List building agony

My Skitarii boxes have arrived, and now I’m faced with the puzzle of how to build them.

One of the things I like least about 40k as a system is the granularity it allows when it comes to equipping troops. I think squads should be treated the way they are in many historical wargaming systems: the equipment on the models is purely cosmetic, and the squad has set abilities. If being able to customise individual weapon loadouts within a squad was removed, I think the game would instantly become much easier to balance, quite a bit quicker to play, and far, far easier to make lists for. If they have any sense then 8th edition will be the one where they finally get rid of the skirmish-game legacy of Rogue Trader. Or at least streamline it.

Anyway, what I’m having trouble with is the bloody special weapons! Yes, I’ve read all the Reddits, and Bolter + Chainsword and Dakka Dakka threads. Not to mention 1d4chan and some Frontline Gaming competitive blog posts and some Imperator guides. I have a good theoretical grasp of what the weapons are capable of. I just don’t know if they’re worth it.

I guess it would be nice to have an arc rifle in each squad just in case I need to take a potshot at a tank or a Knight. Or a plasma caliver to melt extra marines. But more than one, and I’m really eating into the basic weapons, which are actually really good. Plus, vanguard all have haywire grenades anyway, the magnificent radioactive bastards. And if I leave the special weapons out altogether I can easily port the models over to Heresy games when I need to.

At this stage I’m definitely leaning towards assembling the squads “bare bones” as they say. It’s easy, and clean, and if after a few games it looks like I need the special weapons, I can grab some bodies off eBay maybe. And let’s be honest, the guys I normally play with are all pretty much exclusively Heresy players now. It’s just really hard to shake off my years of experience as an Imperial Guard general. A bunch of rifles with a special weapon or two just feels like the way it’s done, damn it.

In other news, I’ve succesfully stripped the paint off my old 1995 Eversor assassin, and I’m going to update him with a modern 40mm base and a new paintjob: ready for another few years of obliterating enemies of the Imperium/getting shot by a tank as he runs across the battlefield. More on that to come.

Skitarii

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Ranger of Mars!

 

I’ve sold all of my Tau, and it wasn’t easy. Not that letting them go was hard – that bit was easy enough.  No, I mean all the local facebook groups I put them on seem to be much quieter than they were the last time I sold something, a couple of years ago. They were up on three groups for a week without a nibble, and a fourth group never even got around to activating my membership request in all that time.

Then I got impatient and put them on eBay, and they sold within half an hour to a worthy fellow from Queensland.

So I’ve used the money I got from the Tau to order two of the unusually good value (for GW) Start Collecting: Skitarii boxes. One from Emerald Hobbies in Queensland (thanks to Warlock for the recommendation), and one from a guy on eBay in the UK who it turns out was trading as ++REDACTED++ Publishing. I always liked ++REDACTED++’s RPG supplements. Funny to think that they have a sideline selling warhams to people on the secondary market. Every little bit helps I guess.

I’m very excited about the Skitarii. I also ordered some of these heads from Puppetswar in Poland:

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See, I don’t one hundred percent like the hooded heads for the Skitarii rangers. I think they look too monastic. And if you have a vision, there’s no settling for less than one hundred percent right? The drawing up at the top is a sort of concept art pic I drew last night for how I’d like my rangers to look. The ricepicker hat (that sounds racist but I’m not sure why exactly, and I’m pretty sure it’s the common term) with the flappy robes and long rifle will create a very cool cyborg ashigaru look I think. It’s a look I tried to achieve with my Fire Warriors and I never felt that it worked. The vanguard are fine as they are: I like their medieval European style helmets, I think it suits their shock troop style.

I’m planning on gunmetal bodies for the cyborgs, a sort of weathered buff or tan for their coats, and black glossy helmets for the rangers with red cog logos. The onager walker-tanks will have desert yellow plating and again, gunmetal legs and stuff. I’m going to sell the two Adeptus Mechanicus dominusses (domini?) that come in the box to buy some Sicarians because they look awesome. Should be able to get a decent price for new-on-sprue AdMech in my local area, people love ’em.

Oh and game-wise I’m going to run a Skitarii Maniple, so no HQ. I actually think that’s very cool – being controlled from above by a tech-priest. It sounds immersive since I’m controlling them from above in the real world.

Big guns never tire

2017-02-25-12-25-40Hu-what?! Two posts in one month?

That’s right, I’ve most definitely entered stage three of my wargaming and hobby cycle. I’m thinking lately that a large part of the wisdom of experience is just being around long enough that eventually, no matter how thick you are, you notice your own patterns and habits – both short and long term. I’ve come to peace with the fact that I like the odd game, and I enjoy painting models (so long as it’s reasonably varied and interesting) but I get to “urgh, too much” quite quickly with respect to both.

In response to this, I seem to have developed an unconscious habit. I get excited by something new about once every two years or so, bite off a manageable chunk, then tweak models and background to my satisfaction so that it can fit more-or-less organically into my existing collection. At the moment I have two manageable chunks in mind, one for SAGA and one for 40k.

I mentioned a while back that I got some Pictish models. Well now my Aetius and Arthur book has arrived, and I realised that with my three historical warbands of Picts, Irish and Vikings, I am now fully equipped to accurately fight petty wars and raids the length and breadth of dark ages Scotland! Let’s hear it for extremely narrow historical/geographic gaming windows! Sorry, I think this is probably funnier to me as an Australian than it would be to a European. I know there were several rich, disparate cultures – entire kingdoms even – fighting for supremacy. But it’s just kind of funny that they were doing so in an area that’s probably smaller than some of the great West Australian cattle properties of the 1800s… which had about sixty people on them. I just imagine that the Picts and the Scots must have been very tiny.

Now, to 40k. I don’t know why and I don’t know how (to paraphrase Nick Cave), but I’ve suddenly become enamoured of the Skitarii. The models look cool, they have a post-human, cyberpunk theme married to the usual grimdarkery, and they look to me as though they even have my preferred playstyle: mid-range savagery a la the Sisters of Battle. Unfortunately in the last year my family has been hit with several huge medical, dental and car-related expenses, leaving me flat broke. And flat broke is the worst state to be in when you get the 40k itch, right?

So I think I’m going to put my Tau up for sale on the local facebook groups. They’re a small, nicely painted allied detachment that are mercenary themed so they can plug into almost anyone’s army. Hopefully I can get enough for them to fund the Skitarii, who will also only ever be a small army that I can plug into my Guard. And maybe if and when I get sick of the Skitarii I’ll sell them to fund the next lot, as I did with my Sisters and my Eldar.

I’m still wary of 40k. The whole thing could go Age of Sigmar mental at any time, and it’s already confusing as all hell. But that’s life I guess, you take your dice and roll ’em.

Oh and I also painted my medusa emplacements for my 30k militia, the Uruq Immortals. That’s them at the top there.

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!

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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