Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Lessons from an Expert

While I visited my parents over Christmas holiday, I had the good fortune to learn some modeling tips and techniques from a modeling master -- my Dad!

Here is the man / the myth, in his upstairs den.  Dad is an accomplished model airplane builder, with numerous regional trophies to his name. 

Building model airplanes with my Dad is actually the first experience I had in the hobby -- or at least one related to it.  Eyebrows were raised when a 14-year-old turned his attention from P-39 fighters to wizards and goblins....

Here is the upstairs workbench.

with current work-in-progress....

Here is the basement work area.  Dad uses spraypaint instead of an airbrush.  I brought my airbrush so that we could both learn it together.

Before exploring the airbrush, Dad showed me techniques for filling/sanding seams, applying decals, and weathering.

I practiced seam-filling on a belly-tank, and then we then experimented with different weathering techniques using the airbrush.  Here we tried a liquid mask technique and the hairspray-and-salt technique, first washed with water and then with alcohol.  The hairspray-and-salt technique gave results that I haven't seen in any of the videos I've watched.  Good thing we tried it out on spare parts first!

Next was to try my hand with one of my models, a Tau Devilfish.  Here is a half-day's work of sprue-cutting, cleaning, deburring, filing, and assembly -- before filling seams.

I wanted to try out a colored primer that I like.  The model is entirely primed in black, then masked, then primed in the olive drab.  It's a great military, flat color, but it's not what I want for my Devilfish.

I lay a foundation for the hairspray technique.  We're already up to four layers.  Lesson learned:  do not spray hairspray directly from the can.  It's way too thick.  Use the airbrush.

With my general-purpose, single-action airbrush, I try out camo colors that I saw in a Fine Scale Modeler magazine.

I like the general look, but I've learned that I probably need to use my dual-action airbrush for this kind of work.  The single-action airbrush had very inconsistent behavior.  That might be operator error, of course, but I'm pretty sure I have better tools for the job.  I didn't have the control that I really wanted, so the pattern isn't quite what I really wanted, but I'm happy enough for my first attempt.  It was a good first learning step! 

Much work remains, of course, but this will at least be presentable on the game-table as-is.

Monday, December 17, 2012

WIP - Tau Stealth Suits

Project ADD strikes again.  Finally deciding to take list-building semi-seriously inspired me to slap together these puppies.  Not that they're going to make a power-list or anything.  I just want the variety.  And I like that they can accompany my Kroot when they Outflank.  And the Stealth suits have more control on which side they come in on.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Game Night

I managed to play a game at my place with my bud, Campbell, proud owner of a newly acquired Necron army off of Bartertown.  Campbell says that he originally wanted to play Necrons when our group first played 40K at the outset of 5th Edition, but one of our guys convinced him out of it.  So Campbell is now a happy camper, after waiting 3 or 4 years.

As his opponent, I find Necrons to be a more interesting adversary than his other armies, Tyranids and Orks.  Plus the models look wicked.

I stepped up the point-count to 1250.  Back in 5th Edition, I had some 1500-point lists, so I blew the dust off of those and tweaked them.

We played a simple pitched battle, annihilation game, just to learn the forces and to continue instilling the rules in our heads (especially mine).  It's amazing how even the basic rules become questionable when you're actually playing the game.  I look forward to having that weight lifted when I play Dust Warfare!  Regardless, though, I am enjoying playing 6th Edition 40K, and I find myself interested in exploring my army options and adding new models and units.

During the game, I felt significantly overpowered, compared to the Necron force.  It felt like Campbell had 1500 points to my 1250, let's say.  Campbell and I discussed it afterwards, and I'm finally accepting the fact that I really need to take list-building seriously in order to play a matched game.  I've resisted doing that, out of the stubborn view that the game should be played on the table, not on the spreadsheet.  I've improved my outlook on that front, though, in two ways.  First, I'm accepting that 40K is simply not the game I want it to be.  Steve says, it's an acquisition/logistics game, not a tactical/operations game.  Regardless, we both find it a fun game to play, even if it's not exactly what we want it to be.  Second, I compare 40K to Magic: The Gathering.  Magic is played in two parts: deck-building and playing.  That's analogous to 40K.  I enjoy deck-building in Magic.  Therefore, I can apply the same attitude towards list-building in 40K.

Here are more photos of the game (no commentary).  We played a little over 3 turns.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Alkemy Aurlok Starter Box

This is the first modeling I've done with small resin figures.  I worked with resin with Dystopian Wars models, but they're very different.  The DW models are geometric, whereas the Alkemy minis are organic, and the DW models are made of a hard resin, whereas the Alkemy minis are made of a softer and more pliable resin.

As a matter of fact, the spear for the figure on the left was extremely bowed, and I had to use the hot water trick to straighten it out.  It's the first time I attempted it, so I tried a cautious (and lazy) approach first, by holding it under hot running tap water.  It seemed to work at first, but the spear returned to its bowed shape by the next morning.  I then tried a more extreme technique, by dipping each end of the spear in just-boiled water for about 3 seconds, shaping it, and then quenching it in ice water.  That worked.

I'm using the 25mm 'Desert Basin' bases by Secret Weapon.

The Alkemy models are smaller than I thought they'd be.  I respect Allan Carrasco's sculpting and Jeremie Bonamant Teboul's painting for this range even more than I did before, now that I know how miniscule the detail is!  I'm going to have a challenge matching Mr. Teboul's paintjobs.

I still need to work on filling gaps with green stuff before priming.  And I have the Eden and Carnevale models waiting to be built.  At least they're metal -- something I'm more familiar with.  I also have the Reinforcement box for the Aulochs, and I'm motivated to put those models together, too, to join their brethren and show a proper force on the tabletop.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

WIP - Various

I finally have the minimum number of Goblin Wolf Riders to make a legal unit for Warhammer.  Can't wait to have these guys rampage all over the board.  Sure, in-game they're an expendable throwaway redirecter, but I've always loved the imagery and style of the Goblin Wolf Riders.  Before all is said and done, I'll probably have two dozen or so of these guys!

So I'm setting myself up for an ambitious 3 months.  I have the prospect of playing 3 games that I've been itching to play but for which I haven't met any willing opponents -- until now.  In preparing for Demo Day #4 to be held in late February, I met someone who plays Alkemy and Eden.  So I'm going to attempt to prepare one faction for each game in the hopes that we can play any or all of them for Demo Day.  On top of that, I hope to demo a game of Carnevale myself.  That project is especially ambitious, since I need to not only paint two factions, but I need to build my canal district!  All of that on top of organizing Demo Day, preparing material for the Appearance Judging and Art Competition for NOVA Open 2013, and preparing presentations for the NCMSS!  Something's going to have to give -- I just don't know what it will be yet.  Probably Alkemy or Eden, at least.  But at the moment, I have the itch to at least assemble these models.

Here's a selection of thematic post-apocalyptic bases to swap out for the generic bases for Eden.

Carnevale.  Doctors of Ospedale will be my faction.  Patricians will be for guest players.  I might be able to fit in the Rakshaar Cthulu-like fish-men, too.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Battle Report - Warhammer 40K

This game was the first time I had the pleasure to play on Steve's spectacular 40K gameboard. The board succeeds phenomenally in imparting the flavor of 40K. Add to that the enjoyment of expertly made Stingers by the gracious host, and you have the recipe for a great evening of entertainment.

The line-up between our two army-lists is the finale for our 1000-point match-ups. We'll be moving on to 1250 next. We also plan to play to the scenarios better, in order to break up the tactical patterns we've gravitated to. To wit, Space Marines run across the board into the Tau/Eldar static firing line. The Drop Pod tries to dismantle a flank while the Kroot and the Jetbikes try to rescue said flank. While this game played out to this pattern overall, the primary and secondary objectives helped force some different target priorities and maneuvers.

Check out the full pictorial battle report on the Picasa site.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Game night

Thursday evenings are our semi-regular game night at my friend Oko's house.  Oko can fit up to four tables in his basement.  This week I played a game of Dystopian Wars with my pal, Erik, and Oko played a game of 40K with our pal, Wyatt.

Erik and I are still learning our ground forces, so we played a dedicated land/air battle of 800 points.  The missions were rolled straight out of the Field Orders in the book.  I had to destroy half his forces, and Erik had to destroy my Core force (all the land units).  This first photo is half-way through our opening move.

This game is the first time I used my land models on their clear acrylic bases.  I wanted to see if I prefer leaving them clear or basing them.  I could go either way, but I prefer leaving them clear.

My favorite models in my force so far...

The enemy Bombards, War Gyros, and Air Fortress...

A mess of destruction.....

With concentrated fire, I managed to take out the enemy's main battle tank, that walker with the four legs towards the upper left.  My small tanks sent rocket troopers to assault one of the War Gyros and succeeded in overpowering its crew, leaving it a floating derelict.  With those two main units defeated and a lot of the smaller units damaged, my worthy opponent ceded the battle.

At one point in the game next to us, we heard a mighty uproar.  Checking out the excitement, we marveled at Wyatt's win-or-lose roll of the game....

Yup, that's the real deal.  He rolled straight 1's.  That's one chance in 7,776.  Time for Wyatt to play the lottery.  Here's how happy he is to know how he "beat" such lose the game in such grand, cosmic fashion.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ramping back up

I'm wrapping up my computer migration.  I'm still adjusting to using a Mac instead of a PC, so I'm only operating at about 85% efficiency for the moment.  Plus, I need to purchase a new copy of Photoshop Elements or some appropriate substitute.  However, I use Picasa for the majority of my editing, so my blog posts should be OK for the near-term.

I took advantage of the migration to reorganize my hobby area, so I'm excited with the amount of space I cleared for myself and how much easier it's going to be to access everything, especially basing material.  I'll have easier access to pigments and other more exotic supplies, so I look forward to making more use of them.  I may even set up my airbrush in the upstairs work area, as opposed to the basement area, if I learn how to control it well enough.

Another cool thing about the new photos of my workspace is that I've entered the photos in a contest by  They'll make a random draw, and the winner gets an Exagon R bench ventilation device, used for sucking away airbrush overspray.

I look forward to immersing myself in modeling and painting again.  One thing that's motivating me is the prospect to play Eden and/or Alkemy for Demo Day #4, which I'm now organizing for 23 February at Dropzone Games in Glen Burnie, MD.  I also want to renew my goal to demo Carnevale.  It will be interesting to see how far I get along in only 3 months!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dust Warfare Panzer Gorillas

Here's a quick project to break me out of my rut.  I needed to finish something.  I've been consumed by house projects, and I've been spread so thin across painting projects that an hour or two of painting doesn't seem to move me any closer to completion of any given project.

So here are the guys that inspired me to jump whole-hog and blindly into Dust Warfare, hoping that the rules were good enough to justify these fantastic models (they are).

Such fantastic poses and expressions.  Big kudos to the sculptor.  The deep creases in the fur were made for dry-brushing.

I don't show it here, but the leader in front is painted as a silverback.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Terrain for Dystopian Wars

This is a project I've wanted to do for some time, and I finally felt motivated to test the concept.  I wanted to make modular land-masses that would be easy to store and offer multiple configurations.  I wanted the "tiles" to be non-skid on my vinyl sea-mat.  I had the idea to adhere heavy upholstery fabric to drawer liner, using rubber cement.  I had no idea if it would work, though.

Here are my materials.

Rubber cement and thinner.  Drawer liner and fabric.  A draft graph for landmasses, drawn on transparency squares to test different combinations.

Geddy the Schnauzer is unimpressed so far.

I learn that my drawer liner is 18" wide.  My original graph assumed I would work in 2'x2' squares.  Back to the drawing board, literally.

It works!  The rubber cement seems to work.  The fabric absorbs a lot of it, but maybe it absorbs only the thinner, leaving the rubber cement on the surface.  These are my first four tiles.  I have material to make two more, plus small pieces for "caps"and "bookends".

Add some hills, and I'm ready for river harbor or canal entrance scenarios.  I plan to add a bridge going across the river.  I also have plenty of Spartan's resin terrain, so I have all sorts of ideas to make modular, story-driven scenarios.

Geddy is still unimpressed.

The first photo was taken in the morning, and this one was taken in the evening.  Geddy did move between the photos, but he seems to have a natural position.

Ready to store!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Temporary slowdown

My posts are going to be severely reduced for a while, until I can replace my main computer.  The old beast is hanging regularly.  I'll be lucky to back up my files to an external drive, before it craps out completely.  I'll provide short text updates via the iPad in the meantime.

Most of my activity is front-end and back-end work anyway, i.e. less interesting.  On the front end, I'm assembling, prepping, and magnetizing.  On the back end, I'm trying to wrap up old projects.  I'm also working on terrain pieces.

One noteworthy update is that I finally acquired the material to begin the gameboard/terrain project I've had in mind for a couple years now.  That's a Venetian style canal district.  It will be useful for Freebooter's Fate, Carnevale, Malifaux, and who knows what else.  It will be predominantly a working district, but I'm sorely tempted to include components that are reminiscent of Rackham's illustrations that show the upscale districts of the city of Cadwallon.  In any case, I now have the MDF board and the insulation foam to form the foundation of the district.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

WIP - Tau Broadside and Well

This is my first effort to magnetize a model, other than the base.  All of this Tau Broadside's equipment is interchangeable, including his arms / missile launchers.  I'll probably use only a couple of the options, but I guess I just wanted to be a completeist for this one model.


The magnet is that little disc embedded in the top of the gun.

I'm not a fan of the Tau crisis suits.  I don't like the broad, blocky chest and the little pin-heads.  Forge World does a much better rendition, but those are prohibitively expensive -- more for display than for play, as far as I'm concerned.  I proxy AT-43 models for my Tau crisis suits instead, but I figure I should have at least one official model, in case an opponent ever gets anal about true line-of-sight in a game.  There are rumors that Games Workshop will be overhauling this sophomoric, outdated design next year.  Couldn't happen too soon.

And here's a well I've been working on off-and-on for some time.  I would like the shingles and the stones to have a greater difference in color, but I'm pretty sick of working on it.  I think I'll add some variety of color to the stones, and I'll add some more verdigris to the copper and call 'er done.  Maybe try out some pigments on it, too.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Battle report - Warhammer 40K

Another learning game for 6th Edition with my friend, Steve.  One thing I like about Steve is that he contributes to the battle report narrative, making the battle report as entertaining as the game itself.

This game was 1000 points again, my Tau / Eldar allies versus his Dark Angels Space Marines.  Steve and I are ready to bump up the points to 1250 for our next game.

Here's the link to the pictorial battle report on Picasa.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Demo Day #2

Erik (right) teaches MERCS to a new enthusiast.

We had a successful event this weekend for our second Demo Day.  Attendance was a little lighter for this Demo Day, in terms of both players and game-hosts, but there were enough of both to give a good vibe throughout the day.  I certainly met my goals, which were to:

  • Meet new players and game-hosts, and help them do the same.
  • See what MERCS was all about.
  • Finally try out Dust Warfare.
  • Check out other folks' painted models.
  • Shop  ;-)
We had three folks, including Erik, one of our game-hosts, drive all the way up from Richmond to participate.  They were a great group, and they made up our "core" throughout the day.  Erik introduced MERCS to around a half-dozen people, including me, so he certainly met his objective.  He and I threw down for a fast and furious learning game of Dust Warfare, and that was an absolute blast.  As I expected the game is clean, streamlined, believable, well-paced, and very cinematic.  I'm a fan.  

Erik and I were both surprised when my first action of the game totally destroyed his walker all the way across the table.  I was wondering if the game was too fast and perhaps would suffer from a snowball effect, but the game evened out overall, and Erik was able to make a comeback and win the game.  The game ended in a showdown where my lone soldier was desperately running from 3 German combat zombies and was taken down while trying to gun them down with his submachine gun.  Classic.

I didn't take enough photos of the event, but here are some shots of Erik's excellent MERCS minis.

That T-shirt is painted freehand!

And here is a "shot" (ha, ha) of an Imperial Navy Arquebusier, sniping from an ideal perch on the ruins of an old cathedral.  Our Freebooter's Fate game-host, Brian, scrambled to prepare this great terrain piece just in time for the event.

And here are two very thematic game-boards for Hell Dorado.

And pics from the combined Dystopian Wars / Uncharted Seas demo:

Our Dystopian Wars game-host, Aaron, and I wrapped up the day and recapped the event over drinks at a nearby bar.  A very cool day!  Aaron is already planning a similar 2-day(!) event for November 17th and 18th, down at the Game Vault store in Fredericksburg, Virginia.