Wednesday 31 January 2018

First model of the year

It's a month into 2018 and I realised that I haven't actually painted any models yet, despite playing loads of games.

Luckily I have the perfect project lined up to change this state of affairs:

Despite having collecting Thousand Sons and had the background for Alto Damokai, Praetor of the 55th Company worked out for a few years now, I've never actually had a model to represent him until now.

The 30k campaign down my local club has given me the perfect excuse to get him done. As you can see, he's based on the Kurtha Sedd model from Betrayal at Calth, with a Sternguard head and a few fantasy bits thrown in.

He's a long way off done yet, but I feel it's a solid start. Most of the work now is layering up from the washes and applying highlights, which will take a while. I'm hoping to have him done in the next week or two though, then I'll probably be working on my Breachers.

It's either that or I'll get distracted by Necromunda gangs. Progress will be made on my 'to do' pile either way!

Sunday 28 January 2018

Slaaneshi Thoughts

I had a rather nice surprise when I woke up on Friday morning in the form of new Dark Elf models being revealed at the Las Vegas Open. I was genuinely excited for a moment. Dark Elves are my main Fantasy army and it's always nice to get new models, especially ones as beautiful as these.

Then I remembered they were for Age of Sigmar: a game I have zero interest in playing after what they did to the Old World and the 25 years of background associated with it. If anything was going to tempt me in though, it would be these. They really are gorgeous sculpts.I might even pick some up to add to my 8th edition Druchii army.

Despite having no interest in the gaming system, this reveal still got me thinking. Dark Elves and Slaanesh have always been closely linked in design and imagery. Granted DE have always had a healthy dose of Khainite influence thrown in too, but the resemblance is there to see, especially in older models.

It's been pretty clear for a while that GW doesn't know what to do with Slaanesh. Being the god of Sex, Drugs and Rock n' Roll, the subject matter he/she/it covers has been rather at odds with GW's more 'kid friendly' leanings in the last decade or so.

Putting aside the fact that their IP is built on a universe where murder, plague and genocide are par for the course, Slaanesh has steadily been getting less and less attention from GW. This was especially obvious from the recent codex release for Daemons.

The question is: how do they reconcile the classic look and imagery associated with Slaanesh with something a bit more family friendly? I think this release is pointing the way.

Witch Elves have always been scantily clad berserker women. The 6th edition models were literally dressed in just shoulder guards and a loincloth. The plastics a few years later weren't much better. It's why I was surprised that they focused on updating the Witch Elves before the rest of the Elf range.

I think GW needs to take a look at what they've done to 'modernise' the look of Witch Elves in this release and apply the same line of thinking to their Slaanesh range. They need to remember that he/she/it is the god of all excess, rather than just being about sex and pleasure. Imagine an updated Slaanesh focussing on pride, gluttony, envy and all the other deadly sins besides lust. It would be something quite glorious to behold.

I would really like see the followers of the Youngest God get some love within both the CSM and Daemon ranges. It's rather galling not even to be able to buy a complete box of Noise Marines for my Emperor's Children atm.

What do you think of these releases? I'd also be interested in hearing your thoughts on the direction GW should go with Slaanesh. It's certainly a thorny issue.

Wednesday 24 January 2018

How fluffy is your fluff?

Our hobby is a strange thing when you think about it. We have vast amounts of information and background on a universe that to most intents and purposes doesn’t exist, then spend endless hours discussing and debating it.

The lore for 40k is such a rich tapestry of stories and background details that keeping track of it all is often a long and convoluted process. Even within that framework, it's amazing to think how many different views are out there of what 'the Canon' is and how it applies to their own armies.

I’ve spent a vast amount of times in the past few days discussing Thousand Sons on various 30k Facebook groups. A particularly interesting conversation was had over the presence of cult markings or lack thereof on Thousand Sons models. For me, cult markings are a must. They’re talked about in the novels and they’re a cool visualisation of the special rules which the Legion gets on the tabletop. Seems simple, right? Well I was talking to a guy one one page who honestly can’t see why Thousand Sons would ever have cult markings on their armour. He argues that the cults are non-military organisations and their Legion-brothers can read everything they need to know in their auras, making such markings redundant.

Both these views could be considered ‘fluffy’ and correct, but approach the issue from two completely different directions. It really shows how two completely different approaches to the background can be taken and neither be considered wrong or counter to the established lore. This was even within the confines of 30k where there’s already such a wealth of information and background available to us and players generally care more about the background and fitting their army into a narrative than a lot of 40k players.
Talking of 40k, that's where it gets even more interesting. 40k is arguably a much vaster universe and pretty much anything can happen within it. Because of that, the concept of a ‘fluffy’ army gets even stranger. Of course you get people who build a battle company of Space Marines, complete with correct squad markings and weapon loadouts, but then you get some very strange army combinations which some people would look at and decide ‘”There’s no way that would happen”, but other people would see as perfectly reasonable.

A good example of this would be my mate Johnny. He’s a Black Templar player and builds towards their background - lots of assault-based beatstick units led by their special characters. He also builds hard lists and makes no effort to conceal his competitive side. Naturally he wants Gulliman in his army to make use of his re-roll buffs. No problem right? Gulliman is Lord Commander of the Imperium and fights all over the place. It’s a little cheesy, but  it’s not counter to the established lore. 

Except for the fact that Johnny dislikes Gulliman as a character. He wants to say his model is ‘The Black Knight' - a strange being rumoured to be a psychic manifestation of Sigismund himself. I laughed when I heard this idea, saying there’s no way that’s fluffy. Except he could be. The warp works in funny ways and there’s nothing saying that some Avatar of the ideology and mindset of the Templars founder couldn’t make itself known in some way, drawing on the zealotry of those who follow his teachings. It’s no different to the Sanguinor in the Blood Angels really. If the Templars were taken in by it and don’t realise its true nature, who’s to say it couldn’t happen?

I would never do that and consider it fluffy, but to Johnny there’s nothing wrong with it and accepts that although an Inquisitor might have a thing or two to say about the matter should they witness it, it can be justified within the 40k lore. More importantly for him, it fits the knightly theme for his army, even though it’s not strictly abiding by the existing lore. Fluff means different things to different people.

I’m not saying all armies can twist the background however they like and still be fluffy, but there’s a lot more wiggle room than some people think and what might be ‘correct’ to one person isn’t necessarily how another sees it. There are some real monstrosities of armies out there which can’t ever be justified, but these are fewer and further between these days. The detachment system in 8th edition 40k actually encourages and rewards you for taking armies which somewhat conform to the background.

To wrap up my slightly rambling thoughts, it’s interesting to think about how different people look at what would be considered ‘right’ within an imaginary universe. I’d certainly be interested in hearing how you guys approach the fluff.

Quick disclaimer: I know I use the word ‘fluff’ quite a bit in this post. I know some people don’t like that term and see it as somehow offensive to the background and lore. I don’t subscribe to this view. I see it as an affectionate term of the wealth of background material, novels and stories which form the backbone of the 40k universe. Please don’t hate me for using it!

Downsizing my focus

I seem to have a strange inverse relationship between gaming and blogging. The more gaming I get in, the less I seem to blog and vice versa. It's time to change that. The more gaming I do, the more there is to blog about!

The last few weeks have been pretty packed. After my impulse splurge on Necromunda (swiftly followed by Gang War), me and a mate have been hammering out the basics of the rules and planning our starting gangs ready for a mini-campaign. 

On Sunday night we discovered the joy which could be had in improvising terrain!

Not a bad setup tbh. We just raided his kid's toy box for a few minutes so we could try the 3d terrain rules.This really does hammer home how much I need to crack on with 'Operation Homehammer' though, so we can have a proper terrain set for our games.

I never played the original Necromunda, but the new ruleset seems fun and easy to pick up. My poor  Eschers got hammered when my friend discovered the fun which could be had with Frag Grenades! By the time we reached our third game, we barely had to check the rulebook at all. We're really looking forward to cracking on with our two player campaign.

Here's his starting gang, built by me to his specifications:

Apart from having to raid bits boxes I forgot I even had for some of the more obscure equipment he bought, this was pretty easy to build. It's a nice change to be building models for someone else for once. It also means I can cheekily claim paintng points for them when I get them painted up for him too.

My Eschers will be put together as soon as I can source a couple of shotguns for them.

It's not just been Necromunda which has been keeping me busy either. With the new Age of Darkness rulebook out, my local club has started a 30k escalation campaign.

Not only is it awesome to see people in my area playing 30k again, it's the perfect excuse for me to work on my Thousand Sons.

My XVth Legion have been a slow-burn project for a long time. When Inferno came out last year,  the plan was to finally get them done. Then 8th Edition 40k hit like a truck and I got hopelessly distracted with my Emperor's Children.

This campaign basically gives me a reason to focus on getting small sections of the army up to the high standard I want them to be at.

This is my 1000 point force:

Just 25 models! The perfect size to paint without getting distracted. It's pretty nice to have these tight-focus projects to work on, rather than just having vague goals like 'I'll work on x army' where it's easy to get sidetracked. A lot of the Thousand Sons don't actually need much work to finish up either. The main push will be getting the transfers and detailing down.

I also had my first  campaign game on Monday night. I'm happy to report I gave some Space Wolves a good kicking.

Avenging Prospero one fur-clad savage at a time!

I'll post more soon

Saturday 13 January 2018

I never learn...

January sales at gaming shops are dangerous. I only went into Athena Games this morning to pick up the new Daemons Codex. Then I saw this sitting on the shelf for 35% off!

I think it goes without saying that I snatched up up right away. Yeah I'm weak.

I was going to pick up the Underhive box and Gang War at some point soon anyway, but I was hoping to get a bit more progress in on my existing projects before I took the plunge. I couldn't really argue with that price though.

So I'll be working on this for the next few weeks. I'll post more once I've made progress.

Thursday 4 January 2018

Plans for 2018 - old armies, new projects

It's a new year, meaning it's time to start planning my hobby for 2018.

I was hoping to write a lovely long Hobby Review post looking back over 2017, but a nasty bout of Nurgle-induced illness over the New Year period basically put a stop on that one. Instead I figured I'd use my first post of 2018 to look ahead at what projects I want to do this year.

First thing's first I've been having a sort out and having a good going through of what I have (hint: It's a lot!). I figure that if I can get organised, it'll be easier to work out where I'm going.

 I started with my Emperor's Children:

It's a fairly impressive collection, considering I only revived my old EC's back in June. I went a little nuts after the release of 8th edition and launched headlong into a buying frenzy, leaving me with a ton of half painted models. 

I'm hoping to finish them up this year before I buy anything else for the army. Luckily most of what I have just needs washing and detailing to finish them up, rather than having to be painted from scratch.

Once I've got my basic 40k list finished, Im planning to do a FW order for a few bits to make them usable in 30k too, including starting my long-planned Daemon Fulgrim conversion. GW might beat me to that one, but considering how little love Slaanesh has been getting recently, I'm pretty certain we won't be seeing a plastic Fulgrim or Emperor's Children any time soon.

Leaving the world of excess behind, next up are my Thousand Sons:

I was making good progress on these in the first six months of last year, spurred on by the release of Inferno. Unfortunately the massive distraction named 8th Edition came along, bringing with it the uncertainty surrounding the future of 30k. That pretty much meant that my Thousand Sons fell to the wayside, mostly due to lack the sudden of opponents to play against as most of my local 30k players flocked back to 40k.

Now that FW have released the Age of Darkness rulebook and people in my area are playing 30k again, I want to jump back to these and get them finished. Much like my EC's, I don't think it'll take much effort to do. I just need to sit down and focus on them for a few months. They'll make quite a nice pallete cleanser for when I'm sick of painting pink and purple!

If you're wondering what happened to the Ordo Xenos forces which I was working on earlier this year, I've unfortunately decided to shelve them for a while until either Deathwatch or the Inquisition get a codex (preferably both!). The army just doesn't play the way I feel they should in 8th using the Index rules, so I'm leaving them until they get the codex treatment. It's a shame, but I just can't muster the enthusiasm for working on them like used to, so it makes sense to take a break from them.

On the other hand, there's one project which I'm really looking forward to making a start on soon: 

I picked up these Mordians from a friend just before Christmas and are going to put through the stripping tub in the next few weeks.

I've always wanted a Mordian army and with the new Guard codex seeing the return of Regimental Doctrines, I figured I'd finally take the plunge with them. I'm planning on doing a large order with Victoria Miniatures at some point in the next few months to add to the two squads I've got here. Their range of 'Mordians' are beautiful and should not only give me the option to build loadouts which GW no longer produces, but also let me model the Napoleonic-esque firing lines which I've always pictured.

They even do sculpts for female guardsmen! Something which is distinctly lacking from the GW range.

All this is going to be very much a side project though until i get my two Marine-based armies finished. I've waited 15 years to collect Mordians, so a few more months won't make too much difference.

So there you are, those are my plans for at least the early part of this year. There's plenty to do, but I'm hoping that documenting it all on here should keep me motivated. I've kind of let this blog lapse over the past year or so. I'm wanting to change that and kick it back into something resembling a regular posting schedule.

Wish me luck!

What are your plans for hobbying this year?