Thursday, August 20, 2015

Casey Jones, The Warjack Of All Trades

Alternate title: OHMYGODWHYDIDTHISTAKESOLONG? I think I started painting this guy some four or five months ago. I was pretty busy this year so I couldn't always put much time in to him, but still, he took so much longer than I expected. For example, it only took me a few weeks (three or four I think?) to paint both of my first two warjacks. But then, this guy currently has some 26 pieces, many of which are fairly complex; I reckon he took around as much effort to paint as a full unit would.

 Obviously he's very heavily magnetized to allow him to be played as a number of different warjacks. I called him Casey Jones because he wears a hockey mask and uses lots of different weapons... get it?
"I'm Juggernaut!" (It's supposed to be a reference to an old X-Men videogame... nevermind.)
"They call me Destroyer. No reason why..."
The Decimator has something of an inferiority complex.
The Marauder. Like the car (no relation).
Ugh, Black Ivan's claw is just too big. And too heavy; the magnets can't keep it off the floor.
I hate to say it, but... Torch looks kinda stupid. Maybe he would look better in black?

I put steel ball bearings in the shoulders and magnets at the end of the arms, to make the arms swappable and poseable. While fun, I worry that it makes the arms more likely to get knocked around and have their paint damaged. The shoulders themselves are magnetized and can rotate. This gives the arms a wider range of movement (so he can e.g. actually lift an axe above his head). There's also magnets hidden in the upper torso, for Torch's medal and smoke bombs, and for Black Ivan's spikes.

I also gave him a pair of arms that don't represent any in-game configuration, but were inspired by  Chicken_Slayer on the PP forums. And I quote: "It has something cool and shiny the other casters want, like an Orgoth Murder Flail or Sword Chucks made of Fellblades". What I can I say, I loved 8-Bit Theater.

But Casey has one other trick up his red-painted steel sleeves: he can transform! From a typical PP style hunch-backed warjack to... an upright warjack! I wanted him to be convertible between the two forms, so I magnetized the shoulder pieces to be able to rotate and the head to sit on a smaller BB, allowing it to rotate as needed. I think he looks OK, but there's a lot of room for improvement; If I was to build a new warjack in this pose (which I am tempted to do), I would probably move the boiler to where the smoke stacks are and the smoke stacks to what would become the upper back, then sculpt some sort of armour over the chest instead of moving the boiler there.

The basic paint scheme was pretty much the same as what I've been using for the rest of my Khador, but there was a bit of experimentation involved in the glows and the base. For the head I was trying to imitate a glow effect that I first saw used by "GuitaRasmus":
I stopped short of bringing it up to pure white except for two eye-like dots.
The inner sides are left dark blue to delineate the outer glow from the inner light source.

For the ice axe, I was going for an effect like what you get on red-hot metals, where the centers of the forms have the brightest glows and the edges have cooled and darkened. That kind of morphed into making it look like the glow was coming from the axe machinery. I the same technique as I did on my Koldun Lord, where I would apply a lighter layer above a darker one then drybrush over the boundry with both colours in order to blend them together. I was planning on highlighting up to white, but when I reached my brightest blue I decided that I liked it there and I stopped short of actual white. I'm not sure if it would have looked better or worse if I went up to pure white; I think it looks nice like this, if not as dramatic as it might have been.

For the Fellblades I tried a number of test paint schemes before settling on the "inverse glow" that I ended up with. Even though I think that the face details aren't as obvious as in some of the test schemes, I thought the overall effect was more visually pleasing from a distance, with a nicer predominant shade of light blue and a good contrast; by leaving untouched white basecoat showing then drybrushing with Ice Blue and finally very lightly drybrushing with Enchanted Blue, I got a brighter white than I would have gotten by starting with the blues and trying to drybrush up to white, thus aiding in the overall contrast. It's a bit strange, but I got the impression that the varnish actually ended up reducing the "blend" effect from the drybrush; that might somehow have something to do with the fact that I applied the gloss varnish so heavily (mainly from laziness, though I thought at the time it would be easier to avoid air bubbles that way).
Test models
Between varnishes and a lighter hand when drybrushing (and different lighting), the final blades came out much lighter.

I was also trying something new with the base. I picked up some "Distress crackle paint: clear rock candy" to try to make ice crystals with. The stuff works pretty well, but my idea to select large pieces and glue them over a light blue base then drybrush them white and fill the gaps with modelling snow did not work as well as I had hoped. To be honest, right now I'm thinking that I prefer my usual plain snow bases to this messy hybrid. Perhaps with more time I'll figure out a better way to use this stuff.

I made the fell-chucks using Doomreaver fellblades. I took a pair of warjack axe-hands (the Juggernaut and Destroyer hands) and cut off the axe bits, leaving just the handles. I wrapped greenstuff around a plastic tube and used a tube-tool to roll them into textured handles that more-or-less matched the axe handles.

The handles were capped by "rims" on each side, but the Destroyer axe's rims are much smaller than the Juggernaut axe's rims, so I took one of the Juggernaut rims and replaced the one on the Destroyer axe, forming the sword pommels. I sculpted matching pommels on the other two swords, and sculpted larger guards for all four.

The sword handles were pinned together with strong pins, leaving a roughly equal length of exposed pin for each pair.

I then bent the pins to the desired shape and sculpted chains over them. Well, tried to; this was my first attempt at sculpting chain, and I didn't do a very good job. Well, it's clear what they are supposed to be, so I guess that's good enough.

As part of the "transformation" to a more upright configuration, I had to cut the boiler off the back so the hips could attach there. The original boiler was modified to fit in the new chest area, where the hips used to go. However it turned out that it couldn't be made to fit both areas, so I had to sculpt a second boiler piece to fit where the old one used to go.

I painted the pieces in batches, but found that painting large batches got very boring, so I ended up painting about three to five pieces to completion at a time. I ended up keeping most of the larger pieces stuck to a biscuit tin so I could pick up the whole batch and put them away in a cupboard (to protect them from dust) when I didn't have time to paint.

I used Quickshade Strong Tone, but it didn't exactly behave the way I expected, and I ended up with unexpected pooling in a couple of spot (for example behind the knuckle spikes on the hands). I didn't have this problem with previous warjacks; either I was careless or the temperature is an issue. The pooling isn't too obvious, I think it's possible to see it as just battlefield dirt or something, but I would have preferred if it hadn't happened. Anyway, between the shade and the matt varnish the colours darkened a fair deal. I was trying "Mr Hobby Mr Super Clear UV Cut" matt spray varnish. It seems to be about the same as Purity Seal to me, but I feel as if it might actually darken the colours a tiny bit, which I haven't noticed with other matt varnishes. It could just be my imagination; matt varnish always dulls colours after all. Here's a photo with one unvarnished piece, one piece after the Quickshade had dried, and one after the matt coat had dried (over the Quickshade obviously). You can see how much darker than the pure paint the final product is.

I had a lot of trouble with varnish this time around. As mentioned the Quickshade didn't do what I expected. I'm not sure if I'm going to keep using it for my Khador jacks, but if so I might look into thinning it a bit. I'm not sure with what though. I also had trouble with the new GW Gloss Varnish (that replaces the old 'Ardcoat). It seems to be much thinner, but the problem is that it seemed to take bubbles more easily. When I first used it (luckily to varnish something unimportant), I brushed it on right after shaking the bottle and it was full of air bubbles that wouldn't go away. When it dried they were still there. I ended up sanding them off and applying another layer, this time waiting a long time after shaking to let the bubbles settle, but that didn't completely fix the problem. Luckily it wasn't a visible part of the model so the final blemishes didn't matter, but I'll need to be very careful in the future.

Overall I'm... just glad he's done really. In the future I might give him some new arms as a convenient way of adding warjacks to my stable; it should be possible to turn him into a passable Beast 09 or Kodiak, or even Ruin or a Grolar (there's magnets on the back of the left arm for Torch's flamethrower that could be used for a shield or guns). I really should take a break from warjacks now and start painting some units, but the truth is I have several warjack projects queued up that I would love to finish if I could only find the time. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Bigger They Are, The More They Hate Impassable Terrain

Got another game in. I tried another variation on my Butcher list. I took the same list as last time but swapped out the Spriggan for a Demolisher; I figured he hits hard enough with fury, and I don't have to be as cagey with him as I would with a normal jack, plus he can do work against infantry if I run into another swarm. I used the extra point to swap the Wardog for Sylyss. I also swapped the Koldun Lord for a Widowmaker Marksman; I had a sudden urge to see how useful Swift Hunter could be.
-Sylyss Wishnalyrr
Nyss Hunters
Kayazy Eliminators
Alexia and the Risen
Widowmaker Marksman

My opponent was trying another experimental list. I was rather surprised to see him place the Mammoth on the table. The Cyclops Raider and Void Spirit were new to me too.
Dominar Rasheth
-Cyclops Raider
Paingiver Beast Handlers
Tyrant Commander
Void Spirit

We rolled a mission with two zones and two objectives. You score 1 point by dominating your zone, one point by controlling the opponent's zone, or two by dominating the opponent's zone. He won the roll-off and chose to go first. I chose the side of the table with a bit of forest in zone.

He put the Mammoth a little to my right, where it threatened my zone. The Nihilators went to my left.

After thinking about it I decided to try to jam his Mammoth out of his zone using the Demolisher and clear the zone with the Nyss and Alexia; I figured as long as he didn't run the mammoth forwards at full speed it might be possible to hold him out long enough to score, and then potentially run over to the other zone if needed. The Kodiak would toe my zone while staying in the forest; the only way for him to kill it would be with the Mammoth, which he wouldn't want to do, meaning my zone would be safe.

To that end I put my infantry on my far left, with the Demolisher ready to run past the house.  The Kodiak was on the far right ready to run through the forest (yay Pathfinder and free runs!). I put the Marksman over on the far right as well; I guessed I had enough shooting on my left, and I might be able to flank and pick off his Paingivers.

Round 1:
Seeing what I was doing, he ran his whole army towards his zone. He put Carnivore on the Nihilators, meaning they only needed 9s to kill Iron Fleshed Nyss. Plus it seems it RFPs, so that would deny Alexia corpse tokens.

It seems that the Raider can ignore Stealth if it aims; I would need to be careful. The Marksman walked up, killed a Paingiver, and used the Swifthunter move well into the forest. The jaxes ran forwards. The Nyss ran into the zone. I hid the Eliminators behind the house, where the Mammoth couldn't see them. Butcher put Iron Flesh on the Nyss. The Risen advanced slowly, with Alexia churning out a Thrall (that I don't think I actually activated).

Round 2:
My opponent moved the Void Spirit up to the Eliminators and arced Breath of Corruption through it, boosting the damage rolls to kill them both. He really doesn't like those two. Maybe I should buy a second unit? He put Far Strike on the Mammoth and dropped some AOEs, but thanks to poor deviations he only killed a couple of Nyss. The Nihilators charged forwards, killing another homeless elf.

Those AOEs were a problem. I put Fury on the Demolisher and ran it forwards, ready to get in his Mammoth's face. The Risen continued their slow shuffle, with another Thrall (proxied with a Paladin) popping up and missing an attack on a Nihilator. The Nyss shot up some Nihilators, though a lot of them passed their tough rolls. Valachev managed to kill the Void Spirit with his magic ice shotgun. For some reason I moved the Juggernaut much farther forwards; I don't remember if I was trying to bait the Mammoth, or just moving him over to the left in case I ended up needing him. The Marksman killed another Paingiver and moved into the Raider's back arc, so it wouldn't be able to aim then target him.

Round 3:
The Tyrant Commander gave himself Pathfinder so he could move through the forest and get close enough to the Demolisher for Rasheth to arc Blood Mark into it, dropping it's ARM to 23. The Mammoth was Enraged and charged the clamjaxe, wrecking it. To be honest, for some strange reason I wasn't really expecting him to do that, but I guess I'd forced him to since if he didn't I would most likely feat and charge the Mammoth next turn. Well, at least it spared me a turn of AOEs.

Since he had used the Tyrant Commander's battle-plan for Pathfinder, he couldn't use it to stand up the Nihilators, limiting the number of attacks he could get against the Nyss. The Raider tried to kill Valachev but only just missed.

Well, I wasn't really liking my chances of dominating the left zone at this point, so I decided it was time for plan B: Butcher ran over to toe the right zone while using the house for cover. At this point the Mammoth would have trouble contesting my zone thanks to the house and his objective. The Nyss and Risen continued thinning his ranks. The Marksman claimed another Paingiver. I couldn't decide where the Kodiak needed to be so it just stood still and vented steam. In case someone tried to shoot at it. I scored a point for dominating my zone.

Round 4:
His AOEs cleared out most of the rest of my Nyss and Risen, which I had continually failed to spread out. I think he channeled another Breath of Corruption through the Tyrant Commander, leaving it with only four boxes. The Mammoth toed the left zone, since Alexia would be able to pop out enough Risen to score on my turn if he didn't contest. The Raider walked close enough to see the Marksman and killed him with a boosted shot. Since he didn't contest my zone I scored a second point.

I moved Butcher farther from the fight. A 2-man CMA from the Risen miraculously finished off the Tyrant Commander, and between Risen and Nyss I took out the rest of his Nihilators and the last Paingiver. A Thrall charged the Mammoth and did a single point of damage. At the end of the turn I scored a third point.

Round 5:
More AOEs from the Mammoth killed Alexia and all but two risen, and left only Cylena and Valachev. He ran the Standard Bearer into my zone while the Raider hung back and missed a boosted shot at the Butcher.

I dropped Iron Flesh. The last Risen pawed ineffectually at the Mammoth. I wanted to kill both the Standard Bearer and the Raider this turn so that he wouldn't be able to contest next turn, so I moved Cylena around to take a shot at the Bearer, but she missed. Sylyss heroically charged and did a fairly impressive four points of damage, leaving him on a single box (fairly sure Khador standard bearers don't have boxes... just saying...). Butcher took a boosted shot but missed (I could have used Lola but I wanted to keep my distance). I put Fury on the Kodiak and cast Full Throttle, then charged him at the Raider. I was hoping to throw it into the Standard Bearer, but the second initial attack killed it. I guess Fury was a mistake. As a result I did not score this turn.

Round 6:
The Mammoth trampled over the Risen, crushing them into the ground, and flattened Valachev. Rasheth moved into his zone to dominate for a point.

Cylena finished off the Standard Bearer. If I had charged the Kodiak to the Raider's left last turn I would have been able to reach the enemy objective this turn, but I had charged to the right so that I could throw it at the Standard Bearer, meaning all he could do this turn was run up to it. I stupidly moved Butcher up to take a Blunderbuss shot (I don't know why, a single shot couldn't have destroyed it), but was out of range. I scored my fourth point, and my opponent scored his second.

Round 7:
Rasheth could not get close enough to Butcher to land Blood Mark, so instead he feated (dropping Butcher's armour) and threw boosted Sunder Spirits into him, dealing something like 9 damage. Then the Mammoth took his shots, but poor dice meant he couldn't finish the job, allowing me to score a fifth point for the win.

My dice were pretty hot that game; I think I persistently rolled above average. Most of my attacks hit, and my low rolls were never important ones. My opponent's luck was not nearly as good; his Nihilators only managed to roll a single 9 all game, his scatters were unfortunate more often than not, and he flubbed some important rolls (like missing out on the boosted 11 he needed to take out Valachev early on). That plus the terrain layout basically meant he ended up fighting a severe uphill battle.

I think the lists were better balanced this game than the last, although his list wasn't exactly optimized. The Nyss weren't as invincible, but they still demanded the attention of most of his army; Gators would have done much better against them than the Nihilators. His Mammoth did most of the work, cutting my army down to just a couple of models, but didn't have the maneuverability to contest my zone. I think 35 points might be too low for the Mammoth, as it it means his army footprint is rather small?

I did a number of stupid things like engage models with Risen then shoot at them with Nyss rather than shoot first then move the Risen in (although that wasn't always an option due to Alexia's positioning). Clumping the Risen in between the Nyss was probably the worst thing, as it allowed him to target DEF 10 Risen with the Mammoth's AOEs rather than DEF 18 Nyss, meaning he had better chances of getting more Nyss with them. Plus the Risen didn't do very much all game (when I did move them forwards they were easily removed by berserking Nihilators and AOEs); I think I would have been better off holding them back further, and/or deploying them more centrally so I could shift them over to the right or something. Churning out Thralls didn't work too well in this case either, perhaps I should hold them back for later too.

I'm not sure what I was thinking, running the Demolisher up into the Mammoth's charge range like that. If I had been more careful with it I could have just stood back and threatened to put some pain on the Mammoth if it moved up, but then that would have allowed him to keep dropping AOEs on the Nyss, which I didn't want, so... I dunno if was the best play or not really. The other thing is that due to the Mammoth's positioning, it's possible I could have put it in a threatening position where he couldn't charge due to his objective getting in the way. I need to learn to look out for little things like that too.

I wonder if I should have played the Butcher more aggressively; his melee threat range is higher than the Mammoth after all. Just walking forwards behind a couple of warjaxes might have let me force a favorable confrontation. I've gotten Butcher killed several times so far though, so I decided to play it safe this game.