Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Dark is rising

I bought these guys at the same times as the Grey Knights I spoke of before; on the first day I decided to actually get into warhammer. I bought them because they looked cool and were relatively cheap - in fact these are some of my favorite GW fantasy models. I've basically decided they count as inquisitorial paladins.

I started painting them a few months ago then got busy and forgot about them, so I've forgotten a couple of details of how I painted them. Basically, I wanted them to be very dark - I know I've been saying this a lot lately but it's especially true of these guys. I wanted to try a bit of weathering, mainly the stippling on the cloaks and the worn paint over metal on the shields. I also tried some feathering on the blades. Finally, I was experimenting a little with a unified palette.

First I cut off some horns and spikes where possible to make them less chaos-y. Of course this involved filing the star off their shields. Then I filled in the gap in the fur over their shoulders with greenstuff and tried to sculpt it to match. The results were not great, but I think I got better as I worked, in the end it didn't look too bad. I also filled in the cut-outs in one model's sword.

I painted the armour tin bitz to make it dark, and edge highlighted dwarf bronze. Steel was boltgun washed black and highlighted chainmail. Wooden axe-handles were painted in grey then lined with snakebite leather to make a more colourless , "bleached" wood.

Leather was just scorched brown drybrushed or edge highlighted with snakebite leather. I decided to paint the wraps around the weapon handles as cloth rather than leather, so painted them grey and edge highlighted white. I believe the bone was done in calthan brown then bleached bone, possible with some white highlights and/or a gryphone sepia wash, I'm not really sure.

The fur was painted brown and the cloak red, then both were given a drybrush of snakebite leather. This was one of the experiments I was trying; highlights in a different colour. I hoped it would make the cloth look more worn while simultaneously better tying it together with the fur. I may have also used a red wash on the cloak, though I don't believe I did. The cloak was then stippled black at the base, as were the boots.

The shield was just painted black with the hourglass design in white. Again an adaptation of the Sentinels Eternal logo: no need for the shield since it is already painted on one. I painted boltgun metal unevenly around the edges to make it look as if the shield was steel underneath black paint. I also tried to apply a few fine scratches across the surface.

Ihad initially planned to use army painter quickshade, but eventually settled on washing the entire model in devlan mud, with the exception of the shield which I wanted to stand out. After that I decided the fur needed more definition, so I applied another drybrush of bleached bone. Finally I feathered the edges of the blades with chainmail - I usually paint slim lines, but I wanted a more worn appearance, the idea being that the edge is brighter from sharpening and use.

I had a problem with the matt varnish, for some reason it was very inconsistant. I had to apply a second layer with a different varnish to fix it.
Gloss varnish

The matt varnish did not come out well

A different matt varnish mostly fixed the problem

Unless viewed in bright light they look a little too dark and homogeneous. In contrast the feathering on the blades contrasts too much with the surface, I suppose next time I'll need to avoid washing the blade with the rest of the model. The highlights on the cloak were darkened more than I expected by the wash, and the fur is also too flat, I should have brushed both up to a lighter colour. The armour and the leather are a surprisingly hard to distinguish, perhaps brighter highlighting would maintain the 'dark' look while introducing a bit more definition? Despite all that, I think they look pretty cool.

Friday, March 9, 2012

War is hell

I had a game against a guard army. I forgot to bring my assault marines so I played my old list:

Sentinels Eternal:
Captain with bolt pistol, power weapon, melta bomb.
Tac squad with power fist, plasma cannon, flamer.
Scout squad with sniper rifles.

As usual my opponent was not ready for such a small points game and had to write a list on the spot. For some reason he decided to go all-infantry. I believe he had two squads of veterans, some sort of commander who could give orders in a small squad with a banner, and a squad of stormtroopers with hellrifles (I think that's what they were called, they were 18" S3 AP3 rapid fire), who he gave infiltrate and pinning on the first round. He also had three lascannons.

We rolled annihilation. He gave me first turn so I combat squad the tac marines with the flamer and fist together and the cannon in the other team with the captain, then deployed them in the open in order to charge forwards. The dread hugged cover (THREE lascannons?), aiming to walk through a building. After he deployed I put my scouts as far forwards as I could to get at the lascannons, but even with the scout move I needed their first turn to get them in position.

I started by moving everything forwards. My tac marines and captain ran forwards while my dread took a pot shot at the limit of his range, surprisingly killing a couple of storm troopers. He responded by using orders and firing en masse at my marines, but he forgot that he was using vets with ballistic skill 4 and only killed a few models from my plasma gunner squad.
Just before the dying started

Some pretty cool looking Imperial Guard

Next turn my captain split off the depleted squad and joined the fist squad moving forwards. The snipers fired at his lascannons and actually managed to kill one! I was stunned! I then fired my plasma cannon squad at his commander, and scored a hit! Five 2+ rolls later and the entire squad was vaporised in a single blast of superheated plasma, and with them went his orders.
Now that's just incredibly unlucky

Now bereft of both orders and luck, he was unable to do much damage to my army, with even his hellguns failing to take down more than a couple of marines. My snipers managed to kill another lascannon, then my plasma cannon rolled a 4 on the scatter dice to bullseye the last one. He concentrated most of his firepower on the plasma cannon squad, but a succession of unlucky rolls saw the canoneer himself survive right up to the end. With most of the rest of his army running after losing spectacularly in assault to my captain and fist, and with the store was closing in five minutes, we called it. I had two killpoints (four if you count the two guys retreating), he had none.

It's worth mentioning that I had forgotten my dice so I had to roll with his, and those traitorous little backstabbers betrayed him just about every chance they got. I actually felt bad about winning, his luck was so rotten and mine was so good. My plasma cannon took only two shots but both were on target and killed everything they touched. My captain only had one round of combat, in which his five attacks counted for five dead guardsmen. Even my snipers took out a lascannon on every turn they got to shoot. In fact, even my power-fist sergeant, who in all my games has never managed a kill, took down two guys. His first ever kills, I'm so proud. Could this be the end of his losing streak?

The fact is my win was not down to skill. Had my opponent decided to include some tanks in his hastily written army list, things might have been very different, seeing as I had very few models which were quite bunched up at times. My opponent was a great guy who didn't seem too bothered by his bad luck, I suspect if we play again he'll be better prepared for such a small points game.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Finally finished one

It's been over two years now since I decided to take the plunge and get into Warhammer. Amongst my purchases on that first day was a box of metal Grey Knight Terminators. This was a while back, over a year before I even heard rumours of a new codex. After reading the rules and codex, I picked up a few more terminators and some Grey Knights in power armour, with the intention of taking them as allies in a Space Marine army (I didn't see the point of painting more than a handful of the same models, and to be honest the idea still doesn't appeal to me).

I did some experiments with the models, like magnetising arms, installing bulbs, and using glow-in-the dark paint, but I never got around to actually painting them. This was initially because they were quite daunting with all the detail, and being some of my very favourite miniatures bar none I wanted them to be perfect. Later it was because I was busy, then because the new codex completely turned me off (Kaldor Draigo has the stupidest fluff I have ever read in a GW publication, though I do have a soft spot for Mordak's rules and fluff).

But, as I believe I have mentioned before, I've decided to paint the models that I like rather than worry about army lists, and I still like the GK terminator models. Plus, I don't think I'm going to get much better at painting anytime soon, so I finally decided to paint one.

This started off as an experiment in quick painting, the idea being to use Army Painter metallic spray and quickshade for fast results. I also wanted to paint this one to be relatively dark, and then a Grand Master to be brighter. It ended up taking a lot longer than I expected though.

First of all, I'm not getting good results with the metallic primer. Paint doesn't seem to stick to it very well, so I ended up thinning down some boltgun metal and using it as a wash, combined with a boltgun drybrush, to try to get a better base. The armour was later washed badab black then drybrushed boltgun again. Next time I think I'll I'll just put on a black primer coat and drybrush with boltgun, that should give good contrast and a 'pitted' surface as well as being much faster. I might try edge highlighting with mithril next time, just to see what difference it makes (I didn't bother this time because I normally find edge highlighting on boltgun or chainmail has very little effect, perhaps because they are already quite shiny).

I then painted the details dwarf bronze (I may have used a layer of tin bitz as a basecoat, I don't actually remember), and a few things in tin bitz (like the storm bolter housing and sword handle), but I applied it in very thin layers to try to stop it from clogging the detail, so it took many coats to get a strong colour. Plus I kept missing hidden bits of detail and needing to go back. It was washed black at the same time as the armour. In all the White Dwarf articles they always highlight gold with mithril silver, so I thought drybrushing them boltgun at the same time as the armour should work reasonably well and save time. It didn't. The drybrush robbed all the colour, and they ended up looking too close to the rest of the armour. Fortunately a wash of gryphone sepia brought the colour back, and the end result was not too bad - though next time I'll paint them after the armour and just leave them bronze with a watered down wash.

The eyes were simply white with a blue wash to create a very weak glowing effect (it's much easier than painting lenses, which look better when they're done well but worse when they're not). The paper was done the same as usual; bleached bone with white edges followed by a gryphone sepia wash (or maybe it was ogryn flesh). The purity seals were just mechrite red with a devlan mud wash ( I wanted them daker than usual). The book on his right hip was just calthan brown then scorched brown, then given the same wash as the paper.

I decided that the symbols on his shoulders and the book hanging from his waist were not actual paper and leather, just painted to look like it, so I used skull white and tin bitz, and washed them black with the rest of the armour. I also painted the sword symbols mithril afterwards to make them brighter than the rest of the armour. The freehand on the books is of course the two elements of the Sentinels Eternal symbol, just split up for a change.

The sword itself was slightly modified by removing the 'power weapon mechanism' normally found at the base of the blade to give it a much more traditional look. I hate that bit, it makes the sword look less sturdy. The blade was painted chainmail, washed black, the drybrushed up to mithril to make it brighter than the rest of the model, so it would stand out and serve as a focal point. I'm not partial to the power weapon effect on the current 'official' paint scheme, in fact I'm not completely sold on power weapon effects in general, so I'm just keeping it simple for now. Plus of course the whole look of the Grey Knights is very old fashioned, so an old fashioned sword looks the part to me.

I decided to leave this one glossy, as it makes the metal look more shiny. I agonised a bit over this decision since I was supposed to be going for a 'dark' look, and when I look at him I'm not sure I like it (it doesn't help that I applied the varnish rather thickly so it fills up the detail a bit, making it look almost laminated), so I'll try a matt varnish on the next one to see which I prefer.

As you can see his name is "Tighten". It's a reference to Megamind, if you've seen the movie - and you know about Grey Knights - you'll get it. I hope. I might be using him as a ghost Knight - not in actual gaming, but just in terms of the unit I'm painting. I've been experimenting with glowing spray paint and getting somewhat usable results so a part of me is tempted to use it on 'ghost knights', but I don't think I'll use it on him. Maybe the next one, we'll see.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Blood for the Blood.. er.. Emperor?

Played another 500 point game. I swapped out some tac marines for assault marines in my list:
Captain, bolt pistol and power weapon.
5 tac marines (all bolters)
5 scouts (all snipers)
5 assault marines, power weapon

He played blood angels:
Captain, plasma pistol, power weapon
5 tac marines (4 bolters, pistol & chainsword)
5 assault marines, power weapon, melta gun
Contemptor dreadnought with assault cannon

As you can see his army was almost completely analogous to my own, but with the points I spent on scouts put into the contemptor dread (he asked if I minded and I said I didn't). In the game we ended up with his captain and tac squad in assault against mine, and his assault squad against mine, so it really did feel like fighting a reflection. My scouts spent the entire game repositioning to try to get a shot (the only unit I had a chance to shoot at was the dread, but with armour 13 there was no point, even rending hits couldn't even glance), while my dread was knocked out early by a single shot from his assault squad's melta after they entered by deep strike (he did not even get a single shot off).

He got the charge off on both assaults - the first because I forgot you can assault after rapid firing (which did nothing), the second because I completely misjudged the distance and just plain rushed my assault squad towards the action.

In the end he won both combats. By the fifth turn I only had my scout sergeant left, who finally managed to get a shot off, rolling two sixes in a row to land a rending hit on his captain. Who subsequently failed his invul save and lost his last wound. The game ended there on a roll of a 1.

As usual a few mistakes were made, but less than usual I think. He forgot about the captain's plasma pistol, for what that's worth. He didn't have a copy of his dread's rules so we played the assault cannon using the regular stats. Oh, and we initially forgot the tac sergeants had an extra attack.

My luck was actually not bad (even if every single run roll I had was a one), but the loss of my dread to a single melta shot was a big blow. If it had survived it would have attacked his assault troops, allowing my own assault squad to get the charge later. Not that it would have changed the final outcome, as it would have needed a fair bit of luck to take down his own dread.

No, I lost because he outmanoeuvred me. I let him him get the charges, split my forces, and made bad decisions with my snipers (apart from just taking them in the first place) - honestly, I don't know what happened there.

In terms of strategy, I need to try to anticipate more, and I'm thinking I should stop splitting up my forces. In terms of the army list, I'm going to try dropping the dread in order to bring my tac squad back up to full strength - the added durability (and power fist) should make them useful again, as right now they don't do very much. I do have some ideas for lists I want to try, but it'll have to wait until I get the models.