Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hobby Update: Spousal Perspectives, Death Company and More

I imagine that many men who play Warhammer or something like it have had something similar to the following conversation with their wives:

Wife:  I like that your army men are on the kitchen counter.  They're cute.

Me:  ...Um, they're the Death Company of the Blood Angels Chapter.

Wife:  They're still cute.
Can a unit with the Rage USR be cute?
Anyway, these past couple weeks have been good as far as painting progress.  Actually, quite good.  I managed to finish up the aforementioned Death Company.  I painted the entirety of three Banshees for some Daemons.  I airbrushed the first coat of green on a Coven Throne.  I finally finished remodelling my Defiler.  I primed a bunch of basic Chaos Space Marines.  Progress!

Of the ten models in the squad, one of them has been done for quite some time.  The remaining nine have sat with varying stages of colors finished.  At one point, all the actual Marines were finished, but the jump packs were still totally black.  Motivating yourself to bang out nine jump packs can be quite a task, but I managed to sit down and knock out three batches while watching football.

It's probably a little cliche, but I am feeling good about how they turned out.  OK, it's very cliche.  But once I slapped a layer of Dullcote on them, they lost a lot of the shiny black gloss color that tends to bleed through because of the crappy primer I use.  Prior to that, I was pretty nervous.  The varnish does tend to even things out, but it's definitely never a matte finish. So, happy surprises.  The other reason I like these guys is they include my first attempt at doing lots of highlighting.  In some cases, I may have gone a little overboard, but the orange really pops coming off the red, and the dark gray looks really good on the black armor without making them look like they're supposed to be gray.

Some of you who tend to focus on the play side of things may be wondering about the squad and its loadout of weapons.  Technically, Death Company can't take a meltagun, nor do they have a unit champion option, and seriously, where the heck are the power weapons?  Well, the squad was put together during fifth edition, when Allies weren't a thing.  This unit was intended to be a Skyclaw squad originally, but with the advent of sixth edition, I reached a point where I could conceivably include them as Death Company.  I'd love to do that.  What I'd really love to do is add five more dudes with power weapons and Infernus Pistols so I can do both, but we'll see what comes.

I plan on using them as Flamers.
Trying to prove that I can paint colors other than just red, I also painted a trio of Banshees for my Fear Daemons army.  My original intention was to try to do these girls in their entirety with an airbrush, or as close as possible to it.  That didn't happen.  I went all paintbrush.  Unfortunately, I had some serious issues with getting any kind of paint flow through the airbrush.  Turns out, I tried a little too hard to keep the pots clean and created some Q-tip blockage.  Whoops.  So I got that fixed, but not in time to work on these ones.

The models were originally from the Coven Throne kit.  I clipped off the tails after applying the paint, so I'd have something extra to grasp while I painted.  It was a pretty straightforward process.  The models got multiple layers of the same shades of green that I've used on some previous monsters, with lots of dark greens blending into much yellower versions. I've added some of the lighter colors towards the top of the models, which is a departure from the way I painted their big brother, the Nightbringer.  I tried to make those lighter colors more prevalent, but I think the extra layers could do with some more glazing to try to smooth it out.  I also might try to matte up the black some.

Briefly, I'd also like to touch on my Defiler.  Not in a dirty way.  A few weeks ago, I went a little nuts and ripped off all the legs and arms, plus I pulled the torso(?) from the chassis(?).  I'm not sure what to call what on a daemon engine.  Then I went even further off the deep end, magnetizing just about everything.  The result?  A defiler that was more transportable since I could take it apart and put it in a Rhino slot in my carry case, plus I could also easily represent the vehicle being immobilized, destroyed, or losing weaponry.  Success!  Except that the weight of the model was too great, so the Defiler just slid down to its base as the magnets would rotate.  Failure!  Because of that, I pretty much just left the thing at home.

Now he's a walker, instead of a sitter
After some practical thought about problem, I decided to go as simple as possible and glued some ordinary sprue to the Defiler's ball and socket joints.  This prevents the magnets from rotating, holding the legs in an appropriate pose.  It doesn't look pretty right now, nor will it when it is finished, but there's enough going on that I don't think it'll matter if I stick to dark colors in those sections.  Plus I'd much rather have a functional model at this point.

Hobby Goals
-Airbrush the Coven Throne by Wednesday
-Mechrite Red on the Chaos Marines by Saturday
-Silver on the Possessed by Sunday

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tournament Recap

This weekend, two friends and I ran a tournament at the local shop.  We were blessed to have a long lead time and a lot of publicity going in, based mostly on the fact that the owner of the store put up a pretty substantial sum for the grand prize.  You can find an independent review of the tourney here.

Overall, things went extremely well.  We had a full house of 24 people, even with a $20 entry fee.  Between that, the grand prize, and some prize support donated by some sponsors, our total prize pool broke a thousand dollars.  That allowed us to put out some substantial awards, beyond just Best General/Painted, to the point where ten different people got to walk away with something to show for their efforts.  Of course, the downside to having a full house turns out to be that the game store just barely has the space to support twelve tables.  We were pretty much bumping back sides for most of the day.

The missions we ran were a variation of standard book missions.  We ran, in order, Big Guns Never Tire, The Scouring, and The Emperor's Will, all with slight variations.  Every mission included a Kill Point component added in, however, there was a cap to the number of points available depending on the mission.  Big Guns was fixed at four objectives.  Beyond that, it was fairly straightforward.  The second mission, The Scouring, saw more changes implemented.  Rather than random values, we went for a pair of four pointers, with four more two pointers.  That fixed my biggest gripe with the design of the mission. Finally, for The Emperor's Will, we doubled the value of the objectives.

This all seemed fairly simple to us, however, we ran into a pretty common problem for TO's.  No one read the $%&# missions.  Somehow, despite me explaining it to what felt like every table in the first round, I was still explaining how to score the mission in the third.  I have been in tournaments where the mission packet gives a whole page of instructions to a single mission.  In this case, there was never more than a paragraph.  So, as always, simpler is always better for players.  The one thing that keeps getting pounded into my head from tournament to tournament is that most people won't take the extra time to digest the words you write down.  Make it as simple as possible.

It's always interesting to look at a tournament and try to understand why people chose to take certain things like armies, units, etc... According to the web, only certain things are "good."  Yet, I can't remember a single codex being extremely well represented.  Looking back at my notes, there still isn't anything that makes an impression.  There are a dash of Space Marines, a pair of Necrons, some Imperial Guard.  The IG also showed up as allies in a number of forces, but not in more than two or three armies.  Really, the only thing that was common was the Aegis Defense Line, which was pretty much ubiquitous as a fixture throughout the top tables.

The armies that ended up on tables included Sisters of Battle, which ended up taking Best General, plus Chaos Marines and Space Marines, all of which went undefeated.  On those very same tables were Black Templars, Space Wolves, and Tyranids.  So, not much of a consistent thread there.  I chalk that up to a couple things.  First, a high percentage of the guys were just locals who showed up with their favorite things.  Second, the top players were top players.  Apparently, we had four of the top ten players in the country as per one of the national rankings sites.  A lot of them really seemed to want to win with something that would be a challenge, which led to armies that I would consider unique.

The Sisters absolutely brought the thunder, tabling all three of their opponents.  It turns out rending Heavy Bolters are nasty.  Who knew?   The Black Templars player ended up taking Best Overall.  Despite the one loss, he scored a ton of battle points, had the second highest paint score, and maxed out his sportsmanship.  He ended up with a score just two-tenths of a point higher overall then the undefeated Space Marines player.  Adding in the results after the final round was about as crazy as Excel can get. 

Overall, it was a great tournament.  Everybody had mostly good things to say, and I think everyone had a good time.  I know I did and would love to continue running tournaments given the chance.

Friday, November 16, 2012

League Night: We're Talkin' 'bout Playoffs

Iron Warriors
Abstract:  Summarizing the last five weeks of time I've been too lazy to post about the league and using it as an excuse to run pictures of the "Best Painted" entries, finished off by my thoughts of the last nine weeks.

An absence from the game store became prolonged due to a hurricane.  I came back to find that the league had kind of taken care of itself.  Mostly. 

...and Champion
I knew I had a vacation coming up, so I made arrangements to have scores posted on the store's forums.  That turned out to be a great move, because the scoresheet gnomes wandered off with them in the meantime.  Between those results and what I pieced together from the few recorded games I found for the extra third week, I deduced that the final standings for the top two tables looked something like this:

Group A
*Blood Angels
Kustom Dakkajet
Chaos Space Marines

Group B
*Imperial Guard
Grey Knights

The lower two tables did not exactly keep up with their games, which doesn't really surprise me as it was pretty common knowledge that they were out of the running for the league title (which is something I think I'll talk about in the next league post).  Moving on from that point, in an effort to keep folks interested and coming until the next start up, we began running increasingly narrative driven games for anyone not in the playoffs.  These were a big hit and led to cries for more.

My Word Bearers
The initial random draw produced groups that saw a few surprise contenders advance.  In particular, the 'Nids player sought me out and mentioned that after three straight games of getting roflstomped, he was ready to return to the kiddy table for a while.  The real contenders really separated themselves at this stage, and while some folks came up with surprise L's, they were mostly after the dust had settled and the cream of the crop had secured advancement to the next stage.  That stage, being the single elimination playoffs type of deal, had fixtures that looked a little something like this:

Necrons vs. Imperial Guard
Tau vs. Blood Angels

Red Orks Biker
At this point, scenarios became random again, and ended up having a hand in who would eventually advance.  The heavily static Guard played Crusade against the hyper resilient Necrons.  In a game with three objectives, the 'Crons got two of them, and made no mistakes.  He refused a flank, got into the lines fast enough, and swept away his competition.  Meanwhile, the Blood Angels and Tau played Purge the Alien.  All those rail rifles led to easy light vehicle punches and the BA player got held off just long enough to secure an 13-7 victory for the Tau.  Between the Drop Pods and the Razorbacks there were just too many easy targets for that much strength 10.

Interestingly, this set up the first rematch of the league, as the Tau and Necron player both came out of the same initial group.  I think that speaks to how strong the group was, as even the bottom two players were pretty solid.  After way too many jokes about how nervous they were about playing for all the hyperbolic marbles, they rolled up the straightforward "Emperor's Will" scenario.  The Tau successfully shot everything to death except the Wraiths.  The Wraiths then ate all the Tau.    Thus ended the first league.

Frankly, I'm kind of glad.  I know I initially wrote about how excited I was.  In retrospect, I really think I got the format wrong.  Like, REALLY, wrong.  As much as it appeals to me, as much as it works cleanly and efficiently, as much as it is a strong system, it is just plain wrong for this store.  Other stores may have the culture to do it and enjoy it, but the guys here want the freedom to play whomever they darn well please.  If there is a structured way to determine who won the whole thing, that's great, as long as it is very simple and doesn't get in the way of pitching the dice.  So that creates the challenge.  Can I get creative and be versatile in creating a whole new format that appeals to this kind of player?  I've got two weeks to figure that out.