New edition, new inquisitor

With a new edition of 40k I realised I have to build a new Inquisitor. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a character builder – which shouldn’t be a surprise given that I have thirteen Skyrim characters, and ten of them are below level five. And that I can’t quite face building the Skitarii infantry I bought, and seem to instead be embarking on a quest to remove all of my Guardsmen’s heads, replace them with cooler ones, and repaint their fatigues. I’ll er… keep you posted on how that pans out.

So yes, I’m like a lazier, lower-quality version of those Scandinavian guys who build astonishing Inquisimunda warbands all day. I have many Inquisitors, and many retinues, and most of them have managed a couple of games in at least one edition, with varying results. I’ve just last night noticed that the Skitarii vanguard/rangers kit is full of greatcoats with cyborg limbs and arcane weapons – finally a kit perfect for building agents of the Inquisition!

I really wanted my 8th edition Inquisitor to be in a realistic sword-wielding stance, but in all of my bits, I couldn’t find a single suitable right arm, or a leg/torso combination in a fencer’s stance of right leg leading and narrow profile. Everyone in the 40k universe is striding chest first into the enemy, the crazy bastards. Usually with their left foot leading.

So I guess I’m going with striding purposefully chest first into the enemy, head and weapons lowered or maybe pointing accusingly, like the guy on the front of the old Codex: Witch Hunters.

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Too many eyes! You’re toast!

For a head I’ll see if I can track down the Eldar guardian bare head that looks like an anime hero. I’ve used it to good effect before, and I think a young male Inquisitor is the ticket this time. The last two have been ladies.

Pictures soon!

Eversor!

2017-06-15 13.38.52This is my Eversor assassin, freshly stripped and painted. I love this classic model, it’s a 1995 sculpt and I really prefer it to the new one. The new guy just looks so clean, like a SCUBA diver with a skull mask. This guy looks freaky and unbalanced, with his ape-like posture and huge head and hands. It just looks so… 40K, to me.

Eversor

Here he is undercoated with Army Painter Bone spray.

I couldn’t find his backpack unfortunately so I stuck some daggers on his back to represent the power sword. I went for a Blanchitsu influence with the paintwork, but I’m afraid I went too far over the top and now it just looks like a poor copy of a Blanche mini. I even copied his typical colour palette, although mine is a bit less green than his current stuff. The mis-shapen lump he’s standing on was meant to initially be bricks but I like that it looks like a gruesome pile of meat now.

I hear that in 8th edition Eversor is a beast, and I’ve been using this guy since… well probably since about 1995. Hopefully if/when I get a game in he can tear through some enemies, old school.

Heresy will stay 7th? Uh, OK I guess

40k 8th Edition is getting closer and closer, and at long last I’ve seen something I’m not too happy about. Forgeworld has apparently confirmed that the Horus Heresy will be getting it’s own rulebook, based on 7th edition.

Now because I am a human being with empathy and the apparently increasingly rare ability to put myself in another’s shoes (take that, internet warriors!), I can imagine that the majority of people who this affects have good reason to be happy. If my local gang are anything to go by, Heresy players have money, and they buy all the books they can, and it would be pretty terrible for them to have to relegate all their old beautiful hardcovers to the status of irrelevant coffee table books. They also have this idea that the Heresy is well-balanced and that 7th works great in the Heresy context. I don’t feel qualified to comment on that, I haven’t played enough Heresy games. The ones I have played did seem pretty well-balanced though I suppose. But that doesn’t change the fact that 7th is a bloated monster of a game, with a new skin stretched over early 1980s bones.

See, I was excited for 8th edition, because having played a great variety of games over the years I feel that complexity in a wargame is almost always a bad thing. What I want, and what I’ve wanted from 40k for years, is a game that captures what I imagine to be the feeling of being a general on a battlefield. And this can only be achieved if you aren’t constantly being taken out of the action by over-written rules. Which I think happens all the time in 40k because it was an ancient behemoth that had slowly changed scale over thirty years and needed to be reset.

And yay, now they’ve reset it! With extensive playstesting and community consultation no less! And… everyone I game with prefers and is heavily invested in the Heresy, and that’s not being reset. So sucks to be me I guess. This is like when Wizards of the Coast pulled the rug out from under the D20SRD and Paizo released Pathfinder to keep the grognards happy. And yeah 4th edition D&D kinda sucked in my opinion, but 5th is better than Pathfinder for precisely the reasons I think 8th 40k will be better than Forgeworld’s (slightly modified 40k 7th) Heresy ruleset.

Eh, I’ll get over it.

Oh and hey, I’m also getting a bit impatient to hear something about the Skitarii/Adeptus Mechanicus in all this hype. I rather unluckily put an onager dunecrawler up on eBay just before the new edition was announced, and no-one is buying it even though it’s much cheaper than retail because presumably they’re waiting for the new edition. Normally I’m a patient guy, but I need money to pay the tee shirt printer so she can start printing some sweet shirts for my art store! So if you want a new-on-sprue spider tank for 65 Aussie dollars plus postage, here it is. Please buy it 😀

Things are looking up

It’s been a fair while since I’ve posted here, and it’s mostly because I’ve been busy with other projects. I’ve been formalising my various art pursuits into a legal and legitimate business. It’s all going very well, if a bit haphazardly. I’m still learning. I’ve had an exhibition, I have several commissions on the go, and I’ve just joined the stable of illustrators for an online SF magazine. So that’s a regular gig! Not much money but every little bit helps and is going into the new account to grow the business. I’ve had to learn a lot of things I didn’t know, and spend some money for set-up and production costs which otherwise might have gone to miniatures gaming.

I say might, because… well, my wargaming and miniature painting hobby is something that I doubt I’ll ever truly abandon, but it’s certainly waned in importance to me over the last few years. I’ve been much more likely to spend my money on art supplies, pizza, going out for a drink, pretty much anything but wargames. I’ve bought one rulebook in the last year (Aetius and Arthur for SAGA) and the only models I’ve bought were some GW Skitarii I got with money from selling some of my collection.

That said: how about that new Warhammer 40k hey?

Looks pretty great to me. I’ve been following the information released on the Warhammer Community page (which is surprisingly entertaining and informative) for a while now, and I have to say, I have not seen one thing that I didn’t like the sound of. Not one. The latest thing to make me happy is the knowledge that every army I sort-of-collect for 40k (Astra Militarum, Adeptus Mechanicus, and the Inquisition) will all be in one book at release, which is soft-cover and not too expensive, and so I can just pick that up and then paint my Eversor and Skitarii projects whenever I feel like it.

In fact I’m so enthused about new 40k that I’m feeling unreservedly positive about Games Workshop games for the first time in what has sadly been many years. I’m thinking I’m going to re-activate my old blog, Warp Signal. I started it when I was really positive about gaming, and I closed it when I started feeling not so positive, and now it feels right to go back and have a rebirth of sorts. I fell out of GW games, by which I mean I stopped buying books, in 5th edition. It’s hard to believe really – it’s been two whole editions since I’ve felt good enough about the whole thing to actually buy a book. And now I think I’ll buy this one, so that’s definitely… something.

Catch you here or there,

Jimmy

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

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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.

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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