Thursday 29 December 2016

Iron Snakes: Centurion Sergeant Build Complete

Hi folks,

To recover from all the detail painting I did in the lead up to Christmas, I have been converting my Iron Snakes Centurions: Squad Aegis. It would have been very easy to arm them all with Grav cannons and be done with it, that's what the internet would have me do. Instead, I have decided to mirror the wargear of the Sternguard, by giving them combi-weapons of a sought. Two will be equipped with heavy plasma cannons and heavy bolters to match the combi-plasmas of the Sternguard. I know asymmetrical heavy weapons choices aren't in the Codex, but I stopped paying attention to the Codex a few editions ago. At the moment it is all about the "rule of cool". So plasma cannons are in! Storm shields too, apparently:

The storm shields are from a modeller who has just started a small business 3D printing custom shield designs. Rob over at 30Kplus40K showcased Mario's custom shields on his blog a while ago and kindly got in touch with him for me. After some messages on Facebook and design changes, Mario printed these fat babies for me. I'm looking forward to painting a prototype and sending him a photo.  The resolution on the shields is quite good, though you can still see some graininess. It will be interesting to see how much that effects the finish when it is painted.

Kryto, the sergeant, is armed with a sword that you may recognise. I ummmed and ahhhhed about sawing the two blades apart to removed the center piece, but I figured I could paint some neat lightning effects in there between the blades.

The next step will be a coat of Leadbelchers spray, which will probably have to wait until the weekend. It was 41 degrees Celsius today (105 degrees Fahrenheit) and we are heading for 37 degrees tomorrow: not good weather for undercoating miniatures!

See you across the table,


Monday 26 December 2016

Labyrinth: Miniatures TO-DONE!

Hi folks,

For Christmas this year I got the Wifey the Labyrinth boardgame, which she reviewed a couple of days ago. The miniatures for the game are supplied unpainted, which set me quite a challenge in the lead up to Christmas day. My painting progress is best described as glacial, so getting anything done within a tight deadline is like pulling teeth. I'm sure having kids has something to do with it...

Thankfully, Sgt Waz and I were just getting into the swing of The Trooper's Yu Jing army and he was happy to have a craic as well. I sent him home with Jareth and Sarah, knowing that they would be in safe hands.

To finish Jareth I painted his magic crystal with a glass scheme I usually use on my 40K lenses. I also painted his necklace and blue cloak. I left sarah completely as is, because she was already fantastic.

I started working on Ludo and finished him off pretty quickly. Most of the work was done with an orange undercoat followed by multiple sepia washes. I dry-brushed some pink over the darker skin to match his appearance in the film, as well as orange irises.

Sir Didymus was the hardest of the collection, clocking in at 8 hours; I finished him at 2 am Christmas morning! The heraldry was great fun to paint, though it did mean I had to refrain from drinking caffeinated drinks for a few days.

Hoggle was a bit of an experiment in skin tones, which I may re-visit at some point. He has very different skin to the human characters in the movie, which was hard to achieve. A few glazes of a lighter skin tone will probably do the trick. Overall, I am happy with how he turned out and I was keen to add him to the collection so we could start playing :-)

So that's it: project complete! As soon as the kids fall asleep tonight we are going to jump into a game and drown ourselves is nostalgia.

See you across the table,


Friday 23 December 2016

Infinity: Yu Jing-le Bells

Hi folks,

This year I have been dipping my toes into Infinity. It is an attractive option for my gaming group due to the relatively low model count and the incredibly beautiful sculpts on offer. The rule set has its highs and lows, but all of the games we have played so far have been fun: the proof is in the pudding.

At our age, the main difficulty in starting a new gaming system is Hobby Inertia. That gravely voice in your gut that asks: "Do you really want to learn another rule-set? Do you really want to buy another two Core troop choices? Do you really want to paint another army?" and invariably "Do you really want to try and fit another game into your gaming sessions?"

To ease us through the Hobby Inertia, Sgt Waz has bought some starter armies for us during the past 12 months. For Christmas, Sgt Waz and I teamed up to paint a 300 pt army of Yu Jing (Japanese Sectorial Army) for The Trooper. The Trooper and I have traveled to Japan together twice, including a pilgrimage to many sites that Miyamoto Musashi is known to have visited, the highlight of which was Reigando Cave, where Musashi wrote The Book of Five Rings:

We kicked off the project with an epic construction session, putting everything together and laying down the undercoat and first glazes together. After that we parted ways for a week, Sgt Waz taking a special character to work on with his prodigious painting ability, leaving the bulk of the force to be speed-painted by myself.

Miyamoto Musashi

When it came to picking a special character to lead the army, Musashi was an obvious choice. I can only claim credit for the base, which I kept as simple as possible. At that stage I was wielding a brush in one hand and a hair dryer in the other! I used Astrogranite Debris textured paint that has been washed with Nuln Oil and highlighted with Dawnstone, followed by Seraphim Sepia wash on the flatter surfaces. Here is the finished model, painted by Sgt Waz:


For a second character we chose a Shikami; very handy for completing objectives. The Shikami doesn't actually have a model yet, so we had to improvise! We used a Kempeitai model as a proxy, which I had been holding onto for an occasion such as this. The model was undercoated white, followed by a heavy Nuln Oil wash. "Hakama"/pants were painted in US Grey (Vallejo Model Air range). White details were picked out using several thin white coats. Grey areas were glazed with Eshin Grey, leaving the edges clear to provide a highlight. Red areas were painted Mephiston Red, then given a liberal Biel-Tan green wash. Mephiston Red and Blood Red were then added to provide depth.

After completing all of that at a blistering pace, I slowed down and blended the sword (Kabalite Green) and painted/highlighted the combi-rifle carefully, to give wandering eyes something to latch on to. There is a fine line between detailing a speed-painted miniature and painting lipstick on a dog; I think I have done alright here. Finally,  I am not great at painting eyes, having avoided them to a great extent during my 20 years of collecting Space Marines, Tyranids and Battlemechs. This was my first go at "manga eyes"; I still have a lot of practicing to do:

To bulk out the force we chose two groups of heavy infantry with a distinct samurai style: Haramaki Zensenbutai and Domaru Butai. Both were undercoated white and washed with a light grey to provide subtle shading. This was followed by a selective Nuln Oil Gloss wash to pick out the tubing, which is a major design feature of both infantry sculpts. Details were picked out using Mephiston Red and the procedure described above. The eyes were all painted Kabalite Green and highlighted with a lighter shade (1:3 Kabalite Green/White Scar White). 

Haramaki Zensenbutai

"Haramaki" is a type of armour that a Samurai (or retainer) would wear on their chest, which encloses their sides and back as well.

Haramaki armour

 "Zensen" is sometimes used to mean front-line. Butai is used as we would use the word "force". Roughly translated, Haramaki Zensenbutai are an "armoured front-line force". I liked the sound of that! The swords on these guys are all Kabalite Green wet blends. Hakama"/pants and blitzen were painted in US Grey (Vallejo Model Air range).

 Haramaki Zensenbutai with DA CCW


Haramaki Zensenbutai with Contender 


Haramaki Zensenbutai with Combi-rifle 


Haramaki Zensenbutai with DA CCW



Domaru Butai

"Domaru" is another type of chest armour worn by Samurai and their retainers in the 11th century.

Domaru Armour

I painted the "Haidate" (thigh armour) Tank Ochre (Vallejo Model Air range), followed by an Athonian Camoshade wash to add shading and a Biel-Tan green glaze to alter the colour slightly. The E/M swords were represented by Liche Purple/White Scar wet blends. The small exhaust ports/thrusters at the back were painted Kabalite Green, maintaining the limited pallet.

Domaru Butai with E/M CCW 


Domaru Butai with E/M CCW


Domaru Butai with Boarding Shotgun 


Domaru Butai with Spitfire


I would like to thank Sgt Waz for letting me be his wing-man on this project; we got a lot more done than I ever would have expected. I delivered the Christmas gift yesterday to a very happy Trooper, who will soon be unleashing them upon us on the table top!

Check out those ALDI Christmas trees :o)

See you across the table,


Sunday 18 December 2016

Game Review: Jim Henson's Labyrinth

[M4cr0: The wifey speaks]

Google “classic kid’s movies of the 80's” and you will see all the movie titles from my childhood. One of those movies is “Labyrinth”, the 1986 fantasy film that incorporated live action and Jim Henson's puppets. For the uninitiated, Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is a 14 year old girl caught between the make believe of childhood and responsibility of adulthood. She is left at home to begrudgingly babysit her younger brother Toby, where she wishes that the Goblin King would take him away from her. Jareth, The Goblin King (David Bowie) obliges her request, which she immediately regrets. To get Toby back and to stop the Goblin King turning him permanently into a goblin, Sarah must make her way through the Labyrinth and to the castle to rescue him. Along the way she meets amazing characters, both friend and foe. I won't spoil the ending, but do yourself a favour and watch it; if nothing else to see Bowie dance around wooing a 14 year old [just a little bit creepy…].

Back to the game. It was supposed to be my Christmas present, but after opening the box so M4cr0 could paint the playing pieces [yeehaa! Damn... how soon is Christmas?], we had to have a go. The game can be played by 1-5 players, with the objective being to save Toby before the 13th hour. There are 5 characters in play, Sarah, Hoggle, Sir Didymus, Ludo and Jareth, no matter how many people are actually playing. All good characters are united in the common goal of getting Sarah to the Goblin King's Castle. Hours correspond to complete rounds of play; during a complete round, every character has one turn to move and interact with the gaming board.

During play you pick up Labyrinth cards and take tests of speed, wit or brawn, by rolling dice against the antagonist on the card. Losing the test will force you to lose willpower, of which you have a set amount of tokens to lose. Once you lose all of your willpower you fall asleep in what is called the Oubliettte, where you miss a turn but regain a willpower token. Characters also have a special ability card and a weakness card that can affect how and what dice they roll against an enemy. [During the course of a game, if you overcome your weakness, your character becomes more powerful]. The funniest Labyrinth card, and I am ashamed to say that I failed the test, was to recite the lines from “Magic Dance”. I know you know them… You remind me of the babe... (What babe?). The game is arranged so that you have to get through  2/3 of the Labyrinth cards before you can even think about entering the goblin city...

Strategically, you can travel as a group and have a better chance of passing the tests, or you can travel alone. We traveled for the most part in two groups of two and, by the time it was hour 9, we felt like we would never draw the card to the goblin city. It made you feel like you were pressed for time and stuck in a… Labyrinth. On a side note, Marc's Ludo fell in the Bog of Eternal Stench and had to pass a social test every turn to see if he could keep traveling with the group. He failed and had to travel alone: [“Ludo shmell baad!”].

Once you draw the “Gates to the Goblin City” card you can fight the goblins within the city. Eventually, Sarah can meet the Goblin King in the staircase maze and, get this, you have to RECITE the spell that will send you and Toby back to the real world in order to win the game.

The Good – The artwork of the board and cards is lovely and very detailed. Every time you look at the board you will find more and more characters from the movie. The game flow makes you feel sufficiently like you are traveling in circles with the clock ticking. The Labyrinth cards follow the story, even if they are not drawn in order of appearance in the movie. The game is easy and will allow non-board gamers to participate and immerse themselves in nostalgia. After picking up the game and explaining the story, we also introduced the kids to the movie. I think that they will be able to play quite easily with us.

The Bad – The miniatures are not painted [yeeHAAA!]. Look I know you guys don't care about that, and I just put them at the top of M4cr0's “To-Do list”, but seriously everything is beautiful, except for the playing pieces. And they stick out like a sore thumb in a window in the box lid!!!!!! Not everyone paints, shock horror I know. Just give me a second to harp on the point. I have seen pictures of them painted in 3x the size, but painting big is different to painting small. OK I am done.

The game will be too simple for some. I think there is very little skill involved and it is a game of chance against dice. For many players it will be one that possibly sits on the shelf with the safe knowledge that they own a little piece of movie magic.

Overall, I think this game has/will earn it's place in our gaming cupboard. The theme is nothing like the other games we have [it plays a bit like Talisman, but less epic awesomeness/more accessible] and it is a good entry level game to play with the kids and other gaming novices. There is also an expansion that I can't find out any information about [I think it will just include extra miniatures]. This may add another dimension to the game. As it is, I give it a solid 3 out of 5 [I agree].

To end I will leave you with this gem:

See you across the table, [I couldn't have said it better myself!]