Tuesday, June 8, 2010

buon viaggio...

So, Blogger went a bit schizo yesterday and didn't let me post. I've noticed a similar comment on at least one other blog today, so while I'm not sure what that was all about, at least I am confident that it wasn't a personal grudge.

Technology, eh. I'll confess that I'm the Luddite who thinks it's a minor miracle every time an email sends or my word processor opens the correct document, but I was genuinely afraid that I'd not be able to offer this one, final nugget of bloglove before slipping back into the ether for the remainder of June. Well. Here I am. And there you are.

It's been a tremendous first five months here at A Gentleman's Ones, and I'd like to thank all of you that have offered support, advice, insight, commentary, and other items of wisdom. It's been a tremendous run so far, if I do say so myself, and I'm even more excited about what's in store when I start up again in July. Great things. Very great things.

Here's a quick taste of what's yet to come.

See you in July.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

WIP: Have I ever mentioned...

...that I love Space Hulk? (adore it, really).

To put it as simply as I know how, I needed a change from the rigors of Arrugginiti rust these last several days. Moreover, painting time has been somewhere between "rare" and "extremely rare" as I tie up loose ends here before our grand Roman holiday. Just as well, I always keep little side projects on hand for just the occasion.

I've slowly been chipping through these Space Hulk minis for about a year now, and I'm nearing the end with them (the Terminators, that is. I've only painted about ten of the Tyranids... can you call them Tyranids in SH context?). At times, I can be pretty impatient with shiny new models like these. I think most of us suffer from this at one time or another. But I've actually enjoyed playing the long game with this project. I think these new Space Hulk models certainly reward patience and extra attention, particularly as they are just dripping with details and personality.

And besides , I've got plenty of other Terminators custom made to work as proxies...

I meant it when I said slowly. Even this Librarian has been in various stages of progress for over six months now. When there's time I would pick out a color or a specific detail that needed work, and just focus on that for a brief period. Well. I'm pleased to announce that he is finally finished. I think.

With regard to his color scheme, I've never been thrilled with the doctrine that Librarians should (must?) wear Ultramarines Blue, so I opted for something a bit off the beaten path. I wanted to try a vibrant, intense color that might make the figure look as if he is seeping power from every pore, every nook in his armor, etc. I've not highlighted all the way to Skull White, but there's a bit at the edges. As such, he comes off looking rather gray-blue. I like to think his armor may have been more pure once upon a time, but that the physical and moral stresses of Deep Space travel have taken a toll.

...and for those of you that may have noticed, and who may be wondering, the answer is yes. I bought two. Have I ever mentioned that I love Space Hulk?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Hailed vs. Hated: The Vultures Circle

In lieu of a basic “progress” report on the development of Hailed vs. Hated, and in the spirit of the first transatlantic battle report we concluded earlier this week, today’s post participates in what has become the standard post-battle roundup here on A Gentleman’s Ones, The Vultures Circle. You can (and should) check out Dark Templar's take on the whole matter with his edition of The Vultures Circle here.

So, today I’m going to take a closer look at the good, the bad, and the putrescent. But before I get into the specifics details, I wanted to talk about a couple simple points. We played a 500pt game and sent countless emails back and forth. I had a board set up with all the key players from my end, and some pretty rough proxies to represent Dark Templar’s much-overlooked Blood Angels. Dark Templar made some tremendous maps from the initial photos I'd sent him, and we just worked a bit roughly from there. This first effort was always just going to be an experiment with viability, so we really didn't stress the finer points (like precise measurements, and whatnot). We just let the story guide the contest.

A significant portion of the photography was designed to be a manner of slight of hand, and particular commendations must be given to Dark Templar for pulling off some great shots in his last report. Great stuff. On my end, I was particularly proud of the on-the-fly Rhino I swapped over from on old SM army I had in the basement. The paint job is pretty scratch stuff, but the point that I enjoyed was/is the claw marks I put on the side to match the write-up, in which my Lord raked the side while dodging a Tank Shock. These are the kinds of quirky details that entertain me to no end (and full points for any keen reader that spotted what I’m talking about).

With regard to the actual battle, I thought that the gentle pace and pauses between our correspondence might help me as a general, that I might have proper time to consider the options and make a rational decision. Instead, I found that the extra time simply made my tendency toward indecision worse, not better. I second-guessed every single move. At times, it was excruciating.

And one final point about game mechanics. Templar and I sent emails with our rolls, and then let the other make saves etc. So, I would send him a note with something like this imaginary example:
Egregi 12 shots at Squad Kamor:
-to hit (3+): 6,5,5,4,4,4,4,4,3,3,2,2.
-to wound (4+): 5,4,4,4,3,3,2,1,1,1.
Squad Kamor takes 4 saves.
Obviously, trust was not even the slightest of problems. Dark Templar is truly a class act, an absolute legend, the real deal. I mention this only because it struck me how statistically improbable rolls look when you write them out like this. Moreover, in turn 2 or 3, I had an amazing roll –just a pure blinder. I almost felt guilty typing in my results for fear how it would appear. But this was all part of the challenge presented by transatlantic 40K.

OK. Now to the details:

RAPTORS: I’ll start with the Raptors, yes those same five Raptors that summarily got stuffed by Templar’s Reclusiarch. I had positioned them in a spot close enough to Templar’s Rhino that they could take a pot-shot with their Melta and also close enough that they could threaten the enemy objective at a moment’s notice. I thought that this was a decent bit of strategery. Well. Let me just say that in a 500pt game there’s little room for schoolboy errors and I paid dearly.

INDECISION (and the little Rhino that could): I mentioned indecision above, but it’s worth noting that Squad Decadi really embodied that point. It doesn’t help, of course, that Templar stunned their Rhino… twice, but they seemed to spend the entire game simply setting up rather than participating –with one notable exception. They did take a much-needed wound off the Reclusiarch with some suitably cowardly, evil, and devious shooting. Even then, they would likely have done better to charge and help Lord Amnitolo with the dirty business of finishing that pious puppet. They would have had many more dice and the same basic numbers to hit and to wound. I held them back in hopes that they would jump in the Rhino and speed away toward the enemy objective. ah fate.

FLUFF IT: Perhaps Lord Amnitolo would have done better to avoid Assault with the Reclusiarch. I’ll admit that I underestimated his fighting prowess, the worm, and it would have made more strategic sense to help Squad Egregi cut through Templar’s scoring unit so painfully close to my objective. Still, I don’t regret the decision. I mean, how could Amnitolo pass an opportunity to lock horns with the enemy champion? …particularly after I’d just finished writing extended passages about how he’d been anticipating the champion, and how he could feel the Reclusiarch like a thumbprint on his mind, blah, blah, blah. Amnitolo could hardly stroll casually past his nemesis to crack softer shells.

And, true to form, the fluff option worked out wonderfully. Seriously. The two champions impale each other in the final Assault of turn 4. One simply can’t make that up. Classic. The only way it could possibly have been better is if they finished each other in turn 5, but beggars shan’t be choosy.

EGREGI: nice work. Outnumbered two-to-one, these guys managed to stick with a fight they had no business living through until the very last phase of the game. Had Amnitolo won his bitter duel and made it over to help, the game might have looked much different in the final gasp. These guys demonstrated, once again, why the basic CSM is such a monster. They are clearly the MVP. And as I imagine it, the lone survivor will clearly and irreparably receive Nurgle’s blessing. Expect to hear more from him in future bits of fluff.

To conclude, I’d like to thank Dark Templar once more for a tremendously entertaining game.

I’ve got just two or three more posts next week before I head off for holiday. So, I’ll see you Sunday and Monday at least. After that, I won’t see you again until July. Wipe those tears.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Memory Lane: Golden Daemon 2007

So on Tuesday I mentioned that I was going to show some shots today of my second-ever Golden Daemon entry from Games Day 2006… part of that is correct. He is the second ever model that I painted entirely for a competition; however, the year was 2007.

After being utterly demoralized by the staggering competition in 2005, and after having a figure that I’d worked to the best of my ability summarily dismissed, I simply couldn’t face the thought of it again only one year later. I simply didn’t feel prepared or capable to compete.

Moreover, while collecting my figure I spoke with one of those semi-celebrities who work the competition like it’s their job, and he casually (almost smugly) mentioned that he’d spent over 200 hours on his winning entry. Bronze. 200 hours. If I’d been drinking, fluid would have come out my nose when he said it. I barely stifled a genuine, hearty guffaw.

If I average roughly 10 hours of hobby each week, I’m looking at nearly half the year on one project if I want to meet that standard. That’s well beyond either my mental or physical ability.

Well. After one year off, the idea began to seem compelling once more. My painting had improved a bit in the time between, and I felt ready to spend an ambitious amount of effort on a single figure… but still nothing like the pros. In all, we’re looking at significantly less than a mont, maybe two and a half weeks on this guy. That was, and still is, the extreme upper limit of my potential.

He made the first cut, but didn’t place. For me, this was glorious. Simply glorious.

These photos aren’t the best, but you can see with reasonable clarity that he’s the intellectual and technical precursor to my third (and most recent) competitively painted model, who also received an "honorable mention" at this year’s Adepticon. Huzzah.

Again, the Ghoul is limited in palatte, but this time there’s more play between the orange and green complements instead of being steady and monotone like ole Sharky from Tuesday. The blending was pretty challenging, but I tried to keep the whole model together by highlighting both the orange and the green shades with the same yellowish color. It’s a nice trick that I still use today.

One note: You may be thinking to yourself. Three competitive entries. Two LoTR models and one WHFB. Not a single bit of 40K in sight. Indeed. I also have a reasonable but perhaps neglected WHFB collection -although in the last four years I’ve only played one game and I’ve not painted anything new. Still, I expect that to change a bit in the coming months. No points for guessing why.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

State of the Blog: Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears…

So. With a grand holiday weekend behind me, and not much accomplished hobby-wise, I’ve been scratching my head a bit for an appropriate theme this week. In that moment of pause, perhaps it’s best to take stock and sort through an important administrative detail.

Two notes: one, the wife and I used to live in Rome, and two, I am a teacher by trade. This means little to this blog in general, excepting one very important annual event: Summer Break (ah, yes). Next week, the wife and I will be traveling to visit some friends back in Italia and I will not be anywhere near either paintbrush or computer for about three weeks (in practical terms, the rest of June).

Of course, I intend to hit the ground running once more in July, but I wanted to give you, the gentle reader, plenty of notice so that you didn’t mistakenly think I’d packed the blog business away. No. Perish the thought. I intend to finish out this week and then fire off one or two more posts next week before we set sail.

So, this week will be a short stroll down memory lane.

Behold my version of Saruman, once fallen into his ragged incarnation as Sharky, I believe. This is the first model (of about three or four) that I painted entirely and exclusively for competition. I (rather naively) entered him in the 2005 Golden Daemon at Games Day here in Chicago. He did not make the first cut, but I’m quite fond of him regardless.

The poor sod has never seen the tabletop, as Pitmann and I pretty much stopped playing LoTR sometime right around 2005. We enjoyed it at the time, of course, but 40K just has a way of eclipsing other matters.

He was also my first real attempt at the limited palatte technique that I’ve grown quite fond of these last few years, as pretty much everything but his beard is worked between Scorched Brown, Bestial Brown, and Bleached Bone. The beard, by contrast, is Skull White. I’m also quite fond of the way his base echoes the lines and movement of his pose.

More on Thursday with my next competitive effort from Games Day 2006.