Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for Niamh

I was going to write a post about my favourite Games Workshop game, Necromunda. Maybe I will write one at a later point, but today a remarkable coincidence affords me the chance to boast. Yesterday, my daughter, Niamh was born. Welcome to the world, my darling. :)

M is for Marines

Back in the day... in the late 80s, an unimaginable time of high technology and booming finance heading towards a financial crash... oh no, wait.

Anyway, in the 1st edition of 40K, humanity's defenders, the space marines, were described as brainwashed super-soldiers chosen from the galaxy's finest psychopaths and murderers. They were recruited from the ranks of feral savages from primitive planets and gang members from industrial worlds.

So '80s.
Yep, way back when, Space Marines frisked punks spraying graffiti.

Nowadays... um...

Can you feel the Renaissance imagery?
Yeah, they're heroic angel-winged giants. I can't see these guys fining some dude for spraying "Space Marines go home". Draw your own conclusions as to why the emphasis has changed.

L is for Lady Malys

I'm painting my kabalites as members of the Kabal of the Poisoned Tongue; their Archon is Lady Malys, who's described as wielding a crystalline sword and a razor-sharp fan. At the moment, I'm using a bog-standard Archon model, who seems quite blokey and is wielding a not very crystalline sword.

I found this conversion somewhere and it seems to be quite a good one, if a little boob-tastic. No fan though!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

K is for Kabalites

The Kabals are the main movers and shakers of the Dark City of Comorragh, lair of the Dark Eldar. Centuries ago, these warrior bands overthrew the noble houses (although truth be told, some houses saw the way the wind was blowing and reformed themselves into Kabals).

J is for Jokaero

Jokaero are alien savant orangutans who make teeny tiny guns. You can't make this stuff up. Oh, no wait, they did.


Friday, April 12, 2013

I is for Imperium

Imagine Dune, Star Wars, Tolkien, punk and 2000AD put into a blender and made into a wargame. That's 40K (the first edition at least).

The Imperium are the good guys and they are a bunch of fascist, xenophobic, miliatarists. Can you tell it was written by young men in the 1980s?

Nightmare fuel
I never noticed when I was a kid that the jaw of the Emperor of Mankind is distended in an eternal scream. Just as well.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

H is for Hell Drivers

Apologies for lack of posting - waiting for imminent birth of daughter. Meanwhile, watch this excellent film. Do it.


Monday, April 08, 2013

G is for Grimdark

If you've ever encountered the word "grimdark" in relation to gaming, and wondered at its provenance, then wonder no longer.

"In the Grim Darkness of the Far Future, there is Only War" - that's what 40K has promised right from its first edition, and it delivers it in spades. Our main point of identification and "way in" to this universe is through the viewpoint of the Imperium of Man, a totalitarian, human supremacist, superstitious, ignorant star empire. They are the closest we get to "good guys". Everyone else is against mankind, either through direct antagonism or total disinterest. It ain't Star Wars.

Having said that, the original team managed to put a lot of '80s British humour into the 1st edition (aka Rogue Trader), with such examples as the dark planet of Birmingham (whose inhabitants speak a language incomprehensible to all outsiders), the Inquisitor Obiwan Sherlock Closeau, and space biker dwarves. A lot of the humour has been eliminated over the last 25 years, and the canon has become more fixed and in many places is completely incompatible with what was published in sourcebooks and novels in the late 80s and early 90s.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

F is for Finecast

Finecast is Citadel Miniatures' wonder material that is finer than metal and holds detail better, cooks your dinner and- no, wait, maybe not.
I have purchased resin miniatures before and been very impressed with them. Not so with Finecast.

Finecast is sort of a plastic/resin hybrid and (in the best cases) holds detail very well (like modern plastic minatures can). Its surface texture seems to take paint better than plastic, but it also seems to be quite grainy and often very pitted. In the worst cases (an Incubi boxed set I picked up recently) the molding seems not to have taken at all in some areas, leaving them rough and half-finished, with a tenacious pink goo on them. Bizarre.

I had really high hopes for Finecast, and when it works, it works well, but in the majority of my experience, it is an astoundingly poor product. I don't want this to be an attack on Games Workshop, but it is disappointing that one of the world's leading toy soldier companies has dropped the ball so badly.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

E is for Eldar

They're dead mystical
Due to the nature of the challenge,  I've had to do these the other way around from what you might ordinarily expect. Normally I'd define eldar before dark eldar, but there you go. Eldar are the 40K equivalent of elves: haughty, long-lived, pointy-eared humanoids with a great sense of style.

1st Edition 40K gave you the option of playing either mercenary Eldar or pirate Eldar, either way your troops were the crazed, psychotic outcasts of Eldar society (the first incarnation of the Dark Eldar, one might say). Later on in the lifetime of that edition, the incarnation of the Eldar that was to become their dominant image made its debut: Craftworld Eldar.

Ziggy Stardust and the Elves from Space

The Craftworld Eldar were hippy Vulcans with Celtic names and Egyptian symbolism. But... it worked. When I first saw them in the early 90s, these guys were brilliant.

Crazy warrior cults with sashimono? Yes please!
Rumours are that a new wave of Eldar releases will take place earlier this year. We wants it, precious...

Thursday, April 04, 2013

D is for Dark Eldar

Although I've been interested in the WH40K universe for the last 20 years or so, I've never collected an army for the game before (I collected a couple of gangs for the spin-off game Necromunda. Ah-ha, a post for N!). So, upon my rejoining the 40K fold, I had to decide on an army to collect. Now, if I was sensible, I would have chosen either Chaos Space Marines or Dark Angels Marines (the two armies that come in the game's boxed set). That way, I'd be able to stick to one force, with one book (each army has an associated book with rules and background, honestly, this game is like a drug habit).

But no, I was seduced by the Dark Eldar. Here's why:

Lean, predatory, elfy, it's all good. The models are ah-bloody-mazing. Currently I have this set-up (I know it won't make much sense if you don't know the game):

+++ Dark Eldar 500 (497pts) +++
+++ 500pt Dark Eldar 6th Ed (2010) Roster (Primary Detachment)) +++


Dark Eldar 6th Ed (2010) (Primary Detachment) Selections:

+ HQ + (105pts)

    * Archon (105pts)
        (Fleet, Independent Character, Night Vision, Power from Pain)
        Huskblade (35pts), Kabalite Armor, Plasma Grenades, Soul-trap (10pts), Splinter Pistol

+ Elites + (126pts)

    * Incubi (126pts)
        (Fleet, Night Vision, Power from Pain)
        Incubus Warsuit
        * 3x Incubi (66pts)
            3x Klaive
        * Venom (60pts)
            Envenomed Blades (5pts), Flickerfield, Twin Linked Splinter Rifles

+ Troops + (266pts)

    * Kabalite Warriors (125pts)
        (Fleet, Night Vision, Power from Pain)
        * 7x Kabalite Warrior (63pts)
            7x Splinter Rifle
        * Kabalite Warrior with assault weapon (24pts)
            Blaster (15pts)
        * Kabalite Warrior with heavy weapon (19pts)
            Splinter Cannon (10pts)
        * Sybarite (19pts)
            Splinter Rifle

    * Wyches (141pts)
        (Dodge, Fleet, Night Vision, Power from Pain)
        * Hekatrix (57pts)
            Agoniser (20pts), Blast Pistol (15pts), Haywire grenades (2pts), Plasma Grenades
        * 7x Wyches (84pts)
            7x Haywire grenades (14pts), 7x Plasma Grenades, 7x Splinter Pistol and Close Combat Weapon

Created with BattleScribe (http://www.battlescribe.net)

Basically, I have a general (the Archon) with 3 hired bodyguards armed with two-handed swords (Incubi) riding around in a flying chariot (Venom). On foot, I have 10 ranged warriors (Kabalites) mostly armed with rifles but with a couple of special weapons. The Wyches are gladiator-types armed with special grenades to use against vehicles.

C is for Chaos

Chaos doesn't exist.

No, really, it doesn't.

Get back to work, citizen, before I have to exterminate you.

Chaos is the human psyche given horrid, un-natural life and free reign within the alternate reality known as the Warp. In the universe of Warhammer 40K, it is the ultimate enemy of humankind (along with all the other ultimate enemies...). 10,000 years ago (i.e. in the 31st millenium) the very defenders of mankind, the Space Marine Legions were corrupted by the blandishments of the Chaos Gods and turned traitor. They were defeated by the loyal Legions, and promptly escaped to the warpspace bleed known as the Eye of Terror. Today they survive as soldiers of fortune, still wanted by the Imperium. If you're desperate, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... the A-Team Chaos Space Marines!

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

B is for Black Undercoat

Miniatures. You can't play a miniatures wargame without them. Actually, that's not strictly true; you could use cardboard chits, small glass beads, or chocolate buttons, but let's run with the first assertion. You're going to want to paint your little soldiers so that the dice gods may show favour upon them. Unpainted miniatures (or "minis") just look naff when your opponent  is fielding even the most poorly daubed unfortunates.

To begin with, after you've got rid of mould lines (a thin line around the figure where it has been cast) and flash (rogue bits of metal/resin/plastic), you have to put on an undercoat. On the mini, not yourself. There are several schools of thought on undercoating - brush vs spray vs airbrush, black, white, grey, acrylic, enamel etc etc

Here's my current method: I use car bodywork spray paint from Halfords. It covers really well and is half the price of most hobby brand sprays. For my Dark Eldar army, I have been using a light coat of matt grey to begin with, and when this has dried, I give it a more concentrated coat of matt black. The grey helps the black to adhere and also, when you come to paint the minis, you will find niggly bits the spray missed. You can then go over these with black paint on your brush, which is easier if you have the grey base to work from, rather than bare plastic/metal/resin/sponge cake (one of these may be a lie).

I prefer a black base as it provides easy definition for the separation of different areas of colour and texture. Here's an example:

Already quite a way along, but you get the idea

You can see that the black provides a clear distinction between Amanthas' skin and her... jewellery. Some people dislike black as you either have to use highly pigmented solid layers of paint, or many many thinner layers. I don't mind this as I prefer the high contrast that black provides, and also the discipline of thinning my paints that it necessitates. I may well talk about how white and grey undercoats can provide different effects in a later post.

Here is the finished mini (I painted this way back in 2007):

The finished figure
Her skin took a great deal of time and patience to achieve the luminosity of the highlights and the sheen overall. It probably would have been faster on lighter undercoat but I'm very pleased with the result.

Monday, April 01, 2013

A is for Archon

Of all the alien races that beset mankind in the 41st millenium, the Dark Eldar are perhaps the most cruel, or at least the most overtly so. Lithe elfin humanoids with pale skin and dark eyes, they lair within a conglomeration of cities on another plane of reality, using their almost magical technology to breach into realspace and raid for slaves, technology and their own enjoyment. The last reason is what sustains these decadent wretches, for they literally feed off the pain and fear of other beings, using it to stave off what they refer to as "soul-death", the continuous draining of their very souls by a god of Chaos that they themselves unleashed on the galaxy 10,000 years ago.

Foremost among the Dark Eldar are the Archons, powerful war-leaders amongst their kind. Leaders of the warrior sects known as Kabals, each Archon is a cunning and deadly combatant in his or her own right. They can be thought of as a cross between biker gang leaders, mafia bosses and fey monarchs. Most are either insane or paranoid; both are almost necessary qualities for these vile fiends.

I'm currently painting this miniature, and it is a fun figure, but it's been cast in the Finecast resin that Games Workshop now uses. I is Disappoint, kid. That's for another post.

In game terms, the Archon is an Independent Character (he can act on his own or join any unit) and can act as your army's Warlord (he gets a special trait that can aid your army in battle). You can outfit this evil nutbar with a variety of horrid close combat weaponry including a glowing pyramid that sucks out your opponent's soul, a sword that kills your opponent instantly if it hits, and other such lovelies. You can pop him in a troop-carrying vehicle to get him where he needs to be, and have him surrounded by weirdo flunkies such as ghoulish aliens, 4 armed snake guys, and a courtesan armed with enough poison for everyone.

A-Z Blogging Challenge Welcome!

If you've found your way here for the first time, then welcome! This is a blog containing a few thoughts on house rules for Dungeons and Dragons (in its various forms), some stuff about miniature painting and wargames nostalgia.

I took part in the Challenge a few years ago, and thought I should try to get back into the discipline of writing again, given that I already write assignments for my university course, and that I'm trying to write a play script at the moment.

The theme I'm going to be loosely following is Warhammer 40,000. If you don't know what that is, then allow me to enlighten you over the next few days. Briefly, WH40K (as it's sometimes known) is a wargame played with miniature figures, set in the 41st millennium, a nightmarish future galaxy dominated by the Imperium of Mankind. This dystopian empire is beset by alien forces and supernatural powers beyond sanity. It's honestly fun.