Friday, September 30, 2011

The "New" Shell Game (Or What Comes Out Next???)

If you are a GW forum junky and or rumor monger you will be painfully aware of GW's tightening of the reigns rumor wise in recent years. True it has taken years for GW to turn the ship so to speak so that as a company they don't leak rumors and entire army lists like an old fishing net (I still fondly remember having the most recent ork list months before release). And while I do find this complete lack of information frustrating most of the time it has lead to interesting present day for hobbyists.

Dreadfleet and Ogre Kingdoms are a perfect example of this. While DF was seen coming, we had little solid evidence and no pictures until the preview day. Ogres was also seen as an upcoming release and yet many thought it was not next in line so to speak so when they DID pop up many (including this guy) were caught flat footed.

Now it has been widely speculated for some time that Wood Elves and Brettonians would be the next books in the Warhammer Fantasy cue (spelling?). All of a sudden in the last few days there have been a rash of rumors that Vampires, Dwarves and Empire could be next instead. Vampires and Dwarves do need a re"vamp" so to speak as their rules limit the way these flagship armies play. Vampires in particular need a major points tweek in their core troops points costs (and possibly rules) before skeletons and more to the point zombies are used on the battle field again with any regularity. Now speculation is that Vamps may be the next army out and that we will see the "Red Duke" return to the Warhammer world. While I would love this to be the case I do wonder... Why would GW release two new awesome dragon sized kits for the VC's without a new book to support them? Most of the VC kits are newish and look awesome (zombies and black knights aside). Makes me wonder.

Empire models have been spotted by people in the know... A new war alter, knights (possibly), characters etc... Could these be new models to support a new book's release or is it one of GW's mini releases to plug gaps in their product line?

Gamesday UK is usually a pretty good place to find out hintings and to see pre-release models... Not so this year (and the last couple of years) unless you take Forgeworld and Warhammer Forge into account. It is anyone's guess as to what is next. I think GW finally has us rumor wise where they have always wanted us... And I kinda like it. Feels a little like Christmas...

All we know is that the next issue of White Dwarf will have pictures of Necrons on the back cover... Or will it?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Scibor Adeptus Custodes Model Review (Quality Assurance Time)

I have gotten a number of requests for a review of the quality of the resin Scibor Adeptus Custodes Models I am working with. Here are my thoughts.

Having ordered a few armies worth of models over time I can safely say that Scibor delivers models in a timely fashion (much more so than Forgeworld for example). I had my models very quickly (10 days or so) after ordering them and I ordered fairly large quantities of the same models at the same time. Additionally (and very cooly)they threw in bonus models for ordering "bulk" (I ordered 45 models at one time plus characters and scribes so like 50 models all at once). That is ten days shipping keeping in mind that they were shipping from Poland to the United States (and I was ordering from Australia... I love the global marketplace!). The models were carefully packed and everything arrived in the appropriate pieces. 10 out of ten on this front.

Getting down to the models themselves... Scibor models are notorious for their oily coverings when you first open the packages. I am sure that this is just model release agent and a quick warm soapy bath and you are clean as a whistle. As I do the same with Forgeworld stuff it is par for the course and fine with me. I am told that if you do not clean this off it can muck with your priming. Clean it. It takes little time and is worth it.

Now the casting of these models is the worst of any Scibor models I have bought to date. My dwarves and chaos dwarves had at most 3 miscasts each (and we are talking hundreds of models here). The Custodes have miscasts or extra flash on almost every other model out of 50. Now, most of these can be easily fixed by a quick flick of a hobby blade. I anticipating a 45minute job (and that is only because I work slowly) to clean the whole army. There are two models with damaged faces:

As you can see these two have minor miscast holes in their faces and one is missing the tips of his feet. A little putty and this is fine.
You can see extra flash on this guys chest:
And something similar on this guy's face... It is not a tumor!:

The most common problem by far is the back of the robes. Many models need flash removal on their kilt. They look like this:
All in all though this is much less flash and miscasting than you would see in comparable GW models especially if those models were Finecast. The flash is so minimal I almost feel guilty for complaining about it. The two face divits are the biggest problems but some putty and those dudes will be fine. In the Era of Finecast these are resin cast models with crisp detail and none of the rubbish that I have come to expect from GW's resins...
Sure the models are largish but that makes them extra heroic scale!
Honestly, though they are larger than GW's models, they still easily work.

The long and the short... I recommend Scibor. Working with their models is a pleasant breath of fresh air from the usual problems we face as hobbyists.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Scibor Adeptus Custodes Size Comparisons

Today is my 200th blog post. Time flies when you are having fun I guess...

Well... Months ago I bought an entire army worth of Adeptus Custodes models from Scibor miniatures and had the models shipped to my parents house in the USA. Due to my sister's pre-wedding craziness I didn't really get anywhere on the project when I was there. 10 weeks later and I am back for the actual wedding and this time I have come better prepared with better bitz, tools, and paint. Time to get cracking!

I woke up early this morning with jetlag and unpacked my gear. I then grabbed all the resin models and gave them a warm soapy bath to get rid of the mold releasing agents. While I will let most of the models air dry, I did hand dry a few for size comparisons.

I have blue tacked arms and shoulder pads on the models and had my first discovery. They are HUGE! With shoulder pads the models start to look better but these are models that are really meant to have terminator arms. Have a look at what I mean.

I have not cleaned the flash off these models yet nor are they posed even vaguely correctly (one has an extra hand for example) but I hope you can see from the pictures that the arms look weedy.

I have compensated for this a bit by adding extra blue tac inside the shoulder pads and lowering the arms on the torsos a bit (interesting the scibor models don't have flat plates where the arms fit allowing this).

Anyway here is one compared to a scibor "page" or assistant model...

Now for the actual GW model comparisons. Next to a grey knight...

The GK is not on a base but then again neither is my custodes... I had planned to put these models on tall scenic bases but they tower over regular 28mm models. I may just stick to that plan as they are not supposed to be marines... Have to think about that.

Here is another Custodes... This time next to a chaos marine. This custodes has two arms that surprisingly meet mainly due to the rounded torso plates. Maybe this will work?

Off to move furniture. More to come later...

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Ties That Bind (Slightly Off Topic Conversation About Family and Inspiration)

Tomorrow morning I board a plane for Boston to visit family and friends and to attend my kid sister’s wedding (I get to be the proud older brother). In honour of my impending travels home I thought I would briefly discuss family and it’s impact on us as Wargamers/ people.

Now I do teach primary school so I could go on for days about Nature VS Nurture and developmental stages and other rubbish but lets be honest… You would not want to read it. (Hell you might not even want to read this!) My Dad is maybe the most considerate, nicest guys I have ever met. He is able to walk into a room and make friends with just about anyone. This is not to say that he does it in a manipulative way. It is just his nature. He is a lovely guy. Not to say that I am like this at all but when I look at the sportsmanship trophies I have gotten over the years I see my Dad. Conversely, Mom is hard as a coffin nail (she is a legal badass) in an argument and is not afraid to express when she thinks something is not on. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I channel my mother at least once or twice per tournament I play in. Ok Brad, you are like your parents… So am I… What is your point? Well, I will get on with it.

The Morin Family has a proud tradition of creating lasting products. My Grandfather was a welder in Boston’s naval yards. I never met the man but I am told he worked hard and was good at working with his hands. His sons became a plumber, a carpenter, and a Teacher (aka the all around handy man) and his daughter married an electrician. The Morins get together and things get built. My Grandmother’s house, the massive DYI project that is my parent’s house, and my uncle’s house at the lake.

Speaking of said lake house (which has turned into his residence now that he has retired), I visited the lake a few months back and was amazed (it had been a few years) at the man’s ability work with wood and as a painter. His house was filled with pictures that he had painted himself (really good stuff) and ornate examples of woodworking. He even built the dock that he parks his boat at by hand! While he is not making or painting war dollies I was inspired as a hobbyist at his skill. Here are a few examples of little details in just one room of his house (the details are throughout the entire house and external tree house/office).

He also carved and stained bear heads for his neighbours up and down the street as gifts.

The House that the Morin's Built...

While I like to think that I am a fairly creative guy who can get things done... I do not hold a candle to these guys. They are humble, creative and get things done (that last the test of time). It is a quite a legacy that I am proud to be a part of and that drives my creative side.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The (War)Band Is Coming!!! Sons of Helvis Tour Posters

Sooooo.... As I have written before I really do enjoy a good theme to an army. I feel this should be expressed visually in the way the army is painted and presented and in the choices that make up the army compositionally. Every now and then I do get a little crazy with the fluff and things like this happen.

My Sons of Helvis (Elvis themed Chaos Marine Army) was very instrument and band themed sooooo it was only natural that a (war)band would advertise before they came to town. I imagine chaos cultists plastering hive cities with posters before the "big guy" comes to town. Actually I am pretty sure that chaos cultists do this job normally in real life soooo... Here are the posters.

A big Thank You to my old buddy Ahab who doesn't play these silly games and yet made the time to whip these up using technology that I do not fully understand.

Four years ago? (maybe 5 years ago) I made full posters of these (lots of them) and posted them all around Arcanicon. It was lots of fun and my opponents all weekend seemed pretty excited to play my army. Next time I think I will give out tour t-shirts to opponents on the day. Hmmmmm....

As always I encourage y'all to push the boundaries when creating your armies and when preparing armies for events. It really adds something special on the day and can be a real inspiration to those around you.

On a side note my school had its concert the other night and we had an 80's theme... This is one of my co-workers and I. I would be the lovely gentleman on the left. Lots of work to set up (the concert) but it was really rewarding and extremely fun!

Til next time...


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Going with it...

Ahhhh… A rare rainy morning in the otherwise grey Melbourne spring… What a wonderful way to start a blog post.

Today I would like to address the old expression “Fortune favors the bold.” While it is true that Warhammer (of both flavours) is a game that is ultimately determined by skill of the player and luck, I would like to suggest that there is a third important component to success. Nerve. While this could be argued to be a smaller subsection of the player skill category I do believe it is an area worth at least a brief discussion.

True, Warhammer and 40K are games that are determined by dice, the ficklest of gambling mediums. At least in cards you can count cards to improve your probability. If you roll 1 dice a number of times the best you are ever going to get is a 1 in 6 chance of rolling the 6 you need to rend and penetrate that stupid land raider crusader. I am sure that all of your reading this have stories of glory and shame that have just come about through Lady Luck’s giftings or punishments. I seem to be on her S^&T list at the moment but I am confident that given a tourney or two my luck will change. After all this is what I learned at school. Probability evens out over time.

Sure, player skill and army design directly relates to someone’s success as a competitor in tournies and/or in friendly pick up games. Largely, I find that both skill and comp directly relate to managing probability in such a way that you have a better probability of rolling what you want than what your opponent does. Picking those charges that you will be more likely to make, attacking units where your death company get more dice or better odds of hitting than the poor grots they happen to be curb stomping at the time, etc…

As I started with, an important aspect of winning in wardollies is holding your nerve. Now I am not saying that you should start with a battle plan and never change it. No plan or strategy survives contact with the enemy (Patton said that?). In order to be successful you need to be adaptable and fluid in your play style (you also need to remember the mission you are playing).

What I am getting at is this.. There will be situations in games where things do not necessarily look favourable (ok, they will look terrible) and you will have the option to be conservative to save your forces or go all out to go for the big win. This happens when I play more often than I would like to admit. Sure it looks bad, sure you have no right winning but I like to think that in that moment Lady Luck likes to come over to watch my game because amazing things start to happen. Now this could be the case but what is more likely happening is that a small pocket of bad dice turns around the other way and all of a sudden you are rolling well… If you roll a dice 1000 times you are supposed to get an even spread across all the numbers. So when things turn… The dice are just evening out so to speak. I don’t know… People have asked me how I manage to “ass” wins in big tourney games when I should loose… Well I read the mission and I take the big risks when the moment is right… Now this does not always pay dividends BUT it works for me…

Not sure if this has been helpful but... It works for me (sometimes)...

Catch you on the flip side…


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Dread Fleet Surfaces (kinda)

Sooooo it is Sept 17th and GW has had teasers in their shops and on their website about their upcoming secret box. The last big box was of course Space Hulk which ran a hefty price but provided amazing one off models for Marines and Tyranids as well as a good beer and pretzels game. Well GW was even more secretive this time around (not even releasing a name for the game that was be released though it had been leaked that Dread Fleet or Fleets would be the title).

I woke up, had a lovely brunch with great friends, hit the gym and stopped by GW to check out the insanity. They had Pirate metal blaring, staff dressed up as pirates, treasure chests, regulars dressed as pirates, wanted posters AND... Nothing... HUH? I walked in asked asked about the models and the game and was told the name. I was then walked to their computer and was shown photos from the GW website... Really? This really stinks of kurfuffal to me.

Two years ago GW charged $160 for 11 or twelve termies, a changeable board and a pile of genestealers (plus broodlord). The models looked great and were immediately usable by those of us who play 40K (GW's bread and butter game). The price tag was stupidly high for a board game but most of us fanboys bit the bullet and got stuck in (and some of us bought two). I want to make a point by repeating something. The models were of a scale that perfectly integrated with a popular game system. They were detailed one of a kinda. Ok... moving on... I thought at the time it was a risk selling the game at that price point but it worked and worked well.

Wellll.... They are trying it again. This time with a new game. Dreadfleet. Ok the models are once again "one of a kind" and really sweet (as you can see with my liberal pasting of the piccies throughout this post). The game has a nice rulebook and includes a playing mat, terrain, all kinds of counts, and three sea monsters!!! (oh and ten ships from a variety of races) Sweet right... Welll... This time around after years of global financial crisis Dreadfleet is being sold for a whopping $190! Great Googley Moogley! That is a hell of a price tag for a glorified board game.

Now here is my biggest problem... The models are not integrateable with any existing GW game or scale. This is a problem because as GW keep pointing out as a selling point, the game is a ONE OFF. It is not going to stick around, there are going to be no expansions and it will never be supported again. That is a hell of a price for a game that is limited like that and whose models cannot be used for anything else.

To combat this GW needed to be really proactive about getting the game out there and selling the hell out of this. I worked for GW sales back in the day and we believed that in order for a sale to occur you had to show people that GW products are a superior product. OK, well that is not happening here. In a real world where Dystopian Wars is gaining popularity by the day and Spartan games is about to rerelease their fantasy naval game using the Dystopian Wars success as a foundation, GW had to really get their game face on. A blog article, some pictures on a website AND NO MODELS IN THE SHOPS (or real information for the pirate dressed staff to pass on) does not cut it. GW has let the ship sail so to speak. I feel for the old Red Shirts out there. This does look like a good game but selling it is going to be tough given these factors.

I do like the look of the game but I am really disappointed in the way this is being done. I understand that GW wants to control releases a bit better but cutting their staff off at the knees (and annoying customers) is a crappy way of doing it.

My 2 yen

(All prices mentioned in this blog are Australian and are in Aussie dollars... Which is crazy since it is worth more than the greenback at the moment. In the US Dreadfleet will run $115ish... What a crappy price difference...)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Impressions of Space Marine on XBOX360

Like many other fanboys out there I bought the new Space Marine video game by THQ soon after it released. I have an XBOX 360 arcade which really limits my experience with the game (no online multi-player for this kid). As I have been playing it a bit I thought I would share my thoughts.

First of all you play a Space Marine Captain of the Ultramarines Chapter (I would love it if GW would leave the Ultras alone for once BUT I digress) who leads a partial squad of a few other dudes around a forge world under seige by orks. There is no mechanism for squad leadership in the game. You basically get a few gun drones to follow you around in space marine skin that provide covering fire where you go. It is possible to out run them in combat situations which depending on the situation can be very bad for your health. I would like to add that your buddies are basically invulnerable and you can shoot through them like they are not there with no chance of hurting them. This is fine and all but I have been playing too many hours of New Vegas and everything dies in that game.... Alot. I kinda like that.

The orks in the game are kinda dumb about when they charge... I get that orks mob up before assaulting. I guess it is just odd to watch in real time. I do like how the orks appear in a variety of types in the game and I like how these different types appear in groups that support each other. Just off the top of my head there are slugga boys, grots, shoota boys, bomb squigs, nobs, rocket boys, the list goes on and on. You will often see hordes of slugga boys charge that you will have to deal with at close range. While you are you will be getting shot by snipers on various structures all around you (Usually much higher up). It requires you to use some brains rather than button mashing (sometimes). There will also be more than occasional bomb squigs mixed into the hordes meaning you go boom if you wade in to deep.

I really like how the only way to heal yourself in the game is to be aggressive. While this is not usually the way I play games it does make for an interesting dynamic. When you kill enemies your "rage" meter goes up. When you hit the top of the meter you can activate your pent up "rage." This heals you and gives you combat bonuses first in hand to hand and later when shooting. The only other way you can heal is by stunning an opponent and using a fatality style attack ala Mortal Combat. These are suitably gory though I am usually hesitant to use this method of healing when I am wading through twenty slugga boys. By rewarding aggressive play the game makes you be as aggressive as space marines are hinted at in the Horus Heresy novels at least. True the violence is very "Movie Marines" (a great White Dwarf Article if you ever get the chance... issue 300 for US readers) sooo I really would not suggest this for younger players. Then again maybe I am just old fashioned.

As far as levels go I am alittle disappointed that there is only ever one way to get through levels which after playing the free range game of New Vegas almost feels a bit boring. There is lots of walking around between skirmishes by yourself. I imagine that all the cover holes and interactive scenery that you can roll over or jump off comes into play when you play multi-player. Once again I cannot do this so... It is all lost in the background, which to be fair is nice. There are good views in the surroundings and the graphics are nice to look at so as far as that goes THQ has surpassed my expectations.

As a marine I am pleased with the number of weapons that get kicked around. I am mid-way through the 2nd big mission and I have a stalker pattern sniper bolter, a bolter, a bolt pistol and a grenade launcher. I have also messed around with a plasma cannon and a hvy bolter. I am always fairly conservative with ammo in these things but reloads are so prolific that I have changed the way I play. I assume it is to once again reward a more aggressive style of play. Each weapon has its own role and you end up using them (at least I do) to fit your need at the time. Grenades are in there too and I really do enjoy using them as often as I can get my paws on them...

As a quick aside and this is strange for someone who lives in Australia to say but I expected the Marines to sound American... Clint Eastwood flavoured to be specific. Everyone has a British accent. Not surprising given that GW is a British company but still. It just sounds not quite right to my ear.

All in all I am enjoying Space Marine by THQ. Is it for everyone? No... But what is? It is generally mindless and brings the 40K universe to life. Which I always like. Good times.

Anywhoooo... Till next time gang!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sons of Helvis Noise Marines (Pictures)

So... A while back I posted some shots of my old/ new WIP noise marine army the "Sons of Helvis." (An Elvis themed Slaneshi themed chaos space marine army) Since that time I have taken brush to minis a few times but can't seem to get the boys going again. I have taken pictures of the 4 squads of noise marines that have been hanging around in the meantime.

These were painted 5 years ago at least but I was really proud of them at the time...
Here is little "Helvis" getting out of "The Lisa Marine" (his pink rhino) with his personal band:
Note the sunnies and power mic (weapon)... Thank you to Tim Beaty for the help with the head. Those sunnies are perfect.

Little Helvis gets cranky and turns into Big "Helvis" (Greater Daemon)... He looks like this...

Here are the four squads of 6 noise marines in groups of three...
The "Command" squad

The Purple Squad

The Green Squad

And finally the Blue Squad

Hope you enjoyed them...

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Brief Argument for Theme

Sooo how many tourney games have you rocked to only to discover that your opponents idea of fluff is that their army is from the lascannon/ plasma gun manufacturing forge world. I know that fluff is obsolete in some regions of the world and in some games. I included a few bonus theme points in the Book of Grudges tournament and I was shocked at what people were claiming. Shocking.

Now, in order to make theme work in my mind, you need to come from two angles... Appearance and list.

Appearance: I like a cohesive looking army that would look like it is all from the same place. I find that cohesive basing REALLY helps in this regard.

More to the point, your fluff should be backed up by the painting and modeling of the figs in your army. If you are going for the plasma factory fluff (WEAK!) for example (and you really wanted to sell it) I think you should have models with burns and missing limbs and/or possessing extra padding to accommodate for instability of the weapons the models are using. A trench fighting army should not look like their vehicles have just been detailed. Etc etc…

Theme is huge for me because it guides my modeling and painting when I build and army. I would be bored to tears as a hobbyist if I did not have a direction to follow. Theme helps me to focus where I am going when I paint. It really helps.

The List: This is where most of my gripe lies. Army lists should reflect the fluff of an army if you really are going for the idea of a themed army. Going back to the plasma factory list: this would actually work for me as far as a themed list goes. The list contains lots of plasma weapons in lieu of other choices. It just so happens that that theme is VERY effective in lots of circumstances. I suppose in the modern metagame the meltagun factory list is more appropriate but you get where I am going from.

If you are really going for a proper themed list to match your army you should limit your list selections to those that actually fit your theme EVEN IF THIS WEAKENS YOUR ARMY. I have played two different Khorne marine armies in the last year for example and BOTH were lead by a nurgle daemon prince with warptime! Ok I get it they got rid of the a lot of the fluff from the CSM book BUT that is just silly (when everything else in the army is CC armed and has the mark of khorne).

I know that people’s hobby is their own and they are free to pursue their hobby as they like BUT common sense should prevail. Even if fluff is “dead” where you are I highly recommend your challenge yourself and give it a go. It is a good challenge for you competitive players and it is good for the hobby AND your soul.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A VERY Generous Gift: RT ORKS!!!

When I was home a few weeks back, Jason, one of my best mates GAVE me his Games Workshop 40K collection. Jason and I played against eachother for HOURS as kids. (OK highschool). I always used my RT Space marines or Nids and Jason always used his guard or Orks or Eldar (or all together). It was heaps of fun. Rogue Trader 40K (1st Edition) was almost unplayble by today's standards and yet... We loved it!

I brought the orks with me back to Australia and I am pondering evil things. Anyway here are the models...
Now you have to keep in mind that we didn't have anyone to help us learn how to paint. The Internet didn't exist in any reality. White Dwarf didn't have painting articles... It was pure trial and error. We were kids... That being said.
DAMN! I remember the orks looking really good and looking at them now... some 20 years later... Some of the free hand my mate painted on those orks is beyond my skill now. Further proof that you should just give it a go and sometimes you will be surprised at what comes out on the other end.
For example:

This free hand was painted by what I would consider a HUGE brush now.

The basic painting was base coats and controlled dry brushing but the free hand is nice...

And size wise I am shocked at how the orks' size holds up to todays models...

and of course some things didn't hold up size wise...

Here is the Army: My favourite models of the era... Madboyz!


More Nobs and some command models:

The Weirdboy:

The Green Ogryn that is the Warboss... Still WIP...

Assorted Boyz:

I know the models are goofy and not super serious and that there is some serious biker leather envy going on on lots of these models but I don't care. Orks will always look like this is my mind's eye (at least a little). Don't get me wrong I love the "mean" orks of today but these are the orks of my youth. I have nothing but fond memories of these guys.

I am very excited that I get to give these boyz a good home and a 2nd lease on life on 40K battlefields.

If you are reading this... Thanks Jason I will be using these for no good sooner rather than later.