Gryph-Hounds and Eldar

goodwin-eldar-sketch

I stared at these blade-like curves for hours as a kid.

I wonder how many other people around the world saw pictures of the new Age of Sigmar Gryph-Hound thingies and immediately had to know: “would an Imperial Guardsman look good on that thing’s back?”

Apologies if you thought this blog was dead. I doubt it will ever truly die, given my fairly predictable gaming cycle:

  • Stage one: Hmmm. I used to like playing the odd game of Warhams. I wonder what’s going on in that world at the moment?
  • Stage two: Whoa! That’s pretty cool. But holy shit this stuff is expensive. No way am I investing in another army when the last game I played was like a year ago.
  • Stage three: I do like Inquisition though… and Guard will never go out of fashion, right? Maybe if I carefully buy and plan this one unit to add on, it’ll be fine.
  • Stage four: (three months later) Done! Let’s play a game!
  • Stage five: Well that was fun. Games sure do take a long time though. I’m tired and thirsty. And the store is so far away. Maybe I’ll give next week a miss.
  • Stage six: Do nothing miniature gaming-related for a year or so, then return to stage one.

Anyway if you’re a neat person who unfollows blogs when they go dormant for a few months, it was nice knowing you!

For the rest of you who are still here… I’m currently entering stage three. There are some interesting and nice models coming out of GW lately, and I’m curious to see where the 40k not-End Times ends up. I’m still intimidated by how many books keep coming out. And in fact I already haven’t bought two because even though I really wanted them, I was afraid they’d be invalidated before I ever played a game with them. Genestealer Cults and Imperial Agents, if you’re wondering.

I also think it’s great that they are giving away prints of some of Jes Goodwin’s Rogue Trader Eldar artwork. It’s probably my favourite art from that era of GW illustration. Shame I can’t just buy the print without also buying hundreds of dollars worth of Aeldari Reborn or whatever. Ah well. It seems a bit rough to complain when they’ve made some amazing models in the last couple of years for things like the Mechanicum and the stealer cults – stuff I’ve wanted for decades.

Jes’s art really is great. I was just thinking yesterday, the older I get the more obvious it is to me that very few people, even among the so-called creative class, actually have a good imagination. When someone does, it blows everything around it up and lasts for ages. It’s like Lord of the Rings. A whole genre appeared, and for like thirty years afterwards people – who were supposed to be fiction writers, and fantasy ones at that – seemed incapable of imagining villains who weren’t some sort of Dark Lord. It took decades before people started to wonder why the Dark Lord was so Dark anyway, and what if we looked at it from his point of view? Or what if *gasp* there was no dark lord at all in this story?

Anyway, Jes’s Eldar were like that. They were the most original aesthetic in Rogue Trader and the Eldar Aeldari models and art we see today still echo their look. So to speak.

I’m serious, does anyone know if a Cadian would fit on a Gryph-Hound?

Playing and not

It’s the final day of the Horus Heresy campaign I’ve been playing in, and I’m not going. I haven’t made quite as many games this year as I’d like, but the ones I have made were good fun. The best thing about this campaign I think was the sense of immersion and continuous narrative the organiser created. Everyone who plays has to sign up to this wiki where you make a profile page for your army and track results. The map was a system of planets and when we are all standing around at the start of each day advising our elected warmaster and pointing at the map of planets it feels like a bunch of generals, and if you squint you can see enormous astartes warriors, grizzled auxilia commanders and mechanicum cyborgs in place of the (mostly) bearded and (universally) T-shirted gamers.

You also get one of these little dog tags for each day you play, which gives a once-a-game minor advantage you can use in future events with that army only. Very cool.

I’m not going because my son had a biopsy under general anaesthetic on Wednesday, and his mother had root canal the day after. We’re all a bit drained.

But it’s getting towards the end of the year, and I naturally start to want to recap what’s happened. Gamewise my D&D campaign has continued, since 2014! It’s the longest continuous game I’ve ever played in with the same PCs, which is something to be sure. I played two SAGA games with my brother and then he tried to get me to play Age of Sigmar but Such Things Have Yet to Come to Pass.

I’ve ordered some Picts from Westwind in the UK on the strength of a discussion about Arthurian SAGA I had at the House of Paincakes. I figure even if I never play, it’s a manageable project I’ve always wanted to do so that’s OK. At this stage I’m planning on taking my Irish warband to Southern Fury, a SAGA mega-battle, at Cancon next Australia Day weekend in January.

fianna

My fianna (hearthguard) and Irish warlord for SAGA.

Outside gaming, I’ve been art-ing quite extensively. I read a book (I think I mentioned it before) called the War of Art, and one of the sentiments the writer put forward was that trying really really hard to be famous at something creative is self-defeating; success is a by-product of skill, which is a by-product of hard work. It’s a tough balance to strike, to work and work at something while trying not to think about where you expect to take it. But you know what, damn me if it isn’t starting to work. Someone saw my Instagram account and I was invited to showcase at a RAW event. It’s this international artist collective thing where you sell tickets and show at an event in your hometown, and then you can show at any other RAW in the world. So I’m keeping my head down, painting, and going to life drawing clubs at the pub when I can. Getting better, sometimes not as fast as I’d like, but better nonetheless. I’m determined not to jump the gun and make a store and a website and a facebook artist page and all that until it’s actually time to advertise something concrete, like this RAW event. Basically I don’t want two things:

I don’t want to be one of those Deviant Art types with a hundred pictures of wonky elves bragging about how they’re a self-taught artist. I want my art to be under my control, to be able to pick my style based on what the work needs and do it.

And I don’t want to have a bunch of empty, deserted online artists pages and profiles and etsy stores because I jumped the gun and thought I was ready for sustained professional engagement with the world when in fact I wasn’t.

Both those things are tempting though 😀

See you next time,

Jimmy

Life, the internet and everything

Hi everyone,

This is going to be one of those long, intense posts that barely touches on gaming, so you have been warned. It’s also maybe the most personal thing I’ve ever posted so yeah… let’s see how that turns out shall we?

I’ve had almost a complete break from facebook for about three months now, and I have to say, it feels like eternity. It gets easier, but not much. Before I get back to that though, I want to write some background as to how I’ve been for the last bit. Basically I’ve been tangling with some powerful and elusive thoughts for almost a year, and now I feel as though things are slowly clicking back into place. The thing that has been hardest for me to figure out is my relationship with the internet and my friends thereon, both local and international (I’ve decided to use the term “local” in lieu of “real life” or something, as Von has often pointed out to me that the internet is real life). So I thought I’d try to work things out a bit by writing it all down and seeing if that helps. Continue reading

I was wrong, 30k is actually good

Hi everybody,

Yeah, OK, so I was wrong. I’ve always been hesitant about getting my teeth into the Horus Heresy as a setting, for a variety of reasons. Mainly I guess I was skeptical that today’s Games Workshop had it in them to make a setting that was different from original 40k, but still compelling.

It turns out that they can, and have, which I suppose shouldn’t surprise me that much. Rogue Trader was a delicious soup of 1970s and 80s science fiction and Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Not exactly ground-breaking on the surface. But the thing I think that suckered me in was the dystopian hopelessness; the human race distilled into a brutal conservative regime, fighting a last stand against the worst parts of itself made real.

So I never really got the Heresy, as a setting. It seemed to me to be bereft of what made 40k interesting: just a bunch of battles in a golden age of demigods flying around with giant hammers and stuff, and if you don’t already know my policy on superheroes, it’s “yeah, nah.” Oh and also ALL SPACE MARINES ASTARTES ALL THE TIME was a bit of a concern, since I’ve never been into them that much. But my local scene really started to get into it, and more and more people I knew and trusted as gamers and hobbyists quietly recommended Forgeworld’s Heresy rules and invited me to events. Eventually I thought why not, I’ll give it a go, and I set about converting 1000 points of my 40k Guardsmen to be 30k-compatible Imperialis Militia. I also read the first three Horus Heresy novels, to get a feel for it all.

And you know what, it’s pretty great. I like the aesthetic, which is subtly different. And the thing that suckers me in (in a narrative sense) this time is that it still has the hopeless feel. Only instead of being mired in the dying days of a dystopia, the setting is the dying days of a utopia that almost was. The Loyalist forces are (officially) atheist rationalists, confronted by your traditional Lovecraftian sanity-destroying beings that disprove everything they believe about the universe. And, interestingly, what we believe too. I think it’s fair to say that we live in largely secular, rationalist cultures in most of the modern West (barring parts of the USA maybe), so it’s easy to identify with the people of the Heresy era. They’re sort of like us. And we know that they’re doomed to become Emperor worshipping medievals, because faith is the only thing that can fight the Warp. Brutal.

The rules are nice too. My friends locally were telling me it was more balanced than 40k, and from the couple of games I’ve played and what I’ve read, that certainly seems to be the case. Ages ago I wrote a post about how balance in wargames is only really possible when the factions are similar. That’s why historical games (and near future true SF games, like Infinity) are much better strategic contests than 40k, where endless bug monsters and undead robots fight human super soldiers protected by the game designer’s plot armour. Well in 30k, everyone is either humans or astartes, and the variety comes with the legion rules or (in the case of my militia) homeworld provenance. There are deamons and psykers I guess, but they seem to play a much smaller role than in 40k. It’s like a low-magic fantasy setting, contrasted with 40k’s high-magic and aliens and stuff. Different legions can be very different, but within reason. You basically know you’re fighting astartes (you have to call them astartes in 30k, it’s the rules) or humans.

I think for that reason the games I played felt much more strategic than 40k, and I really had the sense my guys were winning or losing because of my actions, not because I was out-listed or surprised by some formation combo. Oh and the other thing that is cool is that astartes don’t have And They Shall Know No Fear. 30k militia are less brave than 40k Guard, too. Everyone is braver in the far future because they have learned to be. So that means you can break Space Marines, and sweeping advance them. Damn it felt good to bayonet some marines into running and then cut them all down. My guys never get to do that in 40k!  It’s amazing how these two things (increasing the importance of morale and levelling the factions to be all similar) make for a much more balanced game.

Of course it’s still 40k in terms of basic rules structure. So that’s a point against it. You have huge armies where individual guys have to be upgraded with weapon choices, and games still take forever. But it’s certainly cinematic, and as long as I don’t play too often I think I can stay interested. My militia hail from a desolate hive world, so I took the Feral Warriors and Al-chem Jackers provenances. This makes them hive gangers hopped up on frenzon, so WS4 and stubborn. Plus I purchased some upgrades for extra attacks. My grenadiers were more than capable of scrapping with astartes up close. Which is the way I like it 😀

So… yeah. Just wanted to pop up and say that I’ve been gaming, and that 30k is actually pretty cool if you like GW’s settings but are a bit over the madness that is 40k list-hammering.

Have a good one!

FullSizeRender

A state-of-the-art Leman Russ demolisher stands guard as a squad of Uruq Immortals militia head for an objective.

 

Long overdue picture dump

Well hello there miniatures wargaming blogosphere. I’ve not been posting here at all, for months, because I’ve been too busy doing stuff. Like this:

riptide

This is the pirated riptide that rides with my mercenary Tau. Note his replacement foot. I actually lost it while I was putting him together because this kit has a stupid amount of parts. Sometimes… I just wish things came fully assembled.

But not always. This is an old beastlord I had lying around for years, from one of my many aborted attempts to collect a Warhammer Fantasy Battle army. I stuck a giant sword on his back that came from an SD Gundam kit. He is supposedly for Mordheim, but who knows if that will ever eventuate. Either way I like him.

This is my Macharius Omega, my first superheavy. It took ages simply because it’s so big and the tracks! They are sooo boring to paint. With things like this I always put freehand paintings and markings on them because it makes it more interesting to paint. It also looks more like they’re grizzled vets in a warzone. Or at least my Hollywood-inspired idea of grizzled vets in a warzone.

bowie

Here is a painting I did for a local exhibition as a tribute to David Bowie. It was my first exhibited painting and it rained all week beforehand so I couldn’t varnish it (it’s an oil painting and you can’t varnish them in wet weather). No-one bought it so now I can varnish it properly.

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I’ve also been drawing a fair bit, and I did this design of a banshee and put it on one of those vanity sites where you can buy art on shirts and phone cases and stuff. The link is here if you’re interested. I plan to do more of these, and hopefully they’ll get better and better.

I’ve also nearly finished my Irish hearthguard models for SAGA, but they’re not internet worthy just yet.

Thanks for reading, see you in another few months maybe!

Jimmy

 

Ratlings!

An ex-pathfinder and two ratling sharpshooters make up the team.

An ex-pathfinder and two ratling sharpshooters make up the team. The “ratlings” are Hasslefree space dwarves.

Here are my ratlings, mercenaries who work for Trinh Lomax. I love these guys. The tiny squad of three costs a pittance in points and can be a minor annoyance to my opponent, or, deny enemy infiltrators space on the battlefield. Or they can, you know, kill a Lord of Nurgle. Like they did in my last game. Straight through the eyepiece, son.

Is it weird that I think the ratling girl is kind of cute?

Is it weird that I think the ratling girl is kind of cute?

Ordo Xenos Inquisitor + retinue

L to R: crusader, crusader, Inquisitor, gun servitor with multi-melta, death cult assassin, acolyte with plasma gun

L to R: crusader, crusader, Inquisitor, gun servitor with multi-melta, death cult assassin, acolyte with plasma gun

This is Trinh Lomax, the Ordo Xenos Inquisitor who is my warlord in the narrative 40k campaign I’ve been playing in. She has been living among the Tau for the last ten years, posing as a rogue trader.

The model is by Hasslefree, but I rebuilt her weapon to be a combi-melta.

The model is by Hasslefree, but I rebuilt her weapon to be a combi-melta.

inq2

Personal update

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Hi everybody,

I’m tempted by long habit to write a story about how I’ve been suffering what feels like a demon-haunted mid-life crisis, and how I’ve recently come out the other side with a new outlook on life and a whole new set of personal goals. I have let go of a few decades-old dreams and ways of living that were holding me back, and have woken up to a part of me that feels like it’s been asleep for twenty years.

But one of my new resolutions is not to waste any more time explaining myself for no reason. So, above is a work-in-progress photo of an oil painting I’m working on; the first one I’ve ever done. I’m learning a lot every day.

I’m not very interested in writing any more. But I am still interested in the artistic side of the hobby – even more than before in fact. So I’ll keep you all posted. Thank you for reading, my friends.

Till next time,

Jimmy

Glad I have a blog

bastable

I go in and out with blogging, and I know it’s probably tiresome to read my agonising. I write too much; I don’t write enough; I don’t have enough pictures; I have too many opinions; I hate the internet; I’m changing my name, etc.

So yeah, sorry about that. My mood fluctuates a lot with the seasons I’ve noticed. Maybe I should see someone about it because I think it’s getting worse…

Anyway, today I just wanted to say that I’m glad I’m a blogger. I’ve lost one of my favourite models – can’t find him anywhere. The Ministorum Priest above.

I’ve had him for… hmmm. Eight or nine years. The way the sculptor captured his confident, tireless pilgrim’s stride is one of my favourite things about him. And my paintjob worked out well too. I just really liked him, even though he’s a simple old-school model. I called him Bastable.

So I’ve been playing in a narrative 40k campaign with my radical Inquisitor’s private army of mercenary guards and Tau. Last week I needed some spiritual support, and Bastable was nowhere to be found. I’ve looked high and low. I had to use a sanctioned psyker model as a stand-in (I have ten of them I never use. Yeah, thanks for that 5th edition).

The ironic thing is that the psyker priest did really well – tying up some plague marines and a sorceror for three turns with his ogryn flock, making save after amazing save with his Rosarius. That witch was blessed by the Emperor!

He’s no Bastable though. This is an opportunity to create my own priest, at least.

And to finally get to my point, I’m glad that I have a photo of him online that I can pull up any time. And not just him, but all of my models I’ve sold over the last few years. The internet is good for something.

Till next time,

James

Merc Tau Fireblade

This is Shas’n’el Rei, the cadre fireblade for my mercenary Tau. She has a head from zealot miniatures, and an old metal Eldar ranger’s backpack.