Painting Progress: week 4

Hey everybody!
It’s the fourth week of my painting progress, and I thought I’d do something a little bit extra to mark the end of the first month as well – let’s take a look at what I’ve been up to!

Hobby Progress 4

So there hasn’t been an awful lot of movement on the painting front this week either – no surprise, given the essay troubles I’ve had all week! But I’m a little saddened that I seem to have been in a steady decline since the first one of these blogs, which seemed to be really productive! Hopefully that will return now that things have somewhat calmed down with the degree, however.

So the Deathwing Venerable Dreadnought has really come along nicely – he’s been pretty much the only model I’ve been focused on for the week. Last week had seen the windows in the sarcophagus there tinted with Coelia greenshade, and that was about it. This week has seen a myriad of details blocked in and, in parts, finished, too! First of all, the golden trim has been done in Balthasar gold – I’m actually happy with this exactly as it stands, so don’t plan to paint it any more from there. Next, the purity seals have been done in Screamer pink for the wax and Celestra grey for the paper, the latter then tinted with Agrax earthshade. I’m going to put some highlights on the wax, but otherwise they’re also done. Also in Celestra grey was the Dark Angel icon on the top, shaded with Nuln oil and just requiring a drybrush to finish the stone look. The metal bits on both arms were then done in Leadbelcher and washed in Nuln oil, and I’m currently at something of a loss as to how to finish the flamer, but anyway. I’ve also painted some of the tubing in Abaddon black. The plasma gun has got a Balthasar gold barrel, Khorne red casing, and the coils themselves were done in White Scar and layered with a really watered-down Temple Guard blue, much like I’d done two weeks ago for my not-Kurtha Sedd. Not sure if it needs some more yet, but for now, I’m leaving it.

Finally, I’ve painted the base in Martian Ironearth, a technical paint released about a year ago to coincide with the Mechanicum releases. It’s a red version of Agrellan Earth, and dries with that mud-caked appearance that looks pretty cool. I’ve already decided to paint my Ultramarines’ bases with Agrellan Earth, thinking the dull tan colour will complement the blue of the armour, so thought it perfect that a red base will do the same for the cream armour of the Deathwing, while maintaining the cracked effect on the base for my whole Space Marines forces. I think it looks great, but want to go back and pick out some of the details that are on these amazing dreadnought bases – the shell casings, and the skull that I had no idea was actually there until I painted it!

All in all, the dreadnought is well on the way to completion – hopefully next week will see the finished product!

Hobby Progress 4

The only other thing I’ve been up to this week has been some small details on these Assault Marines. I think I’ve mentioned these chaps before of course, but they’re very slowly coming together as my fourth company! The aquilas had been painted gold before Christmas, but we’ve not got the jump pack straps painted black, and the sergeant has his red helmet, so they’re starting to feel closer to being “done” than not, too. These were the very first space marine models I’d built, before the benefit of having read the codex, so I built them up to look awesome, not to be playable – I’ve since bought two more boxes of this old-style assault squad (hooray for ebay!) in order to make up enough that they water down some of the more insane load-outs.

Which brings me on to the second part of this!

Hobby Progress 4

I’ve been trying to go easy on buying models for a while now, particularly because I’m trying to stick to the new year resolution of being more responsible with money. However, I lose all sense of self-control whenever I walk into a Games Workshop store, and just want all the plastic. So I’ve been trying to hold back, but obviously haven’t managed to do so entirely. Every month, I’m therefore going to just take stock of what I have bought and see if I’ve actually done anything with it – not through any desire to shame myself or anything, but more because I just want the data. I’m a stats-guy in real life, so this kind of thing appeals to me.

So, I bought five kits in January, as you can see above. Of those, three haven’t even been touched – the cellophane has been removed, and that’s where it ends! However, I’ve built up three Electro Priests and five Dwarf Hammerers, the latter have also been painted, and only require basing before they’re done. So there’s something to be said for progress there!

I’m not aware of anything coming on the horizon that I really want, though since the Deathlords faction have made it into Age of Sigmar, I’m thinking I want to get myself a Mortarch. I actually bought that kit when it was released, then didn’t get to do anything with it for so long that I eventually sold it on ebay. It would be nice to get one however, especially now that I’m getting to play Age of Sigmar. So we’ll see about that. But the rumours that point to the Wulfen Space Wolves returning in plastic have no real interest for me, aside from the campaign book that is due alongside them. So I’m hoping that February will be a quiet month that will allow me to get on with just building and painting what I have! But I suppose we’ll see whether that holds true for me in four weeks’ time!

All in all, January has been a fairly productive month. I’ve not actually finished anything, but I have managed to progress quite a few models that had otherwise been languishing since well before Christmas!

Ah, Saturday!

Well folks, thank goodness last week is over!

A lot of junk conspired against me last week, and by about mid-week I was really feeling like the stars had aligned to just mess everything up. Didn’t help that I had an essay due for the OU degree that I’m currently doing, but had fallen behind on the course work. Catching up on three weeks’ work in one day – for the final “year” of the course, at that – was probably not the best idea. I managed to turn out a reasonable essay, I think, though of course it’s in the hands of the tutor right now, so we’ll see in a couple of weeks how good it was!

I’ve given myself this weekend off to try and recover, as I feel it’s important to try to take care of myself in this regard – something that I don’t always do, which really makes everything just bad. I find myself all too easily becoming increasingly less productive when I force myself to do things, rather than just doing whatever happens to interest me at the time. It’s interesting, of course, because working full time while also studying part time, and trying to maintain some kind of life around the two, does require some level of dedication and organisation. But I’ve noticed more and more that, if I try to study after a long day at work, or a particularly crappy day there, I get so little done I might as well have not bothered. So I’m becoming more lenient with myself, while also maintaining a degree of organisation and discipline. Which sounds like an oxymoron, but it kinda worked – until I fell behind too far because of the crisis with a leaking radiator! In the main, however, I’m not going to beat myself up if I get in from work and don’t immediately start reading Ovid’s Metamorphoses

So anyway, I’ve allowed myself this weekend off, yet I’m feeling distinctly green around the gills for some reason. Maybe those stars are still in alignment for bad…! It should have been a really great day as well, because I was meeting up with a friend for lunch in Chester before going off to wish a colleague well in her new endeavours. Sadly, halfway through lunch I really began to decline, so have come home and am now feeling distinctly sorry for myself!

Chester is, of course, where my local Games Workshop is, so I popped in there on the way to lunch, and picked up the Fyreslayers battle tome, as well as pre-ordering the next book in the Realmgate Wars series, The Balance of Power!

Warhammer Age of Sigmar Realm Gate Wars Balance of Power

If you don’t remember, Age of Sigmar has a curious sort of distribution model for its books, whereby the actual story advances through these scenario books, for want of a better description. The first, Quest for Ghal Maraz, was a really excellent book that featured a collection of stories, battle plans, war scrolls and painting guides in something akin to the old childrens’ annuals that we all enjoyed if we grew up in the 80s and early 90s.

Regrettably, I’ve yet to really catch up with the story of Age of Sigmar, having been distracted by first catching up with The End Times novels, then discovering Horus Heresy! Soon…

The website also has a bunch of miniatures in a kind of end-of-line bin, including the Skaven and Beastmen battalion boxes. Rumours before Christmas pointed to the Beastmen being dumped, and this would appear to support that! Following my game of Age of Sigmar at the beginning of the month against such an army, I’ve been interested in getting some of these guys, and I’m beginning to think I might invest for the future! We’ll see.

In addition to being responsible with myself generally, I’ve been trying to lose some weight for the past three weeks – cliche, of course, what with it being new year and all that, but nevertheless it’s something that is definitely warranted! I discovered myfitnesspal early on in January, and have been almost obsessively cataloguing my food intake since, making sure I don’t overeat on stuff, and I’m pleased to say that, over this last three weeks, I’ve lost 10lb! So that’s rather marvellous. It’s also been pretty easy, as I’m still eating pretty much what I want, just not as much. I’m also trying to exercise more, and have been doing a lot of walking, so it’s really great to have seen such an improvement with comparatively little changes to my actual day-to-day life.

2016 has so far seen a bit of a general shift towards looking after myself more in this regard, and hopefully it will carry on!

New Forgeworld goodness!

Well, damn and blast! In December, I’d spent nearly £100 at Forge World in order to get one of those free shipping vouchers, thinking by the time I used it, the Legion army books would be back in stock. Well, I waited too long to use it – I eventually made my order yesterday, when only the Crusade Army List was in stock! Feeling a little deflated, I nevertheless bought it, along with a set of MkIV Despoiler Squad, and the Space Marine character conversion pack, specifically to get the prosthetic leg, which I think will look cool (I’ve also been reading The Flight of the Eisenstein, so yeah). I’m actually really intrigued by all the different Legion stuff available from Forge World, not least because I have something of a thriving 30k community at my local store.

Following the GW birthday bash at the beginning of January, Forge World had previewed some of their upcoming releases, among which were the Alpha Legion Headhunter upgrades. I really liked the look of these, and having decided to paint my Betrayal at Calth stuff as Alpha Legion, the stars had aligned, really. While I was hoping I could use the voucher on these, I’d pretty much given up and just used it. Then today, had an email with this all over it:

Forge World Alpha Legion Headhunter Kill Team

Gah!

I’m actually planning to go back to Warhammer World at some point this year, so I suppose I’ll wait until then and make an order for delivery while I’m there. That’ll give me something to aim for later in the year, at least – because after all, I think I have more than enough little plastic men to be seeing me through!

But damn, those models look good!

Teen Titans

It’s Tuesday, which can only mean one thing – it’s game day! Today it’s the turn of another expansion to the DC deck-building game – it’s time for Teen Titans!

DC Teen Titans

This expansion came out at the end of last year, shortly before the third Crossover Pack, Legion of Super Heroes, so I’ll be taking these games together. Let’s do this!

I’ve already covered several of the previous incarnations of the DC deck-building game, and Teen Titans isn’t all that different. This is the fourth “base game”, in effect, coming with all of the basic cards you need to play the deck-building game, of which I must admit, I haven’t always been that much of a fan, but playing this one, I think I’m getting to a place where I can appreciate the theme that comes through from having the Punch, Kick, Weakness and Vulnerability cards have set-specific art. Plus, having a set of boxes like this on the shelf is nice!

DC Teen Titans

Teen Titans brings, unsurprisingly, the Teen Titans to the game, along with another Starfire (who originally appeared as the promo hero in Heroes Unite), who I guess is more thematically fitting here. There are some nice abilities that are somewhat similar to the grown-up versions of these superheroes, such as Superboy’s affinity for super powers, Kid Flash and drawing cards, etc. That was kinda nice. Overall, there is a sense of increased player interactivity, which is really nice – something that was missing from the base game, in my opinion.

However, there’s one really big change to the rules, however: Ongoing!

DC Teen Titans

This basically allows you to have cards out in front of you – cards other than Locations, that is – and plan something of a strategy there. Of course, the Ongoing cards aren’t exactly game-breaking in and of themselves, as they predominantly allow you to discard them to re-draw in the hope of getting something better from your deck. Naturally, there are synergies among the other main deck cards, such as the above Cybernetic Enhancement that gives you +1 Power for each Ongoing card out. It’s certainly an interesting mechanic, anyway, and just underwhelming enough that it isn’t entirely broken. It would be interesting to see what happens with it next, if anything. It’s a little unfortunate that these things tend to be just one-box wonders, but who knows what Crisis Pack 4 will bring?

Onwards!

DC Teen Titans

Continuing with the teenage-superhero theme, Cryptozoic also released the third Crossover Pack last month, Legion of Super-Heroes! The time-travelling team from the 31st century come to the DC deck-building game along with fourteen main-deck cards, and their own set of eight super-villains. And of course, their own special mechanic: Time Travel!

DC Teen Titans

I’m not going to lie, I actually got pretty confused by this rule. Let me explain.

Time Travel lets you discard a card from your hand, and play a card from the main deck that has the Time Travel special rule as if it were in your hand. You can’t buy the card that turn, but you can certainly use it. The super heroes all have some kind of interaction with this, such as Lightning Lad, above, who gives any card in the line-up Time Travel if you play a villain card as your first play. Now, that part is fair enough, right? However, the super-villains really just confused me. None of them have First Appearance – Attack abilities, but instead are arrayed from lowest-cost to highest-cost. Each of them also has a Time Travel ability that, I guess, allows you to use their Attack ability if you want to mess with your opponents without defeating them. But I don’t quite see why you would want to do that, because the object of the game is to defeat the super-villains. Hm.

These two are really nice and solid additions to the line of DC deck-building game stuff, and if you have enjoyed any of that stuff already released, you should definitely look into getting these, also. Fans of either superhero group will obviously be insta-attracted to them, and probably have them already, but either way, definitely worth a look!

Check out my other DC blogs:
DC deck-building game & Heroes Unite
Crisis Pack One
Forever Evil

Painting Progress: week 3

Hey everybody!
It’s the third blog of my painting progress series, and this week sees the trend of much smaller updates continue, unfortunately! Let’s take a look:

Hobby Progress 3

Yep, this is pretty much it! After picking up the Deathwing kits in the Black Friday deal, along with Dark Vengeance and some more bits, I spent a few hours over the Christmas period with these guys, but didn’t really get passed the Zandri dust basecoats. Well, that has finally been changing the last couple of weeks, as I’ve gotten them all painted in Ushabti bone, shaded with Seraphim sepia, and then drybrushed back with Ushabti bone. Drybrushing space marines does seem a little odd, perhaps, as the smooth armour panels perhaps beg for a different approach, but I think it works with these chaps in particular as it allows a buildup of the bone colour over the sepia that almost hints at a blend, but not quite. You can’t really see it on the picture above, sadly, but in the flesh, the do look pretty decent, even if I do say so myself!

Hobby Progress 3

The Venerable Dreadnought is a particular pride for me. I’d painted this guy up long before Christmas, using the above recipe, as well as a Leadbelcher/Abaddon Black mix for the metalwork, but I’d not had any idea what to do after the sepia shade had been applied, because that armour is even more smooth than the terminators’ – all those flat panels, eek! However, using almost an overbrushing, polishing action with the drybrushing, it has brought that bone colour back while leaving the hint of sepia beneath for depth. Again, the picture doesn’t really do it justice. I’ve also drybrushed the metal with Necron compound, and got really excited last night when I used Coelia greenshade to paint the “windows” on the sarcophagus. I think the “official” scheme for these uses Nihilakh oxide, but I had the idea of going for the almost bottle-green look to try and tie it into the green aquilas the terminators will have, and generally bring out more of a Dark Angels feel. I’m particularly pleased that my idea for leaving splotches in the shade as it dried has given the impression of old, less-than-perfect glass. Well, I think it has, at least. So overall, I’m pleased with this!

I think the dreadnought is deceptive in how much effort it will take to complete. Realistically, there’s just the plasma gun, the flamer, and then the golden trim and purity seals – that shouldn’t really take all that long to do. I think having done the glass, I can really begin to see the end in sight for this guy!

Hobby Progress 3

The only other thing I’ve done, hobby-wise, is build up three Electro Priests. I mentioned these in my best models of 2015 blog, and managed to get some with a bit of a discount a couple of weeks ago. My plan for these is to have some kind of charcoal-grey skintone, suggesting the idea of the priest being used up by the motive force or whatever, and then the robes being a brighter yellow colour. Such is the plan, anyway! I’m not about to go for another 40k army, however, but just want these guys as allies for my space marines. Whether I get a second box to build Corpuscarii priests as well will remain to be seen, however.

But that’s it for now, sadly! Most of this past week has been taken up with me worrying about an essay I have due next Thursday – though I only actually got round to starting said essay yesterday, having spent most of the week catching up with the course work itself. I blame Christmas. Anyway, it’s due Thursday, so I’m hoping that will mean I will have plenty of time to get more progress in ready for next week’s update!

The Force Awakens (novel review)

"Ah good, new acquisitions…" #StarWars

A post shared by Mark (@marrrkusss) on

Hey everybody,
So last month, episode VII was released to worldwide acclaim, and at the time of this writing, it’s the third highest-grossing film of all time. I’ve already looked at the film on release day, and you can read that blog here. So, what about the novelization?

Well, it’s pretty much the film – at least, the film as I remember it. It’s been over a month since I saw the movie, so I may have misremembered or outright forgotten some bits, but in a film series where the novelizations often go above-and-beyond to create a worthwhile story in and of themselves, this one is basically the screenplay in prose. That’s not a bad thing, obviously, but it certainly impacts on the necessity of having the novel – at least, from my standpoint. Now, I didn’t follow any of the spoilers for TFA, and in fact it’s a bit weird because I don’t feel the same kind of attachment to it as I have to previous installments, so I don’t know if there were chunks of deleted scenes that could have been incorporated. I’ll buy the DVD and be able to see if all of this is still correct with a second watching, but overall I thought it was a bit of a shame.

I won’t recount the story here, because I’ve done so in the film blog. So let’s take a look at this bad boy. First of all, I’m not an Alan Dean Foster fan. I find his prose too dense – too “hard science fiction-y” for me. I also found this particular book to be often quite dispassionate – particularly in the climactic scene with Han Solo and Kylo Ren. I’ve had the feeling that he was brought in to write this purely for more fan-nostalgia-service. Because ultimately, so much of episode VII is about this.

As I said, the book is basically a straight-novelization of the screenplay. A lot of what I discussed in the film blog applies here, therefore, including all of those maddening details about the lack of history and substance. The one significant scene that was added, that I remember, is that showing Poe Dameron survive the TIE-fighter crash and escape Jakku. Which is kinda crucial to the later storyline, of course!

Star Wars fans are often drawn to the minutiae of a story, and in this respect, I’m no exception. Throughout my reading of the novel, I found myself wanting to know more about the minor characters, and see more of the more extraneous stuff. The New Republic is just as frustratingly absent here as it is in the film, though Foster does manage to create more of an impact for the destruction of the Hosnian system by showing us Leia sending her ambassador Korr Sella to the Republic. Even so, it’s maddening to have such little information on the lay of the galactic land for most of this story! I’d been hoping that the novel would expound upon the film, but sadly not. The Visual Dictionary apparently has a lot more details fleshed out, so I’ll be checking that out soon. However, I hope the next book in this Aftermath trilogy – Life Debt – begins to tell an actual story for bridging the gap, because rather than supporting the tale, the lack of history here is actively hurting the storyline, in my opinion.

There we have it, anyway!

More Fyreslayers!

It’s week three of the new Fyreslayers release, and this week sees the big Magmadroth kit released, along with the Battletome and a collection of short stories telling the tales of the new Slayers in the Age of Sigmar.

IMAG4497

It’s a really exciting release day, for sure – that Magmadroth has had me all a quiver since the first pictures emerged over new year! Unfortunately, I’ve spent most of this month replacing water-damaged furniture following a leaky radiator, so have only picked up the Magmadroth itself. The battletome will have to wait for next weekend…

But what a kit this is! I haven’t actually built it yet, but in looking over the model, I have to say that I’m really impressed. It actually seems smaller than I was expecting, though that may change upon assembly. However, the most surprising thing, to me, was that the instruction booklet for how to assemble it not only has the full rules for the model(s), but also comes in full-colour and features a painting guide! Okay, so it’s not like the usual White Dwarf stuff, but merely a photograph with arrows pointing to specific bits, and a list of the colours and techniques used to achieve that look. I have to say, I’m really impressed with this bad boy. Hopefully we’ll see similar things for the big centrepiece models in the future, as well!

Age of Sigmar Fyreslayers

Next week would appear to be the final weekend in the Fyreslayer release window, though not for Age of Sigmar as a whole…

First up, we get two more heroes for the new faction, the Battlesmith (standard bearer) and Grimwrath Berzerker (company champion). The latter has some crazy rules whereby he never quite dies immediately, but the former has a rule that I think could be hilarious in practice. He’s a kind of bard as well as a standard bearer, and one of the things he can do is provide an inspirational presence to those duardin around him – by reciting tales of the ancestors. You just know I’ll be getting this model and, when I activate this ability, will start intoning some hilariously bad story from the long, long ago…!

Really looking forward to getting this force together as allies for my Stormcasts!

Also this week, we see a new Battletome for the Chaos Grand Alliance – it looks like a collection of all of the warscrolls that are currently freely available online for the existing Chaos models, though with background and new formations – though I could be wrong, and some scrolls could be altered? Anyway, for £20, it looks like it might be worth picking up – I do love some of the peripheral Chaos models like beastmen and dragon ogres, so I may well snag a copy…

The White Dwarf hint has something about Slaves to Darkness, so I’m guessing we’ll be seeing more Chaos stuff coming, then all rumours are pointing to a return to 40k the week after with Space Wolves, so at least February might be a little easier on my wallet!

There hasn’t been much time for painting this week sadly, due to degree commitments, but look for my painting update tomorrow regardless, with at least a smattering of Deathwing!