Friday, December 16, 2011

Hard work and a box with teeth

I've been meaning to pick up some of the Discworld minis by Micro Art Studios for a while. The other day I showed the website to a friend who reads Terry Pratchett, and foolishly suggested that the Luggage looked easy to paint and I could probably get it done in a single saturday. Since his birthday was coming up I decided to paint him a model as a gift.

I was wrong. I wasn't able to finish it in a single saturday. Nevertheless I managed to get it finished in time:

It came with a slotta base with a recessed top, but the model itself had no tab to fit the slot and I didn't like the recess so I filled it with milliput. I had to pin the model to the base, and I didn't like leaving the pins exposed under the base (plus I wanted to write on the bottom), so I filled that too:

Here's a picture for size comparison:

First I primed the model white, then painted the different surfaces.
Cloth: scab red basecoat, blood red, blazing orange drybrush, light bleached bone drybrush, baal red wash.
Brass: tin bitz basecoat, Bronze layers, boltgun then chainmail drybrushes.
Wood: calthan brown basecoat, devlan mud wash.
Teeth: skull white.
Legs: elf flesh basecoat, bleached bone toenails.

Then everything was washed generously in watered down gryphonne sepia. This worked quite well for the teeth, did very little to the wood and brass, but wasn't quite enough for the legs, or more specifically the recesses between them, which were not dark enough as the washed flowed down and got sucked under the model. So I had to apply more, laying the model horizontally so the wash would pool properly, but first I applied a heavy wash of devlan mud directly into the recesses at the top, where it looked like it should be darker still. This was a little messy so I had to touch up the legs before the second wash of sepia, which I did with dwarf flesh (which was very close in colour to the sepia-washed elf flesh).

Finally I applied an extremely light drybrush of bleached bone on the legs, not just to highlight but to reduce the warmth a little (my previous experiments with drybrushing skin were terrible, but it seems if you put almost no pressure on the brush you can get a subtle improvement overall). I actually performed a bunch of experiments before painting the skin, this was the best effect I was able to get.

I considered using Army Painter quickshade but decided against it in the end. I'm not fond of the effect quickshade has on most surfaces, though I love how it works on skin - except the colour is a very dark brown that's not "warm" enough even for dark or tanned flesh. Mixing it with washes didn't work (it doesn't mix), washing over it was better but I'll need to experiment more - glazes may work, but washes probably don't add colour in the same places as the quickshade so it will create different overall skin colours - or at least that seemed to be the problem in my early tests. Perhaps a weaker quickshade would help, I'll have to experiment more in the future.

Overall it came out quite well, but the spaces between the legs and between the teeth aren't dark enough. Next time I'll wash between the teeth with devlan mud or badab black before the sepia then touch up the white, and I'll carefully paint the legs a different colour to the spaces (which will be slightly harder than I'd like because there's not always clear boundries between the two, but I'll just have to keep hacking away until it looks right). I don't think I'll bother basecoating the brass in tin bitz next time, as it took a while to build up over white, I'll just use the same brown for simplicity. It might help with the legs too, at least if I want a dark colour between them. In fact I'll probably just use brown as the basecoat for everything except the teeth.

I do love the cast, and overall I think it turned out pretty well, in fact I'm considering painting another for myself. I might put Rincewind on the same base as I think the models will work well together, though I would have to paint them seperately. Too many other things to paint first though, so it might be a while.

Third game

Played my third game yesterday. My opponent had to throw together a 500 point list proxying Sanguinary Guard models for Assault Troopers (with power fist and melta guns – in retrospect I wonder if he made a mistake, don't Blood Angels assault troops get melta pistols instead of melta guns?). He took two units of 5, a Librarian with jump pack and melta pistol and a Sanguinary Priest with melta pistol. I took:

Amadeus as a Captain with power weapon, bolt pistol, and melta bombs (120 pts),
Tactical squad with Fistandantilus (power fist sarge), flamer, plasma cannon (200 pts),
Scouts with sniper rifles (75 pts),
Dreadnought (105 pts).

My opponent was a really great guy, he helped me a lot by pointing out tactical mistakes I was making and letting me take them back, and giving me advice on what he "could" (would) do if I made certain moves.

We had a nice table to play on this time, with a landing pad, piece of ruin, and some craters. We rolled up dawn of war with objectives; he placed two objectives near my deployment and I placed one off to the side. With my limited mobility, I think he wanted to keep the action near me rather than forcing me to slog across the table. He even gave me first turn.

I split my marines into combat squads, four guys and the flamer stood in a line in a crater while the others, including the sergeant and the plasma cannoneer stood behind them with Amadeus. They had an objective between them and another close by. My plan was to intercept the inevitable charge with the first squad, and assault in with the second unit and my captain (it didn't occur to me at the time that his jump troops could jump past my buffer unit). My dread was in reserve, and my snipers infiltrated.

He placed one unit with the librarian out of sight of my tac marines, and the other was deep striking. I set up my snipers on the piece of ruin, which had been my plan all long but now had the advantage of giving me line of sight into his unit. They wouldn't all fit on top so some had to stand on the ground floor, which may or may not have made a difference, as you'll see. In retrospect I probably should have just put them farther back to use their range, but then again it was night fighting.

The game began, and we promptly forgot to keep track of turns (as well as ignoring the objectives). My dread walked on from the middle of my table edge, my tac marines sat around wondering where the baddies were, while Amadeus sent some texts on his mobile and my snipers adjusted their scopes. Satisfied they were dialled in, the scouts fired at the assault squad, passing the night-fight roll and amazingly landing all but the missile (I forgot that he was supposed to be just another sniper, but it made no difference anyway). Two shots managed to wound, of which one was rending. Their librarian cast sanctuary for the cover save against the rending shot, but in the end one wound got through and he lost a marine. They passed their pinning test and my turn was over.

In his turn he charged the scouts and wiped them out using unleash rage. If I didn't have any scouts on the ground floor I'm not sure what would have happened, I need to re-read the building rules. If he hadn't killed them all I would have used chapter tactics to run away, in the hope that they would be left exposed to my tac squad shooting. It didn't occur to me at the time, but this would have been good even if his unit had caught up as the fearless wounds could have killed the scouts and left the assault troops vulnerable again. Of course if the did break free successfully he would have either had to chase them down (taking him farther from my tac squad and the two objectives), or leave them to rally and shoot again.

In my turn my dread tried to put himself between the assault squad and my tac marines. I considered moving my marines away but he reminded me that the the plasma cannon wouldn't be able to fire, so instead I shuffled the other squad a bit as they were already in 12 inch range as far as I could see. The plasma shot scattered, and the rest of my shooting did little.

Next turn he brought down his other squad with the Sanguinary Priest behind my dread and wrecked it with melta and bolters on it's rear armour. Then he assaulted into my first tac squad with his other unit and wiped them out thanks in part to furious charge gained from being within range of the dropped priest.

I considered charging my last squad into his depleted assault unit, but he counselled firing it's plasma cannon into the dropped squad as they were all bunched up, and I decided that realistically that was my only chance to do any real damage, and left them alone. I did move Amadeus out of the unit so he could counter-charge after they get charged, but he reminded me he could either fly over to get him or even multi-charge both the captain and unit, so instead I moved the captain towards the depleted unit in order to assault them. The plasma cannon was on target and ended up claiming three assault marines (his librarian was close enough to cast sanctuary and he passed one cover save), and the rest of the squad's shooting killed the power fist sergeant. In my assault phase my captain charged his remaining assault squad, who were now down to two marines and the librarian (who I think was down to one wound now). I sent three attacks at the librarian and one at each marine. I failed to wound the librarian but killed both marines, then took a wound in return. Luckily for me he couldn't activate his force weapon as he had cast sanctuary that turn!

Next turn he killed a couple of marines with his Priest unit in shooting and assault (Fistandantilus missed all his attacks – again!), then my Captain finished off his librarian and we decided to call it (one assault marine with a melta gun and a sanguinary priest with melta pistol and chainsword against a captain with power weapon and pistol (who was about to charge in for the extra attack), two or three marines, and a power-fist sergeant - his odds were slim).

It was a close game, but only because he helped me so much. I got a few lucky rolls at the end (that plasma cannon really made up for it's ridiculous miss last time), and he normally played pure Sanguinary Guard so he was a little unused to not having power weapons and 2+ armour, plus he had to write his list right there, proxying models as needed. I don't know what would have happened if we had counted turns, though by my count the game was over by the fourth and the objectives were all right there so I don't think it would have made a difference.

I really enjoyed it despite being so tired I had trouble reading the dice at times, and I won't deny actually winning gave the game a sweet after-taste (tastes like pride... sweet, intoxicating pride). Amadeus really saved the game in the end. Fistandantilus didn't do jack. That's three games in a row now that he hasn't landed a single hit - maybe I should bust him back to being a scout?

It occurs to me now even in such a small game between a shooty army and and assaulty one, there's still a fair bit of tactics in play. In fact each decision and dice roll counts for more than it usually would in a larger game because there's more on the line - for example that single plasma cannon shot not only took out a significant portion of his force (it could potentially have wiped out the entire squad, almost half his army), it also caused his librarian to use up his psychic power, which saved my captain from being force-weaponed to death. In other words that single shot made the difference between victory and defeat.

Friday, December 9, 2011

200 point game

I just played another game of 40k. Killteam, or something like that. At 200 points, I just took my tactical squad (power fist, flamer, plasma cannon), my opponent took 2 units of Firewarriors and a Crisis suit with a marker light, missile pod and some form of plasma weapon. Due to limited space we played on the edge of a table at the GW store.

We advanced towards each other until in shooting distance, at which point I started losing men. I split my squad into two basic teams, one aiming to chase down the crisis suit and the other aiming to advance along a walkway towards the fire warriors (because of the terrain these were really the only two paths across the table to the Tau side).

The highlights of the game were when a single Marine finally made it into combat against the Crisis suit, only to miss both attacks then take a single wound (and fail his armor save on a one), and when my plasma cannon marine finally got line of sight and took a shot, which immediately scattered right back onto the head of the guy in front of him (I cannot put in words how accurate a misfire this was, the template covered three of the remaining four men in that squad) and killed two Marines.

The final score was two dead Firewarriors and ten dead marines. My armour saves were just stupid - I think three quarters of my armour save rolls came up ones. So much for the laws of averages.

I didn't enjoy this game all that much. Not so much because I lost and had awful luck, but rather because of the hassle of having to control every model individually, the cramped table on which we played, and the fact that I didn't know the Killteam rules beforehand so I had no idea what I was doing and my force was completely unsuitable. Also because I stayed up past midnight prepping some scouts and then I didn't even get to use them.

I'm not bitter or anything, it's just that I've been trying to justify the time spent on Warhammer when there's other things I could be doing, like programming or playing x-box or writing or even, God forbid, going outdoors. Today it didn't feel worth it.