Monday, August 31, 2009

Couple More Acres

Got back from a great weekend in Seattle yesterday and had to do all the things which are associated with returning home and getting ready to head to work the next day. The trip was great. I got to see family and friends, watch a Sounders match at the Owl & Thistle, and go to a Mariners game.

I didn't have a lot of time to work last night so I decided to knock out a couple more Planetary Empire tiles. I am going to be running a campaign in Spokane over the late fall/early winter so, while not really pressing, there is some impetus to get these finished.

The spaceport tile was a lot of fun and I used both brown and green on both sides instead of one or the other. In all I am pretty happy with them. The product has been really nice so far and they are a quick and gratifying paint.
From Mars Project Blog

For the next month I have a night class every Monday and Thursday. It pretty much goes from right when I get off work until about an hour before I am supposed to crash. I am going to designate those nights for the Planetary Empire tiles. It normally takes me about an hour to get painting at a good clip. I would hate to hit that clip then have to stop, or paint so late that I am good for shit the next evening. I am hoping to wrap the fire warrior series up by Friday having Tuesday and Wednesday night to paint. As for tomorrow, expect some more of these fun tiles.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, August 28, 2009

No Girls Allowed!

I like my space. Not very profound a statement, or even startling. Most people do like their space. It is theirs, to do with as they desire.

In my case, my space was my game room. It wasn't much, smallest room in the house, but it was mine. Now it isn't, and it sucks.

As I mentioned earlier my wife and I are expecting. My wife is also very crafty so we decided early on that we both need a room for our various hobbies. Mine was my game room, hers was her sewing room, which then grew to encompass part of the dining room, and now at times spills over into the living room. In light of the newest edition to our home, it was decided that one of the rooms would become the nursery. I don't really get it, but something about CPS being called if you try keep your kid in a kennel.

Because babies get the best stuff even before they are born, well and some other thing about the sewing room being closer to our bedroom, it was been decided by "us" ( I had no recollection of this decision.) that her sewing room is to become the nursery. Meaning that the smallest room in the house will be divided and crammed full of her stuff, the same stuff whose might cannot be contained by just one room. The real travesty is that I no longer have my space. Neither does she...kinda.

Last night I was working on my fire warriors (Only got about an hour in.) when I started to hear loud noises coming from the game room. Upon investigating I discovered that the wife had begun carving her "half". In the name of fairness in borders, and not wanting to accrue some serious wife agro, I decided to "help". As she tore through my space like some Conquistadora I suddenly felt empathy for the tribal people of South America. After all, who can comprehend no longer possessing what has always been yours? And how do you explain the worth of things that foreigners can not comprehend?

The Bitz
From Mars Project Blog

Explaining the whole notion of bitz and bitz boxes to my wife proved far more difficult then I ever would have imagined. I have a lot of sprues lying around, as does any enthusiast who has been playing the game for awhile. Admittedly, most of my sprues are for Warhammer Fantasy Battle as I use up most of the 40k stuff. My wife is getting into quilting, so she has these "scrap baskets" that are just filled with extra pieces of fabric that she can use. Showing far more insight than I thought myself capable of, in a moment of triumphant diplomacy, I drew a parallel between my bitz box and sprues, and her scrap basket. Even going so far as to point out that people trade from bitz boxes just like quilters trade scraps.

The trouble is that my wife is smarter than I am. She immediately began asking the right questions:

W (Wife): "So, you are gonna use all these pieces on your Tau guys or whatever?"

M (Me): "Maybe, there isn't a lot about the game these are for that translates into hi-tech but I might."

W: "Why did you buy them?"

M: "Because they were for another army."

W: "And so these pieces left, they aren't for that other army?"

M: "No I used what I was going to use."

W: "So these pieces won't be used for your Tau, and any armies that you already have, you have combed over these pieces and taken what you wanted?"

M: "Yeah. But I may use the pieces for a future arm-"

The mere mention of me getting another army before I have completed this one brings the "wife rage" to the surface. On this path I shall tread no further.

M: "Look it is just that I already have these. And I do not want to be going along years down the road and be like, "Damn I have to spend forty bucks again for the few pieces I need out of the Tomb Kings regiment."

W: "You spent 40 bucks on a 'few' pieces you need!?"

And there is where I lose the battle. You see, I learned long ago not ask my wife to get me gaming stuff because then she knows what it costs. Once she knows what it costs, she can do the math, and realize what I am spending on shit that has thus far gathered dust. And once she knows what I am spending...well you can imagine.

Instead I like to keep her assessing her own value to the items. If she doesn't know specificly she will attach a sense of "reasonable worth", relative to her own fiscally responsible nature. If she thinks, "There is no way Tony would spend one hundred dollars on this," then I haven't, as far as she is concerned. It is a win win.

The outcome of this sparring match was a resounding loss by yours truly. If you are looking for WHFB sprues check ebay soon.

Other Armies
From Mars Project Blog

Without a doubt this is the greatest point of contention between my wife and myself. And though I vilify her to some extent for the purposes of interest and humor, she is really quite tolerant about most the various eccentricities that go with being married to a gamer, and a fickle one at that. The unfinished armies really exhausts her patience. The way she sees it is that the army is built, so I am almost done. Would that it were true! I spend about fifty times longer painting an army than building it.

A little while back, when she first got pregnant, we reviewed our budget and my gaming took the major hit. In all fairness, so did her sewing, a hobby which is just as expensive as my own. In order to recoup the loss I started ebaying stuff that I got in excess trades or whatever. Just stuff that I would never use. This was unfortunate because the wife was then able to see the potential of turning around the stuff "I don't use" for financial "gain". I think maybe in her mind, most everything on my shelf is stuff "I don't use", and unfortunately she is right. Even still, it doesn't mean I am eager to hawk my shit at 40% of what I paid for it. What happens if a Tzeentch dedicated CSM list is really enjoyable to play when ever CSM gets a new book? I will be stoked to play it but my army will have parted out and shipped to the four corners of the world if she has her wicked way.

In the end it came down to simple economics to avoid not having to spend the next month ebaying. I explained to her that prices for GW stuff go up often, even if the models don't change. I would be spending less if I hung on to the stuff. Also, I showed her that I could consolidate the various armies, sprues, and crap into modular plastic bins that filled the closet. As real estate is a premium in "our" room, this went a long way. The efforts put forth by both parties were fair and appreciated. And never would have had to be made if I still had my own effin' room.

The days of "out of sight, out of mind" policies pertaining to wife and gaming are over. It is a brave new world of budgeting, effective storage, and hard questions like, "Do I really need this?" It is going to be a pain the ass, but in the name of marital bliss I will endeavor to persevere. In the mean time I will dream of an even larger house, with a room that can once again be my own. In this glorius room I can scatter plastic willy-nilly and have no cares. Oh such a place will be Nirvana, and in this Nirvanna will be no girls are allowed!

Now to stash all my crap from the other games I play before she sees it.
From Mars Project Blog

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Me vs. Space Marines or Why Vulkan Can Kiss My Arse (Even When He Is Not Vulkan)

Yesterday my buddy Travis shot me a text asking if I was down for a game of 40k. My plan was to get a little more painting done last night, but Travis is one of the few guys I can play without having to go very far (His house is maybe a mile from mine). On top of all that, Travis is a graveyard nurse on a cardiac floor so his schedule is always wonkey. If he calls me I am happy to hop to, cause I never know when I will see him again.

There are some other things worth mentioning about Travis. First and foremost, his painting has come a long way since he started a little more than two years ago. Each model he does looks better than his last. His stuff is looking really sharp these days, and mine is looking really the kind of gray that is unpainted. When I arrived at his house he showed me a bookshelf thing, where in his marines were on display.
From Mars Project Blog
From Mars Project Blog
From Mars Project Blog

The photography doesn't do the minis justice, I was kind of in a hurry and it was super dark. needless to say his shit looked great, and inadequacy settled over me like wearing a pair of underwear the second day in a row, wrong and yet familiar at the same time.

Travis has the whole Second Battle for Armageddon thing going on with his marines (Blood Angels, Salamanders, and Ultra Marines). If you know that, his stuff is really cool. If you don't, you just think his army is made from loans from friends, or ebay auctions, or that he has some kind of disorder.

The other thing to know about Travis is that he pretty routinely kicks my teeth in, no matter what I am playing. I used to win a lot in 4th edition, not so much in 5th. I have no excuses for my failures, and the shame of defeat only has a fleeting stay with me, perhaps because it is so oft a visitor. But normally when I am playing Travis I don't lose so much as am humiliated, shamed, and made to wear the ball-gag.

So with one fully painted, and four partially painted, fire warriors I stood against a superior general and beautifully painted army for 1250 points of inevitable pain.

Travis brought:
  • Chaplain Cassius (We'll get to this...).
  • Sternguard 6 man in a Rhino (Powerfist, Melta x2, Combi-melta).
  • 2x Tac Squad 10 man in a Rhino (Multi-melta, flamer). On of the sarges had a power weapon and the other had a powerfist.
  • Predator /w Heavy Bolter Sponsons.
  • Assault Squad 10 man (Flamer x2, Sarge had power wep). It should be noted that Travis completely forgot this squad was in his army and the first I knew of them was when I was translating his list to this blog entry just now, so really he only brought 1,025 points against me. I feel even worse now...
  • Vindicator.

As for me:
  • Sash' O with AFP, positional relay, and missile pod.
  • Crisis suit with burst cannon, missile pod, multi-tracker.
  • Stealth suit x3 (Bonding knife, hw drone controller, marker drone x2).
  • Fire warriors 10 man (Bonding knife) in a Devil Fish (Disruption pod, multi-tracker).
  • Fire warriors 7 man (Bonding knife).
  • Kroot 9 man with Shaper and 8 Kroot Hounds.
  • Pathfinders 4 man (Bonding knife) in Devilfish (Disruption pod, multi-tracker).
  • Hammerhead (Rail gun, smart missile system, disruption pod, multi-tracker).
  • Piranhas x2 (Target lock, targeter x2, disruption pod x2, ion blaster x2)
We rolled randomly for set up and mission. We ended up with Capture and Control with Dawn of we always do. Travis' table appears to only want to play under very specific conditions, namely Capture and Control and Dawn of War. We seem to play this mission a lot, and really should stop rolling for the game we are gonna play.

Travis is working on his terrain when he has the time so while it is not yet as pretty as his army, it certainly does the trick. This is the table we played on:
From Mars Project Blog

Good fire lanes, some places for taking cover, I like it. I am not sure why we bothered rolling to see who sets up/goes first as I have never actually gone first in a game Travis and I have played. In the name of decorum we did, and he won. Not necessarily a bad thing in this instance. I have noticed that often in Dawn of War people will ram what they put down right up the middle, taking half the board. This means that my army has a whole turn to focus fire on the closest unit, while the others have to cross the length of the theory (Not so much in practice relative to this game). His objective was placed a little off of center to his left. Mine was almost exactly across from his.

Travis deployed a rhino with his Tac Sqaud and Cassisus right on the center line, slightly left (his) of the middle of the table.
From Mars Project Blog

It is at this juncture that I would like to point that mutha' effin' model in the pic above with the spear. That is Travis' Vulkan conversion. Vulkan has terrorized me to a point wherein the English language can no longer articulate the feelings of loathing and fear, the only similarities of expression could be found in the screams of mad men. In this game that conversion served as Chaplain Cassius, which was eager and able to live up the reputation that this model had created.

I only deployed one Devilfish with 10 fire warriors on my own board edge, on about a 25" diagonal from the rhino. The hope was to get that Rhino to come a little closer, making it so that I had a better chance of seeing it with Night Fight. My path finders walked on the board with their Scout move, hell and back gone behind cover. They wouldn't move all game, just light crap up.

Turn 1

First turn for him was pretty standard. Everything walked or drove on the board. His center Rhino didn't move.

Bottom of the turn rolls around to me, I bring in everything within about 24" of his single Rhino, save my deployed Devilfish which I move up so that the 10 man fire warriors squad is just within rapid fire range after disembarking. My plan is simple, open the Rhino with the combined might of my entire effin' army, sans the Kroot who are in reserve and seven fire warriors. Once the Rhino is open, the 10 fire warriors spend marker light hits to go to BS 5 and they, and who ever else is left, unload into the Cassius squad.

Well a lot missed shots, flubbed Night Fight rolls, and three penetrating hits later the Rhino is Immobilized, Shaken, and Weapon Destroyed. But it is still there.

Turn 2
From Mars Project Blog

Top of turn 2 Cassius and the Tac Squad get out of their Rhino, eager to eat some fire warriors in assault range. Travis moves his other Rhinos up, as well as his tanks, and now the Vindicator is a threat. Travis assaults the fire warriors and eats them with Cassius and company. Already the prickling sensation and accompanying fear sweats begin to overtake me as I witness such a display of savagery on this models' behalf. I have seen what he is capable of, and I know fear.

My turn 2 the Rhinos are close enough that they are scary because they are full of scoring marines that can steal my objective. I need to start shooting at them, which means that I need to leave Cassius and his asshats alone. I break off a lot of drones for more shots and use the big guns on the Rhinos. I get my Kroot in on the 2+ and have them outflank to try and bait one of the Rhinos towards them. All said and done, I immobilize the other two rhinos, not destroy mind you, because apparently Rhinos can't actually be destroyed. His guys will have to walk in, so that is good. In the mean time Chaplain Cassius and his crew only eat about 800 points of Tau shooting this turn. I kill the guy with the flamer...and only the guy with the flamer.

Turn 3

Travis' Turn 3 Cassius and company have to assault detached drones cause I used them make a wall between Cassius and my other seven man fire warrior squad. A lot of marines have to walk, including the Sternguard, who shoot the hell out of one of my piranhas. Travis' predator and two five man Tac squads shoot into my Kroot, killing a lot. Travis forgets that you can't assault if you rapid fire, so my other piranha survives an inevitable ass kicking, only getting Stunned.

My turn 3 I focus fire on Cassius and the Tac marines again as they are still the only thing really threatening to contest my objective. The Kroot hit an "8" last shooting phase for a morale check, in it to win it, so they go barreling into the Tac squad they baited away. Cassius and company get a lot of marker lights this turn from pathfinders (3 of 4 hit!) and drones, and I unload into them. I kill four more marines, rawr! What am I left with?
From Mars Project Blog

Cassius and the powerfist sarge, the squad is now toughness six. I have to feed Cassius a crisis suit to block his ability to get into my objective holding fire warriors, since they are my last remaining scoring unit that has a prayer in hell of surviving another turn. The Kroot do their thing and his one remaining marine sticks in the fight, preventing my Kroot from being shot to shit.

Turn 4

Travis' turn 4 sees a lucky (For me!) Vindicator shot go off the board, sparing my fire warriors. His Sternguard bring down the remaining piranha with an Imbolize, but since it was Stunned last turn it just settles to the ground. Cassius whips the hell out of the crisis suit. And more marines walk towards me. My Kroot kill the remaining marine in this assault phase.

My turn 4 the grounded piranha gives the Vindicator its ion blaster and stuns it, apparently no Imperial tank can be killed. More shooting, and finally, in turn effin' 4 Cassius goes down. My Kroot go barreling into the next closest marine combat squad, get their asses thoroughly kicked but the one remaining Kroot sticks on a "5"!

Turn 5

Travis' turn 5 rolls around and he doesn't have a lot he can do. He has nothing close enough to contest, even if they hit a "6" for their run distance. His Predator takes a few shots into my remaining fire warriors but only gets one kill, yeah for cover saves. My remaining single Kroot gets whupped in his assault phase.

My turn 5 and my remaining fire warriors jump in the Pathfinder's Devilfish, which then books it over to park on my objective. A couple of detached gun drones manage to kill one Sternguard. Other than that, nada.

I let Travis roll and the "2" shows up, so that is game. His is holding his objective (which I was never actually within 12" of):
From Mars Project Blog

And I had mine:
From Mars Project Blog

A draw.

All in all the game went as well as it could for me. Especially now that I am aware that an entire jump squad was forgotten about. I do not enjoy people complaining about dice, dice rolls, and bad luck. Dice are part of this game, and they are with you or they aren't. Presumably Cassius and his squad surviving 4 turns of shooting means that dice were not with me this time. However, I am not willing to discredit the fact that it is actually that "Vulkan" model. Somehow those few ounces of plastic have garnered power of my very being, and it manages to do the impossible.

As for Travis, he just affirmed what he already knew. Chaplain Cassius is a fuggin steal, especially in these smaller point games, and the 85 point Predator is choc full of kicking ass. He played well, as he always does, and there is no doubt in my mind that he would have won this had he brought the full 1,250 to the game.

Need to get back on track so I am going to paint tonight. Headed to the west side (Seattle area) this weekend so I will lose Friday and Saturday from hobby stuff. Got to get a big chunk done tonight so I can finish my fire warrior series next week.

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Baby Steps

Last night I put a couple hours in painting for the next step in my "Fire Warrior Start to Finish" series I am running. I did not get nearly enough done to do another installment. I may have mentioned before but, I paint really friggin slow. It is actually rather annoying, especially when you know people who paint really friggin fast, and well.

I considered just working on one guy to offer another installment, instead of the four I am hashing on, but thought better of it. You see, I force myself myself to line paint. And myself, unappreciative of being forced to do anything, tries to trick me into not line painting.

Line painting is the term that we use around here, and I am sure it used in many other places, where you do the same color over multiple models before moving onto the next color. I stretch the term "line painting" to the full extent of its elasticity when applying it to myself. As my idea of line painting is five models at a time. Even five is a chore, as I prefer four, and the fifth model's colors are normally applied from an angry place where rage, not love, fuels my desire to cover its various surfaces in paint.

I will be the first to say that I am pussy when it comes to painting multiple models. I watched my buddy Terrainguy crack out eighty Night Goblins over a span of a few painting session. Terrainguy isn't the fastest painter either, but that guy has determination in spades. When he paints, the sessions are a minimum of four hours, with eight not being very uncommon.

Further more, I look at guys' blogs who use the dipping method, and they are doing whole armies at a time. I can only stand in slack jawed amazement at their powers, for they far exceed that of my own.

The good news is, I am not in any hurry. The tournament season has come to a close as far as what my friends and I normally participate in. There is an indy GT in January, but I will probably have to pass because it is like the same week as when my kid is supposed to be born. The only thing I must race against is my own flitting notions of army loyalty and my pension for distraction. Hopefully I can use a little will power to slow my aechnemesis (myself) down.

This blog has already proved of some assistance in the me vs. myself battle. I have been trying to keep it updated Monday through Friday and feel compelled to show WIP (Work In Progress) pictures. It has been helpful in counteracting the impending sense of futility that I get when I look up from my work area and see them staring back at me.
From Mars Project Blog

The shit part is that is only like 1,2oo of the 2,000 points I am trying to build. It is during these times that I think of the gnarled and marred knuckles of the sailor in this movie. The weathered tattoo reading "HOLD FAST" has become my mantra.

One last thing, I added a squad insignia to my test model on the larger of the shoulder pads, like the fire warriors in the codex. It actually did a lot to help the model "pop". You kinda see it in the picture at the beginning of the blog, and if you want to see a larger version you can find it here.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fire Warriors Start to Finish Part 2

After getting the beginning of the bases done the next step in painting my fire warriors was their fatigues. This section of the model was the obvious choice as, like most painters, I prefer to work from the most recessed areas of the model to the highest. I call it working "inside out" but that is kind of misleading without an explanation.

I also only like to work in one color if I can help it. Meaning that I will base, shade, and highlight a color to completion before I move on to the next color. This is not always possible, as you will soon see even on these fire warriors, but I try to do as much as I can with each color. This preferential method is mostly just based of me liking to have all the different tones of the color I am working in at the ready, in case I make a mistake or miss a spot. I also like the sense of accomplishment from knocking another color out.

The down side of this style of working is that, after the first build, any other base coats or shades that are adjacent to a finished color have to be applied very carefully. This is where working inside out is not only handy, but almost necessary. You don't want to have a brush full of paint trying to get at those deeply sunken spots near a finished color if you can help it.

I use my GW Basecoat brush and some VGC Sombre Gray. I like the VGC a lot for this project. I am also quite fond of, and use quite often, the P3 line from Privateer Press. What VGC has over Privateer for this project is just that the color progression I am using already exists within their line, so I will not have to do very much mixing. This was done on purpose, as I need the rank and file models to move quickly and not make me feel bogged down. Other than the aforementioned, I also use two jars of water (One for washing my brush and the other for clean water.), a couple of folded paper towels, the GW cutting mat to protect the table from paint (This works for shit consequently and my wife has made me order the GW painting station. She intends to refinish the table I paint on because of all the colored spots.), and a huge friggin pallet. My painting pallet is eight round painting wells with long rectangular wells adjacent to each of the round ones. The reason for this vast acreage of paint holding and mixing surface? I am lazy, and do not like to clean my pallet. When the time to clean finally does come it involves a lot of scrapping, chipping, and plenty of swearing.

Basing the Fatigues

I base the fatigues as well as the sunken area of the Tau ingisnia on the left shoulder with VGC Sombre Gray. I use this gray a lot because I like how cool the tonality is. I am not a huge fan of the other darker gray in the VGC line (The name escapes me but it is the Codex Gray equivalent from Citadel.) as it is kind of flat. If I were looking for a warmer gray I would have to go to P3 Bastion Gray, which is also a very nice color. I digress, cool tones are what I am going for with these fatigues as the water theme of the Tau translates in my mind as cooler colors. Even though these are fire warriors...

From Stuff I Have Painted

I was looking for total coverage here, with no black showing. My high light colors are pretty bright so I knew the Somber Gray would be dark enough. Even in this stage, where I am just looking for coverage, I still add some water to my paint. You are going to hear this a lot from me, and I too was once a non-believer, but water and additives will speed up your painting. It only took two coats to get the coverage in the picture above, and you can already see that by thinning the paint I have some shade gradation in the recesses of the model. Make sure to use a Basecoat or similarly sized brush on this step. You want to be able to work quickly and have a lot of paint in the brush as you go.

First Highlight

I switch up brushes here, to the Citadel Standard brush. This brush is actually about all the smaller I will use. It can hold the same tip as any of the finer ones and holds far more paint. I know a lot of painters, especially starting out, who do far too much with those smaller brushes. I know I wasted a lot of time constantly having to dip back into the color that I was using, sometimes having to stop mid-line in a highlight. As this is a hobby, really you can do what you like. But I would challenge anyone reading this to try and put a tip on a bigger brush and use it in place of the Detail or Fine Detail brushes for most of the work that you would normally use the smaller ones on. Eyes and things of that ilk are a different animal. I know people who can use larger brushes for these things but I am not one of them. So the smaller brushes sometimes still do get work from me. If you give a bigger brush a chance I don't think you will be disappointed, and you can save yourself like 16 bucks. (If I am right feel free to use some of the money you saved on sending me six packs of Newcastle and letters of endearment.)

Using the Standard brush I just painted the raised areas of the fatigues with VGC Steel Blue placing my "light source" as coming from the top. Admittedly I have a little bit of a crush on this color and try to work it into as many things as possible. Keeping the paint wet is really helpful in this step so I have actually added some VMC Matte Medium to the paint as well as water. The medium works as a flow releaser and increases the opacity of the color, making it a slightly smoother blend. It should be noted that any blend that only uses three colors, like mine, is going to be abrupt. I am going for economy of time on these, so by using wet paint it at least smooths the blend slightly on each coat, causing it to look a little less abrupt.

From Stuff I Have Painted

What isn't shown is that I did not highlight the recessed area of the Tau symbol on the shoulder. I am going to leave this be for now, as any work I do on it runs the risk of getting muddled by the armor base coat and wash that it will be getting when the time comes.

Final Highlight

The final color in this build is VGC Ice Blue. This color is a little grayer than the Citadel paint with the same name so, if for whatever reason you were looking to recreate this scheme using Citadel paints, it may look slightly different. Again I used my Standard brush, making sure that it has its point. In this step I also thinned the Ice Blue down a lot further than any of the other colors. I hear a lot of painters say that they thin to the consistency of milk. I'm not gonna lie, that has always really pissed me off. What percentage of milk? Milk form what animal? We drink skim milk at my house, though I would rather drink paint, so what I can say is that my paint is thicker than skim milk, but not by a lot. As far as what I thin the paint with? Clean water and VMC Matte Medium, just like in the last step.

From Stuff I Have Painted
From Stuff I Have Painted

I used the thinned Ice Blue to bring up the highest spots on the fatigues, as well as force a few highlights where I liked them. This looks really bright on the models, and in the photography, but there are a few things that may change that. The green of the armor will match a lot of the tones of the fatigues, blending them down a little so it is not as stark a comparison as it is now against the black primer. Also the Purity Seal will bring it all together a little more as well. I am still a little wary, and fully prepared to hit this with a very watery VGC Somber Gray wash if the highlight still is that abrupt once the model is finished. Time will tell, but I think we will be alright.

For now, we are gonna call this color build done (except for the Tau symbol on the shoulder which will have to be revisited.) and move on to the armor. Which will be taken on in the next installment.

If you take nothing else away from this remember, big brushes and wet paint. Think of the sign, only the "Caution" isn't against wet paint, but for going forward without it.

Thanks for reading,

Fire Warriors Start to Finish Part 1

The next couple of entries at Mars Project Blog will be showing how I do my fire warriors from beginning to end. I will try to be as specific as possible with each step. I do not possess the hubris to assume that people would want to recreate my exact scheme. Instead, the reason for the specificity is simply to share the way I have done/do it so there is common ground for discussion.

I will spare everyone the assembly steps in any kind of detail. I clip the parts from the sprue, scrape mold lines with a hobby knife, and glue them together with GW's plastic cement. In my own microcosmic realm of gaming friends the plastic cement is both loved and loathed. I happen to be a lover. I like that it takes a little bit of time to set up and that it fuses the pieces together. I have never seen one of the bonds the cement forms break from a model dropping, where as I have seen it with super glue for plastic-to-plastic joins.

After assembly I glue down the basing material, which in this case, and nearly every case I do, is concrete aggregate from Home Depot. I got a 50lb sack of this for the same price as GW's sand. I like the varying texture the aggregate contains better than the similar sized grains the GW sand has. The downside I have had is that I have a bitch of a time getting the aggregate to stay on bases using anything other than super glue.

The aggregate does the trick, and it is cheap, so I am a fan. My friends have all kinds of cool mixtures that they swear by for their own basing sands. My favorite being my buddy Magnus, of Minutiae of His Craft, whose basing sand is kind of auto biographical in that it contains material from various places he has traveled.

After gluing down the aggregate with super glue these fire warriors get primed black. My primer of choice is made by Dupi-Color and can be found here, though I just get mine from the local Napa auto parts store. This gem of a primer shot to the top of my list a few years back when GW changed their primer. I didn't like the way the Chaos Black spray coated so I tried a few other brands. None of the new brands did it for me either and I was lamenting that fact one day to one of the painters at Privateer Press. He mentioned this stuff to me while we were hanging out and I picked up a can when I got back to the eastside. The primer coats extremely well, but is super stinky. Fortunately the shop in my basement has a ventilation fan built in, other wise I would really only use this stuff outside. The best part of this primer is the price tag. The most I have seen it sold for is five dollars a can, but I normally get it for around four bucks a can with coupons.

All rocked and primed, these bad boys are ready for some brush work. So I start with their bases.

Step 1
As for painting my bases the first layer of paint is VGC (Vallejo Game Color) Beasty Brown. I use a GW basecoat brush. I have just recently started using GW brushes again as a matter of gratitude and economics. Before hand I used Windsor-Newton Series 7's solely. However those brushes died off one by one and about that time a very dear friend of mine gave me the Citadel Master Set thing which included their full line of brushes (At the time.) with these swank wooden handles. Seeing no need to go buy all new brushes when I had a new set of GW brushes, as well as the whole gaming budget taking a pretty big hit in preparation for the baby, and finally, happy to express the gratitude of the gift given by using it, I gave the GW brushes another go. Since that time GW has launched their new brush line and I have been meaning to pick a few of the new types up and try them out. I do not like the GW brushes better than the Series 7's, but I am learning to make them work for me.

Back on topic, I make sure to get good coverage over the entire base.

From Stuff I Have Painted

Step 2
After the base coat has dried I wash the base with GW Devlan Mud Wash. On larger bases like flying bases or 40mm I may do a couple washes using greens or purples in addition to the Devlan Mud, providing sporadic coverage, just to make certain areas stand out or look slightly different than others.

From Stuff I Have Painted

Step 3
After the Devlan Mud wash is dry I bring up the first highlight by drybrushing VGC Desert Yellow using the GW Drybrush. The trick here is keep the brush moving in a circular motion instead of back and forth. The circular motion provides better coverage, causing you to have to dip back into the color then wipe it off again fewer times.

From Stuff I Have Painted

Step 4
For these guys, the last step is another lighter drybrushing of VGC Bone White. Again, on larger bases I will go up another shade, using VGC Off White. On these 30mm bases I feel that the model fills up enough of it that I can get away without going that high.

From Stuff I Have Painted

The reason I chose this basing color scheme is two fold. First off, my friend Bob (Who, consequently has just launched a painting service with himself and his roommate so check him out! Ebay seller name here. Both painters are extremely talented, and they can provide anything from master quality to blocking color and dipping.) has used the schema for one army and a great deal of his terrain. I have seen it done often, and liked it. The second reason is because many peoples' terrain and/or boards end up with a bone color as their highest tone, so at cursory glance the army will still look like it fits in with most playing surfaces.

Below are four models in the various states of basing for comparison. They go from left to right, with the furthest left being the first step and the furthest right being the last step.

From Stuff I Have Painted

The aforementioned Bob used to tease me about basing models before painting. I am not sure if he still does but, when I painted with him often, he would do the bases last. I can not argue my way from a logistical or economy of time and effort perspective. Instead my reasons are completely psychological and self serving. Laying down the base first helps me "get into it" with "it" being painting the model. The steps are fast and easy, requiring very little precision. The outcome looks good and with little effort. I ride that high into the next steps of painting the model, which tend to be my least favorite. But that is for another post.

Check us out here, hopefully tomorrow, or at least by Wednesday, as I tackle the next step in the fire warriors, their fatigues.

Oh yeah, and one last thing. I painted the borders of the earlier posted planetary empires tiles. As I said in the other post, I decided to go with VGC Steel Blue, and I like the outcome.

From Stuff I Have Painted
From Stuff I Have Painted

The crap thing is, that despite numerous coats of Purity Seal, the edges that join to another tile get the paint scrapped off when you separate the tiles from one another. This is due to the tiles fitting together so snugly. Apparently my Planetary Empire stuff will require some occasional maintenance.

Friday, August 21, 2009


As mentioned below, I am prone to distraction. However I feel that this was a little unfair. I set out last night to start painting four more fire warriors and do a whole "describe each step for the blog" thing. As I was shutting down my computer, a ritual that means the end of the work day, my wife informed me that we were headed to Spokane Valley to look at a dresser she found on Craig's List for the baby. I was immediately wary, as the last piece of furniture I was made to look at from Craig's List was less than exemplary. As a matter of fact, upon viewing the picture of the chair in the listing, my initial reaction was, "Ugh, that just looks like it smells like an animal." I was not wrong.

Of the three exists from I-90 that lead into the Spokane Valley we had to take the one under construction, so traffic was backed up on to the freeway, awesome! We got the location of the dresser finally, but was not to her liking so after much hemming and hawing we left dresserless. None too soon as far as I was concerned. It was like one hundred degrees in the house and this naked little boy was sitting on the couch transfixed by a television program that shouted non sequiturs before assaulting you with bright colors. A "quick stop at Lenscrafters" some how morphed into an hour in the mall close by, which is 60 minutes more than I would choose to spend in any mall. Finally I arrived home, two hours later than expected to discover that I had a package.

Well it was pretty much all she wrote, the fire warriors would know another day's neglect. It is not as bad as it sounds, they have become accustom to it.

I have been stoked on the Planetary Empires release since I first saw coverage on it. I cracked open my very own copy and checked out the cool tiles, buildings, etc. I then read the five pages of rules which were simple yet fun, leaving a lot of room for encouraged "house rules". Then in one gallant last effort to stay on task I decided to at least prime the four fire warriors I am doing next. Somehow, as Dupicolor Hot Rod Black spray shot forth in a pungent but effective fan I noticed that two of my tiles had made it to my priming lid as well. Damn my eyes!
From Stuff I Have Painted
From Stuff I Have Painted

The tiles went really quickly as far as the painting goes, but they actually ended up taking far longer then they should have had because of dry time. Going forward I will do a couple things differently:

First off, I will just do more tiles at the same time so that all the tiles have a chance to dry. Or, if I know I am going to be doing a small number of tiles I will co-opt my wife's hair dryer.

Second, as shown above, I did one side green and the other kinda like a desert. Future tiles will be one side more green than desert, and the other more desert than green, but both sides will have elements of each other. That way, no matter which side I use, it could all fit into the same map.

The canny eyed reader may notice that I did not do the borders of the tiles yet yet. That was because, as of last night, I didn't know how I was gonna do them. I decided this morning at some point in my 40 min commute that I will probably just do a bright color instead of a natural tone to identify the tiles as my own. That way, maybe someday, we can make a giant map with multiple sets and I will still know which tiles are mine.

On another topic entirely, my friends gave me some awesome feedback on my fire warrior. The reoccurring thing being that the tonalities between the green of the armor and the gray of the garment are too similar so there is not a lot to make him "pop". I am 100% certain they are right, but, as of now I am not going to change a thing. I am kicking around the idea of envisioning the army as a whole and applying the concepts normally used on one model to the scale of the army. That is a shit way to articulate what I mean, but basically I will choose units in the army to "pop" instead of spots on the single model. My "pop" will probably be my large Kroot squad, and I will try to accomplish contrast with the disruption patterns on my vehicles. Really, as I am playing a lot of transports, the Devilfish chassis should be the thing seen most if you across the table from me.

I got a buddy headed to Boulder, CO to take over a Pita Pit there that is having a going away party tonight. If you are ever in the neighborhood shoot in there real quick and give him some business. The food is legit, and you get a lot of it. I probably won't get a lot done tonight with the fire warriors as all signs point to me getting home late, and probably drunk. The last time I painted drunk the out come was less than stellar. I am not sure if Terrainguy from the DaMommas Boyz has photo evidence or simply the model itself, but either way, the aftermath was an evil from old times.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The First of Many...I Hope

Roughly one thousand years ago (In all actuality only three years ago.) I finished a Warhammer 40k army. Then hardship struck, and I was forced to sell it. In retrospect, I didn't need to. At the time my friends told me that they would float me loans to make it so that I didn't sell the army. Though I kept denying the offers stating, "I can't take charity."

Now a few years down the road I have a stable gig and money isn't as tight. Last year I felt compelled to participate in various charitable auctions, drives, etc. Admittedly the tax write off was nice, but also I have a very caring and civic minded wife whom it made very happy. I for one believe wholeheartedly in the age old axiom "Happy wife, happy life."

I could only imagine how angry I would have been if, after all my efforts and my wife's joy, the people that we sought to help, not because we had to, but because we wanted, suddenly denied our efforts and financial gifts saying, "I can't take charity." It probably would have resulted in a good ol' fashioned face kickin'. The hypocrisy is not wasted on me. I am equal parts glad and sad that my close friends were better able to control themselves in the face of my own idiocy.

The unfortunate aftermath of the aforementioned, other than the fact that my Dark Angels are no more, has been a complete inability on my part to finish an army. More aptly stated, an inability to commit to an army, let alone finish one. I have spent the better part of year purchasing, assembling, and then ebaying. Never let it be said that the tanking economy of the last 15 months was this guy's fault. I have been squandering resources with the best of them.

But now there is Tau. I bought a whole bunch of Tau in one of my many flights of fancy over the last year. I base coated like "a" firewarrior, without ever playing a single game with them, and wrote them off as "not my thing". The harsh reality being that "my thing" was just declaring everything as "not my thing". My wife got pregnant, which I am stoked about, and we needed to consolidate our craft rooms (hers sewing, mine GW, Privateer, etc). During the preliminary consolidation she noticed the ample boxes that made up my failed Tau endeavor still in their cellophane wrap, prompting a look which is normally followed by her going super nova. In an effort to prevent the formation of a black hole in suburban eastern Washington, I assured her that I would be making the army.

So, here we are. I am about four weeks into an escalation campaign with my preservation of marital bliss Tau and I have finally put paint to something. I did this firewarrior on accident. I saw the scheme in the new GW tank painting book and wondered if I could recreate it. Next thing I knew it was getting late and I was rushing to put the finishing touches on him.
From Mars Project Blog
From Mars Project Blog
From Mars Project Blog

He is rough, and some things didn't go as well as I would like, but I feel inspired. Going to try and crack out four more over the next couple days and have the squad done by about this time next week. (I am the world's slowest painter.)