they mark the beginning of a more ambitious approach to my thinking about things like palate, color, and shading. Purple is the main color of my Tyranids, and so the skin tones on these figures are all done with heavy purple shading. The green acts as the accent color, but also as the shading for the verdigris on the metals. These relatively simple gestures are designed to keep the model visually coherent and subtly interesting. Fingers crossed on that last point.

I’m not sure these guys are available anymore –although until recently you could find them in the “collectors” range. If not, that’s a terrible shame, as I’d love to paint quite a few more. My luck, they’ll currently cost the equivalent of one eternal soul on ebay or somesuch.

Ah well. See you Thursday for a more contemporary Tyranid treat that was, nevertheless, purchased and painted with the same reckless, impulsive affection for this grand hobby of ours.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tyranid Week: Lord of the Brood

This is a reasonably dramatic departure from what we’ve seen thus far here at A Gentleman’s Ones, but I thought you might be growing slowly tired of the same three (or four) armies week in and week out. Perhaps not. But either way, this week will add something new to the mixture by reaching back and celebrating an army that I both made and shelved in 2006.

I have a mishmash of Tyranids that were summoned “on the fly” as something like the NPC for a campaign that the Ref and I engaged in one eventful summer. They were created using very, very old Space Hulk Genestealers, a few randoms that (I believe) came with an older 40K starter set, and some other odds and ends that I picked up out of interest, but which lacked focus or attention. Operating as the wild card in the campaign, the Tyranids were very much an “ad hoc” affair, which suited the random nature of the army perfectly. As the season trailed to its end, the campaign was ultimately left without much by way of conclusion, and so these guys were set aside, then boxed, then shifted to the basement.

Thankfully, for them, Space Hulk came around this summer, and the entire cadre sprung once more from the murky depths –with some fresh slathering spawn added to the brood.

Speaking of broods, the photo at top is of a guy that I currently imagine as something like a Broodlord counts as (??? I’m not so sure and am very much open to alternative suggestions). Surely, he seems quite meager in comparison to his current Space Hulk counterpart, but the game requires imagination all the same, and if I ever got these guys on a table again I’d hate to leave him behind simply for dogmatic reasons. At this point, I must admit that I’ve not actually read the new Tyranids codex, so I’m speculating really, and I suspect that I’ll continue to give this iteration of the Tyranids a pass. I’ve got enough on my plate already, thank you very much.

Still, be sure to stop by tomorrow for some very old and reasonably new gribblies.
om nom nom nom…

Sunday, April 25, 2010

WIP: Venerable Dreadnaught continued

First, I was thumbing through the SM codex the other day and found something that gave me tremendous pause. I’m stunned –absolutely stunned- to learn that I’ve been spelling “Dreadnought” incorrectly for all this time, and not one person –not one- has either corrected or addressed this matter with me. That means you have either been making the same mistake, or (more likely) that you are very, very polite. Thank you. Don’t I feel like the fool.

Well, the purest way to compound foolery is with bloody-minded obstinance, so please let me show you some “in progress” photos of my Venerable Dreadnaught (ahem)…

I mentioned last WIP Sunday that I needed to think of what the Onorevoli color scheme would have been before they engaged in an obsessive grind against the Iron Warriors –an obsession that has them slowly, subliminally adopting Iron Warrior characteristics, most readily notable in their black-and-yellow striping. This was a bit tricky for me. I didn’t want to stray too far from the theme as I have it established, because the force would still need to look coherent on the table. So I took some small inspiration from some other figures that I’d painted more-or-less for fun and afterward folded into the army.

Here’s my thinking on this. The Onorevoli were originally white (or very near it anyway –which helps symbolize a time when their purpose was more pure, and more noble) with accent colors of the muddy orange-ish (which is now their primary color) and turquoise (which remains the primary accent). Moreover, a slightly more vibrant version of the Orange color was used in a basic striping pattern; the Iron Warriors, after all, didn’t invent stripes. The Terminator above, therefore, marks something like the half-way point: he has clearly fallen in with the Cult of Pursuit (symbolized by the Wolf on his right pauldron), and he has adopted the black-yellow striping of the Iron Warriors on his Chainfist. He retains, however, the chipped and neglected vestiges of the old, whitish armor -although now grayish in hue from neglect. (for more on the current color scheme, please take a look at the series of posts starting here).

These choices made sense to me, as it was easier to imagine that the more subtle shift from one color of striping to another than it would be to imagine an entire re-dressing of the Onorevoli uniform. Likewise, the shift from near white to muddy orange also lends itself nicely to the fading of the Onorevoli luster.

And so, I wanted the Venerable Dreadnaught to look old and weathered and more than a little neglected. What might have been white and vibrant orange at one point in the forgotten past, now looks neglected and slightly grotesque. He is old, yes, but also somewhat undervalued in the current fervor of the Onorevoli quest. I’ve painted, therefore, the metals as rather tarnished and the paint as generally chipped or flaking. This is still very much in progress, and I intend to bring some of the highlights up a bit to contrast the paint chips more dramatically, etc. I have also used some weathering powders, but fear they are too close in hue to the orange I’ve created, and so lose some of their effect. Also, I’m not really sure that I’m using them correctly. Generally, I’m just making a mess…

And with that in mind, I’d like to add one final note: Magilla G. recently commended me for seeing my projects through to completion and, while that was very generous of him, I wanted to assure you that my work method is scattered, sporadic, and modestly chaotic. As evidence, I give you the unbridled mayhem of my workspace. Along with the truly Venerable Dread, you’ll find some other interesting treats. Enjoy.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hailed vs. Hated: Arrugginiti Family Photo

As you will have noted from this week’s theme, pretty much all of my hobby time allotted for this week (and a bit more than that) has been unabashedly consumed by the Realm of Battle table. With what precious moments remained, only the most minimal work was accomplished on the Arrugginiti. Alas.

As such, I thought that this might be a good opportunity to reflect a moment and to take a look at what I actually have in the stable. Moreover, this is also an ideal moment to think a bit about where I should go with the next phase of the Arrugginiti muster. Any/all comments welcome to that end.

Generally, I’m not one to listhammer, but here is an approximation of what I could/would field were the Arrugginiti actually summoned to the tabletop. (one note: while I am clearly soliciting comments and advice, please remember that I am not a particularly competitive player and that fluff is as much a concern for me as more practical matters, so be gentle):

DAEMON PRINCE I (Wind of Chaos, Wings, Mark of Nurgle) 180

DAEMON PRINCE II (Wind of Chaos, Mark of Nurgle) 160

POSSESSED (10, Mark of Nurgle) 320
RHINO (Daemonic Possession) 55

CSM (10, Heavy Bolter, Plasma Pistol, Power Fist, Icon of Nurgle) 265

CSM (10, x2 Melta, Power Weapon, Combi-Melta, Icon of Nurgle) 260
RHINO (Daemonic Possession) 55


OBLITERATORS (3 -apologies, the only picture I have of these guys is at top) 225

By my math, this means that I have about 1905 pts worth of Arrugginiti to put on the table. Of course, I could pad the edges to find a few extra points (I could, for example, give the Vinidicator Daemonic Possession, or fill out the SLD squads –I’ve got 35 in total currently sitting on the shelf). I've also got a Chaos Sorcerer that wouldn't mind some action, and/or a Typhus "counts as" that I'm always willing to show the light of day. This would require benching one or the other Daemon Prince, which seems fine as two may be a bit excessive.

Nevertheless, I’m genuinely surprised to see that I’ve got a table-ready army here. Maybe not an ideal one, but a regulation one all the same.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Realm of Battle: We’ll Call It a Draw

It is finished –or rather, it is as finished as I intend for the foreseeable future. In all, I’d call it a modest success, but one that was very nearly a tremendously expensive failure. Given the ups and downs, really, I’d be happy to call it a draw with a slight tilt to my favor.

So. In two great bursts of energy on Monday I managed to take my third, and I suppose fourth, swipe at the Realm of Battle Board (one in the morning and one when I had some time later in the day …and yes -that means that as I began posting this series, I genuinely didn’t know whether I’d be able to salvage the project). Having scrubbed the pieces back to their chalk-toned base on Sunday, I basically resumed from the same point that I’d found myself on Saturday afternoon.

This time, however, I mixed in a bit of Water Color Medium into the Dr. Martin’s Water Concentrated Water Color. In theory, this is designed to help the water color flow a bit better, but it also supposedly adds a bit of strength and resilience to the colors as well. This last item was what I was looking for, particularly after seeing how quickly the water colors came up when I started scrubbing out the static grass and glue. I wasn’t too worried about “flow” as I basically slathered the stuff all over the boards in a few quick layers. Strength is what I’m hoping for.

The Water Colors spent the better part of the day drying while I went about my usual business. Later, I attacked the whole mess once more with the Benjamin Moore paint samples and the basic GW brown that comes with the basing kit for the boards. I’d run out of the Ochre that they give you in that kit, so the final result doesn’t have the same yellow-ish tint to it, which is a shame really, as I really liked the way it looked against the purplish undertones. But again, I’m quite happy with the results. Given that I’d very nearly sent the whole thing down the drain, I wasn’t really prepared to quibble at this point.

One note on static grass: I was looking at this month’s White Dwarf and noticed that, in the battle reports, they’ve basically covered their entire boards with Static Grass –which makes me wonder why they bother with the Brown and Ochre colors that you can’t actually see anywhere on those boards. Moreover, what they give you would never, in a month of Sundays, cover the boards to the extent that they have in the magazine. Finally, I’ve used some kind of static grass or another on nearly all my models, but I’ve never seen it do anything like what I saw on Sunday. Is this normal? The whole bag was basically a series of these little clusters, and some of them won’t really break apart even when I try to sift them with my hands, etc. I’m a bit stumped; however, I can say with almost irrefutable certainty that I’ll never (ever) try to use static grass so ambitiously, nor over such a wide area again. Lesson learned.

So, all in all, I’m quite satisfied with (and a little bit exhausted by) this project… but did I stop there?

Not a chance. It’s an affliction.

This may cause some dissension, but I’ve never been too happy with the pit of skulls that pop up at various points on the board. While I generally enjoy painting all the little skulls on GW figs (I’ve no idea why) these ones just didn’t ring my bell. It’s just too much of a good thing, I suppose. Regardless, I’ve never cared for them and had an idea about how I might deal with this nagging little detail.

And so, I took yet another gamble on this bad boy with a technique that I’ve never used before -resin. I used this simple one-to-one stuff, and added a drop (maybe two, but not a breath more) of blue and flesh ink. I was careful to make sure that I’d erred on the side of equality or more with the hardener, as I’ve heard stories of resin casts that never quite set properly. I’d have probably flung myself off a cliff if I ruined two of the six tiles after all of the above.

Well, I then poured the mixture into the pits, tapped around a bit to sort any air bubbles, and waited for the whole thing to dry. In order to set properly, the resin takes at least two days, they recommend three, so I wasn't entirely sure that I'd pulled this off properly until this morning. phew. Now might not be the best time to say this, but I’m considering adding one more clear layer in order to “top off” the pits, and make the surface level (or close to it) with the rest of the table. This might add a lovely bit of depth and invoke more of the water effect rather than “tar” effect that we see here. Still, I'm really quite happy with what's actually on the table, and so...

I’m also thinking that, at this point, I shouldn’t press my luck. Perhaps I’ll see what the wife has to say on the matter -and listen to her this time.

Here's a photo or two of a mock battle scene, with promise of more to come:

Thanks for stopping by and for all the kind words of support as this developed. It's been emotional. See you tomorrow for the next installment of Hailed vs. Hated.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Realm of Battle: Triumph and Despair and...

Man vs. Realm of Battle Day two: So I went to bed Saturday feeling reasonably confident that I had redirected what was very nearly a tremendously lackluster board toward something quite nice (pictured above). The dirt areas were looking rich, dynamic, and finished, certainly; I would have been happy to leave the stone areas at that point as well. My wife, who only rarely contributes on these matters, felt that I’d nailed it. Done.

I didn’t listen to her. I should have.

Here’s what happened. After setting up my mock scene, I noted with peculiar interest that the only bits of grass on it were the ones that happened to be underneath the feet of my models. That seemed odd. Suddenly, I had convinced myself that the board looked bare compared to the bases I had made for my models. Moreover, GW had kindly provided two sets of Static Grass for just such an occasion. As surely as 2+2=4, I knew what route I should take. Sunday was another beauty, so I rolled up my sleeves, stepped back out onto the roof, and back into the desperate struggle against my blossoming board.

The project got off to a bad start. Static Grass is a mare –an absolute, unashamed mare. I’m not certain if I’d bought a bad batch, or if this is how it normally arrives, but the grass in the large bag had clumped together in a truly bizarre tumbleweed-dustbowl manner. I don’t really know what happened there, but it was awful.

Still, I pressed forward…

…and very quickly realized that it was all going horribly, horribly wrong. Not one to let that deter me (and with a head full of yesterday’s conceit), I convinced myself that I should send caution to the wind and, rather than retreat, dive even deeper into the matter at hand. I ignored the voice in my head that said, “Hand me the shovel. Step away from the hole.”

At Adepticon, I had purchased a lovely flocking set from Gale Force Nine, which I dutifully enlisted for these desperate times. If the static grass from GW was too static, I reasoned, then I would simply let some more dynamic and aggressive product fill that space. I think, at that point, I was beginning to panic. I worked like a man possessed… and I stopped thinking almost entirely (in retrospect, I was acting like that terribly boorish oaf who speaks more loudly when people don’t understand what he’s saying). I SAID, I NEED TO PUT MORE STATIC GRASS ON THE TABLE, NOT LESS… like that. It was a terrible hobby moment.


My desperation was neither working nor helping. Moreover, the direct sun and ample wind that was such a boon Saturday was, in fact, a curse on Sunday -drying some areas before I could even get grass to those areas, and blowing the rest of the grass anywhere but to the spot I would have liked it. This was not only going wrong, but it was going permanently wrong. The tumbleweed was dismantling my hours of work one crazy splotch at a time.

I’ll be completely candid here. I thought about selling the table right then –ebay maybe. I don’t know. I’d even take a loss and use the money to start over. I even considered just giving it away. Remember Vinnie Jones from yesterday.

I came inside and assembled the table as I had the previous day in an attempt to see what it might look like in less abstract situation. What’s worse than despair? I took the shopvac to it in order to pry up any last bit of loose grass. No luck. The grass was down in all its hideousness. I couldn’t bear to think of what the table looked like the day before in comparison to what I’d done to it now.

…I took the dog for a walk
…I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t all that bad, but nothing had changed by the time I returned.

But I had an idea. Once again, it was desperate, but I genuinely felt that I had nothing to lose at this point. So I filled a bucket with scalding hot water, armed myself with a sponge and a rag, and scrubbed… and scrubbed… and scrubbed.

Remember the “concentrated water color” from yesterday that made the table look subtle, rich, and interesting? That was the first to go: water color and hot water. It was a calculated sacrifice that I was willing to make.

Slowly but slowly, the grass started to come up. Several buckets of hot water later, and I could see that I might have a table once more liberated from the dreary horrors of static grass. The question remained, however, how much paint would stay? I scrubbed. Nothing to lose.

It didn’t end there. At one point, I was really quite startled as the two flat pieces began to warp from the sun and water. Seriously? Warping? I consoled myself by repeating the words, “ebay” and/or “giveaway,” and pressed forward.

In the end, the grass lost -but not without first inflicting some serious casualties on my end. The water color was gone. The warping seemed to have corrected itself, but I spent several moments terrified that not only had I ruined my hard work, but that I had actually ruined the entire, expensive project. Thankfully, in the end, the board had returned to a state not entirely dissimilar to the point at yesterday’s post when I exclaimed, “Despair.” But at this point, I felt quite lucky to be there.

One note: My scrubbing took a fair bit of paint up along with the glue and grass; however, I'm absolutely amazed at how much paint stayed down. This is a testament to quality of the product, no doubt, and gives me some confidence that this board will stand up to the rigors of gameplay when/if that time comes.

Is this the end of my Realm of Battle Saga? Not a chance. See you Thursday for day three of the classic confrontation Man vs. Realm of Battle.