Thursday 31 August 2017

Completed models for August

My big push to finish old projects in August didn't do too badly: 36 models. Its not a bad total even if a lot of them just needed a few final details and basing to complete them but the motto around here is “Progress is progress”. I finished thirty-six models this month and that's a better total than any month this year.

And here they are...
Already showcased earlier this month are the Dwarf Runesmith and Tomb Kings Necrotect. I'm proud of my work on both even if I'm not sure I could properly replicate the skin method on the Necrotect. Its a couple layers of Athonian Camoshade over Rakarth Flesh which sounds simple but when it comes to inking as a final layer there's a lot of atmospheric stuff that can influence the final effect and I laid that ink down on a particularly hot day. Still, worth trying again for my Liches and Royal characters.

I finally picked out all the fiddly metallic detail on my Angels Of Redemption Captain (aka Legion Praetor in Cataphractii armour). I went for a copper effect rather than gold because a) I wanted to test out a bronze method (that I later decided not to use) for my Death Guard and, b) it felt a little more “antique” than glorious gold. I know Heresy stuff should look more glorious than “modern” 40k because it was the golden age but sometimes what feels right is more important than what is right.

Anyway, I loved painting this guy. If this runs to an army (maybe, maybe not) then I definitely want to use more of the antique armour marks. The particular colours of this halved scheme are quite forgiving and I love how the bronze contrasts with both armour colours. I also, hopefully visibly if my meagre photography skills holds out, managed some recess shading that came out well on the white and okay on the green. I am usually the “lay it on with a trowel” sort when it comes to shading, it has to be said.
I also finally cracked grey basing! Turned out, thank you How To Paint Citadel Miniatures 2012, to ink it Nuln Oil to get a good contrast with the drybrush (which was invisible before).
Next, we have a full unit of Dryads and my Branchwych finished up. Unfortunately, my camera seemed to take particular exception to focusing on these models, I think it might have something to do with the colours and how they contrasted with the background. Like the Runesmith and Necrotect these ladies just needed a few last details picked out and their bases done. So maybe this doesn't seem too big an achievement but it now means that more than half of my Sylvaneth 1000 points army is painted including my Warlord. I am literally nine models (my Treeman, Kurnoth Hunters and Tree-Revenants) away from actually completing all the models I have for this army. Also, its a big block of infantry finished for my Wood Elves. Double achievement!

Shout out to my friend Matt for insisting I mix up the colours of leaves and such in this unit which kept me interested during the most boring phase of the unit. It also gives the unit, which is very brown, some nice visual interest when they're arranged in a block.

My colour test Plaguebearer (now complete) has been joined by a trio of Nurgling bases just to reassure me that the colour scheme works on more than one model. Lesson learnt, though: the horns on the Nurglings are very delicate and I snapped more than one during the drybrush layer. I'll be more careful next time but otherwise the method is quick, simple and looks like it'll look good on the whole Daemon contingent for my Death Guard.

Also on the Death Guard front, the first six Poxwalkers finished. I'm painting them in small batches of a couple od designs at a time simply because there are so many differences between the sculpts that doing all twenty in one go would probably be more time-consuming and horribly dispiriting. They aren't the best paintjob I've ever managed but I suspect doing these guys “well” would not worth the time so I went simple with it.
Speaking of things that are hard to paint in a batch, I've decided I have to do the metallics and finishing touches on the Dark Imperium Plague Marines singularly. This also meant I could experiment with the metallic colours on this miniature before committing to what I'd lay down on the rest. I like the finished effect...

which I then applied to my Helbrute to see how it came out on larger models. Again, it looks good. It takes ages because of how much armour trim there is on Chaos models but that would be true of literally any colour I used and I just feel lucky that I largely used pure Balthasar Gold on one layer to finish the models. I decided I just did not have the patience to bring it all up to Sycorax Bronze as I did with the Angels Of Redemption Captain.

(P.S. If you notice the Helbrute is missing components on its arms... it was an eBay job and came like that but I quite like it anyway.)

Anyway, now I have momentum behind me which wrestling commentary tells me is the all-important factor in future success so I feel confident going into next month and my Tale Of 1 Gamer project. 

Wednesday 30 August 2017

Cena vs. Reigns vs. the audience

... you suck.”

According to them [the audience] so does he [Kurt Angle] and he won a gold medal.”

This past Monday on WWE Raw there was one of the best contract signing segments I have seen in years: John Cena and Roman Reigns signing for a match at No Mercy. Its hard to say that Cena does anything less than annihilate Reigns on the mic but the segment made some valid points about the reception of both wrestlers.

You see, WWE's longterm strategy is for Roman Reigns to replace John Cena as the face of the company. They have not been subtle about it, in fact they've been extraordinarily blatant and the audience just plain ain't having it. They fed him the win in the Undertaker's retirement match at Wrestlemania which is impressive for the faith it shows the company has in the man but, as Cena points out, it was a win against a man in his fifties with a bad hip.

The thing of it is that both these men have something in common: the often contentious relationship between how the company presents them to the audience and how the audience views them. With Cena you can see it swings both ways with the chant “Let's go Cena! Cena sucks!”. As has been said in the past, whether they love him or hate him they're chanting and that sort of feeling sells tickets.

With Roman its a bit more one way. The audience sees him being promoted and protected and they resent it. They see him, as pointed out in this segment, as an artificially created Cena replacement.

And thus it doesn't work.

Do I think it should? Not particularly. Reigns has some problems, how many are down to Reigns as a guy rather than the writing he's given to work with is questionable. I've no real problem with his in-ring work except where bad booking makes him look weak (such as the Royal Rumble where he disappears off for a nap which was peretty necessary but not a good visual and therefore the whole going beginning to end thing should probably not have been tried).

He has some problems on the mic, exemplified by when he utterly dries in this segment and Cena covers masterfully “Go ahead and find it. I'll wait.”. Now, that's an extreme example, Reigns rarely dries like that that I've seen.

Regardless, the subtext of this feud is whether Roman deserves Cena'a place. Cena's part time now and fair play: he's getting on by his industry's standard and he's getting married he doesn't want the constant touring schedule and he's important enough to be allowed that. It is a problem, though, that the guy coached to replace him just doesn't have the draw he still does as a part timer.

So can this elevate Reigns the way the company wants? Certainly there's a segment of the audience that wants John Cena to lose. The, not entirely unwarranted but not entirely fair, reputation Cena has for burying new talent is brought up in the segment as is the fact that he spent his whole most recent US Championship run promoting new talent through the US Open Challenge angle. Those who hate Cena think he needs taking down a peg or two and could afford to eat a loss and those who love Cena know he can carry people to great matches and have a spectacular one with even a moderately talented wrestler.

And Cena's right, this could be a Wrestlemania match we're talking about here and its scheduled for No Mercy. This match almost can't help but be great: two very talented performers, a lot of audience investment on both sides and a rather bigger name match-up than a B-show pay-per-view usually deserves.

Will it work? Maybe. Absent completely stupid booking decisions (like, oh... stripping Sasha Banks of her title on her first defence again whilst also making not only Alexa Bliss but Nia Jax look like chumps for goodness' sake!) the match itself can't help but be a barnstormer. Long term?

Reigns is languishing in the mid card when WWE wants him in the top card and he's not making a good go of it. Cena had the US Open Challenge and, as the Champ who is here says, Reigns treated that title like a demotion. It was, of course, but the fact it was visibly treated like that was poor work by the writers because it just made Reigns look arrogant and ungrateful.

Maybe going over Cena (which I am 99% certain is the plan if anyone has any sense in that writers' room) can undo some of the damage. This isn't a one-match problem but this could be a good start. 

Tuesday 29 August 2017

A Tale Of This Gamer?

I'm currently painting a whole bunch of bases. We're nearly at the end of the month and my determination to finish things has reaped... some rewards. I've made more progress the last couple of weeks than I have any month this year. It feels good to be getting things done again.

So next month I want to be a bit more directed in my approach. I want to try something I've wanted to for years: a Tale Of One Gamer series. I'll be using the modern version of the article (since miniature prices are rather too hefty to get much out of the old set budget model) which goes a little something like this:

Month 1: Paint a Start Collecting set
Month 2: Paint a unit of infantry or cavalry
Month 3: Paint a monster
Month 4: Paint a mighty hero
Month 5: Free month
Month 6: Bring the army to battle

So, who's the lucky army? I'm still mulling.

I could do the mounted Chaos horde I was talking about a few days ago but for one there's no appropriate Start Collecting set and for another it is an army heavy on conversions which takes time away from painting. I have a High Elves army I have barely touched with a paintbrush (all... that... white...) for which I could easily source an old Battalion's worth of miniatures or “count as” the Island Of Blood models I own. Then there's Bretonnia. Fair Bretonnia, which I do have an unopened Battalion for as well as a fair number of other models I panic bought (and rightly so, as it turns out) during their all too brief End Times reissue.

Bretonnia scares me. They were my first army before I could really paint or even notice that I couldn't paint. These days I am such a perfectionist that I hesitate every time I even look at the sprues. Still, of the projects here they probably offer the most bang for my blog: interesting miniatures in and of themselves, an army I absolutely adore, plenty of chances to experiment with colour combinations (individual heraldry, I will do it, I will) and some interesting potential conversions courtesy of the Warhammer Armies Project's 8th edition Bretonnia book.

I have, as you can see, all but convinced myself to finally commit to the Bretonnia project I've been psyching myself up to since I started painting again. Indeed, my recent push to better my painting skills has all been in aid of someday, hopefully getting around to this very project.

In all honesty, it just comes down to which is the greater fear: painting white or not being able to come up with enough unique and easy to paint heraldry schemes.

Also, I'd have to work out what could possibly count as a “monster” for Bretonnia. A Grail Reliquae is probably the nearest thing in the official army list though the Armies Project book offers the possibility of Hippogryph Knights. Whereas of course with High Elves you simply have the High Elf Dragon aka the greatest miniature Games Workshop has ever produced.

This is probably going to be a coin flip scenario. 

Monday 28 August 2017

On the imminent conclusion of Hydra!Cap

I have this horrible premonition. I have this awful feeling that we're going to get to Wednesday and the final issue of Secret Empire and Marvel is just going to announce that the series needs to run for another two issues.

Or four.

Or forever.

To be frank, given the exceptional ability Marvel has shown to fuck this thing up at every possible opportunity I would not put anything past them at this point. I would not put it past them to have changed the ending of the final issue so it turns out that the new Captain America (after Miles Morales shanks Steve with a steel rebar) is a clone of Robert E. Lee who fights his enemies by firing Confederate memorials at them out of a bazooka and Sam Wilson is reduced to his sidekick again except he can't fly anymore because of the massive shackles he has to wear at all times “because its important to remember our heritage”. At this point I only find this scenario moderately unlikely, though in part that just can be put down to the nature of comicbook narrative.

I want this done. I want Hydra!Steve gone. I want daemonically possessed hypersexualised Wanda over with so we can actually get some follow up on that excellent James Robinson solo series she had. I would very much like X-Men Blue to get back to its regularly scheduled programming instead of this odd divergence where Tian is suddenly back for some bloody reason and Emma Frost wants to bang teenage Cyclops.

Most all all, I want an end to this business of the Marvel Universe's moral centre being on the side of Nazis and that apparently being the natural state of history and the version where he was a good man who decided to stand up for others was a corruption who only existed because someone else essentially brainwashed him.

Oh, and whilst we're at it: what kind of dick gets their hands on a Cosmic Cube, rewrites the history of the Second World War to favour the Allies and leaves the sodding Holocaust in?

This event needs to end, it needs to die and reside in the lowest circle of Big Event Hell where it will replace the Clone Saga in the mouth of Satan himself. 

Sunday 27 August 2017

So this is what happened... (an adventure in rationalisation)

I've been mulling over the Chaos Cavalry Horde concept I outlined a week or so back. The final kick came when I realised I already had a not indecent number of models for it already. I already own a couple of mounted Chaos characters (the mounted Lord with a warhammer and the old Tzeentch Sorcerer on Disc) as well as the Nurglesque Chariot I converted some time ago and a unit of Marauder Horsemen (again Nurglesque as I fancied the idea of Horsemen armed with scythes).

Then my friend Matt found someone on eBay selling units of Skullcrushers for £19 for three, postage free. Good deal so I got two sets. Those Skullcrushers are more than five hundred points just by themselves never mind the exorbitant cost of Chaos characters.

A little finger counting (“more of an art than a science”) says I have something like a thousand points of mounted Chaos already. Not all built, barely any of it painted but there.

And I might as well get some use out of it.

And I have enough spare heads from the Skullcrushers to outfit a five man unit of Chaos Knights with Khorne bunny helmets. Of course, they come in boxes of ten now but that just gives me an excuse to get some Hellstriders, build them with bare heads and use the helmets to make a Slaaneshi unit.

First job, though, decide whether I want two units of Skullcrushers or whether I want to use the second set to make a couple of Khornate Gorebeast Chariots and a Khorne Lord. The answer to this question is probably “yes”. The answer to whether I want to make weird shit instead of the things the kit is meant to make is usually “yes”. I'm just that sort of hobbyist. 

Saturday 26 August 2017

Get well soon, Asuka

Last night, it was reported via WhatCulture that Asuka had vacated the NXT Women's Title following a collarbone injury at Takeover: Brooklyn III. It was further reported that she was expected to take at least three months off to recover and that she was in talks to move up to the main roster when she did rather than returning to NXT.

First off, best wishes to Asuka for a speedy and trouble free recovery.

Less importamntly, of course, is my smarky opinion that this is probably a good way to handle the situation. According to WhatCulture Asuka's undefeated streak ran 523 days. Rather famously, it eclipsed even the undefeated streak of Bill Goldberg back in the day. And this wasn't just her run with the title, she remains undefeated in her entire WWE career.

And if she does up to main roster still undefeated, I think that's a good idea.

Let me explain: going up to main roster is the point of NXT. The show is still technically WWE's “developmental” product meant to get people over with the audience and letting them hone their character in a smaller setting. It s a good idea but there have been some problems.

You see, I'm not sure who would be worthy to have ended Asuka's undefeated streak. Okay, the answer is blatantly Ember Moon and I'm baffled that it didn't happen at Brooklyn III but here's my issue: would you really want to end the longest undefeated streak in modern WWE (I'm willing to bet there's a longer one in days of yore that isn't getting mentioned) on the developmental show?

You see my problem. This streak is a big thing and yet, by its very nature, it was going to have to end on a small time show. Whoever knocks Asuka off her perch is going to get one hell of a boost from it and whilst Ember Moon is more than worthy (as is, in my opinion, Nikki Cross) there's probably more prestige to be handed out from this than NXT can give.

This could be something main event worthy. This could be worthy of Hell In A Cell (not this year's, obviously) or some other major showcase match. Having her come into main roster with her winning streak intact means she comes into that title scene with a huge level of prestige that would have been somewhat diminished by breaking the streak beforehand. 

Friday 25 August 2017

Anna Diop is Starfire: can we not do the thing?

Anna Diop has been cast as Starfire in the Titans TV show. Anna Diop is a Senegalese naturalised US citizen. Starfire is a bright orange alien so, honestly, the only people who could authentically be cast in this role are busy hosting BBC antique shows or pretending to run the United States.

What I guess I'm asking is this: can fandom, just this once, not be annoying about a black actress being cast in a non-black role?

The nerd rage would be more than usually ludricrous in this case. And, make no mistake, it is usually ludricrous. There are very few characters in comics who “have to” be white. There are a few: Steve Rogers has to be white because of how the armed services were segregated back then, Batman pretty much has to be because the sort of old money wealth both his parents come from isn't often found in African-American hands; Professor Xavier for similar reasons.

Nick Fury, though? Absent his WWII origins, not necessary. Mary Jane Watson? Not a character with much real background, let alone background that needs her to be white (or even ginger). Aquaman is effectively a character of mixed heritage already, it just happens that one of those ethnicities is fictional so you can have the fact that Jason Momoa is of Native Hawaiian, Native American, German and Irish descent come from any angle (either Aquaman's father was all those things or Atlantians share characteristics with one or more of those ethnicities).

Simply put: few characters even now (let alone decades ago when these characters were created) are designed to be white. Starfire is an alien princess who is bright orange. Requirements for the role, much like the requirements for Batman being a white guy with a strong chin, are basically that she be hot. To each their own but I think she qualifies.

You just know I'm yelling into the wind, though, don't you? That's just the world we live in. There will be scores of badly worded arguments trying to disguise racism beneath head canon.

It will be incredibly tiresome. 

Thursday 24 August 2017

Trump: a case of too many perfect metaphors

He stared directly at the eclipse as his staff yelled at him not to. That should be enough, that should be more than enough to be getting on with, that's the perfect metaphor.

But this is Trump we're talking about so, of course, this came after the revelation that he'd managed to bankrupt the Secret Service with his golf trips. Yes, he actually managed to exceed the annual budget of his own bodyguards including overtime through charging them obscene rent in Trump Tower, charging them to rent golf carts at Mar-A-Lago (a bill one source placed at around sixty thousand dollars) and just generally being a massive prick who feels an egotistical need to hold campaign rallies three and a half years before the next general election and having a golfing trip every weekend.

Just when you thought nothing could top “he bankrupted a casino once” he goes and bankrupts the arm of the military specifically and solely charged with defending his life.

Don't get me wrong, I am all in favour of Donald Trump having as little protection as possible, I have a vested interest in the survival of the human race, but that is an achievement. At this rate it might even go down in history as the only achievement of his administration.

We can only hope...

Wednesday 23 August 2017

A bitter observation about the Xena's reboot's cancellation

It has been announced that the Xena reboot is no longer happening. Of course, one of the big selling points of this new series was that the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle which was subtext (albiet it really, really heavy subtext) would be elevated to text and be one of the main things the producers wanted to explore. And, you know what? That rather sold me on the idea.

For my money a reboot needs to have something to say that the original didn't. Xena has aged really, really well (by which I mean the show, though Lucy Lawless absolutely has as well) and there's not much about it that could stand to be improved aside from the fact that there's an amazing and loving relationship at its core that could only be knowing winks and plausibly deniable subtext at the time (“Is that a hickey?” Joxer asks to blushes from both women).

So why did this show get axed?

Allow me to be bitter for a moment. You see, given the state of LGBTQ+ and specifically lesbian/wlw representation on US television I think that this show got greenlit because TV executives were told about how many times lesbians died on the original show. We got to this point with the executives thinking that was the whole truth and they'd get some lovely, lovely controversy out of the series by continuously killing lesbians.

Then someone, some idiot, let slip to the higher-ups that all those lesbians who died were the same two women and that they kept coming back to life!

And that's when the executives lost interest, the bastards. 

Tuesday 22 August 2017

On the psychoanalysis of Harcourt Fenton Mudd

A thief, a swindler, a con man, a liar and a rogue
At least, he left that impression.
SPOILER ALERT for the Star Trek: The Next Generation novel The Light Fantastic (and probably also Immortal Coil and the Cold Equations trilogy and I'm sure there's more but those are the titles I remember in this series-ette).

... of course, I left.”

He broke jail.”

I borrowed transportation.”

He stole a spaceship.”

The patrol reacted in a hostile manner.”

They fired at him!”

They've got no respect for private property! They damaged the bloody spaceship!”

- ST:TOS: I, Mudd by Stephen Kandel

So I've nearly finished the latest (I think) in a loose series of TNG novels about Data and various other Star Trek artificial intelligences, Jeffrey Lang's The Light Fantastic. This one deals with the sentient hologram Professor Moriarty, long ago shoved into a free-roaming simulation of the galaxy towards the end of the TV series and left there evr since. Obviously, there wouldn't be much of a novel if that happy ending stayed happy so now he's pissed and has kidnapped someone close to Data (spoilers...) so Data will find him a real world body to inhabit.

The novel also features flashbacks to my favourite Original Series villain ever, Harcourt Fenton Mudd, that glorious rogue, and his fate after his last appearance in I, Mudd. Unfortunately, they don't stay flashbacks.

Not that I have any problem with the idea of Mudd interacting with later crews, in fact there's probably a lot of mileage to be had there. Its not even (particularly) a problem for me that this is yet another TOS-era character who has somehow contrived to live to the era following the Dominion War alongside, by my count, Jim Kirk, Spock, Bones, Uhuru, Chekov and Scotty. You know, I think at this point Sulu is the only person on that crew who had the decency to die in anything resembling a timely fashion.

Rather dents Picard's insistence that Spock's “cowboy diplomacy” belongs to a bygone age if everyone from that bygone age is still knocking around, is what I'm saying.

No, the problem is that Lang decides to try and delve into the psychology of Mudd. Lang's conclusion is that Mudd is a classic narcissist and his survival this long is down to spending a large fortune he acquires before the last of the flashbacks (sometime circa The Voyage Home) on life-extending technology because he can't bear to leave the universe without the privilege of having him in it.

I mean... Lang's not wrong, exactly, not in his basic conclusion. Its hard to say that Mudd isn't a narcissistic personality. Its just that the final flashback with Mudd in a bar, richer than he ever imagined, and running into Uhuru who greats him like an old friend felt like such a good ending, such a right ending. He has everything he ever wanted but he still feels the pull of wanting to cheat people (he desperately refers to meeting his banker as “a job” like he was robbing the guy, just to feel like himself for a moment) and maybe he'll fritter it all away and do one last job and maybe he learns to live with his happy ending and it was just such a nice note to leave him on.

Then he turns up in the 2380s at a hundred and god knows years old in a mech suit that's part wheelchair and part hospice bed trying to find a way to become immortal using salvaged AI bits.

Its sad. I don't even care if he gets a happy ending out of it, its just sad and as much as half the fun of a character like Harry Mudd is seeing them be constantly frustrated they aren't meant to make you feel sad.

Characters like Mudd are meant to be fun! There's no reason to bring psychology into it or realistic consequences. They're just there to be fun. Maybe its because I was practically raised on Robert Holmes' Doctor Who stories but I've always loved a good comedy rogue.

Harcourt Fenton Mudd. Thief -”

Come now.”

Swindler and con man...”


Liar and rogue.”

Did I leave you with that impression?”
    - also I, Mudd

I realise that if Mudd were a real person I wouldn't want him to get away with the things he does. Hell, even as a fictional person I rather enjoy the inevitable commeuppence that's an essential part of any story he appears in, but I also admit that he's there for me to enjoy. He's a note of absurb and adorable criminality in the ever so orderly and lawful world of Star Trek. There's so much to relish about the character, not least of which the highly distinctive voice given to him by actor Roger C. Carmel.

As much as Lang captures the voice and the essential psychology of Mudd, I wonder whether he felt the joy a character like that is meant to give a writer: the deliciously naughty glee at writing someone dishonest that you know the reader is going to root for anyway, just a little.

I can't root for this version of Mudd. I just can't. He's a bitter old man whose fits of anger are genuine rage instead of wounded pride, who takes no joy in his schemes because now they really are life or death instead of get rich quick shenanigans.

Still, at least Lang has finally written one of the dream scenes of Star Trek: Data meeting Vic Fontaine. 

Monday 21 August 2017

The Gardener of Nurgle cometh...

It should be mentioned I don't usually care for Chaos Daemons as an army unto themselves. They're a bit hard to root for, frankly. Now, I'm no stranger to being the bad guy but I usually find a motivation that I can at least invest in: my Traitor Guard want to live free of Imperial shackles; my Orks and Dark Elves are both pirates out for profit; and, at least in their own embalmed minds, my Tomb Kings are genuinely moral and upstanding members of the greatest civilisation the Old Worlde has ever known.

Daemons are just plain evil. That's all they've got, it just comes down to flavour: violent evil, despairing evil, scheming evil or depressed evil. For the most part I find Daemons more useful and interesting as tools for a mortal army rather than characters in their own right.

Aside from Nurgle. I actually quite dig the idea, which I'm not sure how or when it started, that Nurgle's daemons are the bored filing clerks of the daemon world. There's also some whimsy to them, I remember reading this little five minute fiction years ago about how Nurglings like fighting alongside Noise Marines because they enjoy dancing to the “music” of Slaaneshi weapons.
And that sense of whimsy has birthed this fantastic little character.

This is Horticulous Slimux (I think I have that spelt right) “Nurgle's first creation”. He is, essentially, Nurgle head gardener. He is riding a snail that is dragging a plow behind itself. There seems to be a tree growing out of the snail and there's a Nurgling tied in front of its face in place of a carrot. I think his weapon is meant to be a litterpicker. He's just so silly and yet so horrid looking. I'll definitely be trawling eBay for this guy since I he's being included in a bundle so he won't be available on his own for a while, I should think and I don't want the Stormcast Vanguards, though I do see some potential in the Stormcast character who I think would make a good Chaos Lord with some modifications but, again, eBay exists and I just don't like those Vanguard guys. 

Sunday 20 August 2017

In Theory: Dothraki-inspired Warriors of Chaos army

Every season of Game of Thrones brings with it the same thought: “all-mounted Chaos army”. The mental image of waves of Marauder Horsemen and Chaos Knights charging across the board is an arresting one. In the meta sense it presents challenges different to the usual tactics of Chaos Warriors, putting more emphasis on speed and maneouvre than anchoring the battle line around large units of elite infantry.

So what would actually be in this army and how would it work, in theory?

Character Classes

Every character class aside from Daemon Princes have mount options so really the only question is what to mount them on. Your barded Chaos Steed is cheap, allows you to put the character in a unit and can't be shot out from under you. The generic Daemonic Mount has a lot going for it for the price: WS4, Strength and Toughness 5 and 3 Wounds is nothing to sniff at for 35 points.

As to the power-specific mounts, personally I'd say the Palanquin of Nurgle is too slow at only Movement 4; the Disc of Tzeentch 's has Fly so, to my mind, is best used to give a spellcaster maximum mobility; Slaanesh doesn't get a specific mount anymore; and, Juggernauts we'll deal with later.

Chariots (be they drawn by Chaos Steeds or Gorebeasts) have great potential as centrepieces and the extra hitting power will definitely come in handy.

As to monsters, well, that comes down to personal taste. I do want some monsters in the army because monsters are an essential part of any Chaos army. That said, I want the characters to maintain the cavalry theme. Plus, I've never been much for monstrous character mounts, just personal taste.

Cavalry Units

The way I see it, you have two basic types of unit here. First, you have your fast cavalry units in Marauder Horsemen, Chaos Warhounds and Hellstriders Of Slaanesh. What we're talking about here is an army that is super eleite even by Chaos standards so one phase of the game you want to be very dominant in is Movement. You want to be dictating the agenda of the game and luring your opponent into positions where you can really take advantage. Fast cavalry units are great for this. All those free wheels and Vanguard moves mean you can offer a credible threat to your opponent's backfield reallt early in the game so they have to choose between dealing with those units or holding their nerve in the hopes they can take down your heavy hitters before the fast units are in a position to do real damage to them.

Speaking of heavy hitters: Chaos Chariots, Chaos Knights, Gorebeast Chariots and Skullcrushers Of Khorne. Powerful hammer units who can do a lot of damage on the charge, especially true of the chariots with their impact hits. You need to maximise the amount of damage every charge does with an army like this: impact hits, flank charges, multiple charges. Plus, all of these units look amazing. The downside of this, of course, is that all these units are instantly recognisable high priority targets which is why you need the cheaper, faster units to distract your opponent and present them with difficult choices.

Other units

In the main, the other units that fit the theme and have the speed are monsters. Either big fellas like the Slaughterbrute, Chaos Giant and the Mutalith Vorext Beast or monstrous infantry like Chaos Ogres and Dragon Ogres. I certainly want Dragon Ogres, who have the added benefit of standing on four legs so they're basically cavalry, right? Whether the other monstrous units fit your view of what a cavalry army should be is, of course, entirely up to you.

The Warshrine, though, I think definitely works with the theme. True, it isn't pulled by horses unless you make a conversion but it is definitely a mount. I personally wouldn't use it as a character mount because I'm very aware of the importance of not putting too many eggs in one basket with super elite armies

The Challenges
The obvious, foreseeable problem with this army is the problem with all elite cavalry armies: you don't have many guys. Your units are vulnerable when charged because they have zero standing combat resolution unless you sink points into taking a second rank: expensive for the hammer units, practically pointless for the fast cavalry. Add to that the fact that most cavalry weapon buffs only come into play on the charge. You would have to hit hard and early and be take the gamble that you're break the units you were charging to prevent counter-charges in the next turn.

On the plus side...
Low model count means you can dedicate more time to painting and to create interesting conversions. God-specific chariots, for one thing, interest me as a concept. The Gorebeast harness components, I know, can easily be adapted to accommodate a Beast of Nurgle and Juggernauts are about the same size. Then there's the every popular head swap to create God-specific Knights: Skullcrusher helms to create Khornate Knights, Hellstrider heads for Slaanesh and so forth. There are also a number of fantastic Storm Of Chaos era mounted Chaos Lords to choose from.

The only real problem is that it would be a very hard army to learn. Not much of a problem for mebut I can understand how it might put people off. 

Saturday 19 August 2017

SummerSlam 2017 predictions

Its the biggest party of the summer! Hopefully a better party than last year, when SummerSlam seemed to take place across geological time (it was a serious slog, that show). Anyway, predictions based on the most recent version of the card I could find:


Cruiserweight Championship
Akira Tozawa (c) vs. Neville

I don't really follow 205 Live so I'm just going on the simple logic that Neville had a long run with the title and they're not going to give it back to him so soon. Tozawa to retain.

SmackDown Tag Team Championship
The New Day (c) vs. The Usos

I am one of those people who think the New Day need to break up and pursue singles careers but I don't think they're going to drop the title and start that journey on the bloody pre-show. The New Day to retain.

Six Man Tag Match
The Hardy Boyz vs. The Miz and The Miztourage

The reason we're not getting an Intercontinental Championship match on the main card. Also, exiling the Hardies to the undercard on a Big Four? I'm not sure I like this at all. Since its non-title I think the Hardies to win.


SmackDown Women's Championship
Naomi (c) vs. Natalya

I think they're still building Naomi into the top-flight talent she deserves to be and a win against a “legacy” would be a good move... well, if Natalya had much momentum behind her which... eh. Naomi to retain.

Raw Women's Championship
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Sasha Banks

My head says Alexa will retain but my heart really, really wants to Sasha to not only win but have a nice, long and consistent run with the belt. The woman bumps in ways that make me wince and I really think she deserves a better run than the hot potato runs she got between pay-per-views in her feud with Charlotte.

Banks to win, fingers crossed.

United States Championship
AJ Styles (c) vs. Kevin Owens (special guest referee Shane McMahon)

Its the rematch. Styles to retain.

Randy Orton vs. Rusev

I would rather like Rusev to win, especially after that whole flag match business. However, the long and legendary rivalry between the United States and Bulgaria (don't ask) means that I have Orton for this one.

Big Show vs. Big Cass (with Enzo Amore suspended above the ring in a shark cage)

This is a hard one. On the one hand, they are building up Big Cass but they also still want to pursue the Cass/Enzo angle which probably means that Big Show will win with assistance from Enzo via thingy dropped from the shark cage (which is a bit of a flaw in the whole shark cage idea).

Big Show via shenanigans.

Finn Bálor vs. Bray Wyatt

If they don't, as rumoured, bring back the Demon King gimmick for this one then WWE Creative are out of their minds. Regardless of that, this is Bray Wyatt on pay-per-view as well as being a return match for Finn so I reckon Bálor to win.

John Cena vs. Baron Corbin

Cena had that win when he came back for the flag match which was all patriotic and stuff so it counts double and they are really, really pushing Corbin so I think Cena will lie down and do what's best for business (which he does a lot, no matter what people choose to remember).

Corbin to win, probably dirty, this is John Cena we're talking about.

Raw Tag Team Championship
Cesaro and Shaemus (c) vs. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins

I think this new tag team alliance has some legs, especially as it will hopefully save us from more Rollins/Triple H rubbish. Plus, it might mean either a Shield reunion down the line or these two taking on Reigns some time in the future.

Ambrose and Rollins to win.

WWE Championship
Jinder Mahal (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

I'm just not feeling it with Nakamua on main roster. I don't think he's been treated quite seriously enough to take the gold this early. I think there's a better chance of Jinder dropping than Brock (I am absolutely believe the rumours Brock will retain all the way to Wrestlemania).

Jinder to retain, though I hold out a glimmer of hope.

Universal Championship Fatal 4-Way
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe vs. Braun Strowman

See above. Brock to retain. 

Friday 18 August 2017

Olbermann vs. Farage. FIGHT!

Things have been hectic this week and I haven't had a chance to read anything from this week's pull beyond Gotham City Garage so no reviews today (maybe tomorrow) but it is SummerSlam weekend so let's talk about a fight I've been wanting to see for months and it seems like we're going to get it:
Yes, Keith Olbermann called out Nigel Farage on Twitter. I am, as I have alluded to before, low key in love with Keith Olbermann, an unashamed liberal more than willing to scream at the world until it bloody listens. Nigel Farage, meanwhile, was perhaps most accurately described by Youtube video game commentator Jim Sterling as “the human equivalent of that feeling you get when you remember you swallow spider sin your sleep”. He is a racist conman who helped lead this country off a cliff and the government is still trying to decide whether they want to land on their head and die instantly or on their legs and hope to be as lightly crippled as possible.

I want Olbermann to destroy him. I don't care that its mean, I want to hear the rant. 

Thursday 17 August 2017

The Big #1: Gotham City Garage

Whatever else I might have to say about them, DC have absolutely hit on a winning formula for their Digital First offerings. By now, Bombshells is one of my favourite series of all time and the various Trinity-starring anthologies were gold mines of interesting, innovative takes on the characters that often put their mainstream counterparts to shame. Seriously, take the time to track down the collected editions of Sensation Comics, Legends of the Dark Knight and Adventures of Superman at some point, you'll never see as many and as interesting interpretations of DC's flagship characters as you will in those issues. Plus, there was a fantastic Batman Beyond series under the digital imprint.

Anyway, here we are again: Gotham City Sirens, another alternative universe again focussing on DC most iconic female characters (and, hopefully, like Bombshells it'll spin out to encompass many more characters).

This time its thirty plus years since the end of the world and the last city on Earth is The Garden, a utopia governed by Lex Luthor. Yes, its dystopia o'clock and our plucky young female protagonist is Kara Gordon who has some sort of job managing the implants that keep people docile and happy. That is, of course, until her secret past catches up with her and she's forced to go on the run.

This is absolutely and blatantly an attempt to do the DC Universe as YA dystopian fiction and you know what? I am all for that. True, we've got a year long Kamandi series running right now but seeing Supergirl running around a world that's half Logan's Run and half Mad Max has an extra edge of gleeful smashing the toys together to see how it works to it. The whole first issue follows Kara, Harley on the cover be damned but I'm more than used to the fact that covers mean nothing from the last two years of Bombshells, and the titular garage has yet to appear. Neither has Gotham, come to think of it, whatever form the place takes in this world. Certainly a different one since we get to see what Batman is like in this world and... its not a nice guy who adopts orphans, that's for damn sure.

Whilst the series doesn't gran me as strongly and powerfully as Bombshells did, it doesn't introduce a lot of interesting elements and some nice character redesigns. The world is interesting if, at the moment, a bit too easy to boil down to two film references. Part of this feeling, though, is probably down to the source material. I'm not really that into the Hunger Games and its stablemates whereas Bombshells' pin-up art style has a more timeless and attention grabbing quality to it, at least for me.

That having been said, the cliffhanger promises that the series might be going in a more Mad Max-y direction with the next issue, which is right up my street. 

Wednesday 16 August 2017

Racists make the worst blacksmiths

On Monday, in Durham, North Carolina, protesters pulled down a Confederate memorial statue outside the county courthouse. I've seen the footage: it was pulled off a plinth and fell (if I'm judging the height of people next to the plinth right) about twelve feet.

Somehow, just from the fall, it ended up looking like this:
Now, I'm not a blacksmith but my best friend has taken some courses in the art and he tells me that is some really shoddy work. It turns out these things were churned out cheap in their hundreds as a way to make the South feel good about themselves after losing the Civil War.

Which they did. They lost. Its been a century and a half. Get the fuck over it.

On a more serious note, it is nice to see that the ultimate participation trophy here is as fragile as the special white snowflakes who feel the need to march through a half-empty college campus carrying flaming torches to assert their precious “white pride” and “traditional masculinity”. I mean, it is so important to these people to keep the monuments of their failure, their utter, pathetic defeat. Then again, given the number of swatstikas on display at Charlottesville these people have a positive fetish for failure, clinging to the scant consolation that cosplaying as history's boogeymen allows them to inspire fear like the emotionally stunted schoolyard bullies most of them are and that's all they have to lend some petty semblence of meaning to bleak , pointless lives spent hiding from the fact that quirk of genetics has granted them every social opportunity and they still managed to fail.

Also, I quite like that it proves you can just smash these things no matter what the government tries to tell you.
In which Confederate statues are rather like Richard Spencer's face, now I think about it. 

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Finished Models #1 and #2: Makers of Things

August's big drive to finish models... begins. Cold over, I finally had an afternoon to knuckle down and get some painting done. The first two fruits of this labour and, unsurprisingly, the two models I had on the go that needed the least work but there are a few more models sitting in the “out” tray waiting for their bases to be sanded and painted but for the moment here's what we're starting with.

First off, the Dwarf Runesmith sporting a natty blue cape that will also be the unifying character for all my Karak Ziflin regiments. Mostly this guy was a test piece for all sorts of metallic methods I wanted to try out. I usually prefer natural tones because, frankly, you can be messy as you like with those and it actually enhances the effect. Metals, though, those you have to be more careful with.

Mostly it seems to have worked out, though I did just throw my hands up and yell “fuck it” over the filigree on the helmet after the seventh time trying to follow the line with the tiniest brush I have. So I'm just saying that's embossed into the metal, not a seperate material that I need to bother with, thank you.

On the self-critique side: the sand on the base was drybrushed with Karah Stone and it didn't come out as well as the large stone. Probably some more experimentation needed there.

And, second, we have a Necrotect who, again, was painted mainly to test colours I wanted to apply to the rest of the army. Specifically, the green on the hat and the blue on the armour. My Tomb Kings are from Zandri and, according to one of the Nagash novels, the city's colours were sea greens.

The experiments came out okay though I admit I rushed to finish this one. Of all finecast models, this sculpt is one of the most abused with pebbling and rough edges everywhere. Still, this was the best casting I could find and I think he came out okay.

Now I need to get some sanding done to showcase some models with paintjobs more recent than six months ago.