Saturday 7 July 2018

Treading the Path Of Damnation once again

The other day I cobbled this fellow together. I found a bad of Blood Warrior heads in a box. I'd got them off eBay a while back because I kept seeing this same concept crop up on the internet.

You see, I've been tinkering with the idea of returning to my Lost And The Damned for a while. For those not familiar with this undeservingly niche army they are the mortal followers of Chaos. Traitor Guardsmen, essentially. They were a variant army list in 3rd edition's Codex: Eye of Terror and then, after an absence of some years during which that list became practically unusable, they returned as the Renegades & Heretics army list in Forge World's Siege of Vraks trilogy.

The list got a seventh edition makeover in Imperial Armour: War Machines of the Lost and the Damned before eighth edition came along and rendered that obsolete and the current list is included in Index Imperial Armour: Astra Militarum.

And I don't like it.

It has a lot of issues. In fairness, it is an Index list but since its going to be a while (possibly never) before a proper Codex version comes out the problems pile up. Whilst I like the idea of random Leadership, I don't like being charged the same power level as the Astra Militarum equivalent for random leadership and lower skill values. A bunch of units have just straight up evaporated.

So this time round I'm rocking it old school. My group is pretty chill about house rules so it was no stretch to just agree amongst ourselves that I could use Codex: Astra Militarum replacing all instances of the IMPERIUM keyword with CHAOS so I can use some Chaos Space Marines allies.

I have a few vague ideas of what I want to do with the army in terms of models. In terms of army list, not so much. It has been a long time since I played Guard, possibly not since 4th edition, as their own thing, at least. There's going to be a lot of trial and error and a lot of consulting with Tom, our resident footslogger Guard player. I am, I admit, much more interested in the sea of dudes with lasguns than the fascinating array of tanks. Don't get me wrong: tanks will feature in the army, there's no getting around that and I absolutely want to do something horrible and organic with the open crew compartment of the Basilisk.

So, the concepts so far, are to make Tempestus Scions pretty much straight out of thebox with head swaps and little bits of Chaos iconography to make them look more evil. They really lend themselves to simple kitbashing: they have tons of detail and that spiky trim on their armour will just look Chaotic simply through an appropriate paint job.

Veterans will be much the same in that they'll be Cadians with the aquilas filed off but with heads from a European company called Puppets Of War. Specifically, these ones...
The colours of this army have always been black fatigues and white flak armour so skull masks suit the theme pretty well. This will represent the infantry that are more towards the inner circle of the cult, the ones with abilities and skills the Traitor General places some value on.
Finally, there will be the Infantry and Conscript Squads who will be represented using Cadians the Forge World Renegades upgrade sets of which I've acquired a few over the years. These will be the cannon fodder, the expendable scum the army has recruited on the way. I love the cobbled together look of these bodies but I've always had more of a professional military vibe to my Lost And The Damned, naturally considering most of my concept of the army comes from Dan Abnett's Blood Pact and Sons Of Sek.

And then, to one side of the army, are the Chaos Space Marines.

As I said, I want the Chaos Marines to be the smaller contingent of the army. Just a single character and a few units. If I have daemon engines they'll be painted to match the Traitor Guard. In fact, it might be a Spearhead Detachment so I can take a bunch of daemon engines with the minimum of power armour getting in the way.
I also rather fancy avoiding the Chaos Legions and having my Chaos Marine allies being a little more... low rent. In fact, I'm tempted to go for one of these chapters who featured in Codex: Eye Of Terror (or possible the Chaos Marine codex, I just got this image from Google Image Search). Basically none of these chapters aside from the Warp Ghosts have any sort of background which suits me fine since they'll just be there to offer a little extra hitting power.

The Extinction Angels appeal as a design since the bone trim will tie in with the infantry whilst the purple armour will make them stand out against the rest of the army.

First up, though, is to finish building the first five Khornate Scions and paint them up as a test unit. Whilst they'll naturally have red armour plate they will have black fatigues and bone trim so I can practice the methods I'll be applying to most of the rest of the army.

Friday 6 July 2018

The Comics Ramble: Batman #50 and spoilers

[The following is basically a massive rant about spoilers so be aware that if you have managed to avoid the massive fucking spoiler going around for Batman #50/Catwoman #1 and haven't read them yet do avoid this post because I can't vent about the thing and how it affected my reading without mentioning what the thing is.]

So I managed to avoid the Batman #50 spoiler until literally one hour before the package turned up on my doorstep. Ye gods, but I hate spoiler culture. It sucks. I despise the idea, now practically supported by the companies it harms, that telling people the big reveal long before the actual event somehow enhances the experience or encourages people to tune in / read / experience the thing.

Ugh... anyway...

What even was spoiling it meant to advertise? We knew the new Catwoman series was launching the same day and that is literally the only thing, other than the ongoing plot of Batman, that spins out of that story.

I mean, look what else came out this week: Man of Steel #6 and I am pretty sure that was allowed to stand on its own. That issue sets up Bendis' Superman and Action Comics as well as the new run of Supergirl and has one hell of a cliffhanger for whichever Superman series is going to handle the serial arson storyline Bendis has been setting up for the last six weeks.

But the very possibility that Bruce and Selina's marriage could go off as planned? Oh no, better spoil that just to confirm that the obvious, tragic ending everyone saw coming was not going to be subverted.

You monsters!

Let's face it: what else was anyone expecting? I admit I hoped for a happy ending, I thought that Tom King might have convinced DC editorial to let him do something brave and psychologically healthy for the Batman character given that he's gone deeper than pretty much anyone else into Bruce's trauma and how he copes with it. King, as it happens, responded to the leak or the spoiler or bad bit of advertising or whatever it was by saying this wasn't the end of the Bruce/Selina story he was telling.

Whether or not that's true Batman #50 is a great issue. As I've said before, King has probably the best grasp of single issue storytelling at DC today. The narration of this issue plays out two letters Bruce and Selina are writing each other to explain their feelings as the ceremony looms. Interestingly, once again King returns to that thing he keeps bringing about how Catwoman remembers their first meeting as the Batman: Year One version whilst Bruce remembers their first published meeting from 1940.

Given what's going on with Flash War and other hints here and there, this might be more than a cute nod.

I really do hope this isn't the end. The Bruce/Selina relationship has been pretty consistently the best part of this series for a while now.

Thursday 5 July 2018

Doctor Blu #1: Season 12 in Song and Story

Doctor Who's twelfth season is a funny one. Now, I get why it was chosen to be the first bluray season box set, the logic is sound: its Tom Baker, its his first season, it has a bunch of classic monsters in it including an absolutely iconic Dalek story. Its a good choice.

Its just an odd season.

To set out my stall a little: I'm of a generation that I got into Doctor Who after it was cancelled the but also before it came back as a magnificently successful revival. When I entered this fandom, and for a long time afterwards, Doctor Who was not a TV show. It was a series of video releases beholden to no logic of season or theme, released pretty much at random or when decent film prints became available for restoration. As such I've not really ever watched the classic series in any sort of order. I've tried once or twice to do one of those “everything in order” marathons but I don't have the patience. My best attempt got me as far as... The Keys of Marinus, I think? Maybe The Sensorites.

A season at a time, though? I think I can do that.

So here we are on bluray with Season Twelve, the first of Tom Baker's seven year run in the title role. Now, I've seen all these stories before, many times in the case of Ark In Space, but I've never watched them as a body of work.

So what are my impressions of the season before I watch it in order?

Well, like I said, its an odd beast.

The reason is simple: Season Twelve effectively has two creative teams. The production itself was largely handled by the new production team of Philip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes but the scripts were commissioned by outgoing producer/script editor team of Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks. The first story was even made by the old production team because the series had been banking a story between seasons for the last couple of years.

Bizarre to think in these days of obsessive brand management that a big relaunch with a new Doctor and a new creative team would wait four weeks for the old creative team to finish out their contracts but there you go. It might be the most extreme example of the problem but the whole structure of the season is like that: Letts and Dicks ideas, Hinchcliffe and Holmes execution. Three of the five stories in this season use old monsters, a well Hinchcliffe and Holmes would studiously avoid for the remaining two years they stayed on the programme. The nearest they come under their own steam is using the Master once and even then they basically create a new villain and slap a familiar name on him.

So Season Twelve basically represents the transition from the UNIT years to the body horror theme of Hinchcliffe and Holmes. In my memory its rough.

It has its highlights. If there's a Doctor Who story I've watched more than The Ark In Space... well, its probably City of Death but Ark is still one of my favourite go to stories when I just want a solid story to watch. I'm not one hundred percent convinced of the masterpiece status Genesis of the Daleks has in fandom but it is a really good story (and I am very interested in seeing what the cut down “TV movie” edit included on the bluray does for its pacing). Robot, whilst being very different from what follows, is a solid effort simply because its written by Terrance Dicks and able performances from the old UNIT crew to smooth the transition as Baker finds his feet.

That's the good. Then there are the problem children of the transition, the ones popular legend says Robert Holmes could not save: The Sontaran Experiment and Revenge of the Cybermen. Both stories are production experiments as Hinchcliffe and Holmes tried to make production cheaper so they could justify dropping six-parters. The Sontaran Experiment was a two-parter filmed entirely on location whilst Revenge was filmed on the same sets as The Ark In Space. The problem with production experiments like that they need great writers to make them work in the very tight parameters they're given. Here we have Bob Baker and Dave Martin, the crazy ideas men of the Pertwee era asked to make a tightly plotted two-parter that can only use physical effects, and, Gerry Davis in his last (and only solo) contribution to the series and, boy, you can see why.

And then there's Harry Sullivan.

I admit to being a little split on Harry Sullivan. I kind of like the character. He's a comedy idiot but Ian Marter always plays the part with conviction. Yes, even the giant clam incident. Standing next to the all-time dream team of Tom Baker and Lis Sladen, however, he can look superfluous to requirements. I wonder how he'll look to me when I see the lion's share of his stories in order.

Monday 2 July 2018

100 models complete, 100 models to do

I am a somewhat compulsive list maker and this year I've been keeping track of how many miniatures I've managed to paint. A few weeks ago I realised I was on the verge of finishing one hundred models in the first six months of this year. I was twenty-two models away and on Saturday, putting some grass on bases, I reached my target with a few hours to spare.
First up we have a trio of Raveners and I can finally make use of Hive Fleet Jormungandr's bespoke Stratagem to deploy infantry units underground with their burrowing creatures.
Next up are five Termagants, the first finished model from a job lot of very random smaller bioforms I received from eBay a while back. I hope I've managed to cover every single bit of the original owner's hideous neon green colour scheme but I keep noticing bits I've missed.
Twelve Purestrain Genestealers ready to combine with the eight I already have to become a horde of twenty vicious killing machines.

And, finally, taking me up to a nice, round one hundred are a Primus and Patriarch for my Genestealer Cults detachment.

So the plan from here...

Quite simply, I want to beat this total over the rest of the year. I got one hundred models finished in six months and I'd like to make it two hundred (at least) before the end of the year.