Monday, August 30, 2010

The Second Most Expensive Time of the Year

Yesterday the family and I went to Staples to buy school supplies.  Two and half hours and $300 later, we walked out laden with binders, pencils, backpacks, etc.

My dreams of buying Island of Blood this Saturday have all but evaporated.

All for the best, I suppose.  I am trying to focus on high quality painting and having 40 new clanrats to gawk at can't help.  I already own the rulebook, and it's not like IoB is going away anytime soon.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Skrolk WIP 3

My regular Thursday night painting buddies, Jimmy and Seth, came over tonight.  Jimmy converted penal colony guard, Seth painted his Chaos Lord on steed, and I worked on Skrolk some more.

Tonight was hands, feet, and staff mostly.  I'm not sure why, but I basecoated Charadon Granite and then lined all the grain with skull white.  Not drybrushed, lined.  It took a while.  After that I very selectively washed is sepia, green and flesh in various places.  Again, I'm not even really sure what I was going for. 

Let's see.... added some turquoise corrosion to the bells; gave the book a touch up of the black cover (no idea how I want to paint that yet); painted the cords leading to the bell and charm.  I honestly can not remember the colors I used.  It looks like a Reaper Bone Shadow base, then adding skull white to it for highlights.

In other news, some spammy jokester left 38 advertisement comments on my various blog posts here.  It's nice how easy they were to remove with the blogger tools.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Skrolk WIP 2

Tonight I worked on the robe, the bells and the book.  I'm photographing on a gray backdrop now and it appears to have helped the quality.

One thing I'm trying to do is highlight all the way up to skull white in places.  I really like the mini painting style of Massimiliano Corso, and have always wanted to be able to highlight as high as he does.  This rat doesn't go to that extreme, but I'm stepping out into new territory.

Just a quick color rundown....
Skin: tallarn flesh, elf flesh and skull white
Robe: gnarloc green, scorpion green, skull white
Bells/chains: Reaper shadowed steel, Reaper polished silver/gryphon sepia wash, bright bronze details.
Book/horns: Reaper bone shadow... will work up to khaki then bleached bone, then skull white

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Skrolk WIP 1

Hold you in his armchair you can feel his disease.

The digital camera has been found.  I'm not sure why I thought I could photograph this guy, especially in light of how poorly I did photographing that Blood Raven Shrike proxy.


Tonight's work was entirely on the face, with a little highlighting on the cloak.  The fluff behind Skrolk is that he clawed his own eyes out after beholding Plague Lord Nurglitch, but that he can see through Horned Rat given plague-o-vision or something.  To represent this, I painted one eye (the right one) as closed and tinged green.  The left eye, which was a little deeper in the cloak, is painted as a bright spot of Scorpion Green with a white highlight.  All my other Skaven have red eyes, so this green eye is meant to represent his magic sight.

If I am going to replace my top five minis on CMON, I am going to have to learn how to photograph these things.  They just don't seem to be in focus.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I am, after 4 long years, painting my Skaven Lord Skrolk model.  Since returning from vacation Saturday I haven't been able to find my digital camera so no WIP shot to post, and I desperately want to post one.  He is looking awesome, if I do say so myself.

In terms of list building around Skrolk, I'm not really sure he's a good choice for a 2k game.  At nearly 500 points, you're putting a quarter of your army's value into one model.  All it takes is a nicely bounced cannonball to kiss him goodbye.  At the same time he's quite a killer, being a level 3 wizard and having the ability to charge in and kill opponents with his five uber-weapon attacks at I6.  Get hit, fail a toughness test and you're dead.  Just like that.  His Liber Bubonicus will be great against huge horde units too.  Since no armor saves are allowed you will on average kill at least 1/6 of the entire unit.  For lower toughness units (as hordes tend to be) it may be 1/3 of the models.  Ouch.

My friend Mark and I plan on playing another Skaven vs. Empire match at some point, and I am considering taking Skrolk.  Any thoughts?  I have multiple Grey Seer models and Warlords on Rat Ogre Bonebreaker or War Litter, and even characters like Queek that I could field as Lord choices for a lot fewer points.  Is Skrolk worth is at that point level?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ultramarines Trailer: Excitement Level Decremented

I've been quite a fanboy for the Ultramarines movie, from the visual to the writing team to the voice casting.  Up until today.

Trailer #1 was just released, and it has lowered my expectations for this movie.  Why?  Allow me to explain....

  1. Too much exposition.  Good grief, I don't need great honking paragraphs from the Space Marine codex read to me with smoky backgrounds to "get" what a Space Marine is.  Even someone completely ignorant of 40k should be able to understand in about half that time what they are dealing with.
  2. Too much standing and shooting.  I've seen Space Marines stand around shooting before.  It was called "Dawn of War."  A trailer should have some sense that there is something happening in the movie, some sort of plot.  What I got from this trailer was "Marines shoot some building on a mountain and kill it.  Then some marines get shot."
  3. Audio!  One scene in the trailer has an older marine speaking.  Maybe this is just an initial render of the scene, but the audio level of his voice was way too strong for the distance that his face was from the camera.  The large room and the camera distance should have created an entirely different sound, and the fact that his voice was about as loud and clear as the narrator made his voice entirely disconnected from his visual.
  4. Image flashing.  No, no, no.  Teasing with clips is one thing but the flashed images of the Imperial Fists made me think my movie player was having connection problems.  I could only identify them as stills of Fists by pausing the movie and advancing in tiny bursts.  Pointless.
  5. Frame rate: The space ship flyby and the jumping/landing Space Marines were really jerky.  Distractingly jerky.  Seriously.  Fix that in the final render, or add motion blur or something.  This movie needs to look at least as good as the average cinematic from a video game.
I am really hoping that this trailer is not indicative of the movie as a final product.  I really want this to be done well, and all the ducks seemed to be in a row (for lack of a better metaphor.)  I have a long running tendency to hate Pixar trailers but love Pixar movies.  I'm hoping I can have the same experience with this movie.

Friday, August 13, 2010

What Should I Give Away When I Get To 100 Followers?

As my follower count increases steadily over time, I am feeling inclined to give something away when I reach that magical, yet completely arbitrary, 100 follower threshold.

So, follower or browser, what do you think would be a reasonable gift for a random follower once I reach that mark?  Fruitcake?

Some new product would certainly be the easiest way to go for me, but it seems rather impersonal.  Perhaps a painted model or unit?  I think I have the chops to provide something nice for the winner.

What are your thoughts?

...and yes, Susan, I know I still owe you a Tardis.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Simple Gaming Table part 5

Okay, something had to go wrong sooner or later, right?  I gave the board a nice watered down white glue wash to protect everything, and that went well.  Then I stuck the 2" border wood on the edges with construction adhesive.  Whoops.  The smoosh of adhesive made an ugly looking uneven bead on and off down the length of the border.  I ended up smoothing the bead out and getting construction adhesive on the terrain.  It looks like I'm going to have to paint the edges again, which isn't a big deal.  I'm also planning on painting the border now (as opposed to staining it) and I'm not sure what color to use.  I'm leaning toward the Apple Barrel Nutmeg Brown / Bestial Brown.  Maybe that will give an overall warmer look to the board color.

I suppose I should plan on getting rid of the toys from that area now that the board is coming together.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Simple Gaming Table part 4

Hey, this thing is coming together!  I drybrushed the Apple Barrel Country Tan onto the surface.  It went on a lot easier than the Nutmeg Brown did.  I'm not sure if the paints have different qualities, my technique was different or the differing colors just made it seem easier.


Based on some great suggestions from The Pirate Viking in my last post, I watered down some white glue and made some static grass patches.  The grass is a little bit of Citadel "static grass" in the middle (very green) with Citadel "scorched grass" over most of the rest of the patches.  The photo shows them, pre-vacuum.  I'll zook up the extra after it's all dry and then brush on the protective glue/water coat.  After that the only step left is to adhere the borders on the long edges.

All in all, I'm pretty pleased.  The palette is a little colder than I thought it would be.  I'm not really sure what colors I would have used for a warmer, earthier look.  Either way, it looks great for the Warhammer, 40k and Warmachine/Hordes battles that it will host.  Now to make some terrain!

Simple Gaming Table part 3

I put the initial color on this weekend.  The first step was to haul the thing outside and give is a good spray of Rustoleum "Satin Espresso."  I bought a can that advertised 2x the coverage of normal (whatever that means) and there was more than enough in the can to cover the whole table.  Just like priming minis, I had to account for the fact that spraying is directional and that I didn't leave any areas untouched because they were in the shadows (so to speak.)

The next color was Apple Barrel Nutmeg Brown (about the same as GW Bestial Brown.)  Drybrushing was a lot more difficult than I would have thought.  I had bought a large, cheap brush for the occasion, but it kept shedding hairs in the process.  I ended up falling back on a higher quality brush with a 2" or so width.  I was also surprised at how much the lighter color diminishes as it dries.  Maybe it was just a trick of the light in my basement.  I ended up going over areas multiple times to get a decent look.

In the picture you can probably see spaces where rocks snapped off the board and left white underneath.  On one side of the board I had run an old cd jewel case over it to plane off some of the stuff that sticks up too much.  It definitely helped on that side but both sides seemed to have a lot of rock loss from drybrushing.  I'll have to go back over the table with a finer brush and some scorched brown to retouch those spots before sealing.

Next step is to drybrush with Apple Barrel Country Tan, then static grass some areas (not sure how I'm going to decide where still) and then seal with a spray bottle of watered down white glue.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Simple Gaming Table part 2

The surfacing of the table continues.  Drying has been painfully slow due the high level of moisture in my basement right now (long story.)  I bought a couple "Damp-Rid" or something tubs and they are actually sucking the moisture out of the air.  They are surprisingly effective for their size.  Drying is important because if you brush over areas that are semi dry they will pill up and pull off the wood.  I've been able to fix those places by tamping with a damp sponge to make the surface flat but rough again.  It seems to have worked.  I'm happy with the texture too.  Some of the largest bits in the sand (small rocks, really) stick up too much, but you can just pop them off easily.  I have yet to give the surface a stress test but I'm hoping it's fairly durable.  If not, maybe I can coat the top with polyurethane too.  I think Future floor polish might do the job too.

The 32 oz jar of spakle I have been using may not finish the job.  The technique I am using to place the sand down now is the most efficient for spackle to area ratio, but some earlier areas used a fair bit more spackle than I should have to stretch the 32 oz over the whole table.  If you want to emulate that technique, the thinned down spackle + sand mixture is about the consistency of melted Cookies 'n' Cream ice cream, and it brushes on nicely.

For this initial surface I am loathe to do things like place lakes or rivers (or any permanent landmark for that matter)  because it changes the nature of all games played on this board.  That's what the foam boards that lay on top are going to be for.  I bought 6 4'x2"x1/4" pieces of wood to make the borders.  They will get glued to the outside of the 1/2" plywood, so 1 1/2" of border will stick up around the table.  I'll be using construction adhesive to glue them, which is really amazing stuff.  I was hoping to mitre the border pieces, but in the end using the 4' length of pre-cut will mean the edges will meet at a square.  The 4' pieces match the length of the 4' side of the table and they would need to be a tiny bit longer to mitre.  No big deal.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Making A Simple Gaming Table

As my kids start to outgrow the toys in the basement, I am starting to have designs on putting a gaming table down there.  I may not have the ambition to show you every painful detail, but I'll give some highlights.  This isn't really an entire gaming table as much as a gaming surface that can be placed on another table.

I started by creating a 6'x4' folding surface made from two pieces of 3'x4' 1/2" plywood, two largish hinges (3" long) and eight cylindrical rubber bumpers (self adhesive, about 3" across and 1/2" tall.)  The bumpers are primarily to keep the hinges from coming in contact with my kitchen table, but they add some skid prevention as well.  The hinges were places so they would be under the surface when it is open.  Yes, that means the play surface will be on the outside when it is folded.  To get the hinges attached I actually stuck the bumpers on first, laid the two halves on my kitchen table and then got under the table and connected the hinges, each about 4" from the outside edge of the table.  It's a little heavier than I had imagined it would be.

For the texture on the surface, I wanted something generic and fairly tough.  I wanted to play Warmachine, 40k, WHFB, etc. on this, plus have the ability to drop larger textured foam surfaces on it.  I used a tub of vinyl spackle (seen in pic) and some sand from the hardware store.  The sand had a nice combination of particle sizes, so I was hoping it would look good as ground.  I tried a couple techniques to put the sand down, including spreading a thin layer of spackle and pouring sand over it and tamping down.  The version I ended up liking best was to put about a cup of spackle in a container and mix with a little water until it's about the consistency of gravy, then mix about half that volume of sand into the spackle-gravy.  It should still be pretty fluid after the sand is mixed in.  Brush this mixture over the table, trying to minimize brush stroke marks.  My plan is to go over most areas with another layer of this, since it's fairly thin and the wood grain is visible in places where the sand was thin.  After letting the whole thing dry overnight it looks pretty good, and seems fairly strong.

Next: final texture surface, and then I can get to painting it!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Lunch-Hour Games for Novices

My workplace has recently exploded with tabletop wargamers.  I find myself engaged in lunch-hour battles a few times a week now.  And I am pleased.

The problem becomes how large a game to play in the roughly one hour we have to work with.  15 point Privateer Press games seem to work well.  They went somewhat long at first but we have become efficient enough to hit the hour mark pretty close now.  The problem is 40k.  500 point games are about all we can manage in an hour, and the primary players are Space Marines and 'nids.  At 500 points, 'nids get repeatedly beaten by a simple FOC of 2 tactical squads + captain.  If nids go for beefy marine killing assault units, they take a beating in the shooting phase.  If the nids go for weak models in numbers, there aren't enough to overcome the no-save shooting and still make a difference in assault.  Mixes haven't helped either.  Every game ends up with both tactical squads in cc with the hive tyrant, and eventually even the tyrant gets beat down.

So, inveterate 40k players, what point range gets nids in a competitive range against equivalent marines?  Alternately, is there a 500 pt list that our 'nid player could field that would work better?

And although it really doesn't match the post well, I just had to put the happy Agonizer pic in.