Monday, January 21, 2013

Master Chief model

When I first heard of Heroclix, I thought it was a great idea - miniatures of my favourite comic book characters? Yes please! Special bases that keep track of wounds and abilities? Brilliant! Then I saw the models and could not bring myself to buy as single one, they were that awful. At least to someone who'd seen plenty of brilliantly painted Games Workshop miniatures up close.

When Haloclix came out, the models looked a little better. Maybe this was because, between the full-helmed Spartans and the alien Covenant, there weren't many human faces - the part where we can most obviously see the lack of quality. Although to be honest I think they actually are of a slightly better quality. Anyway, I went ahead and picked up a few. It did occur to me a while back to try to touch them up a bit, but I just never got around to it.

Then I played Halo 4, and finally had the motivation to get myself a nicer looking Master Chief:

I forgot to take a "before" photo, but basically he looked something like this:

I didn't want to put too much time into this so I tried to keep it simple. After moving it to 25mm base (and removing the rather crap looking pistol and filling the hole with some liquid greenstuff), I carefully painted on a coat of Army Painter Quickshade (and moments later dropped it onto the carpet and had to spend the next quarter hour picking off minute carpet fibres with a pair of tweezers), then edge-highlighted the model with the appropriate colours. I did put a little more work into the shotgun, which I thought needed it, and washed all the metal and black areas with a black wash, plus I tried to make a couple of dodgy spots look like battle damage (I'm really not sure if that's what they were supposed to be or not), but that was about it. I didn't even paint over the liquid greenstuff; I figured it was close enough to the armour colour that I couldn't be bothered to try to mix up a better match.

I don't really like quickshade all that much, though it does work very well for a few things in my opinion. The reason why I used it here was because I didn't think paints and washes would stick very well to the miniature as is, but I figured a varnish should stick just fine and would give a better surface for painting. However, using a plain varnish would fill up the detail somewhat, and as it was already rather vague and shallow to begin with I was afraid this would significantly reduce the effect of washes. Quickshade, then, was the solution. It has a brownish colour, which worked well enough on the green but not quite so well on the black. Luckily a Badab Black wash over the black areas fixed that.

I coated the model with Games Workshop's Purity Seal. There was snow on the ground outside, so I was very worried about the notorious "sugar coated frosting of doom", but it came out perfectly - in fact I've never had any frosting effect with it. I've experimented with a number of brush-on matt varnishes, and none of them are as good as Purity Seal. When I look at the models that I know I varnished with it I don't see any evidence of any varnish at all, while on all my other models I can tell that there's an outer coat. That might be because, despite my best efforts I always end up brushing it on too thickly, or because it's never truly matt and always at least a little satin. I don't know, but regardless I'm done with them.

While the quickshade darkened the armour more than I would like, overall it came out better than I expected. Plus it took a whole lot less time than usual. This isn't my favourite Master Chief model; I consider this a practice piece, hopefully I'll get around to fixing up some other Haloclix figures eventually. Perhaps I'll try stripping off the existing paint and making a fresh start, or using purity seal and regular washes instead of quickshade (hopefully it will create such a thin layer that it won't fill any detail).

Just for the fun of it, I came up with some 40K rules for Master Chief:

Master Chief 140 pts
WS 5  BS 6  S4  T4  W 3  I 5  A 3  Ld 10  Sv 3+/4++
Unit Composition: 1 (unique)
Unit Type: Infantry
Wargear: Power Armour, Energy shield, Bolt gun, Bolt pistol, Frag and Krak grenades
Special Rules: Stubborn, Relentless, Eternal Warrior, It Will Not Die, ATSKNF, Combat Tactics, IC
- Replace bolt pistol and/or bolt gun with:
    * Shotgun, sniper rifle or combat knife: free
    * Plasma gun, plasma pistol, power weapon, or heavy bolter: +10 pts
    * Thunder hammer or missile launcher (with flakk missiles): +30 pts
- May take special issue ammunition: +10 pts
- May have one of the following:
    * Jump pack: +25 pts
    * Space Marine bike: +35 pts

Obviously he's a Space Marine. I basically gave him a Captain profile, but with an emphasis on shooting instead of close combat. I gave him stubborn and relentless because, well, those are two words that describe him pretty well (also relentless supports his shooty-ness). Eternal Warrior and It Will Not Die were an attempt to represent the way that he gets shot but then recovers in the games, and the basically the way that he's pretty unstoppable. Finally I gave him weapon and vehicle options to represent what he can use in the video games, including some more powerful ranged options than usual, like the plasma gun and heavy bolter. Basically, I thought he should be a shooty character.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Vanishing Phase

There's something that bothers me a little about Warhammer 40K; the way the units can sometimes do a lot more than usual in the same time frame. For example; take two identical units. One moves and shoots, and that's all it can do that game turn. The other moves, shoots, then makes an assault move, then strikes blows in both player turns.

It's actually a lot more extreme than that. Let's consider how far a unit can move in one turn. First of all, let's say they are normal infantry, not jump or bike troops, so no special movement ability, just guys on foot. Now let's say they are Space Marines with ATSKNF, who were falling back last turn. They start by regrouping, which allows them to make a 3" move. ATSKNF allows them act as normal this turn, so they move, shoot, then assault - a maximum of 18" of movement. During the assault they can make 3" pile-in moves, if they lose they fall back at most 12" (let's say they were moving towards their own table edge from the beginning to keep things simple). Now if they get assaulted they can again potentially make 3" pile-in moves, and can fall back up to another 12" if they lose. This means that, unlikely as it is, according to the rules an individual model can move up to 51" (3" consolidation + 6" move + 12" assault + 3" pile-in + 12" fall back + 3" pile-in + 12" fall back) in a single game turn, while an identical model that didn't happen to be close enough to an enemy unit can move 12" at most, and that's by sacrificing their shooting.

So how is it that one unit was able to move over 4 times as far, and do so much more, than the other identical unit over the same time frame? What's the first unit doing while the second one was so busy? The conclusion is that there's a huge inconsistency in how much a unit is capable of achieving during a game turn. Is this a bad thing? Not really, the game has been developed and tweaked and balanced over many years to work in a certain way. It just seems strange when you think about; how we claim those two scenarios took the same amount of time?

My point is, I sometimes think this "vanishing" assault phase is strange. Personally it makes sense to me to combine the shooting and assault phases into a single "action" phase, and completely remove charging into assault, instead if you end your normal move in base contact you've just charged into assault. That way you have either a shooting phase or an assault phase, and the distance you move doesn't change unless you run in the action phase. Would this play better on the tabletop? Maybe not, there's certainly issues to be worked out and I'm afraid it might lead games to be pure shooting matches by weakening the assault phase, but perhaps with other tweaks it could work?

I always suspected that in 5th edition you were basically supposed to be able to either shoot or assault, as you couldn't assault after shooting some weapons (or running), and it was only special rules or circumstances that would have the "unusual effect" of allowing it. But with the current abundance of assault weapons and pistols, and the increased potential charge distance, plus overwatch in your opponent's turn, the assault phase in 6th edition just has the potential to add so much activity, or none at all.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy new year!

Yeah, so, 2013. Wow. I can't believe how long ago it was that we were so excited about the new millenium. I haven't even gotten around to thinking about new years resolutions, 2012 sped by so fast, and I've been so busy. I feel like it's been very eventful but at the same time I feel like I got nothing done. There's so much stuff I wanted to do, so many reviews I wanted to write, but just didn't have the time or energy. Maybe I'll do better this year. Fingers crossed!