Sunday 28 June 2015

Iron Snakes: Ancient Nestor - TO DONE!

Hi folks,

This morning I finished off my Iron Snakes Contemptor "Ancient Nestor" after some tricky decal work on the Dark Angels shields. The last couple of painting sessions have all focused on completing the back of the miniature, in particular the power-plant. The project has been very challenging, particularly as I have tried a couple of new techniques on the weapons and base.

Ancient Nestor is named after a venerable character in Homer's Odyssey. Nestor’s portrayal in the Odyssey is contradictory. Homer describes him as a wise man; Nestor repeatedly offers advice to the Achaeans, such as arranging the armies by tribes and clans and how to effectively use chariots in battle. At the same time, Nestor's advice is frequently ineffective, such as instructing the Achaeans to use spear techniques that in actuality would be disastrous, and giving advice to Patroclus that ultimately leads to his death. Nestor is never questioned, however, as the consequences of heeding his advice are attributed to the fickle hearts of the Gods. I am hoping to incorporate this duality of character into his special rules...

Front view: Maintaining a limited pallet was hard due to the level of detail.

Right view: A plasma cannon may not be the best dreadnought weapon, but... MOAR plasma!

Arm detail: A spartan shield from Scibor miniatures

Back: here you can see the second Iron Snakes symbol a little more clearly.

Plasma blaster detail: What a nifty place to hide a gun.

I have to thank the Warhammer 40K Google+ community for helping me with the base. I was really torn with how to arrange it and the support I found online was greatly appreciated. Originally this Dreadnought was going to be a Dark Angels Contemptor, with its foot crushing a Fallen Angel, so the pose was designed to exactly fit the body of a marine between the left foot and the base. Finding a piece of Spartan ruins that fit that exact height was amazing.

Leg detail: That Dark Angels symbol was a mongrel to get on for some reason; one last challenge :-)

So... my Iron Snakes detachment finally has some support and I can tick another project off my 2014/15 To-Do list. I still have a Master of the Forge to paint for this detachment, though I think I will knock over a few quick Tyranid and Dark Angels jobs first. I think a quick break from painting verdigris and blue plasma glow will do me some good! For now, I can give myself a big red stamp and enjoy the fact that this three year old project is finally finished:

See you across the table,


Wednesday 24 June 2015

Iron Snakes: Ancient Nestor Progress (...the CLAW!)

Hi folks,

I distinctly remember that, when I finished my Iron Snake Sternguard squad, I hoped that the next couple of projects wouldn't be quite so hard to complete. Well, so much for that ;-) Every limb on the Contemptor Dreadnought is taking me the same amount of time as a marine at the moment. The close combat weapon/plasma blaster arm has been quite a challenge, as it incorporates a glow effect, verdigris and free-hand image all at once. It also has another Dark Angels shield, which I am thinking of adding a decal to.

Here you can see the Iron Snakes icon that I painted on the shoulder. It was a bit hard to get right as the surface was quite irregular. I think I will do one more pass over it to neaten up some edges that bother me.

If you saw the earlier picture you will notice that I have removed a large cluster of purity seals from the right shoulder. They were very distracting and just didn't fit the model; I kept looking at it and wondering if it really worked, but I am much happier now that they are gone. I am not sure if I am going to add another piece of detail to replace them, there was a bit of damage done to the surface getting the purity seals off, and the surface was miscast slightly in the first place. I kind of like it how it is, looking a bit battle scarred.

So... he just has the power-plant to go on the back. I am planning on using more glow effects and verdigris in parts, but nothing too fancy. Next time I post about this guy he will definitely be finished and I can give myself a big red stamp; a nice reward for getting through parent/teacher interviews.

See you across the table,


Wednesday 17 June 2015

Luthien Campaign: Final Battle (...and the end of an era)

Hi folks,

A few weeks ago Battletech Tuesday was dedicated to the final climactic battle of the Luthien campaign. Over the course of a year, Wade, KuriboGoomba and I had played 13 heavily modified games inspired by the scenario book. The vast majority of games have been nail-bitingly close and the campaign victory points standings have swung like a pendulum. Recently, the Draconis Combine had just edged ahead, despite the death of Takashi Kurita (I'm still proud of that one!). In the penultimate battle, Wade achieved a minor victory, placing him in the zone for a decisive victory over all.

The Clan forces were represented by a Dragonfly (piloting 4, gunnery 4), a Warhawk C (piloting 3, gunnery 2) and a Timberwolf Primary (piloting 2, gunnery 2). Both the Warhawk and the Timberwolf have been absolute scourges during this campaign, so we simply had to include them in the finale.

The Inner Sphere force was lead by Theodore Kurita in a Clan Warhawk Primary, hard won on the planet Wolcott. Backing him up was Morgan Kell of the Kellhounds in a modified Archer, who has a special ability that allows him to use his own targeting system to scramble enemy targeting systems. Rounding out the force was a Mercury and Mongoose from the very first scenario, and two hijacked Clan mechs from another scenario; a heavily damaged Stormcrow B and a Hellbringer A missing some head armour.

My daughter insisted that Stormfly and Toothless watch the game :-)

To open up the account, KuriboGoomba unleashed the Warhawk's PPC's on the damaged Stormcrow, with the hope of taking it out before it could get a shot off with its Ultra AC 20. The final shot from the salvo vapourised the Mech's head, which is the best luck that Goomba has had all year (usually he is the opposite of a good luck charm; sorry champ!).

The Dragonfly begins its reign of terror. Unfortunately, it is not the only light Mech with pulse lasers bouncing around.

In retaliation the Draconis Mech's pounded the Timberwolf as it moved to target Theodore's Warhawk. My Dragonfly jumped behind the Warhawk as well and the whole Clan force focused its fire for a turn. Once again, Goomba came up trumps with another stunning head-shot. Theodore Kurita, heir to the Draconis Combine, joins his father in the afterlife. Despite a heavy to-hit modifier, the Archer smashed the Dragonfly with a swarm of LRM's.

Wade lines up his shot on my Timberwolf's cockpit.

Hoping to silence the Archer that was efficiently stripping all of my Mechs of there armour indirectly, I raced the Timberwolf forward. The last time these two met, the Timberwolf disabled Morgan's Archer with his final desperate shot, so you could say there was bad blood between the two. Many (all?) of my Mech record sheets bear the scars left by that bloody Archer's indirect fire. Even within minimum range, the Archer slammed another two LRM 20 volleys into my Mech. In an effort to protect their last surviving hero, the other Draconis Mech's opened up as well, causing three mortal engine hits. In return, the Timberwolf mauled the Archer, knocking out its LRM launchers and bringing it to the brink of destruction. A speculative shot on the nearby Mongoose immolated it instantly.

We reach that point in the game where all the light Mechs shoot each other in the back.

As the Hellbringer exposed itself to fire on the Timberwolf, I again snuck my Dragonfly in behind to try and take it down. Despite causing several critical hits through exposed internal torso structure, the Dragonfly failed in its attempt and finally succumbed to the fire of the Mercury right beside it.

...and stay down.

Amazingly, the Hellbringer survived another three turns of fire from the Warhawk. Finally, the Mech went down, as Goomba split his fire to take down the Mongoose in the same turn. For a Mech with paper-thin armour, that Hellbringer took an incredible amount of punishment and held the midfield for close to 2 hours of the game. The last of Takashi's Dragon Claws had finally found his beautiful death. The return fire took off one of the Warhawk's arms, halving its remaining weapons.

The end.

At the end of the game we had an Archer that had sustained heavy damage and lost its main weapons systems, being stalked by a heavily damaged Warhawk armed with a single remaining Large Pulse laser. Considering the time and the lack of Draconis presence on the board, the mercenary Archer opted to withdraw, denying me vital victory points for killing the hero. It was somehow fitting that these two champions of the campaign survived to the bitter end.

Tallying up the points a few days later, it became obvious that the game was a draw (-5 VP). When applied to the campaign points tally, it was just enough to drag back the Draconis score to a minor victory. Considering that both the Coordinator and his heir had been killed during the course of the campaign, this seemed like a very appropriate result.

Final Campaign Victory Points Tally: +45 VP

Result: Minor Draconis Combine Victory!

What an amazing experience this campaign has been! My sincere thanks and congratulations go to Wade, for facing me across the table so many times over the past year. It was a hard-fought victory bought with the blood of the ruling family of House Kurita, various beers in responsible amounts, Kam Ying (Rainbow Steak FTW!) and Best of the 90's playlists. Thanks also to KuriboGoomba for being my stand-in while I put the kids to sleep and for reaping an incredible toll during the last game. Love your work and happy 20th Anniversary of Battletech ;-)

Se you across the table,


Saturday 6 June 2015

Iron Snakes: MOAR plasma!

Hi folks,

Last night I spent a couple of hours working on my Contemptor Dreadnought's plasma cannon arm. I wanted to try and get some of the back-lit glow effects we have been seeing on the Adeptus Mechanicum Skitarii weapons, in particular, this beauty (top left):

I started by painting the entirety of the plasma coil in Enchanted Blue. I then created a 4:1 mix of enchanted blue and Skull White and thinned it down to the consistency of milk. Holding the cannon at a 45 degree angle I washed very small amounts of the mix at the very base of the coil, allowing capillary action to draw the colour up the coil groove. I then let this dry completely (2 minutes).

Next I made a lighter shade by mixing another part of white into the original mix. I didn't thin it down to maintain the consistency, as I didn't want this colour to travel as far up the groove. Again I held the cannon at 45 degree and washed very small amounts at the very base of the coil. Capillary action moved the colour up the coil groove a little too far, so I very carefully soaked some away with a fine detail, dry paintbrush (painting's version of Ctrl Z!). I let it dry again, before repeating the process with yet another, lighter, shade.

For the last wash step, I took Skull White and added a minute amount of Enchanted Blue. I thinned it down a very small amount and, holding the cannon at 90 degrees, washed the base of the coil again. I used a dry paintbrush to soak up any paint that moved too high.

After that I drybrushed Leadbelchers from the top of the coil downwards, before highlighting it with Runefang Steel. Et voila...

I think the effect looks quite nice; my original idea for the pose of this figure was that it had just fired its plasma cannon and was waiting for it to recharge. The effect lends itself to this concept, unlike my other plasma weapons which have the coils glowing white hot all the way to the top. The reduced glow also lowered my compulsion to add OSL to the purity seals (though the jury is still out on that one, if you would like to offer a suggestion...). Most importantly, I tried something new :-)

To finish this guy off I have to paint the powerfist/plasma blaster arm, the right foot and the power plant on the back. The glow effect I am planing on painting in the palm of his powerfist is going to be a particularly challenging job, so keep an eye out for it.

In between coats, I have also started assembling some Hive Guard for my Nids. After finishing off my Contemptor I am going to do a Nid blitz, in an attempt to cross off a few more things from my 2014/15 To-Do list, before it turn into a 2014/15/16 To-Do list.

See you across the table,