Saturday, 9 March 2019

Dark Angels Techmarine WIP

Hi folks,

Being the hobby butterfly that I am, I spent a bit of time this morning working on this Dark Angels Techmarine for my 2000 point 2nd Edition list. I have pieced him together using parts from a different kits; the body is metal, the axe is resin, the plasma pistol is an oldish plastic one, the servo arm is from a less detailed 3rd Edition Techmarine figure and the shoulder pad is from the earliest Dark Angels upgrade kit.

My main challenge now is to figure out what colours to use on the axe. The easy thing would be to do everything in metallics, but I really would like to try painting the cog and skull in the same black and white scheme. I have also used some nice turquoise glows that would work well on the axe blade, but I am not sure how that will go with the black and white in the middle. Hmmm.... I'll have to think about it some more.

If you have any ideas, please drop them in the comments,

See you across the table,


Saturday, 2 March 2019

Old Stuff Day!

Hi folks,

Happy Old Stuff Day! It has become a bit of tradition to share old blog posts and have a laugh about the good old days on March 2nd. I have had a look at my most popular posts of all time, and shortlisted five of them for blog-necromancy. If you haven't read them, I hope you enjoy them, or if you have, that you enjoy the trip down memory lane:

1) Van Dieman's World Devils Re-Looted Battlewagon

Have you ever wondered what an Orky vehicle must have looked like before it was looted, or what it would be like to get one back on them and loot one of theirs? Perhaps it would look something like this Re-Looted Battlewagon:

2) Iron Snakes Chapter Master Seydon

I am not a huge fan of Primaris Marines, or at least, grafting them into my existing collections. Still, I had to give this conversion a try, as Seydon is described as standing much taller than the average marine. I think the slightly larger scale works nicely.

3) Imperial Knight Warden "Perseus" Intrepidus

I won this guy in a terrain building competition run by Dave Weston over at Confessions of a 40K Addict (some great old stuff there, btw...). I worked on it for over a year, including some pretty hefty conversion work on the carapace weapon. I used a lot of different techniques I have never tried before to complete it, so it is definitely one of my proudest achievements in the 40K hobby.

4) Hive Fleet Numereji Flying Hive Tyrant

This monstrosity was inspired by the dragon Cloud Jumper from How to Train Your Dragon 2 (I did it for my little girl). There is no small amount of the Pitch Black monster in there as well, I think.

5) Wifey Speaks

I interviewed my wifey, to get her take on the whole hobby seen and what it is like to live with a tabletop gamer. It is a little known fact that she collected Dark Elves once upon a time. The conversation that we had was quite illuminating!

Finally, to leave you with something truly old, I present some photos of my 2nd Edition Space Marine scouts. I had been using needle sniper rifles in my list for a while, with no models to represent them. When these figures came out it was the first time I felt like I absolutely had to buy a thing. They had a level of detail I had not seen on 40K models before, being used to the simpler Marine models. I didn't have much painting experience at all, and, what I did have, did not involve painting eyeballs. This squad was going to be a first and all of my mates new it.

Now, I don't call myself an eyeball painting expert, but when I rolled these guys out during the next game my mates flipped out. Looking back at them now, I can only cringe a little (I can see where I just jammed a brush with black paint in and hoped it hit something). But I will never forget the look on my mate KuriboGoomba's face when he held them up to his nose and said "......duuuuuuuuuuude."

They are on my paint table at the moment having the minimum of repair work done to them; repainting would be sacrilege. Hopefully, I'll be able to show them off a little better soon, as they feature in my retro 2nd Edition Dark Angels list.

See you across the table,


Friday, 1 March 2019

Squaduary: Iron Snake Centurion Combat Squad TO-DONE!

Hi folks,

I worked on these Centurions as hard as I could this February, but still only managed to finish three of them. At the start of this week I decided to split the project into two combat squads, when work really started getting on top of me. I think that was a good idea, because I managed to achieve some detail that would have gone missing had I pushed to complete all six. This squad is armed with non-standard wargear: assault cannon, heavy bolter, storm shield and hurricane bolters. I imagine them hunkering down behind the shield with the assault cannon protruding from the cut-out, BBBRRRrrrrtttt -ing a spear of tracers into the xenos horde.

Each combat squad leader has a helmet plume, whilst the others have no helmets for differentiation. I noticed after spending an hours or so doing freehand that I had painted this guy's snake upside down and back to front; the orientation of that shoulder piece is hard to judge! Dry fit before painting free-hand peeps. Anyway, I put a coat of grey over that top this afternoon, after giving myself a day at work to get over my mistake, and repainted it in about half an hour. 

The next guy has no helmet, which means painting eyes! I'm pretty happy how he turned out, considering the speed at which I finished all of the detail. I love the open stance of this model, this is a classic "shoot that guy" pose that I love maneuvering on the tabletop.

The last model in this squad is the test model that you have all seen before, but I will include it here for the sake of completion. I love the pose of this guy, the stride is very purposeful and he looks like he is about to swipe something with his shield.

This squad has now been added to my growing Iron Snakes army, which I am hoping to push out to 2000 points this hobby season. Centurions are very, very expensive in this edition, so I shouldn't have any trouble getting to that point limit with another three on the way.

Happy Squaduary everyone!


Wednesday, 20 February 2019

The Death of High Fantasy?

Hi folks,

Is high fantasy dying a slow death? I have noticed a growing body of discussion that would suggest role-playing groups are turning away from classical fantasy tropes, in favour of more eclectic and subversive themes. One explanation for this has been the shift in young adult literature. 

The type of books I used to read when I was a kid were very much of the high fantasy genre. Epics such as The Lord of the Rings, The Wheel of Time, The Shannara Chronicles, The Rose of the Prophet, Memory, Sorrow and Thorn and The Riftwar Saga all had a certain quality to them that I find lacking in modern fantasy literature (with some spectacular exceptions). They were not easily accessible; you had to work hard to read them, particularly at an early age. The themes in them ran deep and were far reaching, taking a long time to unravel. The worlds that they presented were vibrant, perilous and often mind-bending in their complexity. When we played a fantasy RPG or other tabletop game, we tried to incorporate this as much as we could. 

Increasingly, people are looking upon further additions to this genre with disdain. I searched through some discussion forums on the topic, in which high fantasy is described as being “trite, hackneyed and overdone.” That authors “fall to the traps of Medieval world-building. Leaning heavily to the familiar Medieval/DnD tropes and setting so they don't have to do the heavy lifting of world-building”. That “High Fantasy seems to be teetering on the brink. I can't remember the last time magic was just about just dudes throwing fireballs instead of being based on some convoluted system. One cannot even fathom seeing a knight rescuing a princess.” The genre I grew up loving seems to have shot itself in the foot, becoming a parody of itself. I find it hard these days to buy a fantasy book with classic themes, because reading the description of the back reveals the same old story almost every time. It’s embarrassing. It is hard to stop this sentiment from bleeding into gaming.

Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn have a convoluted system of magic, as does the Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss.

Modern literature is very different to what I grew up with, subverting the well established art of world building to allow more familiar themes to spice things up (what we would usually call “low fantasy”), or turning people’s expectations of fantasy on its head. The likes of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson fit squarely, and quite popularly, in this category. Modern gaming, film and television have also unleashed a new brand of fantasy upon us. This shift has been reflected in the depiction of fantasy themes on the table top; for many people, stumbling upon a goblin camp with your dwarf warrior isn’t quite cutting it anymore.

This has made me look at my own experiences in gaming to see if I was part of this trend. My earliest experiences of roleplaying were in a high fantasy setting, reflecting the stories we were all enjoying at the time. As time has progressed, however, I can see that the underlying nature of our campaigns have changed. Sure enough, we too have injected all kinds of guff into it to try and break the mould. It was enjoyable, scratching some kind of itch that we had, but I can’t help but feel that we have neglected something that deserved to be treated better.

For the past couple of months I have been playing in a campaign run by our long suffering DM of 25 years, Arny. It is a stock campaign called Storm King’s Thunder, which we are playing online using the Fantasy Grounds online platform and Discord for verbal communication. Let’s just say getting everyone around a table in the library at lunch isn’t an option anymore.

Preparing for the campaign, knowing that it was going to be more of a classical setting, I felt the sacrilegious urge to do something a little different. I have a long history of choosing what you would call a classic character to roleplay; it feels old school and I pride myself on that! This time, I thought, “stuff it!”, I’m taking something completely different. I rolled up a Dragonborn Warlock with a whole heap of conflicting motivations, feeling decidedly rebellious about the whole process. I was proverbially tossing the classical fantasy tropes out the window.

Mercy, my Dragonborn Warlock, based on an artwork I found on Pinterest.

Dropping into the first session I was gobsmacked to find that many of the other players (love you folks!) had outdone me. After several sessions, I still don’t have a clear understanding of many of the races/themes represented in our party. What they are not, is the kind of characters I celebrated in my youth. I’m loving the campaign, but very much feeling like the pendulum has swung a long way from the days of Solamnic Knights and Kenders.

I don’t think high fantasy, and all of the trappings that come with it, will truly die out. There is still a lot to enjoy in the meandering grandeur of Lord of the Rings. It is also very rewarding, I feel, to play a classic fantasy character or army and relive the glory days. It may take a bit more work, but there is a legacy you can tap into that adds so much to the gaming experience. The trick is to encourage our young ones to read the old stories and help them to discover the rich legacy within. Hell, we need to keep it fresh in our own minds, and one of the easiest ways is to do that is to share it with someone else. As folks who understand, we have an obligation to keep high fantasy alive, because we know the world will be a less fantastic place without it.

See you across the table,