Monday 10 March 2014

Campaign Points 2. Triumph & Treachery first impressions

Yesterday I had my first game of Triumph & Treachery, the Warhammer supplement for more than two players. It was a four-player game to mark a significant moment of the campaign. We were split into two rough teams: Matt and Tom allied their Empire armies (one of which, Tom's, is a bit rogue) whilst my Vampire Counts teamed up with Iain's Warriors Of Chaos (who had previously captured my General and ransomed her back in exchange for support in this battle).

It was our first game under the system so let's skip over some of the obvious ones: things took twice as long as they should have (the game lasted four game turns and nearly seven hours) and we were constantly forgetting to play our Treachery cards at the right moment.

We made one other huge mistake in that the Empire players took one long edge of the table and the Friendly Alliance of Hugs and Niceness (Tom's suggested name for my team) took the other.

Thus things greatly descended into two normal games taking place in parallel. Over the course of the later turns Tom and Iain came to fight other opponents but Matt and I found ourselves largely restricted to the player directly opposite us. If we'd chosen to deploy allied armies in opposite corners I think we'd all have been faced with harder, more interesting decisions about who to declare our enemy player in our turns.

All that aside I like the system. The mercenaries rules worked well with only 200 points of extra troops per 1000 points of main army meaning they added a little flavour (Dwarfs for the two Empire players, Skaven for Iain and High Elves for me, which is a long story we'll get into another day) without making matters confusing, visually or mechanically.

The matter of nominating a single player to be your enemy in each phase is also a good system. Things get a bit abstract here and there (a cannon ball can't harm a neutral player, for instance) but it's better to have a rule affect the game under all circumstances rather than having a half dozen exceptions cluttering it up.

Treachery cards are fun, too. I had two great ones I got to play. The first was a card that simply stops a war machine from firing when your opponent declares he's targeting you. The other, and the effect of this was amazing, is a card that you play after another player's Wizard has failed to cast a spell. Play the card and that spell goes off with irresistible force (so cannot be stopped) but this also forces a miscast.

I played the card when my “ally” Iain's Shadow Sorcerer Sith'Kin failed to cast a spell at Tom's army. It went off, which he wanted it to, and thanked me. Then I pointed at the condition, Iain rolled on the miscast table and his Sorcerer promptly rolled Dimensional Cascade and was swallowed by the Warp.

All of which serves that Sorcerer right for compelling my Master Necromancer Berenice Von Gallenberg to provide troops for him by attaching a mutant strangulation beast to her neck.

Would I play again? Yes. But I'd have to say that unless experience makes the game much, much quicker I'd restrict it to 1000 points a player (we played 2000 with 400 of mercenaries each) and either not have alliances or not deploy as we did along parallel sides.

All in all, though, an excellent system. 

Friday 7 March 2014

Ooh, that's quite shiny: GW pre-orders for 15 March 2014

Crimson Slaughter: a Codex: Chaos Space Marines supplement (£30 hardcover)
You know, for the first time I am tempted to buy one of these new Codex supplements and it's for the very reason some people are resisting this one. I want a Crimson Slaughter book because they are new, because there hasn't been much written about them so far. I like their look, I like what little background they have (Space Marines driven insane by the ghostly voices of those they've killed which can only be quieted with more killing) and I want this more than the previously rumoured World Eaters/Book Of Khorne supplement because I know the World Eaters inside out.

Between the three Chaos Space Marine codices I own, the old Index Astartes, the Horus Heresy novels and a couple of audios the World Eaters are pretty well covered as far as I'm concerned. But a new faction? Give me some of that, please.

Helbrute (£33 multi-part plastic box set)
I pretty much covered this before when the kit leaked onto the 'net. I rather like it, it's good to have all the options from the Codex available without having to convert the Dark Vengeance model. I won't be buying one in the immediate future (even after finishing my 100 miniature painting challenge) because I still have my DV one to paint.

Still, this gives me hope that multi-part Cultists are on the way.

Chaos Space Marine Attack Force (£120 army bundle)
It seems that Battalions and Battle Forces are getting too expensive to be the starter sets GW wants them to be so they're replacing them with these larger sets for older gamers with more disposable income (at least that's how I read the shift) rather than younger gamers wanting to get started quickly.

I can't argue with the deal, it's a good mix of units: a Chaos Terminator Lord, 10 Chaos Space Marines, a Chaos Rhino (with that lovely vehicle accessory sprue of which I have many fond memories), 5 Chaos Terminators, 5 Raptors and a Forgefiend. Saving £21 by my count means you get the Raptors for free. It might not be the best army imaginable (you need to split the 10 Chaos Marines into two squads to make it legal) but I think it might be meant to combine with Dark Vengeance in which case it's more than convincing.

Coda: 100 Model Painting Challenge

If the supplement is any good I'm halfway tempted, as I haven't started them yet, to paint up my Dark Vengeance Chaos Marines as the Crimson Slaughter. 

Thursday 6 March 2014

Your random Hellenic fact for the day

I wouldn't stick my hand in the fire” is apparently the Greek equivalent of “I wouldn't swear to it”, as a Greek co-worker of mine explained after I looked at her blankly when she used the phrase.

Nothing else, slow day.

Tuesday 4 March 2014

100 Models #2: Vampire Counts Wight King

Vampire Counts Wight King
single plastic miniature
Games Workshop £9

With the application of a sheet of A4 to provide a neutral background and using the timer on my camera so I don't judder it as I press the button I think I'm getting much better pictures. I just have to figure out how to switch off the flash to get rid of those shadows and I'm set. Anyway, onto the miniature:

This is a far more complicated model than the Cairn Wraith. It has a lot of layers so you really have to go in with a plan for painting it. Some layers need drybrushing, some need inking and it can tie you in knots. This is actually my second attempt to paint one of these, having hashed up the first go so comprehensively I had to buy a new model (the original is in a drawer waiting to be paint-stripped and turned into Bretonnian Paladin).

The solution to this model is to paint it from the inside out, innermost layer to outermost. This wasn't exactly a simple process and I had to touch up the innermost layers rather a lot (covering stray Necron Compound off the boot and knee after drybrushing the chainmail, for instance).

An effect I'm rather proud of, but which hasn't photographed well, is the dirty metal effect I tried out on the sword blade. With luck and better photography you'll see a lot more of this effect on my Black Knights and Guardians Of The Covenant but it basically goes like this: basecoat in Leadbelcher, wash Nuln Oil, drybrush the whole area in Necron Compound (or Runefang to suit your taste) and then wash Agrax Earthshade. The brown ink picks out and colours the brighter drybrush layer so you get the look of mottled filth covering the blade.

I also rather like the colour of the cape (Incubi Darkness) and I think I'll use it wherever I can within the arrmy, try to create a more cohesive look for a very disparate force.

The red armour I am less fond of. I went right up far too bright in layering and tried to darken it down again with inks but it didn't quite take.

All in all this was a complicated but very satisfying model to paint. When I'm buying models again (98 to go!) I might get some Grave Guard and paint them to match him, albeit with darker armour. I am painting some units, by the way, it's just that the character models were finished first (there'll be another one on Thursday) so I should make more substantial progress towards my goal soon, especially when I have a chance to basecoat those eleven High Elves I'll need for Sunday's Triumph & Treachery game. 

Monday 3 March 2014

Campaign Points 1: The Triumph & Treachery to come

Yesterday I had a game of Fantasy in my friend Matt's ongoing campaign. My Vampire Counts versus Ian's Warriors Of Chaos, I lost but what's important is that Ian managed to capture my general Berenice Von Gallenberg. There were two options: I could play a scenario to try and rescue her or Ian and I could come to a deal for her freedom.

The deal we made was as follows: Ian recently lost a territory to Matt's Empire, he wants that territory back. In exchange for her freedom and not being tortured by Slaaneshi sadists Von Gallenberg will ally with him to help re-take the territory. It'll be a three-player game so we'll be using Triumph & Treachery.

So I need mercenaries.

At 2000 points you get 400 points to spend on mercenaries. My mercenaries will be a band of High Elves who have come to investigate this mysterious island that has appeared in the Sea Of Chill. The band's leader, an eccentric Loremaster of Hoeth called Korando, has made a devil's bargain with the Necromancers. He wants to know what is at the heart of the island, what animates it and he suspects it is based in Dark Magic. Dark Magic attracts other Dark Magic so he allies with the undead to use them as sniffer hounds.

The game is on Sunday, I have a week. Unfortunately I can't start until Wednesday because I can't find my primer. It'll be a real time attack to get the mercenaries finished in time. 

Sunday 2 March 2014

100 Models #1: Vampire Counts Cairn Wraith

Single plastic miniature
Games Workshop, £9

Let's talk about simplicity. It's hard to review a simple model. If I were reviewing something like, for instance, the Black Knights I'm currently painting I could talk about the variations between the five figures, the impressive alternative build, the business of deciding on their colour scheme. But this model...?

No bells and whistles, no weapons options, no posing options: just a cloak, a skull and a scythe. There are maybe half dozen different colour areas involved, paint it to look ethereal and you can cut that down to a white basecoat and a wash. Your only real decision is what colour you're going to paint the long, flowing robe that makes up most of the miniature. As you can see I went for a traditional black Grim Reaper-style robe. It may be unambitious but I think the model benefits from a simple colour scheme.

That said I've seen some fantastic Cairn Wraiths with green robes and if I buy a second one I'd be tempted to paint it that way.

The whole model revolves around the robe, which is empty below the skull. It's a wonderful design even if you do have to strain a little to see if you've painted every part if the interior. This simplicity also makes it easy to paint, hence it being the first model to make it off my hobby table in this project (99 to go!).

The only flaw in the miniature is the price. £9 is more than reasonable for a character and if you're using it as a Hero, as I am, you won't feel cheated. It's if you want to run a unit of five of the things you run into financial difficulties because suddenly you're looking at a £45 bill for a very small unit.

As to my own work on the figure I'm rather proud of the rust effect on the scythe, achieved through drybrushing (I'm not actually that fond of the effect the new Ryza Rust technical paint gives). The Skavenblight Dinge drybrush on the black robe appears thicker and less subtle now I've varnished the miniature. I want to use the effect again on my Hexwraiths and Deathwatch so I'll have to remember it needs to be very subtle. I don't hate how it's come out, it still looks enough like cloth but if I want to use it as a highlight on, say, power armour it won't do.

Also, it's been so long since I painted a base that I need more practice to get the line between side and top neat and straight. Still, one benefit of this project is that I'll have another ninety nine goes to get it right. 

Saturday 1 March 2014

100 Model Challenge: The Rules

The Intention
To paint 100 Warhammer models before buying any more miniatures. This might sound like a lot but since I play mainly Warhammer Fantasy that's really just five rank-and-file units. Every hobbyist ends up with a pile of half-finished projects and it's time to tackle some of mine.

The Rules
One: 100 models to be painted. “Painted” defined as tabletop standard, based and varnished.

Two: No matter what size the miniature, one model is defined as one model towards the total: a Zombie is one model; a Knight on a horse is one model; a tank is one model; a towering Necrosphinx is one model; and so on. One equals one.

Three: The only Games Workshop products to be purchased in this period to be paints, brushes and novels.

Four: All finished models to be photographed and reviewed for the blog just as soon as I find my digital camera.

Five: Once a model is set down on the paint station it stays there until it is finished. The point of the exercise is to finish the projects I set to one side so no setting thing to one side.

Six: No wriggling out of it, Ashelford, I know you.