Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Weekly War Report #3 (Fractional Progress February week 3)


It's (Not) The End, But...

So, my housemate and I have spent a bunch of time tidying up and spring cleaning the last week so hobby time has been limited. As a consequence I haven't got anything from that big basing shelf picture last week 100% finished. A few are close, most need a lot of basing work, but I wanted to spend what spare time I had plugging away at new things so I could keep feeling that momentum rather than the basing stuff because that always feels like such a slog.

Is that just me? It just feels like every layer takes so damn long to dry. Anyway, so here's what we got for this week:

Gaming

I had my second Necromunda game, this time against Dave J's Eschers in a Sabotage scenario that I won and (mostly) escaped intact from. Hilariously, my Goliath's retreat from the burning chem-still was covered by the underhive's most resilient juve. Armed only with a stubgun and spud-jacker and no statistical or armour upgrades whatsoever it took two Escher gangers and two champions to take him down. It was the sort of epic moment the small scale skirmish format is absolutely amazing for.

Close to Death

The nearest I've come to finishing anything this week are some Death Guard bits a few minor details away from done.

The Blight-Hauler just needs one more pass before I apply the sand. It was a pleasure to paint and I definitely want to get a complete unit of three together in the near future. It also gave me a chance to experiment with dark metallic methods to a varying degree of success. The brass trim is just Balthasar Gold inked with Reikland Fleshshade a couple of times which worked brilliantly whilst the head of the multi-melta and vent grilles were... less successfully drybrushed Runelord Brass. I'll try layering it on the next model.
Actually, I think I'll try layering the Runelord Brass on the face grill of that Plague Marine on the left. Its mainly been a matter of filling in small details and getting the inking done on the golds this week. To be honest, the reason for rushing these through has been to remind myself how I was painting the things so I can go back and finish all my half-done Dark Imperium models.

The Gang Show
I've done all the large, basic colours on the gang as a batch and now its time to take a single miniature and work on the detail methods. I've not got far, just basing and inking the areas that are going to be brass and filing in the mohawk. I don't think I'll go for the Thunderhawk Blue hair on the whole gang. In fact, I might give everyone different hair colours, it'll be a good way to keep the different ganger straight in my head when writing down XP and so on.

Fantasy Woman
Though 40k has been grabbing most of my attention I've been getting in the mood for some square-based stuff and so I dug out Queen Khalida here (who will be a Heirophant using the Lore Of Light in my army). I wanted to try out the yellow method I used on the Deathwatch Marines Malevolent Kill-Marine on cloth so she'd have a rather dirty and degraded once-glorious cape of sunlight gold. It came out rather well.

I am less pleased about the snake at the head of the staff. The orange looked better before I painted in the gold staff, now it just looks too similar. I'll probably repaint if red once I have the golds inked and layered up.

A Bug, Not a Feature
Newly arrived from eBay, the one indispensable element of a Tyranid army (I think): a traditional Screamer-Killer style Carnifex. I've always loved the design and this one was cheap so here it is. Sadly, I'm going to have to redo the back carapace as the ink dried a little funny. This was another big bug I undercoated in Zandri Dust which means the grey skin is taking me forever to basecoat, the alternative of course...
to undercoat them grey and then spend ages layering the Zandri Dust onto the carapace. At this stage I am genuinely resigned to the fact that neither undercoat cuts down the painting time and the choice is purely down to which colour is the majority or the most accessible on model on a case by case basis.

Team Players
And, finally, a little more work has been done on Kill-Team Pellos. Not much, just some more work on the metallics and drybrushing on the leathers. Still, progress is progress as I've been saying all month. 

Thursday, 15 February 2018

I remember why I hate Johto


Fuck Johto 2k18.

In all seriousness, for years I have joked about hating the Johto Region and now playing Heart Gold (I played the original the first time) I suddenly remember why.

The tutorial phase is horrible! Its one of those games where you end up running an errand for the Professor to start off. You go off to meet his friend “Mister Pokémon” to fetch an egg because no one is lazier in this fantasy world than zoologists. You get your starter Pokémon (Cyndaquil, in my case) and he sends you off down two Routes without running shoes there and back.

Between random encounters during which I was unable to catch anything because I hadn't been given my pokéballs (oh, Nuzlocke players must love this bloody game) it took me almost an hour to get there and back.

To fetch an egg.

An egg.

I hate Johto. 

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Weekly War Report #2 (Fraction Progress February week 2)


Excuse the drop in picture quality from this morning, its taking me time to work out how to get best results from my best friend's photography set-up (shout out for Matt for the lend of his spot lamp and scenery). So, this past week's hobby: another week of a surprising lot of hobby for a man intentionally taking it easy:

Gaming

Over the weekend I had a couple of games. First, my entrance into Dave J's Necromunda campaign sending my Goliaths to loot the territory of Matt's Inquisitorial Warband. I lost and ended up with about half my gang out of action. Hopefully, this week's game will end with somewhat better results.

I also got to debut my Tyranids on the tabletop, first against Matt's Death Guard in a take and hold scenario where I just about managed to squeak a draw and then against Tom T's Valhallan Imperial Guard where I lost quite conclusively, conceding with a whole four models remaining on the table.

An entire mantlepiece of my finest troops

A big burst of energy over the weekend saw me finish off a lot of the projects I had in progress last time. At time of writing the sand is still drying on the bases so, hopefully, I'll have some, all or less of them finished in the next couple of days. The only things on the shelf not previously showcased last week are these funny little fellas...
a pair of Familiars from the Genestealer Cults Broodcoven set. They were rather fun and quick to paint and I look forward to running them out on the tabletop (I wasn't sure what they were for and left them out of the list last weekend).

Underhive Hustle

For a start there's my Goliath gang. The progress so far is basic and messy and inspired more by a need to get just some sort of paintjob started for my first game than anything else.


The main armour colour for the gang is Stegadon Scale Green because I liked how it looked on the 'Eavy Metal Orlocks in this month's White Dwarf. The rest of the models are giving me some trouble. Surprisingly for big, beefy bastards on 32mm bases these are amongst the most finely detailed and complex models I've ever had to paint. There are so many belts, buckles, metal implants and rivets on them. I mean, I can't argue against the value for money as these ten miniatures account for more than a thousand points and that's whilst pretending the two lads with stubguns and spud-jackers are juves instead of full gangers.

Its A Bug Hunt!

Reinforcements for my Tyranids continue apace with a bunch of units getting their grey layers finished, which isn't terribly visually interesting but here we go...




Its mainly Cults stuff because they were, to me, the surprise breakout characters of the first two games. They were only in there to fill up the 100 power limit but I found them surprisingly fun to use. I've painted their industrial armour using the same method as the flesh on the 'Nids which will probably be the only shared design element between the two armies (except for the models that have carapace).

Now My Watch Begins

Having sent the test model, the Marine Malevolent with the heavy thunder hammer to the basing shelf its time to get to work on the rest of his squad. 
Eagle-eyed readers will notice that one of them has a Chaos Space Marine Raptor head with horns. This is because he's a Black Dragon, a chapter with a geneseed mutation that makes them grow bone protrusions out of their bodies as they age. This team is built around Marines from the shiftier, less trustworthy chapters, the ones other chapters are suspicious of.
They're also joined on the painting table by the Blood Ravens Librarian from the Kill-Team Cassius box set who is probably my favourite sculpt from the unit.

The Big Lad



The Great Unclean One is getting closer and closer to done. There are some small details I'm trying to work out how to do like scabs. I mean, the flesh itself is the darkest grey available from the Citadel paint range so I'm not sure what I could do for scabs since I can't go darker. Skavenblight Dinge, perhaps? Aside from that, progress here has been fractional as I tidy up some of the drybrushing and made a start on the metallics.

Green Energy



Finally, some Death Guard. First off, I'm continuing to progress with the Blight-Hauler which now has a start made on its metallics. The silver that's on there is basically finished sans a little highlighting and the rather flat Balthasar Gold will be worked up to bronze. Looking at the photo I realise I have actually missed an entire bit of trim on the top of the left wheel arch which I'll have to go back to and I do need to fill in some more areas, like the spiked on the weapons, silver.
And, having proved to myself that these methods work on a large scale it was time to apply them to some man-sized models with the Easy Build Plague Marines. These are really cool models but they are so encrusted with details that I keep finding things that I missed like the fly symbol on the champion's right kneepad.

Hell, if nothing else, posting all these pictures really makes me notice the mistakes I've made in time to fix them, eh?

Finished Models (at last)


Admittedly, these ten models have been waiting to have finishing touches applied to them since Christmas but they are done and they were finished this year (yesterday, in fact) so for the sake of my own morale and self-satisfaction I am counting them as the first finished models of the year and the first finished model of my 50/500 Challenge.

To start with, let's count the big fella as #1: a Hive Tyrant armed with monstrous scything talons and heavy venom cannon in (my interpretation of) Hive Fleet Jormungandr colours.

The colour scheme is based on the drawn art of Jormungandr from the Tyranids Codex and not the example model which looks completely different for some unknown reason. I picked it because it was simple and could mainly be achieved through drybrushing. Admittedly, my own laziness meant this took three months to paint but the actual method was quick enough and I've been able to effectively mass produce a good chunk of my army in the last two weeks.
He is accompanied by a small Warrior brood armed with rending claws (the best can openers), devourers and a barbed strangler.
And, finally, we have a small Fantasy contingent as a rank of six Skinks armed with javelins and shields stalks past. These were an experiment for me. Until now I've been painting up my Lizardmen from a white base but I saw a Warhammer TV video that built them up from Macragge Blue which gave me a much better finish on the Sotek Green skin. I painted the shields Daemonette Hide for a lark and I think it really works as a contrast.

Now, as to keeping score:

50/500 Challenge Tracker
Lizardmen: 6 models / 30 points
Tyranids: 4 models / 13 power levels
Total Models Painted
10

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Its The End, But... Star Trek Discovery season 1


(SPOILERS, very obviously...)

I didn't think Cadet Tilly could be more endearing than when she said “Fuck” on screen but then she opened a conversation with “I'm really high...” having inhaled groovy volcanic ash with an Orion.

On a more serious note there was something about this episode that made it feel we were getting back to Star Trek being Star Trek. They ended a very action heavy and shooty season with an unconventional negotiated peace and a speech about facing fear and second chances. Between this and booting Evil Lorca into an artificial sun a couple of episodes ago it feels like the production team were very consciously bending the format up to breaking point before jettisoning the very things that were breaking it.

Not that I hated the series before now, far from it, I adored this run (DS9 is my favourite Star Trek so that probably tells you why).

And just to push the point home, in the final moments of the episode, the Enterprise turns up. This was either a very good idea or a very bad idea depending on how (or if) this plays out at the start of the next season.

On the one hand this series has spent so much time establishing its own style and soul that I'd hate for it to open its second season with fanservice. Yes, even if it gets us Michael and Spock interacting at last, though I admit I'm not clear on whether Spock would be on Enterprise at this stage. On the other hand, it would be interesting to see an extended take on the character of Captain Pike beyond the stern father figure the reboot movies had Kirk projecting all his sudden daddy issues onto.

Eh, we'll see.

As a last note, I am obscurely glad that Michael is reinstated as a science officer instead of just returning to the command track. I don't doubt part of the logic is that no way is Starfleet so forgiving as to put the woman who started a war anywhere near the centre seat but it is also probably meant to speak to development on Michael's part. I like the idea that she's returning to science and exploring the wonder of the universe after all this slaughter.

Also it means Saru still has a job since for some reason they decided not to make him captain, which is a pity. I absolutely think Doug Jones could carry the role and the way Saru has developed over the last few episodes into a more confident leader.

Also, just to place my bets now, I fully expect the Prime Universe version of Lorca (or the Mirror Universe version of Tilly) to make an appearance around about the mid-season break in the next run. 

Monday, 12 February 2018

Tyranids first (and second) impressions


This past weekend my Tyranids took to the field for the first and second times. They did so closely supported by a Patrol Detachment of Genestealer Cults to make up the numbers (and who I had also never used before). The first game was against my friend Matt's Death Guard and the second against Tom's Imperial Guard. I lost both games but lessons were learnt.

For a start, I need more small things. The list I used included a unit of twenty Termagants, two units of ten Genestealers and a unit of ten Gargoyles. The Termagants did reasonably well in both games. I wasn't previously planning on using them as a deployed unit, the models I've been painting were originally planned as just something for my Tervigon to spit out and I didn't think the Tervigon would be much use with only a pool of twenty to generate. Contrary to my expectation they performed marvelously so it looks like I'll be trawling eBay for more of the cheap little fellows so I can have a unit to set up and plenty for the Tervigon to spit out.

The Genestealers did very well against the Death Guard, finally destroying my eternal nemesis the Blightlord Terminators and even took his Lord Of Contagion down to one wound (a personal best) before I got tabled. Obviously, against Guard they were shot to pieces and of the twenty only three made their contact with the enemy. I have plenty of spare Genestealers thanks to Tom donating an old and long unused Tyranids army to the project so fifteen man (insect) units are definitely something I'm going to work on.

Similarly, taking Neophyte Hyrbids at maximum unit strength would both help them survive and give me more shotguns. The two heavy weapons and two special weapons slots are nice but in a ten man unit you do start taking them off rather quickly. Plus, with only a Patrol Detachment to fill (I don't see the Cults running to a complete army in the near future) a large unit is preferable to two small ones.

I like having lots of psykers! In the army I had a Hive Tyrant, a Neurothrope and a Genestealer Magos. Usually I confine myself to a single psyker but between what I had to hand and the fact its a pretty common character rule in the army I ended up with the ability to manifest five powers and deny three.

I really need to remember that Shadow In The Warp is a rule that exists, however.

Less of a lesson learnt and more a lesson I already knew but had not power to exploit: I need to get burrowing units to exploit the Hive Fleet Jormungandr command stratagem that allows me to set up Infantry unit in their tunnels. That said, I would have lost the game against Tom one hell of a lot sooner if not for the enhanced cover saves from Hive Fleet Jormungandr's inate ability.

I love my Venomthropes but they don't love me. I need to put some real thought into how to best exploit them. They are not really combat bio-forms, I am beginning to feel. Rather than charging them in I need to work out how to best exploit their short range Toxic Miasma and Toxic Lashes abilities. My instinct, especially with an army like this, is to rush headlong into combat. An effective tactic against the Death Guard, to be sure, as it neuters their heavy firepower but Imperial Guard have a hell of a lot more guns and lose a lot less Ballistic Skill when firing Overwatch. I may start looking into some of the Heavy Support bio-forms but that will be after experimenting with the burrowers. Tom is very good at managing his backfield to minimise the places I can deep strike into.

Lictors are fantastic. I have to remember I have one in reserve and they are a bit of a glass cannon but they are fantastic character assassins which is what they were always intended to be.

As to the Genestealer Cults: what I took was pretty much just to paper over gaps in the main detachment. I had no Tyranids Heavy Support so Matt lent me a couple of Leman Russ and an Armoured Sentinel. There's no way I can describe two Leman Russ as a bad power level investment but I feel they'd work better in synergy with more Cults infantry. As it was they were useful but pretty much fighting their own battle separate from the rest of my army.

My Metamorph Hybrids didn't make it to combat in either game and I'm obscurely glad, to be honest. They have so many weapons options and I have no idea what half of them did. I need to have a sit down with the Cults list and properly learn at least some of the basic weapons do for this army.

I love the webber, by the way, which is worth its weight in gold against Plague Marines. Rolling to wound against Strength instead of Toughness is fantastically useful.

Imperial Guard shooting is my nemesis now, which is fine because its meant to be, and I really need to work on neutralising that advantage.

Whatever else I might have learnt (or not) from these games I've learnt that I really enjoy playing Tyranids. The Cults I am less sold on but I admit the spread of units I took for the Patrol Detachment wasn't the best combination or particularly representative of the army's main tactics. The Tyranids are fast and vicious when they get into close combat which is my favourite phase of the game. I need to concentrate a little more on shooting just to keep the enemy busy in the turns before I start clashing them up with talons and claws but I feel I am starting to get a handle on things. 

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Weekly War Report #1 (Fractional Progress February week 1)


It makes an awful lot of sense, knowing me, that the moment I decide to take things easy hobby-wise I end up doing more painting in a single week than I managed in the whole first month of the year. If nothing else it proves that shorter, more frequent hobby sessions are doing me more favours than trying to block out an entire evening for this stuff.

Nothing's finished (and I still haven't done the basing on the Hive Tyrant and Tyranid Warriors) but I have got a surprising amount of stuff done:

Hormagaunts and Genestealers

A friend once told me that the two most important attitudes an artist can cultivate are “good enough” and “screw it” and I'm starting to get it with the Hormagaunts. They were an experiment in undercoating with Zandri Dust spray and the finish came out all wrong. The grey flesh took layer after layer, the ink and drybrush didn't take quite as well on the carapace as I'd like... and I'm done trying to fix them. They're Hormagaunts, they're small, there'll be two dozen others and no one is going to look at them as individuals so I'm just going to do a final pass on detail work and call them done. You can see in the singular example how the inking has splodged here and there, especially on the gun. I'll fix what I can but I'm calling time on them and letting them be what they'll be.
The Genestealers, who were undercoated grey, came out a lot better even if it did take a layer or two to get the Zandri Dust to take on the carapace. Between them and the still-incomplete Hive Tyrant and Warriors I feel I've definitely nailed down the colour scheme for Hive Fleet Jormungandr even if my interpretation of the artwork violently disagrees with 'Eavy Metal.

Tervigon
Yes, I know there are some parts missing from the middle legs. I bought this one off eBay and I think that's why I got it for such a discount. As you can see from the base, this one was also undercoated Zandri Dust like the Hormagaunts and somehow the carapace has come out a lot better. I'm genuinely unsure why, especially as I didn't have the trouble with the grey flesh I had on the Hormagaunts, either.

A little more experimentation is due so for the moment I'll try undercoating the small stuff grey and the large stuff Zandri Dust and see how it goes.

Plus, literally all this model needs is some tidying of the grey around the gill things on the legs and I can start basing it.

Deathwatch Kill-Marine

A single test model, this one, as I tried out the methods I'll be applying to the rest of the army and road tested the first of the 3D printed shoulder pads from POP Goes The MONKEY (that is actually how he spells it). This one used a Marines Malevolent shoulder pad which fit perfectly over the shoulder connector, took the undercoat relatively well (it needed a little touching up) and the detail is crisp and easy to follow with a brush. It looks practically indistinguishable, as you can see, from something GW would produce.

I also think I've finally cracked yellow, a colour second only in infamy to me to white itself.

Myphitic Blight-Hauler

This is a pretty typical example of what I'm getting done in spare moments on busy days: getting the larger areas of models blocked out. So the Blight-Hauler now has all its green and flesh areas finished and when I have more time I'll go back and do the more detailed work like the silver metallics and brass trim and so on.

Also, its nice to be working on this model because it is so damn adorable.

Great Unclean One
Significantly less adorable but no less fun to paint is the Great Unclean One, again mainly just having finished the larger areas that I could achieve mainly through drybrushing. Actually, what I really like about the Nurgle Daemons and the Tyranids is how well they take to my drybrush-heavy techniques.

I'm not convinced the Screamer Pink guts work as well against the grey flesh tone as they do on the green-tinged flesh Warhammer TV used in their painting tutorial but I'll wait until I have them inked at least before I decide whether to repaint them or not.

Beast of Nurgle
Finally, and back to the cute side of Nurgle, this has been my favourite model to paint from the whole batch. It was a bit of a nightmare to put together because the connectors are so non-standardised and the manual is no bloody help but the finished product is so very worth it. It was also a good test model for some new methods I wanted to try out to diversify the look of the Nurgle Daemons like the Rakarth Flesh / Reikland Fleshshade / Pallid Wych Flesh method on the underbelly.

Other, less visually interesting, progress
I've built a Goliath gang for a friend's Necromunda campaign and I'll be having my first game this weekend; my Imperial Knight arrived from eBay as well as an alternate head piece for it from Shapeways so I'm going to start working on that conversion in the coming week; and, I undercoated my Adeptus Custodes Captain-General Trajann Valoris and a Furioso Dreadnought.

So, all in all, a successful first week. 

Superman vs. The Klan (again)


Its a bad week for the fanboys who want politics kept out of comicbooks, isn't it? DC has announced two younger reader imprints: DC Zoom for middle school kids and DC Ink for young adults. The DC Ink release line-up includes a Superman OGN by Gene Luen Yang (currently writing the excellent New Super-Man ongoing) called, I shit ye not, Superman Smashes The Klan.

And, even better, it can't be argued that this is out of character for Superman because the character has done it before in a 1946 radio serial funded by Kelloggs.
I made not a single word of that up, by the way, Kelloggs wanted to tackle the rising tide of racism in the United States and commissioned the Superman radio show they were bankrolling to write a storyline about the Klan that even used inside information about the Klan from people who had infiltrated the organisation. The whole story is documented in Rick Bowers' book Superman versus The Ku Klux Klan.

Its actually nice that DC are getting back to using Superman for political commentary. This isn't a sudden return, there have been a few interesting touches in recent main series storyline like Superman protecting immigrant workers from a white American gunman in The Oz Effect.

Of course, there will be people who won't be fans of this move. “I wonder why?” he asked, completely ingenuously...

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Painting white, me eternal nemesis


I do like a good off-pallette colour scheme and one of the things I was looking forward to from the Adeptus Custodes codex was some good alternate colour schemes. Naturally, the one that grabbed me the most was the one almost guaranteed to drive me mad attempting it, the Custodians of the Solar Watch...
White armour has this seductive quality. It looks so good in pictures and the contrast in this particular scheme with the shining gold of the Stormcast-themed paints really brings it out, not to mention the nice pop of the few red elements scattered around the armour.

I have to try this. I'm going to try this. I don't want a Custodes army per se but they would make a nice patrol detachment to slot onto the side of my Black Templars (another reason to go with a white scheme, it'll make a nice distinction from the main force).

I bought the new special character to test the scheme out on for the simple reason that trying to paint an entire squad will just be depressing. Instant results are not a thing in miniature painting but if I can keep momentum going and get the model done, even if its not perfect, that'll be easier than slowly working through a five man squad will just get dispiriting. A single model will work up from Celestra Grey to White Scars highlight a lot quicker.

I did manage an almost consistent white on some Black Templars shoulder pads a couple of months ago so, who knows? Maybe this is the time it'll look good on an entire model.

A man can dream...

Monday, 5 February 2018

A point of view on "a certain point of view"

Not couples goals in any fashion, a long time ago...
I'm a disc and a bit into the second season of Clone Wars and I'm starting to see the logic behind science fiction's most famous moral cop-out, Obi-Wan Kenobi's “what I told you was true... from a certain point of view”.

You see, I'm starting to see his point of view.

This is what I love about the Clone Wars series is how it lends context to the prequel films and one thing from the prequels it expands on is how little of Anakin's development Obi-Wan actually sees. In the films he doesn't ever find out about the slaughter of the Tuskan village (not only the men but the women and the children, too) and, of course, doesn't learn about Anakin and Padme's marriage until the very end. He doesn't understand the trauma Anakin lives with or the resentments that have built up in him concerning the Jedi Order.
Two generations of Skywalker man, same old bullshit
Obi-Wan Kenobi never comes to understand (save possibly in the last shot of Return of the Jedi) that Anakin and Vader are genuinely the same person. As far as he's concerned the slaughter of the younglings comes out of nowhere and is completely without motive. It is something Anakin would never do and so he sees the corrupting influence of the Dark Side as creating a completely distinct personality called Darth Vader.

And he thinks this because he never saw how close to the surface the Dark was in Anakin. He doesn't know that this isn't the first time Anakin has killed children as a reaction to trauma; he doesn't understand that Count Dooku didn't die in combat but was executed on Palpatine's orders; he doesn't sees the controlling behaviour that typifies Anakin's marriage (and is so much better dealt with and so much creepier in Clone Wars, by the way); he doesn't see Anakin force choke a prisoner to extract information.

That last one, the Clone Wars scene that inspired this post, is genius. In the second season episode Brain Invaders we see Anakin use the force choke for the first time and he even does it for pretty good reasons. The man he is, to be frank, torturing has information that could save the life of Anakin's padawan Ahsoka Tano. There's so much here of what will eventually damn Anakin: his instinct to violence; his tendency to take extreme action to save those he cares about; even the paternal emotions that will explicitly lead to his downfall.

And Obi-Wan sees none of it so, from a certain point of view...

Friday, 2 February 2018

ROYAL RUMBLE SPOILER POST: a Rousey success?


Its been nearly a week now since the Rumble so I feel we can have a chat about this one: was having Ronda Rousey turn up after the Women's Royal Rumble a good idea?

I get why it was done. On paper, having the undefeated Asuka win the Women's Rumble is predictable and the WWE wanted something in their back pocket so they'd go out on a surprise. That is actually sensible. On paper. In practice having Asuka win was a fantastic moment in and of itself that capped off a fantastic match.

It was a moment that deserved to stand on its own especially as Ronda's debut cut Asuka off from challenging one of the two Women's champions (a moment that the male winner got and, my goodness, am I looking forward to Nakamura/Styles at Wrestlemania!). It felt like Asuka's moment was stepped on and she deserved that moment to herself, especially as Rousey did so little: she glared at a bunch of people, shook Stephanie McMahon's hand and then did some sign pointing which is, of course, a venerable Royal Rumble tradition.

Also, having mentioned Stephanie...

The WWE Women's Division needs one of two things to happen: either to debut a second female authority figure who is a face or for Stephanie to turn face herself because as it stands Stephanie is a heel who cannot ever get her comeuppance because whenever she's around women she's the patron saint of women's wrestling and (correctly) WWE does not do man-on-woman violence. Frankly, either Lita or Trish Stratus needs to come in as Women's Commissioner or some such similar title so we don't constantly have Stephanie flip-flopping between face and heel. Don't get me wrong: she worked to puch the division and she deserved her lap of honour for that but now some consistency needs to be imposed.

Anyway, that's me done on some random thoughts I've had in my head since Sunday. 

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Hobby: Fractional Progress February (aka James is busy this month)

Yesterday I had a short but productive painting session. I undercoated a Beast Of Nurgle and painted in the grey skin; painted those odd gill things on a unit of Hormagaunts; layered the yellow on the shoulder of a Deathwatch Kill-Marine (Marines Malevolent, as it happens); and, added some inks to the plagueswords on some Plaguebearers.

In all that was a little more than half an hour. I didn't get much done, I didn't finish anything (though the Hormagaunts are close to complete now) but I had a half hour or so spare so I slapped a podcast on and got what I could done while I could.

This is going to be the pattern for my hobby this month. I won't have much time to paint due to various real life reasons so I'm going to try and concentrate on having regular, short sessions and just seeing how much I can get done. Hence the name: Fractional Progress Month. A friend recently reminded me that even fractional progress is still progress and after a very unproductive January I'm ready to celebrate any advancement of my projects.

So, every day this month I will have some sort of hobby session. Even if all I get done is a layer of undercoating I'll do something every day and post up my fractional progress every couple of days.

And, God damn it, I am going to finish the basing on that bloody Hive Tyrant that I've had finished since before Christmas! 

Monday, 29 January 2018

Project Log: Nurgle Questor Traitoris Knight #1

The other day I found a brand new Imperial Knight Warden kit on eBay for a respectable discount. Its a lovely model but I just can't justify paying as much as GW wants for it, especially as I intend to spend extra on converting it for blasphemous purposes.

This is me we're talking about. My soul belongs to Chaos and no way am I getting a centrepiece model this good and building it for the good guys. Rather, this knight will be made to accompany my Death Guard into battle and I'm going to try writing a project log series along the way.

Right now, of course, I'm waiting for the kit to arrive and sorting through my bits box for Nurglesque components. Here are my resources so far:

1x Imperial Knight Warden (brand new in box)

spare parts from the Great Unclean One kit
including all Rotigus components

spare parts from Death Guard Plague Marines and Blightlord Terminators

one unbuilt Dark Imperium Putrid Bloat-Drone

one Chaos Vehicle Accessory Sprue
(those wrought iron fence bits need not apply)

misc. spare parts of Putrid Blight-Kings
(possibly useless)

many, many Nurglings

There will now ensue several days of frantic sketching as I decide how best to turn the noble Imperial Knight into a massive, pustulent daemon engine. 

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Hux should join the Resistance

[Some mild spoilers for The Last Jedi, if that still matters right now.]

To be clear: I don't want him to have a redemption arc per se. I adore Hux for what he is and what he is happens to absolutely despicable. I love how awful he is and never more so than in that little moment when he finds Snoke dead and Ren unconscious and just casually reaches for his sidearm. Sadly for him, Ren wakes up and you can see the exasperation on Hux's face.

Hux hates everyone. He hates the Republic, he hates the Resistance and he absolutely despises Kylo Ren.

He obviously needs to betray Ren sometime in the future and the funniest version of this would be him defecting to the Resistance. Not because he has any sort of change of heart or positive character development. No! Out of spite. Pure, unadulterated spite because that's why Hux runs on. Well, spite and daddy issues.

No, seriously, just listen to how Domhnall Gleeson delivers the line about receiving his orders directly from Supreme Leader Snoke at the beginning of TLJ. Daddy issues, you don't even need to read any of the Eu stuff about his abusive father.

Now imagine him working with the Resistance. Imagine him standing at a holo-table with Finn, Rey and Poe as he describes how to take out the latest First Order superweapon. He starts off reasonable “As you can see the weak spot is here at the base of the power converter array,” but he can't quite keep old habits out, “and so if your MONGREL REBEL SCUM FIGHTER SQUADRONS focus fire on the...” and then he trails off as he sees the looks everyone is giving him. Then he delicately clears his throat and very, very quietly apologises.

And of course there'd have to be compulsory scene where he and Poe are trapped together in a ship arguing about an immediate life or death situation.

In desperation for that sense of power he misses so much he starts drilling the Millennium Falcon's porg population into an elite fighting force. 

Saturday, 20 January 2018

One week project: Deathwatch Kill-Team


My POP Goes The Monkey Deathwatch shoulder pad sets arrived in the mail yesterday and I spent a pleasant afternoon building a six man Kill-Team. There's a fantastic reinvigorated to being able to expand beyond the one provided in the Kill-Team box set.

So I'm going to try and paint this Kill-Team across a couple of sessions this week.

Aside from the shoulder pads they have a simple and uniform colour scheme. This team (known informally as Team Shifty) is led by a Star Phantom and features an Exorcist, a Marine Malevolent, an Emperor's Hand, an Angel Sanguine and a Black Dragon. All chapters with dark secrets or suspicious reputations (apart from the Emperor's Hands who it turns out have no background whatsoever and I was thinking of someone else).

This will also be the final test phase for these 3D printed shoulder pads: they fit the models perfectly, were easy to remove from their sprue and have excellent detail. Now I just have to see how easy they are to paint. They are a little more delicately detailed than the GW equivalent so it may take extra effort to paint them properly (there's an Angels of Vigilance symbol so minutely detailed I genuinely worry about getting to that one). 

Friday, 19 January 2018

Ahsoka Tano: this is going to hurt, isn't it?


One of the best ideas that The Clone Wars has, by far, is Ahsoka Tano. Giving Anakin a padawan of his very own does a lot for the characters. In the prequels I never felt like Anakin was ever a Jedi Knight. In Episode I he's a child, in Episode II he's Obi-Wan's padawan and then, in Episode III when he's meant to be a fully qualified knight and general, he's still basically Obi-Wan's sidekick.

Watching this series I finally have a feel for Anakin Skywalker the legendary general, the great Jedi, the man whose friendship Old Ben Kenobi still goes misty eyed thinking about in Episode IV. I've seen him fly with Shadow Squadron and Gold Squadron, displaying the prowess he was supposedly famous for but got to demonstrate only rarely in the films.

And I'm getting to see him with his student, a young woman he calls Snips and who calls him Skyguy. I've seen her light up when he praises her and get frustrated when he tells her off. The very first episode they appear in together he tells her off for mouthing off at Mace Windu and Palpatine and then, a couple of scenes later, gives her a very different lesson in how to disobey orders only once your superiors are no longer looking.

For her part, Ahsoka is very much Anakin's student by which I mean she every bit of the flare for the over-dramatic that he does, not to mention a lot of repressed anger and an insubordinate streak a mile wide. I adore her.

And that's why ehat Anakin is going to do one day will hurt more.

Before I knew about Ahsoka I could see where Anakin was coming from betraying the Jedi: their rules cost him his mother, forced him to marry in secret and (as far as he knows) the restraint of the Light Side will cost him the life of his wife and children. Furthermore, they have repeatedly lied to him, refused to trust him, and been unduly harsh on him because of his supposed destiny as the Chosen One (which I'm not even sure he knows about). He was inducted as a child into an order supposedly dedicated to justice that nonetheless refuses to quash the slavery he was brought up in (and that he dreamt as a child of destroying).

The fact that he was sometimes a bit fond of Obi-Wan just didn't cut it in the tragic stakes.

Now Anakin's decision means betraying Ahsoka. He obviously cares for her and tries very hard not to repeat the mistakes Obi-Wan made with him. He values her input and makes an effort to let her know this. She clearly operates on a longer leash than Obi-Wan allowed Anakin and is more in touch with her emotions than he was at that relative age.

I have over five and a half seasons of this brilliant, doomed dynamic ahead of me.

This is really going to hurt. Well done, Lucasfilm!

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Giving (Clone) War A Chance


Last night, my housemate and I decided to watch The Clone Wars. As I write this we're five episodes in (if DVD orders aren't standard across regions that's Ambush, the Malevolence trilogy and Rookies). I went in with pretty high hopes because two friends recommended it.

And I love it. Funnily enough at least one person told me the first season was a bit of a slog but I've no complaints so far. In fact, there's an awful lot to love as far as I'm concerned.

I adore the 1940s news radio voiceover that does the continuity recaps at the beginning. I guess the traditional text crawl was too time-consuming for a cartoon and this is a fantastic compromise between saving time and harkening back to the series' film serial roots. I do sometimes wonder if the voice actor is going to ask me if I want to know more, of course...

I greatly enjoy the comedic stupidity of the Seperatist battle droids. I always found them vaguely annoying in the films but the series dials their stupidity up to eleven and adds in a rather charming weary fatalism.

Padme's one appearance so far indicates they're going with the more competent side of the character. Also, in just the few scenes she and Anakin have shared I do get more of a feel for how their relationship works during the war: stolen moments few and far between (and, incidentally, less chance for Anakin's obvious maddery to show through).

Anakin and Obi-Wan's relationship is definitely clearer here. Because of the huge time gaps between the prequel movies I never really got a feeling for the friendship that made Obi-Wan go misty eyed. I'm starting to feel it, though, even though Obi-Wan's main emotion towards Anakin is still persistence face palming. Eh, I can't pretend I don't have friends like that I'd miss.

Ahsoka is (how to put this delicately?) very much what I imagined from the phrase “Anakin Skywalker's padawan” and I love that the first interactions we see between her and her master are Anakin ticking her off for backtalking her superiors before going on to teach her how to disobey them without quite disobeying them. She is also a fantastic way of building up Anakin the general and legendary fighter pilot because it allows them to portray him as something other than a student.

All in all, a series I am very much enjoying. 

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

The 50/500 Challenge: ground rules


I'm putting the finishes touches on the first models of the year and since I have this little goal of mine it seems a good idea to lay myself some ground rules. So, here we go...

The Objective
To complete 500 points or 50 power levels of miniatures for each of my hobby projects.

Rule #1: Points and Power Levels
The goals are 500 points of models for Fantasy and 50 power levels for 40k. This will not include intangibles: magic banners, extra wizard levels, wargear items not represented on the model and so on. Firstly, this locks off a potential avenue of “cheating” for me and, second, means that ultimately I'll have even more of an army finished at the end of the challenge.

Rule #2: The Definition of “Complete”
The model has to be fully painted and its basing complete. That seems pretty obvious when I come to write it.

Rule #3: Starting From Scratch Not Compulsory
This is all about dealing with backlog so any model that needs finishing can count towards the Challenge. Whether it needs painting from scratch like my shiny new Great Unclean One or something that just needs their bases sanded and painted like the rank of Squigs I found in an army case the other day it counts as completing a model and it adds to the total.

Rule #4: Whatever I get finished is good
I'll be honest with myself: I have a lot of different projects and not all of them are going to hit the goal. There are projects that won't reach the goal (I don't have 50 power of Nurgle Daemons and there's only about six models left to finish for my 1000 points of Sylvaneth). Whatever progress I make, whether I reach all my goals or not, is good.

Also, because there are some projects I really want to go to town on (most especially my Death Guard and Tyranids) I won't necessarily stop once I've reached the goal amount. 

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Pikachu annoys me


I hate the perishing sight of him. I just had my first post-Trial trainer battle with Hau in UltraSun and his Pikachu almost annihilated me. Admittedly, this is what comes of having a team that is two thirds Flying types but the almost invincible nature of Electric types gets to me sometimes, especially Pickahu with its Static ability that paralyzes you for daring to use a physical attack against the little yellow git.

Ground types, that's the only sort that gets a super effective against Electric.

Guess what type I've never particularly enjoyed using?

Underneath all the bitching and moaning here I do feel there is a serious point here. Pokémon has always had a “play as you like” ethos and, for the most part, you can. Electric types, though, are a very real exception to this rule. Obviously they can be dealt with but it tends to take a lot of Paralyze Heals.

Still, I have plenty more encounters with Hau to work out a strategy. 

Monday, 15 January 2018

The Great Unclean One and the Easy Build philosophy


Yesterday I built my Great Unclean One. Even considering I was watching a film and taking the odd break to let some assemblies dry before attaching them to the main body it still only took me about an hour. Considering my less than fond memories of building the Lord Of Change, I was agreeably surprised.
It is a stunningly simple model. According to this little infographic GW shared on its Facebook page it has a grand total of 59 components. That includes three alternate builds and six Nurglings who are just embellishments. In fact, there are a lot of significant spare parts, all sorts of horns and hands, a bell and a big knife as well as the hilarious collection of Nurglings, all of which I'm keeping aside for when I make a Death Guard Knight.

Now, part of this simplicity is that a Great Unclean One is a big, round dude. In fact, whilst building him I was reminded of a hollow Easter egg. A really, really ugly and yet somehow adorable hollow Easter egg.

Still, I think part of the philosophy here is owed to the recent Easy Build kits. Obviously there's a lot of differences between this kit and the actual Easy Builds (optional builds and the massively higher price spring to mind) but a lot of thought has seemingly gone into cutting the main body into as few pieces as possible.

I certainly can't argue with the results. I finished the building model in a little more than an hour, didn't once have any trouble finding a component and even have bits left over for a future project. If this is the direction GW are planning to go for future huge monsters I heartily look forward to them.

Especially if there's going to be a plastic Keeper Of Secrets because my Dark Elves Cult of Pleasure army would greatly appreciate a one of those.