Monday, 2 April 2018

Easily Distracted

Along with 'erratic and inconsistent', I think the title of this blogpost was the most common summary on my school report as a teenager.  I hated school to be fair and made no real attempt to placate my oppressors, generally preferring to go AWOL. 

Unfortunately, their assessment of me was fairly accurate and my progress on the Red Scorpions is a case in point.  I've just been buggering about for the last fortnight really, listening to audiobooks and playing videogames.  Mechwarrior Online is my current procrastination of choice.  Its like a first person shooter for grandads.  Relying on attrition and load-out more than god-tier reflexes, I actually survive some matches and often lose hours tinkering in the Mech-Lab.  I probably need to nip this one in the bud.

I haven't been completely idle however.  I based my Stormtalon Gunship and actually threw a bit of paint on the model.   I had to break it down into sub-assemblies which always lessens the enjoyment somehow. 

I don't get to see it slowly coming together and can feel anticlimactic when I finally reassemble and realise the colours are all wrong or it looks lopsided.  On the other hand, it sometimes looks better than I'd hoped when finally put together, which is a nice thrill so maybe I should focus on that and just get on with it.

I also finished building the Tactical marines.  The backpacks aren't affixed but I learned from the Primaris marines that gluing them in place makes the pauldrons annoying to paint.  I wanted to make my marines more dynamic and attempted some running and jumping poses rather than the partial squat 'I've just soiled my armour' stance. 

It was trickier than I thought and I lost motivation after stabbing myself repeatedly with the craft knife.  All pretence of hobbying disappeared and I mucked around in Photoshop creating the title picture, warning modelers about the dangers of converting.  Oh well, I've wasted pretty much the entire Easter break but hopefully this blogpost will get me back into the groove.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

All Systems Nominal

 The defence platform from Forgeworld arrived with the sexy missile pods and my MadCatLite is up and running.  There's definitely a faint whiff of heresy about it though so I'm not sure the Omnissiah will be pleased.  Can CSM use Stormtalon Gunships?  Probably not.  I suppose Blight Drones are their gunships of choice.

Torso twist comes as standard

Anyway, the mini mech ended up being a lot more spiky than originally intended.  The boxy, utilitarian look of SM vehicles isn't carried over to the legs here and my chicken walker is much more curvy.  I doubt that the blueprint is STC at any rate.  This looks more like experimentation by Mechanicus radicals.

The model stands an inch or two shorter than a flying toaster mounted on flight stand and its weaponry is not entirely WYSIWYG.  The twin Assault Cannons are ok but the missile launcher is a bit of a mystery.  Forgeworld didn't bother to include the rules in the kit so I'm not actually sure what it is.  A Hyperion missile launcher?

Whatever, I'm using it as a Typhoon launcher and fervently hope that 'rule of cool' overrides any concerns that my opponents may have.  I'll just remove it from the list if anyone objects.  Should make for a short game and it will free up an hour to wander around the hall taking pictures and chatting to other gamers.

From a Battletech perspective its not really optimal either.  I decided to do a bit of research by playing Mechwarrior Online (yeah right).  I did so much research in fact that it took a week longer than it should have done to finish the model.

Mechwarrior Online is free to play. I just had to buy this ShadowCat Hero Mech however.  Still cheaper than plastic crack addiction tho

In the Battletech universe, a MadCat Timber Wolf weighs in at 75 tons which puts it firmly in the heavy mech class.  In 40k terms, I estimate that my little MadCat has a bit more mass than a Chimera or a Rhino which weigh 38 and 30 tons respectively.  It definitely looks lighter than a Land Raider at 72 tons.  So I reckon I've built a 35-45 ton mech which puts it in the light/medium category.  Too small for a MadCat.  What I've built is probably closer to a Bushwhacker or a Shadow Cat although I can't find anything which matches my weapon hardpoints exactly.

Now thats an AC-5 Ultra

I think AC-5 Ultras match the Assault Cannon best and the missile pods are LRM-10s.  I've fitted ammunition in the arm slots which is probably a bit silly and will get my arms blown off.  Also, there don't appear to be too many heat sinks on this variant.  I've mounted ECM on the centre torso which can be switched out for another AC-5 Ultra that actually looks like the Mechwarrior version.  The mech has got 360 degree torso twist as well as extra elevation on the missile pitch angle.  So thats a bit of an advantage.

There's even a bit of tech heresy with the extra armour plating.  Those knee protectors are from the Necron Triarch Stalker kit and there's a couple of Gauss blaster muzzles on there too.  Although they are no longer living metal, they have retained their resiliency and hardness.  I had to use them because I lost one of the knee pads from the original Dreadknight kit.  I can still fit the remaining one but it doesn't really look right.

So I've had a ton of fun building this.  I really ought to finish the base off and start painting it.  I might just have one more 'quick play' match on Mechwarrior first.  I can nearly afford a Bushwhacker X1 and that premium time bonus is steadily ticking away...

Monday, 5 March 2018

Standing on the shoulders of giants

I bought some Heresy era legionaries in Mk IV armour the other week.  I couldn't bring myself to finish a previous unit of tactical marines using the old starter kits and bits-box leftovers.  I kept staring at the squad with the firm intention of painting them but the internal muse kept refusing. "Nope.  Not going to paint. Don't like 'em". In any case, I still needed some tactical marines as a cheap troop choice for my Red Scorpions army list.  Since our local tournament scene switched up to 1750pts recently, I probably needed them just to make up the points.   I prefer the look and feel of Intercessors but Tactical marines have their place.

I'd already seen how nice the Mark IV's look next to Primaris when I played Regan O'Halloran at Call to Arms last year.  So I bought a box and body swapped in a few odds and ends to stretch it out to a 12 man squad with heavy weapons.  The 'Dalek' effect on the legs and shoulder pads is a bit funky and old school but apart from that, the Mk IVs have crisp detail and cool helmets.  I set to work and it was all going swimmingly.

further proof (if any were needed) that you should never throw anything away.  Normal people are wrong and crazy-cat-lady hoarders should be put in charge of the world instead of crazy-old-men wearing cats on their heads.

Cleaning mold lines off a model is boring and the mind wanders.  I was scraping away and trying not to fall asleep, when I was suddenly seized by a heretical desire to re-convert my old Nemesis Dreadknight. The model is one of my failed Grey Knights experiments, built 5 years ago and home to a small nest of spiders on the bottom shelf now.  I realised that I needed to turn it into a MadCat.  A Clan OmniMech MadCat D Timber Wolf from the BattleTech universe to be exact.  The tactical Space Marine project was dropped indefinitely and I departed the house to purchase a Stormtalon with my "impulse-buy!" siren blaring loudly.

I didn't realise I still had these.

Converting a walker out of a Stormtalon Gunship is definitely not a new idea and has been kicking around for a while.  I think the first conversion I saw was on SpikeyBits ages ago. What really got the creative juices flowing was seeing one with scratch built legs on Capt. MAGpie's conversion corner.  I was seriously impressed with those but knew that I didn't have the patience to slowly craft every single panel out of plasticard like he does.  Capt. Magpie is clearly insane (but in a good way, take a look at his Damocles Command Rhino interior which is heart-warmingly wonderful.  If the crew were drinking tea at their consoles it would be perfect).

Singing:  Oh, your toe bone's connected to your foot bone. The foot bone's connected to the ankle bone. The ankle bone's connected to the.. arm bone, the arm bone's connected to the... to the...  shin bone?  Now hear The Word of The Lord!!

It occurred to me that if I glued the forearms of the Dreadknight to the ankles, separating the feet from the legs then I could produce a workable reverse-joint 'chicken walker'.  A simple idea, but a good one.  I've been steadily working on it since then.

The original intention to build a Mad Cat has been subverted by practical and personal preferences however.  I don't really like the stubby toes on a Dreadknight and the bulk of the Stormtalon fuselage makes the figure look very top heavy.  Since it was a chicken walker now I saw no reason not to give it chicken feet as well.  I chopped up some decorations from a fantasy ruin and built him some talons.  I'm happy with the results and hopefully it looks more like a raptor than a rooster.

The weapon loadout was a bit tricky.  Particle Projector Cannons don't exist in 40k and whilst Lasers are an acceptable substitute, you have to take twin assault cannons if you want to use it as a Stormtalon in game.  So I guess, in BattleTech terms, I've put Rotary Autocannons on my Mad Cat.   The LRMs are easily represented as Typhoon or Skyhammer missile launchers but the ones in the kit don't look right.  I considered using the jet engine cowlings to convert my own but they don't seem quite right either.  So I've ordered a Space Marine Air Defence Missile Launcher from Forgeworld and will use the pods from this.  Pretty lazy but it should look cool.

Finally, I put a shit ton of jump jets on my version.  I'm pretty sure that Mad Cats dont fly and I think a real BattleTech enthusiast may be horrified by what I've done.  Come to think of it, a 40k enthusiast may be horrified too and it will be interesting to see what the rules lawyers make of this in a tournament (damn right I'm taking it to a tournament!).  In 40k terms, a Stormtalon Gunship is a flyer so I have to add something which represents the fact that it can move across the entire battlefield in one turn.  Jump jets are the answer.  When the beast runs around on terra firma I'll class that as 'hover' mode.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Squaduary Complete

Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.  And sometimes it looks better in the morning.  I could probably tinker with them more but I'm calling my Squaduary done.  I decided to be a devilishly cool hipster and make up my own purple colour, not using a scheme in the Citadel Paint App.

So I went with Screamer Pink, Warlock Purple and Pink Horror with a Druchii Violet wash for the clothes.  This ended up looking sort of pink.  I checked the Paint App again (in the Pink section rather than the Purple) and sure enough, I had pretty much used the colour scheme for "Internal Organs".  Son of a bitch!

I've learned from hard experience that trying to 'fix' a colour scheme which you don't like often ends up making it worse.  I inevitably end up with a sort of "Bloodied Stool" colour (I believe Games Workshop calls it 'Dark Flesh' but achieves the effect with far less colours).  So I decided to leave well alone.

Interestingly, the hand grip for the Prince's mace was done with Khorne Red, Pink Horror highlights and an Agrax Earthshade wash.  It looks almost exactly the same (but better?).  I reckon that with a bit of tweaking (Reikland/Agrax mix?) I can achieve an old red leather look very quickly using this method, which might prove useful on other models.

The darker tones also had the effect of bleaching the bone effects so I had to pin wash between every fecking rib and joint with Rhinox Hide in order to improve the contrast.  The whole thing was becoming a chore by now and I decided to finish it there but they just seemed, I dunno, not quite right.

I experimented with some Typhus Corrosion and rust effects too but I'm not sure I like the way it clogs up the detail on the model (See the back of the Sepulchral Warden's shield).  It definitely needs to be used sparingly.  Anyway, they're done now and its time to move on.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Abort! Abort!

The test model wasn't a great success.  Or maybe it was, because I've decided to abort the planned colour scheme and do something else.  Actually I don't think it looks too bad in the picture but I've basically just given up on the recipe.  The base coat of Celestra/Ulthuan grey was ok with the Sepia wash but when I highlighted with White Scar it seemed way too white.  I used Flayed One Flesh on the real models below.

Come to think of it, they look pretty much the same in both pictures.  Oh well, it would appear that I was fussing over nothing. I don't have the purple colours specified in the recipe anyway so I'm just using what I've got for the cloth bits (Screamer Pink, Warlock Purple and Druchii Violet).  The HeroQuest model was naked so I had to practice these colours on the base.   I still haven't decided how to do the metallics.

This petitioner is definitely my favourite thus far.  But its interesting how you can change your mind as you paint the models, when other details get picked out that you hadn't really noticed before.

While I was uploading the photos from my phone I found this picture from a 40k game I had last week against Orks.  It made me smile, because that unit of Rippers held up the Deff Rolla for 2 turns (much to my opponent's consternation).  They must have hurled themselves into the gear mechanism and caused it to short out. Rippers are awesome.

Friday, 2 February 2018


I signed up for Squaduary over on Stepping Between Games.  I decided to paint up my Sepulchral Guard for Shadespire.  I was going to paint them up anyway but it took nearly nearly 4 months to finish Steelheart's Champions.  A grand total of 3 minis. This is a good way to add some urgency to the process.  The Guard are built and primed and there's an additional model from the old Heroquest board game I think.  I want to try out this paint scheme on them but it seems too easy so a test model will confirm whether it works or whether, like most attempts to emulate GW painters, it ends up looking like a dog's breakfast.

Inevitably, I've already been distracted by something else and assembled Carab Culln during the week.  Is it Dreadtober already?  I was automatically reaching for the magnets when it came to the shoulder and waist joints but I'm going to pin him instead. (what madness is this?)  The model doesn't have any weapon options and I'm happy with the pose. Plus I think I'd need something stronger than the usual 5 x 1 mm neomydium magnets and can't be arsed buying more.  That resin is quite heavy, comparatively speaking and I really don't want something dropping off him in the middle of a game and smashing on the floor.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Steelheart's Champions

The Celtic Sigmarines are ready to take on the bad guys in Shadespire.  Sullivan, O'Brien and Angharad are fully painted up (the bases took an age) and good-to-go. I haven't actually played Shadespire this year.  I want to get some more games in but I've been too busy with other stuff.  My kids bought me 'Eldritch Horror' for Christmas. I started playing it on my own, after I'd bored everyone senseless (they refused to save the world again from ancient, Cyclopean horror. Don't they know that we must be ever vigilant!?).  Maybe I'm going soft in the head but that fits perfectly with the genre and the game mechanics.  You can literally go insane in this Lovecraftian nightmare and have to start again as a different character. On one occasion I actually visited my previous incarnation in her padded cell at the mental asylum whereupon I was gifted with all her possessions. 

We also got Settlers of Catan for Christmas which, it turns out, is an excellent game and we'll probably pick up the expansions.  I don't know how I missed that one all these years.  It's been around for a while.

   I was struck by how different it was to Shadespire.  You can set up a game of Catan and learn to play in 10 minutes.  Even the wife had a game and admitted that it was surprisingly enjoyable.  (she refused to play again) Yet it was still cerebral and competitive enough to hold the interest of my kids who like their hard-out strategy and backstabbing.

Shadespire is very fiddly in comparison and it's quite tedious to teach someone the rules.  The support mechanic seems to throw everyone off and even I second guessed myself a couple of times and had to refer to the rulebook to confirm.  It's also unwieldy to set up with all those roll-offs which always seem to come up as a tie on critical symbols, requiring re-rolls.  You can end up having to rearrange everything if someone decides to play length-ways with offset boards on a small table. 

But it feels very deep and I like the deck building aspect.  The presentation is top notch and those minis... man they are exquisite.

I've been playing more 40k too since the Tyranid codex was released and breathed much needed life into my gribblies.   I've still got a ton of projects to finish with them.

 I'm getting a bit over saturated now, however. My army model count has crept up to 72 and the last game took over 3 hours.  40k feels more streamlined in 8th edition but it still takes a bloody age to play with a large force and I'm losing the stamina for it in casual games.  You have to set aside a whole evening or afternoon. 

Fortunately this arrived the other day:

and the urge to revisit the Red Scorpions was strong.  Carab Culln in his leviathan dread isn't e.z. mode like Guilliman but he's still a bit of a beast and looks gorgeous.  He fits together very well and is quite posable.  I didn't have to clean him up very much, there was no warping and I only found one bubble.  Even the box is snazzy.  I've never actually painted any Forgeworld so this should be a new challenge.  The finish on the model is smooth but not like plastic so it will be interesting to see if the paint flows on and dries differently.