Thursday, 22 August 2019

Iron Skull Painting Tournament

Good-natured shilling

For those who follow my blog who like painting all fancy like, there's a new painting competition that Siege Studios / Artis Opus are running. It's going to be in London on 29 February 2020.

For disclosure, I'm at least a passing acquaintance with one of the people running it, who has hit me up to mention it to people - but it does look pretty cool and worth a look.

The tickets are for sale now, and it's already gone well enough that they've had to upgrade their venue.

You will need a ticket either to enter or to go and look at all the entries.

All the fancy categories, rules and stuff are up on the IronSkull website.

I'm not sure if I'll be making it yet, as I'm hoping to be in Mallorca for the Infinity EIC tournament the weekend before, so I may have declared myself legally dead for napping reasons.

They also have a Facebook event set up if that's your thing. Facebook continues to be something I grudgingly tolerate due to it's pervasiveness. I don't have to like it.

So. IronSkull Painting Competition. It's a thing. It will be a cool thing if it's your sort of thing.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Infinity League: Druze vs US Ariadna - The Grid

With only a few games to go, I had another game for the HATE Infinity League a while back. This time it was "The Grid" against US Ariadna.

For those who don't know the mission - there are nine antennae on the field. You want to scan them - either by having any specialist get into base to base and pass a roll, or by having a Forward Observer complete a scan on them at range.

If you scan one your opponent has scanned, it flips to you.

From the second turn onwards, you can blow the antennae up, but only if you've already scanned them and they're currently flipped to you. Destroyed ones still count as scanned. 4 points for having scanned more, 4 points for having destroyed more of the three next to your opponent's deployment zone than they have destroyed your three (I know, I know) and 2 points for killing a "Designated Target" non com deployed by your opponent.

US Ariadna have lacked an update for a while now, so my main worry was their infamous "Inferior Infiltrating Grunts" trick, where there's a small chance one of their well armoured scrubs with a heavy flamethrower ends up right up your nose by your deployment zone and will set everyone on fire if you so much as sneeze.

Here, we can see Saito Togan's hidden deployment, off to the right of the board to try and snag a box in the mid game.

Here you can see my "terrified of flamethrowers" deployment. My link is scattered off to the left, a few models cower in the shadow of the centre buildings, and a couple more are over by the right hand shipping containers.

In the hope of trying to minimise what the US can do in their first turn, I put a linked missile launcher remote up on the roof of a building with a reasonable sight line down that side of the field.

For reference, both of the scary flamethrowers fail their infiltration roll and end up back in the deployment zone.

The deployment is a bit of a refused flank, with the bulk of the US Ariadna on his left flank and the bulk of my firepower on my left flank.

A couple of angry werewolves use smoke to get up to my designated target who proceeds to dodge like anything and avoid being mauled to death...

He runs a bike up to try and take down the designated target - they too fail.

I manage to take out the bike and injure one of the werewolves, and push a bunch of buttons on my side of the table and in the centre.

One of my Forward Observers makes a run to his designated target and takes it out...

But then it all goes a bit wrong. Thinking smart, the US player blows up two of the three antennae on his side of the field. I can observe and blow up the one remaining one - and do so, but all he needs now is to get two destroyed on my side of the field and I can't catch him up.

I'm on the back foot and can't really defend my right flank and centre at all well because my main shooting has pushed up the left flank already.

I make a last valiant effort to push up and get as many antennae flipped as possible...

But he manages to destroy two on my side, then casually flips more than I can get back, and finish off that pesky civilian, leaving the final score a 10-2 defeat for me.

I was thoroughly outplayed here. The fear of the flamethrowers meant I hadn't left enough defence out to do much about his push down my right flank. The denial plan worked excellently and I hadn't got anything in place to try anything as clever.

I've not played the Grid in a while, and it's been heavily FAQed since I last played it, meaning I really hadn't got the hang of the mission. It's a weird little puzzler, and I'm still trying to work out the best strategy to get it done.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Actual Paint and a little bit of Bruckner

For the first time in months - and, in fact, this year - I've put some paint on a model. It's been so long I did find it a bit tough, slow going as I remembered how this Painting Lark works. The model is a Reaper Anniversary figure of "Elanter, the Lost Prince". I experimented a bit with contrast paints on the robe, cloak and hood.

They were excellent at setting up the shadows and highlights after just one coat, but it definitely felt like "not enough" to me an I wanted to do more. Unfortunately on the cloak I was impatient and tried to start a drybrush on it before it was fully dried, so the rescue on that took a whole while.

Once it is properly dry, though, a light drybrush or edge highlight with very little else is amazing and really brings out the contrast on the model. I did that on the green hood with nothing else and you can see how well it works even on my blurry WIP pic.

I hope to be getting back to him over the evenings this week and to have him finished in time for next week's progress update.

Next up for assembly are some Oakbound rat men who have been volunteered for test paints for my upcoming Skaven army. These ones are called Gnawlochs, and I picked up a few in the Kickstarter because I liked the look of them before I decided I was going to do a Skaven army. As I'm not planning to use any non GW models in this upcoming army project, some random schemes while I try and decide how the army will get painted will give a nice rag tag look to them.

Unfortunately, I am an idiot and had not put the lid on the super glue properly. So, I've ordered new glue and paused the assembly having cleaned up the (very few) mould lines on the Gnawlochs. I'll also need to do a bit of a shopping trip to find some paint options for them. I'm definitely planning on using Contrast paints on them, but I'm just not quite sure what yet.

Once the Gnawlochs are assembled, the next thing I'll be working on is my Heroquest tribute models. I'm pretty excited to get to them and get them all done. In fact, I'm almost as excited to get to show you them on the blog, because I think they're pretty awesome.

My newly retired parents took me to see the Proms at the weekend. It was Prom 31, for those who find it relevant. We also went to the recording of the interval talk beforehand. Now, I'm not really a classical music expert - I like listening to it but I don't know much about it. And I unintentionally got a bunch of knowledge which I got excited about and am now going to impart to you. Because I like art. Like that time I ended up rambling on a whole bunch about the woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer. Sorry. Not sorry.

Bear with me there may be a lot of simplification here because I am not a classical music nerd. My knowledge comes from Wikipedia, the Proms programme and a 45 minute recording by two classical music professors who assumed their audience knew the subject.

So, it turns out that lots of famous classical musicians you've heard of were all active at the same time, in the nineteenth century Vienna. This includes all the composers featured in this Prom - Brahms, Strauss and Bruckner.

Brahms was a traditionalist, looking back to historical composers. The piece played at the Prom was "Variations on the St Anthony Chorale". Brahms thought the piece was by Haydn, although modern analysis makes it apparent it almost certainly isn't.

It got me thinking about how the piece stands on it's own accord, despite being a "variation" on an earlier piece of work. Tying back to painting, we have so many people copying existing styles at present (particularly John Blanche's). That has more gotten to the point of a small, niche artistic movement of a sort, for all that it has one name attached to it. As I get back into painting, I'm going to be doing a few "studies" of painting styles I want to emulate, but I also want to find my own style and way of doing things once I've gotten confident. Variations, not copies.

The second piece was four songs by Richard Strauss (Op. 27). They were a wedding present for his wife. Two of the songs were based on poems by John Henry Mackey - a gay Scottish anarchist living in Germany. Mackey outlived Strauss, and in fact died shortly after one of the famous Nazi book burnings. That a contemporary of Brahms was inspired by a poem by someone who lived to see the rise of the Nazis made me start thinking more about timescales in history, and where people from various eras would overlap in ways we wouldn't realise, despite the different periods being very familiar.

(Also, LGBT* have always been there, just usually over-looked by history. None of this is new.)

There's no painting  revelation on that one - just a musing on time, and our ability to understand time periods by assigning them into arbitrary eras that don't necessarily draw the connections we might otherwise.

The final piece was Bruckner's 4th Symphony. This was the piece that was discussed in the talk we heard recorded beforehand. Bruckner was a perfectionist who massively planned out his work beforehand, and then repeatedly revised them over and over once they were 'done'. I'm sure none of that sounds at all familiar to anyone reading this...

But through this talk, inspirations were constantly mentioned - Bruckner modelled after Beethoven and was a fan of his contemporary Wagner. Mahler in turn was inspired by Bruckner . . . one artist inspiring another, who in turn inspires another. With the growth of the internet, and our own hobby, the transmission of inspiration is quicker and more global than ever.

What we seem to end up with, though, is less of a geographical limit on styles. You can still see the differences between British miniature painters and Spanish, and the Northern and Eastern Europe have a different style again. But you get more exchanges of ideas - you're more likely to have styles proliferate in one internet community or another rather than a local town.

But this has happened before, with classical music composers in 19th century Vienna, and I have no doubt it will happen again.

Monday, 5 August 2019

A bit of assembly

With an operative hobby space once more and a free weekend, it was time to get some hobby going. The first job was unpacking and sorting the large package of models for "Dahshat Company" for Infinity.

All of these models had transported fine without any problems. Although I was a ham fisted clutz and managed to break one of them trying to put it away.

Meanwhile, here are all of the repairs. I also found a mini I'd forgotten to paint the fire arc marker on months ago, so quickly got that fixed while I was at it.

Some of the fixes, mostly on newer models, were nice and easy. Some of the older ones, however, were an absolute pain and I spent a good hour or two swearing and letting super glue dry before scraping it off and starting again.

It is, of course, my cursed luck that the model I broke (the Rui Shi) was satan's own challenge to put back together. I ended up leaving it overnight and fixed it Sunday morning. I was very glad when I got it right second time. Sometimes walking away and leaving it is the best option.

All told, there's only two things that need pinning now - both older remotes. I haven't been able to find my pinning set in the unpacking yet, so they'll have to wait a little while.

I am a great believer in having fun little quick painting projects to do in between your big projects, so as a break from Infinity, I thought I'd quickly clean up the mould lines and base a few Reaper 25 anniversary figures I'd picked up for just that purpose.

This model is Elanter, the Lost Prince. His spear tip needed a little careful bending back into shape. I ended up using the flat of my scalpel blade as something to press against and make sure it actually ended up flat.

Here's Darius the Blue. All these miniatures came with cast in bases, so I glued them to some round bases and used my favourite basing solution. This is using Vallejo Coarse Pumice first to build up shape and texture, then Vallejo Sandy Paste to add variation and finer grains where needed.

Trista the Loremistress was the third blister assembled. The previous two wouldn't fit on a 25mm so I used 32mm bases there, but for Trista, a traditional 25mm was sufficient.

I hadn't really realised what Hecklemeyer and Styx were when I picked them up. Or maybe I forgot? Anyway, I am beyond delighted to have an undead jester puppeteering a tiny magical wooden puppet. They're the two I'm most looking forward to painting, so I'll likely leave them until last, or if I'm having a particularly bad day and need cheering up.

So, no paint applied so far, but we're back underway and getting models prepared and ready for paint! How was your hobby weekend?

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

The start of a hobby space

This is a sight I've been working towards for a long while. A hobby desk, ready for use. This was actually taken a weekend ago, as I was off LARPing this weekend, but I'm looking forward to finally being able to get some hobby done and posted on the blog. There's a quiet one planned for this weekend with nothing in it. It's going to be amazing.

Obviously some of it was the magic of photography angles. This is all the packing material we've kept hold of for now...

Because we need to work through this eBay pile. Impulse purchases and changes of plans build up over the years and I would recommend taking regular sweeps of the hobby "to do" pile and thinking about if you still want it. This is a literal, as well as metaphorical weight, that I'm going to be getting out of my life.

I am still definitely into my Infinity, though. This is all the unassembled stuff that still needs to be done. I'll be getting some off to my assembly guy soon - maybe a job for next weekend...

Monday, 22 July 2019

Necromunda: A little firefight with the Cawdor

Our Necromunda campaign continued with me receiving a challenge for some new turf from a Cawdor gang.

I finally managed to get my Heavy Stubber ganger to shoot! He's not managed to do that yet.

A couple of Cawdor got shot up pretty bad!

Meanwhile, a Cawdor with a long rifle was taking shots at people.

Meanwhile, my Squat bounty hunter managed to miss and run out of ammo on his first shot.

One of my new juves got caught in the cross fire and got properly mangled up!

And then my Heavy Stubber managed to miss and run out of ammunition, and I decided it was time for the gang to peg it before it got any worse!

I need to find some time to have a sit down and sort out the gang as we're now going into a downtime period and I need to work out what to get.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Malifaux Third Edition, First Thoughts

I recently picked up the new book for Malifaux 3rd edition. I really enjoyed playing Malifaux a while back, but it was one of the casualties of the house move. I hear that as the game expanded towards the end of second edition, it got a bit unwieldy and had a few balance issues between newer and older profiles.

One of the changes in the new edition is that Malifaux has taken their continuity forward, and as a result, taken a number of Masters out of play. One of the affected Masters is Collodi, the living puppet I've been playing so far.

They've also stopped having Mercenary models that can be taken by any faction. I had a reasonable collection of unassembled figures to use those rules, and conveniently, they're mostly Outcasts.

So, I'll be taking a little break from the Neverborn for a little while and starting up an Outcast crew. It seems likely I'm going to start with either the Viktorias or the Parker Barrows gang. I'll need to assemble and paint them, so they'll likely be one of the earlier things I paint once we've got the work bench available again.

I'm not abandoning the Neverborn forever. I really like the look of the new Dreamer crew, and I still really rather like both Zoraida and Lucius. I can also put together a weird little puppet crew using either the Widow Weaver or Hinamatsu, so I'll definitely return to puppets one day!

If you're interested in the new Malifaux, I think the best discussion of the new game / rules that I've heard have been by the Schemes and Stones podcast. They've done two podcasts, depending on whether you're:

I'll hopefully update my project page later on to talk more about what I'm planning with Malifaux.

Monday, 8 July 2019

Infinity League: Druze vs Steel Phalanx, Transmission Matrix

Having not played Infinity in a while, it was time for another round of the Infinity League where I'm playing my Druze. Up this round was the mission "Transmission Matrix", where you need to try and control more antennae than your opponents. This is thrown a twist by all the antennae also being Repeaters for both sides. This means that Hackers on both sides can affect and be affected by other models for most of the board.

The Druze are OK at the Hacking game. However, not remembering how good the Steel Phalanx's hackers are, and assuming they'd be pretty good, I decided a better approach would be to go without any Hackers and make do with other specialists.

Having been forced to deploy first, I gritted my teeth and chose to go second as well, because capturing antennae back seemed less scary than trying to hold them from the assault specialists that Steel Phalanx represent.

You can't see him, but Saito Togan is hiding behind the bench next to the central console here.

I managed to snipe out Penthesilea as she advanced with a fortunate long ranged ARO. The rest of my opponent's orders were spent bunching up around the antennae to hold the two near his deployment zone. Then I, like a monster, ran on a Bashi Bazouk with E/Maulers (E/M mines that can isolate enemy units meaning they can't receive much in the way of orders).

Outside of the photos, I moved a camo token over to the middle antennae and shuffled a couple of figures up to stand my my antennae to score the round.

My opponent first wisely tried to get Phoenix to obliterate the drop troop and the mines with an incendiary round, but was unlucky as my Hunzakut camo sniper revealed and took him down with a lucky hit, while his shot towards the mines went wide.

That left him little choice but to dodge with the link team. Ajax was safe but two of them ended up isolated, stuck only able to use their own orders in their turn. The Bashi was righteously gunned down in retaliation, but that was about it.

For my turn two, I ran my link team across the field. First the HMG drew a careful bead on Ajax and obliterated him. Even in a not great range, five dice and link bonuses do a lot! Then, I moved up my Data Tracker Druze to take out the "Designated Target" civilian who was hiding behind the shuttle.

I was now 7-0 up and my opponent was very short on orders. They mostly bunkered down to try and avoid losing any more troops.

I moved a Hunzakut around the corner to the two isolated Myrmidions and blasted them with a shotgun. With them unconscious, it was relatively easy to walk a Druze over to stand in base to base contact with one for my Classified Objective, giving me a clean 10-0 sweep of the board.

Both I and my opponent were a bit out of practice at Infinity, but in this case it seems that the game was swung more or less by my remembering a bit more of the tactics and rules than my poor opponent, who never really had a chance to get off the starting blocks.

Still, I'm taking it easy at the moment with Infinity. I'll be finishing up the league with my Druze then looking to get some games in with Dahshat, and hopefully looking to get something else painted up once the hobby room is ready.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Necromunda: More Orlock on Orlock action

A while back, I got another game in at HATE in the Necromunda campaign. This was against one of the other Orlock gangs in the same campaign, but a slightly more experienced players.

They used one of their territories to infiltrate a bunch of their fighters, which was super good.

They all came out behind a door and opened fire on the gang.

My champion who'd run out of ammunition decided to charge in and try and punch them to death...

But then the gang bottled and all this lot ran away, the cowards.

This seems to be part of the swingy nature of a Necromunda campaign. Sometimes someone will get lucky or unlucky and suddenly a gang will bottle out early and lose a campaign. This swingy luck on the individual games is less of a bother when you've got a longer campaign because it will average out over time, but I could see it being super annoying during a one off game.

Still, I'm having fun, even when I'm getting flanked, shot up and running away!