Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Retro-Sci-Fi Flyers

The G.U.A.R.D. flyers blister was the next on my Monsterpocalypse paint queue. I put them off for a while as that's kind of what I do, but finally I decided to knock them out. Once I started painting it was actually a pretty quick process by my standards; I think it was about two weekends of actual painting, over the course of less than a month I believe. That's largely because of this whole "isolation" deal taking my usual weekend social activities off the table.

Something about the look of the Strike Fighters brought to mind that old fashioned raw alumninium plane look. So I went for a simple silver colour scheme. The sky-blue windows are supposed to be, well, reflecting the sky. Red details just look right.

The planes are covered with very fine panel lines. Initially I tried painting a black wash directly into these panel lines to make them more visible, but it was very hard to keep it neat so they ended up looking a bit messy from up close. The end result was visually pleasing, but very cartoony; it just wasn't really what I was going for and didn't really match the style of the Monpoc models I'd already painted.

The other thing was that shading in all those panel lines individually was exhausting work that took HOURS. I was not prepared to repeat the process three more times, so instead I tried a much easier shading method, where I simply applied a black wash to the whole model then drybrushed a silver on top to try to regain the bright metal basecoat. This barely did anything for the panel lines, and the surface ended up looking duller and dirtier than the pure silver of the unwashed model, but it was MUCH faster and easier, and stilled looked alright; actually the much more subtle panel lines are kind of more in keeping with the idea of this being a large vehicle at a very small scale. So I stuck with this scheme for the rest of the fighters.

I liked the idea of the Rocket Chopper having a dark stealth look, so I basecoated it in a metallic black. Of course just black is boring, so I picked out details in silver (to stand out from the darker gunmetal highlights). I painted the canopy blue in keeping with the fighters, but when for a darker blue to fit the darker theme. Of course the rockets needed to be red, which works well to make them pop, but I refrained from using it anywhere else.

In this case painting pure black directly into the panel lines worked very well, as the effect is more subtle than with the silver fighter, but also more necessary as otherwise the panel lines would be almost invisible with such a dark colour scheme. It actually didn't take as long as it did with the fighter either, and I was more willing to put the time in anyway as, while I'm somewhat indifferent to the Strike Fighters, I really like the Rocket Chopper.

The Strike Fighters were airbrushed with Vallejo 71.065 Model Air Metallic Steel. The first one had The Army Painter Quickshade Washes Dark Tone painted directly into the panel lines, while the rest where given a full wash followed by a drybrush of Vallejo 72.052 Game Color Silver instead. The canopies were basecoated in The Army Painter Warpaints Electric Blue, and Citadel Glaze Guilliman Blue was applied directly into the recesses. The wing tips and other details were then picked out in Vallejo 72.106 Game Color Scarlett Blood.

The Rocket Chopper was airbrushed with Vallejo 71.073 Model Air Metallic Black. A mix of water, Formula P3 Mixing Medium, and Vallejo 70.950 Model Color Black was painted directly into the panel lines. I highlighted some of the outer edges with The Army Painter Warpaints Gun Metal, while several details were picked out in the much brighter Vallejo 72.052 Game Color Silver. The canopy glass was painted in Vallejo 72.021 Game Color Magic Blue, then washed with Citadel Glaze Guilliman Blue, then Magic Blue was layered back into the middle of the individual panes. Finally the missle heads were picked out in Vallejo 72.106 Game Color Scarlett Blood.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Day Of The Beast

It wouldn't be proper to play a game of Warmachine on Friday the 13th (again) without running Khador's very own Jason Voorhees: Beast 09. Unfortunately for me he wasn't on my side...

Ah-hem. So I threw together a couple of 30 point lists for a second game against Fuzzy (who I mixed up with Saint while writing a previous battle report in a rush; that has now been fixed). I took Andy out for a spin, bringing a Decimator (because I think the model works with him) and a Kodiak (because I was feeling too lazy to dig out the Juggernaut arms). The Wardog was there to deliver Fighting Dirty, and a Koldun Lord would help with damage.
- Decimator
- Kodiak
- Wardog
Nyss Hunters
- Valachev
Koldun Lord

I gave Fuzzy the original battlebox caster, Sorscha1, because she's a lot of fun. She can be a bit focus starved if she wants her jacks to do work, so the Forgeseer seemed to be a good support piece.
- Beast 09
- Spriggan
- Sylyss
Croe's Cutthroats
Greylord Forgeseer

The table had just been used for 40K; I figured playing on the same terrain would demonstrate that Warmachine does not need flat terrain (it seems I had given people the impression that it didn't work with regular terrain). Rather than roll for a scenario or something I decided to just put two "flags" (the Butcher and Mechanic models seen below) in the middle of the table (they are a little to the side, but I figured that was the part of the table we would actually use considering our low model count). I decided to stick to the basic scoring system from the rulebook, so any model in base contact can score, any model within 4" contests, and first to 5 wins.

I won the roll and chose to go first. Fuzzy chose the Decimator as the Cutthroat's Prey target.

I deployed my battlegroup facing the rightmost flag and the Nyss to my left. Fuzzy deployed most of his forces to my left.

Round 1:
Malakov cast Escort and put Repo on the Decimator, then walked forwards, gave himself Prowl and threw a cloud over himself. The Decimator trampled then repo'ed forwards for a total of 12", matching the Kodiak's run. The Nyss Hunters ran forwards. My solos joined Malakov in the cloud.

The Cutthroats walked forwards and started shooting at my Nyss Hunters. Needing mostly 9's, they somehow managed to kill 5 Nyss before repositioning backwards. Beast09 and the Spriggan ran towards the flags. Sorscha put up Fog of War.

Round 2:
The Kodiak ran to base the flag. The Decimator took a couple of shots at the Spriggan for very little damage (I didn't allocate enough focus; with Fog of War even a Spriggan is hard for a Decimator to hit unboosted!) then tried to bodyblock the flag. The Nyss walked and Zephyred into range of the stealthy Cutthroats, killing I think 4 of them. On Nyss Hunter based the flag, while Valachev hugged a wall for cover.

Between aiming Cutthroats and an always-angry Beast09 (those Nyss kids were having too much fun!) Fuzzy took out all my Nyss Hunters, leaving a lonely Valachev wondering what had just happened. Sylyss ran to base the flag, while the Spriggan ran away from my jacks. Scoring began this turn so we both scored a point.

Round 3:
I put the Decimator into the Spriggan, taking about half his boxes but not crippling anything. The Kodiak stayed back to guard the flag, venting steam to help hide my squishies. The Wardog ran forwards in order to be able to apply Fighting Dirty next turn if I saw an opening. Valachev walked over to base the flag on the left and killed Sylyss with an ice shotgun. This prevented Fuzzy from scoring this turn, getting me a point up.

Sorscha cast Boundless Charge on Beast09 and the Forgeseer handed out some focus. The Spriggan softened up the Decimator, then Beast09 came in and finished it off. The Cutthroats killed the dog and based the flag. We both scored, bringing the score to 3:2 to me.

Round 4:
I dropped all my upkeeps for focus. The Koldun Lord cast Brittle Frost on the Spriggan - I would have preferred to use it on Beast09 but he's immune... The Kodiak charged in to the Spriggan, finishing it with his initials. I had actually hoped to be able to throw it into Beast09. Oh well. He then bought a couple of attacks on Beast09, completely whiffing his damage rolls...
The Kodiak used Vent Steam. Malakov feated; with the steam cloud in place the Kodiak (who I think was the new Prey target) would be able to walk behind it after Beast hit him, where he couldn't be targeted anymore. I bought an extra attack with Open Fire, which at least did a bit of damage. Malakov also shot at Beast09, managing only to hit the Kodiak in the back. At least he didn't actually do any damage.  We both scored, but as I was ahead at 4 points I would win next turn if Fuzzy didn't contest.

At this point I thought it was a good idea to explain Sorscha's feat and other abilities to Fuzzy. While doing so we realised that Malakov was inside Sorscha's threat range. So she Wind-Rushed forwards, popped feat to freeze all my models, then charged Malakov and killed him with two hits.

I actually did not realise that Malakov was that close to Sorscha. Clearly I'm still rusty. I also realised today that Sorscha's feat counters Malakov's pretty well; his feat says nothing about ignoring Stationary after all.

I thought the Koldun Lord would solve Malakov's damage issues, but a) I'm too cagey with him, and b) Beast09 don't give a damn. Actually I could have given the Koldun Lord repo and/or Prowl, and even a cloud, meaning that Malakov might be one of the better casters for keeping him safe even after he uses Brittle Frost. Still, I think Andrei might not be at his best at this point level.

Anyway, this was a fun game, and one that didn't drag out as long as Warmachine sometimes can for a slow player like me. Fuzzy's dice were pretty hot, rolling 9's with surprising ease. But that was pretty fair really, seeing as he'd just come from a game of 40K where his dice were stone cold...

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

This Is A Test Of The Emergency Zone Raiding System

As mentioned in my last post I was looking forwards to trying Zone Raiders. I put together some profiles based on some models from the Infinity Operation: Cold Front box:
The bruiser
The sniper
And three cheap (identical) grunts.

The idea was to have a few rules to play around with (reloading, mobility, armour piercing), but not too many so we wouldn't be overwhelmed. I duplicated the profiles for both Pan-O and Nomads to make sure there would be no balance issues in these introductory games:

The first game I played with Speedy. He took the blue Pan-O and I ran the red Nomads. We basically didn't bother with any of the mission or environment rules, to keep things simple. I forgot to take pictures until the end, so you'll see the final board state at the top of this post. We used the Cold Front tokens: regular order tokens represent wounds while irregular order tokens tracked command points, face-down tokens stood in for out-of-ammo tokens, and the frowny face indicated downed models. During the game my armour saves were hot; the Mobile Brigada pretty much refused to die until late-game when the Sniper finally managed to take out his armour. I believe my own sniper was taken out a little early though, and eventually my grunts were overwhelmed.

I then played my friend Watcher (who's not into wargames but has been dragged into a couple before). This time my armour saves were not so hot, and perhaps more importantly my survival rolls were cold too, with models often dropping the moment their armour was breached; my Mobile Brigada went down quite quickly due to my overly-aggressive attempts to get him into combat early. Meanwhile his Orc was on a long flank behind the building on my left, so he arrived untouched late in the match and starting punching my last few models to death.

Obviously this simple demo games don't paint the full picture, but I'm liking the game system so far. I quite enjoyed the pacing created by the alternating model activations; it meant each player got constant quick breaks, but never had to sit idle for very long. I did find that constantly passing control back and forth meant that (in addition to really wishing we had a second measuring tape) I sometimes lost track of which of my models had activated in a round; I think we might start using tokens to track activations.

Which is a bit worrying because there's already a lot of tokens on the table, following each model around. I might discuss placing some tokens on the model cards instead of the on the table, but obviously that would make some things easy to forget, so I think it should be for the less important tokens (like the aforementioned activation tokens, and maybe for wounds) if at all. Also, we all agreed that replacing downed models with a token rather than leaving them on the table would be better, making it much easier to take in the table state at a glance. Obviously each model would need a token that's unique to it, but that's easy enough.

One thing that worried me a bit, and still does, is that the large number of possible actions available each activation could make the game harder for new players to pick up. Watcher seemed to be doing OK though, and personally I found it very enjoyable to have those options; I found it far more interesting than the typical "move-attack" pattern of some wargames. The fact that some actions have added restrictions like ending your activation is an added complication, but I think it's an important balancing factor and I don't think it will take too long to get used to.

Command tokens were a surprisingly fun resource management element: having that extra chance to land an important shot or save a model is a comforting ace to have up your sleeve.

The movement system was a bit more restrictive than I had expected, which is not a bad thing because it means choosing armour with better mobility options has genuine value. I'm a fan of games with a lot of movement, so I'm happy that it feels like the movement and elevation rules will lead to some cool three-dimensional gameplay, though obviously you will need the right terrain to support it.

I was initially afraid that having to keep stopping to reload would feel cumbersome, but in practice I found that I didn't actually mind it too much. Activations were quick enough and rounds short enough that having models duck down to reload didn't feel so bad, plus it's kind of cinematic when you think about it. It also creates meaningful decisions in target prioritization and how much to commit to an attack, and I think it can lead to more movement as turns when you can't shoot encourage you to move around, rather than just stand still and keep shooting, which I like.

The rulebook is pretty good, but there is some room for improvement. The lack of a proper index means that some rules can be a bit hard to find, at least mid-game. Obviously the reference pages help a lot, but there were still some rules I couldn't find in the middle of the game and just gave up on searching for.

Also some rules could use some more explicit language, and/or some actual examples. The cover rules, for example, seemed simple at first but we quickly ran into situations that we weren't sure how to resolve. I think we're going to have to discuss some house-rules for a few things, at least until they get clarified by an errata or something (there don't seem to be any forums and I'm not on Facebook so I don't know what kind of official or unofficial rulings might be occurring).

Overall I'm looking forwards to using the rule set to run some narrative campaigns. It's going to take a lot of prep work though, as I'm going to need to put together some terrain and other stuff. Fingers crossed it will all work out, because I have really high hopes for this game system.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Zone Raiders Card Creator V1.09

I absolutely love the setting of Zone Raiders. Though I have not had a chance to play a game yet, the rules look pretty good to me from my first read-through.

While the book has a sheet for building your characters, I'm rather fond of Warmachine-style character cards, so I decided to throw together my own little Zone Raiders card creator. It's relatively simple and has a lot of re-used code, so it actually didn't take me too long to get this far. It's still a work in progress of course.

I wanted the card creator to pull double-duty, allowing the user to either print it out empty and fill in the data with a pen/cil, or to fill it in the browser, but then overwrite it later as characters changed (these overwrites might just be temporary until the user has time to update the original card if they are willing to keep printing out cards), so I made sure all the fields were as large as I could fit them and set pretty much all the text to be white.

Right now there's a few elements I'm not completely sure about; for example the font size is a bit large, which means some names and things need to be abbreviated. I'm considering shrinking the font size, but I feel that would look a bit funny, so what I would really like to do it add a menu option to allow the user to set some parameters such as font size. Perhaps in later iterations.

I wish I could set the whole thing to save profiles so they can be loaded later, but I don't know how to do that working out of Blogger. There are some other "advanced" functions that I am interested in adding, if I have the time and end up getting into Zone Raiders. Fingers crossed.

Anyway, please post any questions or suggestions for changes as comments on this blog post.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Greylord Forge Seer Conversion

I picked up the Bombardier Bombshell model a very long time ago, intending to convert her into a second Man-O-War Kovnik. Then I discovered that the Kovnik wasn't very good, and I abandoned that idea. Well, when the Greylord Forge Seer came out, it finally gave me a reason to finish the conversion I had planned - with some slight modifications of course.

As much as I like the original model, I wanted to make it seem like less of a hassle to climb in and out of the armour. So I pinned the front and thigh plates to look like they were hinged open, and added a helmet to look like it simply slid up and forwards slightly when opening. That meant that I needed something for the leg to be resting on, and wasn't able to come up with anything more interesting than a random barrel.

While I'm very happy with the armour, her face didn't exactly come out the way I had hoped. Part of this was a slightly messy sculpt, but the truth is I was really struggling to be able to see what I was painting. The closer you look to the face the more horrifying it gets...

The last time I painted a face I tried to use the skin wash to "outline" the eyes, but it was too soft and looked strange. Looking online, a black outline seemed to be common, and looked pretty good when done right. I considered hedging my bets with a dark brown, but decided to go all in on a true black. The results are... a bit too dramatic; I can't really paint well enough to get the outline thin enough for black to look right. I guess you could say that she just uses too much makeup.

I guess that would also explain her slightly-too-red lips; I couldn't quite get the paint mix right this time, but to be honest it matches the eyes this way. I think I might have painted her lips a little bit too high though; I noticed this while painting but wasn't sure enough to be willing to go back over them and try again. I don't think it's really too bad to be honest. The slightly bulbous nose wasn't my fault though, that was just the sculpt.

The gemstone gave me more trouble than I had expected. Strangely it looks better in real life; the camera seems to have made it look very bright and washed out, when actually it's a bit darker and looks "deeper".

The arms are from the Mechanic officer. I modeled an axe in Blender, using photos of the Forge Seer model to try to get something similar to the "official" weapon. I did try adding rules, but ultimately decided against them. My first print attempt in PLA worked out OK, but when I started painting I noticed that the layer lines were too visible. By that point I had a new resin printer, and ended up replacing the axe head with an improved version halfway through painting. The axe handle was made using a tube tool to shape and texture some greenstuff that was wrapped around sections of brass tube.

I then modeled and printed a Greylord crest to replace the tools on the left shoulder. I also added magnets to the arms; this will potentially allow me to run the model as any MOW with an axe or axe-like weapon in the future. For example, if I add a shield I could use her as a Shocktrooper or a dismounted Drakhun, or if I add a cannon I could probably run her as Sorscha3.

I blieve the helmet was from the Drakhun. Some sculpting was required to smooth over the removed crest, and also extend the grill a short distance. I also had to fill in the gap on the front of the chestpiece, and add some detail to the inside of the thigh piece.

I diverged from my usual Khador "snow/ice" basing scheme here, and sculpted a simple stone floor. This was largely to better fit with the barrel (I suppose I could have had her stand on a rock or something, but I prefer the barrel), but I do think it makes more sense for her to be climbing out of the armour inside a building, than while standing in the middle of a field of snow, so I think this works better for her. I did go for a neutral grey stone so that it won't stand out too much next to the white snow of the rest of my Khador.

Since I was replacing the beer keg, I just didn't think the stein fit anymore. So I 3d printed a replacement arm. I settled on a a neutral "open palm" pose, that I would paint to suggest that she was gathering some magic in her hand. I had a hard time getting the printed arm to come out the way I wanted, so I ended up having to do a lot of greenstuff work to try to match the other arm. I gave her an Ushanka with a tiny Greylord crest to fit the Greylord aesthetic.

The final four assemblies. These were painted individually, as it would have been almost impossible to get paint into some areas otherwise.

Paint Recipe:

The basecoat was probably Citadel Blood Red... or it might have been Vallejo 72.106 Game Color Scarlett Blood. Highlights were Citadel Layer Wild Rider Red. I don't remember what I used for shading, it might have been a darker Citadel red or a Citadel wash. Or something else.

Army Painter Warpaints Gun Metal washed with a black wash (probably Army Painter) and highlighted with Citadel Chainmail... until I ran out and had to switch to Vallejo 72.053 Game Color Chainmail Silver.

Undercoated brown (maybe Citadel Skrag Brown) then basecoated with Citadel Layer Gehenna's Gold, washed with Citadel Ogryn Flesh and highlighted with Citadel Layer Auric Armour Gold.

Bronze/dark metal areas:
Undercoated either the same brown or painted on top of the brass from the previous step's basecoat. Then basecoated Citadel Tin Bitz and highlighted Citadel Layer Gehenna's Gold.

Basecoated Vallejo 70.990 Model Color Light Grey, then washed with black wash, cleaned up with Light Grey again, then highlighted with Vallejo 70.993 Model Color White Grey.

Basecoated with Citadel Layer Doombull Brown, washed with Citadel Shade Agrax Earthshade then highlighted with Citadel Layer Skrag Brown.

Basecoated with P3 Jack Bone, then lighter areas were painted in P3 Menoth White Base. Shading was re-applied in P3 Jack Bone, P3 Rucksack Tan, then a mix of Rucksack Tan and Vallejo 70.950 Model Color Black. Highlights were then added in P3 Menoth White Highlight then P3 Morrow White.

Basecoated in P3 Ryn Flesh, then washed in Citadel Ogryn Flesh. Raised areas were "reclaimed" with a light drybrush of Ryn Flesh, then highlights were added with mixes of Ryn Flesh and P3 Menoth White Highlight.

I picked out the eyes in Vallejo 70.950 Model Color Black, then filled them in with P3 Morrow White, before adding a large dot of Vallejo 72.021 Game Color Magic Blue. Of course I had to clean up the outlines with Ryn Flesh, and still they came out VERY rough if you look real close.

The basecoat was a mix of GW Scab Red and P3 Ryn Flesh. A line of pure Scab Red was then used to darken the top lip.

I started with a basecoat of Vallejo 70.950 Model Color Black, then lightly drybrushed Vallejo 70.021 Game Color Magic Blue, then another drybrush of Citadel Edge Blue Horror on the central areas.

The gemstone was painted after the model was varnished and assembled; this was so that the layers could be aligned with the horizon properly, which I couldn't do until I knew the final position. So a basecoat of Citadel Edge Blue Horror was was painted on top of the varnish. Then successively smaller areas were picked out in a mix of Blue Horror and The Army Painter Warpaints Electric Blue, then pure Electric Blue, then Electric Blue and The Army Painter Warpaints Viking Blue (basically identical to the Vallejo Magic Blue from earlier), then pure Viking Blue, then a mix of Viking Blue and Vallejo 70.925 Model Color Blue, then finally pure Vallejo Blue. Once this was done a gloss varnish was applied. Initially I brushed on Vallejo 26.517 Gloss Acrylic Varnish (that I had airbrushed onto several models in the past) and left it to dry with the model upright, however this led to a strangely lumpy surface. So I sanded it a little bit smoother with some fine grit sandpaper, touched up the paint as needed, and applied a generous coating of Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic Gloss Varnish, leaving it to dry with model on it's side and the gemstone pointing straight down (in the hope that the varnish would gather in the center of the stone). It took a couple of coats on each side to achieve a smooth glossy surface (well, with the first coat I pointed the gemstone upwards for some reason, I probably could have done it in just one coat if I had pointed it downwards to begin with).

Blue Glow:
I started by drybrushing her hand with Citadel Mordian Blue, then drybrushed Vallejo 70.950 Magic Blue, The Army Painter Warpaints Ultramarine Blue, and The Army Painter Warpaints Electric Blue in successively smaller areas. Finally I added a dot of Citadel Edge Blue Horror in the center. I considered going up to pure white, but I decided I was happy with a slightly dull glow of magic just starting gather, rather than the bright glow of magic in full swing.

As you can tell I went through more paints than I really needed; I used several almost identical shades of blue for example. This was partly experimentation, partly disorganisation, and partly running out of paints or struggling with drying paints. This model was acually painted over the course of over a year; I finished a couple of pieces around february 2019, then put it on hold to try to finish a more urgent model, then found myself struggling with varnishing issues that took months to resolve. In the meantime Warmachine was dead locally so I lost motivation to continue, and picked up Monsterpocalypse instead. It was only after I got some more Warmachine games in that I found the motivation to finish the model. Story of my life man!

On an unrelated note, these photos are far too blue. The single "WIP" photo I took of the painted sub-assemblies in natural light with a cheap old camera actually looks much better than the photos in the lightbox with the expensive camera. Sigh. Perhaps I'll take some more photos in daylight in the weekend.

I went back and tried to take some photos under more natural lighting. They are a bit better, coming closer to the actual colours, although I still ended up having to go darker than is perhaps ideal to avoid having the lighter colours of the pilot get washed out. You can see in the first photo how nice bright lighting washes her out, while in the later, slightly-too-dark photos she looks better.