Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Black Phoenix: Dark Fire Dragons

I have finally finished building my "dark" fire dragons for my Black Phoenix Eldar army (combined dark eldar and craftworlders with sinister flare).  These are my fire dragons.  As I stated in an earlier post, the DE warrior models make better scaly, horny, spiky dragons than the eldar models do, and now I have proof! (At least I think so.)

The exarch I gave an incubus head and made his dragons breath flamer/super-melta (fire pike) by cutting the tip and scope off a warrior dark lance and filing down the shoulder to allow for a new position. I'm really happy with the way he came out.

And the way they all came out, really.  Now I just have to paint them!  Should have that done by...  2015 maybe?

I ran out of blasters and so gave the female a blast pistol and melta bomb to show her armament.  Works just as good and gives her a classier style.

These pictures look monochromed and all artistic or something but I just took them outside on a glass patio table.  Everything is naturally grey I guess.

The final pictures: the lovers facing down certain death.  (How romantic...)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Battle Report: Dire Avengers AVENGED!

Even with all this anti-GW sentiment flying around, I still like the game itself and J and I managed to get a quick game of 40K in last night.  We played 1250pts and didn't say what we were bringing.  I brought my Eldar and he is Dark Eldar -- classic clash of the titans!  (Titans as in ancients of the universe, not big strong brutes, cuz Eldar ain't).

We only completed 3 turns, and in turn 3 things suddenly "got real" so to speak with a lot of casualties.  The tides turned my way after all the combat dust had settled, though had we continued it still would have been anyone's game.  But my saying that makes it sound like i won...  I did not!

Eldar forces (roughly): Led by Prince Yriel with dire avengers in a wave serpent; wraithlord; dark reapers; pathfinders; banshees; guardian bikers in reserve; scorpions in reserve.

Dark Eldar forces (roughly): Archon commanding with incubi in a venom; wyches and warriors, both in their own raiders; reaver bikers; ravager; beastmaster with khymera in reserve; talos in reserve.

The board was set up with 4 objectives, we deployed "hammer and anvil" (so long-wise from the short ends of the board), and the game was "big guns never tire" -- heavy support units count as scoring and worth extra victory points if you kill them.  So my reapers and wraithlord were scoring and his ravager and talos were scoring.  (Monsters as scoring units?  Awesome!)

The central objective (of four on the board) had circular ruins around it, creating a cool arena worth fighting over.  The DE had the initiative and moved in, beating me to the punch.  So my strategy of taking and holding the middle was now not such a great idea.  I did, however, learn enough from my previous mistakes that i didn't spread my already thin army out across the whole length of the board, and thus doom each unit to die alone.  I kept them relatively together this time.

Turn 1 was mostly the DE moving into the center and opening up a webway portal.  Night fighting was in effect so my rangers and reapers fired a lot of shots but didn't hurt anything.  End turn 1.

Turn 2 his beastmaster and talos monstrosity came through the portal.  His wyches jumped out and assaulted my transport with haywire grenades, wrecking it -- thus he got First Blood and emptied my avengers and HQ onto the board.  His shooting attacks also picked off probably one or two models from each squad on the board and his talos hit my wraithlord with 5 poisonous wounds from his twin-linked splinter cannons.  I feared my monster dead right there but I made all my saves (i made a lot of saves in this game).

On my Turn 2 the jetbikes and scorpions came in but did little else.  My banshees and avengers wiped out the wyches with skuriken fire.  The wraithlord initiated the Monster Mash: he strode forward and *CRASH* smashed right through the ruins to engage the Talos in monster to monster combat, the winner of which would claim the central objective!  ...and in 3 combat rounds of their giant slap fest they failed to do much of anything to each other.  In the last round of the game my wraithlord finally dealt one wound to the talos and thus won a round of that combat, but that was the only damage in the whole Monster Mash -- kind of a let-down.

Turn 3 finally felt like we were engaged in a game of 40K.  The dark eldar poured it on: the reavers buzzed my sniper tower, decapitating all but one pathfinder with vaneblades and caltrops.  This left my tower with one pathfinder sniper and one reaper in it, both of whom kept making amazing morale checks to stay put. (Reapers had been widdled away by various ranged fire.)  The venom's double-trouble splinter cannons killed all 3 guardian jetbikes (i never get any use out of those things).  The beastmaster and his 5 nightmare hounds charged my banshees, but the girls held their own and won: the banshees shrill cries not only gave them initiative but the sonic assault reduced the DEs WS to 1.  I killed four hounds (one with a shuriken pistol as they charged in) and lost one girl, thus winning the combat.  The glider-rider and his last khymera fell back.

The climactic battle of the game was when the Archon and his incubi bodyguards jumped from their venom and charged my hero Yriel and his dire avengers.  He challenged me and I had to decide who to send out: yriel or the DA exarch.  Sacrifice the lesser character to keep the HQ or HQ vs HQ?  I figured I'd lose either way, because the archon had a huskblade, which dealt instant death, but since Yriel and the archon both had Init-7 he would at least have a chance to take the archon with him.  Plus if i lost my exarch i'd give away all my warrior powers (defend reduced the incubi models' attack by 1) and my shimmershield (5+ invuln save for whole squad), which the DAs would need to survive the incubi attack.  Yriel stepped forward and the fight began.  The archon's huskblade left trails of vapor as he slashed at Yriel, who parried with the long haft of the Spear of Twilight and jabbed with its glowing blade.  The result: yriel took 3 wounds and failed 2 invuln saves, thus instant death--the huskblade sucked all of the moisture from his body, leaving a mummified corpse on the ground, and the archon's soultrap drained Yriel's spirit, doubling his strength for the future.  But Yriel did not die in vain: he dealt two wounds and the archon's shadow field failed on the second roll--he took one wound and his 2+ invuln save was shattered, leaving him with just his armor for future battles.  Though there were no future battles.  Back in the rest of the combat, the Dire Avenger Exarch was faster than the incubi and he cut two of them down with his power sword before they could even swing their deadly klaives.  The other DAs acted at the same time (I5) as the last two incubi.  The incubi rolled bad and the DAs rolled well, killing another incubi but taking no casualties.  The dire avengers, for the first time in their miserable careers, WON a combat, and against badass close combat models!  Un-freakin-believable!  Then the archon rolled an 11 for his morale check and tried to fall back, but the Exarch was too quick -- they were caught in a sweeping advance and wiped out!  The freakin dire avengers not only defeated incubi in combat, but caught them and their archon on the run and killed them all!  un-FREAKIN-believable!!!

(however... on the way home, driving in the dark and rethinking it, we may have screwed up the math on the sweeping advance roll.  The archon's initiative was higher than the exarch, so maybe the roll wasn't a tie -- i think now maybe they should have escaped, which would be much less glorious...  but i'm confident that on my turn, the fleeing archon (now with no 2+ invuln shield) and last incubi would have been shot all to hell by the avengers and engaged by them and the scorpions -- end result would have been the same, but not nearly as cool.)

On my turn 3 the avengers lined up off of the objective (still claiming it) so they could bladestorm the reaver jet bikes that were behind the tower -- don't think they killed a single one.  As stated earlier, this was the only round of the Monster Mash in which a wound was actually dealt and taken.  And the scorpions took apart a raider transport with chainsword and plasma grenade, forcing the DE warrior squad onto the board (though we didn't bother placing them as that was the end of the game).

As it was late, we called it there.  Score?  Each of us had an objective (3 VPs), each had killed the other's warlord (+1VP), but the dark eldar got first blood (+1VP) and had their reavers in my backfield at the end, for "line breaker" (+1VP).  Final score: 6 to 4, Dark Eldar Victory!

MVP:  My MVP for the game was BY FAR the Dire Avengers and more specifically, their exarch.  I love DAs--they and the scorpions are my favorite aspects--but in the case of the DAs my admiration is largely misplaced.  The avengers never fail to disappoint me, especially when it comes time to fight in close combat.  But this time...  DAMN.  I never expected them to do so well.  Way to go, fellas!!!

Boobie Prize:  I could give my boobie prize to the pathfinders, who despite being the best snipers in the game probably failed to kill anyone (MAY have gotten one kill), and despite having a 2+ cover save, all but one managed to fail that save and die.  But no award, that's pretty much par for the course on them.  I could give it to the Wraithlord: after an awesome crash through a stone wall to engage in an epic class of the titans (real this time) Monster Mash, he barely squeezed out a single wound of damage.  But no, he actually DID win that combat, as pathetic as that was, even if he didn't kill the enemy monster.  The boobie prize has to go to the guardian jetbikes, who came on the board at 12", did their awesome 36" turboboost, and promptly died.  That is par for the course for them too, always useless, but it's time they were recognized for their uselessness.  Congrats guys.  You suck.    

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Winds of Change

In the wake of Games Workshop's power grab and copyright bullying, it seems all the more recent frustrations with GW are coming to a head.  I could try to spell them out but "Kiour-gr" has already done it better.  I normally don't care for blogs that just reblog other folk's bloggings (that's some lazy blogging IMO), but he's pretty much got it all covered over on "Tabletop Wars in Cambridge":

As I commented there, I've been tiring of old G-Dub for a while now.  I love the 40K universe and I certainly don't think that everyone in the company or creative team is a lazy, greedy bastard, but some folks with great influence there must be.  The constant price hikes, the new codices that drive everyone to buy whole new armies to keep up, apparently reserving skyfire weaponry for the new armies (thus you must buy new ones to keep up), the directions that White Dwarf has been moving toward (away from a quality hobby mag and more a big advertisement for whatever is new and expensive)...  I could go on.

Basically, I'm not dead dropping my hobby or 40K, but I really don't want to feed this monster anymore.  I have more than enough 40K crap to keep me busy and playing long beyond my meager lifespan--no need to give them any more money.  There are also plenty of other great miniature companies and sculptors out there, plus lots of conversion opportunities for the creative player.  But I also hope to branch out and start playing other games.  I actually would like to try some of the Fantasy Flight board games (cool, complex, and cooperative games with a one-time investment).  We played Arkham Horror the other day, and now that we've fumbled through the rules once I think we'll actually enjoy it a second time.  My friend Josh swears by Malifaux and Wyrd as a gaming company -- the game has a good system and new feel (steampunk-western-horror) and the company actually listens to their players and welcomes their input.  I'm sure there's plenty of cool games out there, though since I barely find time to paint or play 40K, I won't likely be starting any big new hobbies.  I just know Games Workshop's golden age has come to a close and if they don't change their attitude, they'll be entering a twilight soon enough.

**By the way, as a great example of the very spirit I'm encouraging here, the picture is a homemade Lord of Change by "akonstad", stolen from here:

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Altered Reality #2

A second gallery of my miniatures photographed and then altered by way of fancy, hi-tech photo-editing to give them a new look ("watercolor pencil" filter mostly) and a new cut for some cooler effects.  I just enjoy playing with that program and seeing what kind of Frankenstein photo looks I can get.

Pictured at the top is my Crimson Fist Dreadnought "Brutus" (and I kinda regret the dark background on the blog page cuz on white, the photo background disappears and it's just him in blue and red glory).

Below is my assault squad again and Crimson Fist sniper scouts, followed by some funky Chaos critters....

I'm hoping to get some painting done this weekend.  Of course you know how that goes...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Games Workshop: Trying to be Emperor of the Universe

This blog entry is being simulcast on both my writing and 40K hobby blogs as it pertains to both topics.

My friend Josh came across this article and sent it to me.  Please read it and be appalled. 

I am (generally) a Games Workshop fan.  They have 25+ years of some great SF/Fantasy hobby and fiction, but I don’t think too many folks would argue against the idea that in recent years the powers that be at GW have kind of become power-mad, profit-hording jerks.  Not to mention that this very notion of trying to copyright and monopolize the term “space marine” is amazingly hypocritical: Warhammer's origin is undeniably derived from Lord of the Rings!  Armies of dwarves, elves, men, and orcs...  C’mon!  The original WFB book even had a painting that was obviously Gandalf and the whip-wielding, fire-wreathed Balrog facing off.  And GW’s original space marines were suspiciously similar to Chapter One of Heinlein’s classic novel Starship Troopers: in the book the hero jumps around in powered armor (remember when all 40K marines jumped?) and wields a hand flamer and missile launcher.  Not to mention that genestealers were inspired by the movie Aliens (which  has something like “colonial space marines”), the Tau have an uncanny resemblance to Robotech, who knows if the modern generation of Mummy movies came before the Tomb Kings army or vice-versa, etc. 

But you know what?  We don’t mind!  Nobody cares!  That’s the allure of the games and hobby that Games Workshop puts out.  But now...  Now GW turns around and thinks they can retro-actively lay claim to a generic SF term that’s 80+ years old?  And the giant multi-national corporation has no qualms about pushing around a lone, perhaps self-published author who dared to pair the words marine and space for her own work?  Sorry folks, but that’s bullshit. 

It makes me wonder if GW didn’t buy the rights to produce a Lord of the Rings game just to lay the ground work for somehow usurping J. R. R. Tolkien’s claim that he wrote the books in the first place?!  (And having passed on, he can't fight back!)  

I leave you with this Wikipedia article on Space Marines.  Not that Wiki is a rock solid reference, but (1) I’m amazed that it is so up to date on this very issue, and (2) it refers to a story from 1932 entitled “Captain Brink of the Space Marines” (perhaps a tale of my own exploits...)

Amendment:  Thanks to S. C. Baker (aka Donkey Face) for adding this find to the WotF forum:

GW is hitting international news now, and not in a good way.  That's what happens when you get greedy little claws, i guess...

Update: Amendment #2 : The indie-published novel that was shanghai'ed Spots the Space Marine is back on Amazon!  The people have spoken!  See author M. C. A. Hogarth's page here for the scoop:

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Altered Reality #1

I got to playing with the photo editing program on my computer and spent (wasted) hours on there!  I can't help myself, once I get going I can't stop.  I discovered a filter I just loved and kept altering pics of my 40k models.  As you can see, it gives them a rough watercolor-pencil look:

My main regret is I don't like the white backgrounds so much, but altering them that much will look like I colored the background in with a crayon or something.

I think I'll do a short series on the photos I tweaked.  I want to share my new art with the blogosphere -- and let's face it, I likely won't have much else hobby-related to blog about for a while as I work on other projects.  (See my writer's blog for details, if you're curious.)

I'm going to mix up the themes on the altered pics, but as most of my painted models are Crimson Fists, expect to see lots of those.  You might even see the same pics more than once either cropped differently or twisted in some other way.  Again, once I get going on there...

The good news is that this actually motivates me to paint just so I can make new photo art!