Hobby Progress, week 34

Hey everybody!
It’s been another pretty exciting week for hobby progress, which is something I haven’t said often enough lately!! Let’s start with the best:

Hobby Progress 34

That’s right, it’s more Deathwatch! After last week‘s armour business, I’ve now done a lot of the details over the week, starting with the silver arms, but then I’d decided I wanted to just focus on the chaplain out at the front there. I based all of the gold barding and details with Retributor Armour, which I’m not the biggest fan of where my Stormcast Eternals are concerned, but with the black here, I have to say, it looks incredible! The gold has then been shaded with Reikland Fleshshade, and a very light coat – almost an overbrush, if I’m honest – with Auric Armour Gold. I think it look amazing, anyway!

Like I said, I was intending to work on just the chaplain model, mainly because I found myself kinda intimidated by the level of detail on these guys, and I was finding it difficult to find a starting place. As it turned out, I’ve had some really bad trouble sleeping this week, so one night I painted all of the gold details on the other six models I’ve somehow chosen to work on (of the ten I currently have built), and have since done all of the silver arms and three guns. There are clearly a lot more details to work my way through, and I have missed a few gold details that will need to be done, but for now, I really love the look of these guys!

I’ve also done the leather pouches (and one of the Ultramarine guys has some pteruges hanging at his waist) with Rhinox Hide, Agrax Earthshade, and Doombull Brown. I’ve mainly been following the GW scheme for these guys, anyway, though I’m sure that, as I make my way through the rest of the details, I’ll be doing my own thing on some of them!

Returning to the chaplain, I’ve also painted his head with essentially a drybrush of Doombull Brown, focusing it around the face for a lighter colour, and I think the effect really looks great. It still needs some more work, but I like it – in painting the armour, I’d gotten some Eshin Grey on his face, which threw it into a really nice relief that eventually made me want to paint him as a black guy. Aside from the fact I feel there isn’t enough ethnic diversity among GW models, it’s also allowed me to work on my brush control as I drybrushed and overbrushed in a very confined space.

Indeed, these Deathwatch marines have been quite the exercise in improving my drybrushing techniques. I’d tried to edge highlight the armour and it didn’t work out on the first couple of miniatures, so I’d used drybrushing there to focus it on the angles, and have basically continued in this vein, trying to really focus my technique and whatnot. While it may or may not be evident from the photo above, I do feel that my technique has improved tremendously, as I’m not just all about trying to get colour onto models anymore, but really taking care over them. I think the fact that black armour will pretty much show any mistakes I make has a role to play here, also…!

So what else has made this an exciting week?

I’ve been building more models, first of all getting the rest of the Blood Angels Death Company models finished. In all honesty, if I’d planned it better I would have done these a few weeks ago, and essentially used them to practice painting black armour, but never mind. They look fantastic, and I’m looking forward to getting round to them. The kit is also replete with Blood Angels stuff, as well as some stuff I think I could use on other things, so stay tuned for some kit-bashing to come from this!

I mentioned a couple of weeks back that I was going to enter Armies on Parade this year, and will be doing so with my Stormcast Eternals. Well, I thought I’ll do at least a few more miniatures for the board, so have finally built up the Knight Heraldor! In addition, I had a box of Liberators that I’d weirdly built one of and left the other four, so have gone for the sword-and-shield guys. I’ve already got one built like this, so thought I’d best make a full squad, but I’m not really relishing the idea of painting four more Sigmarite shields, as the raised boss is not my favourite thing to do! Still, they can look really great when they’re finished, so we’ll see. It’s about six weeks until Parade Day, so hopefully I can get these guys done – my Lions of Sigmar scheme is actually pretty straightforward, when it comes down to it, anyway.

Finally, I’ve stipped the paint from the three Electro Priests that I started at the beginning of the year. I’d primed three with Corax White, and it really didn’t turn out well for me, going on the models all powdery and stuff. I’d tried to paint them anyway, ignoring the cardinal rule of miniatures painting (making sure the model surface is good enough to paint on), and it was really horrible. After having stripped the Vanguard Veterans last week, I threw these three into dettol, along with one of the Necropolis Knight heads, those models also suffering from a bad undercoat, and this time left them overnight. They’ve turned out quite grey, as if the primer hasn’t quite come off, but the surface is smooth now so I’ve accomplished the objective, I feel!

All of the recent builds have been primed this afternoon, so they’re ready for some paint now – again, as mentioned last week, I prime models in my hallway and I think leaving them in the area allows all of the particles in the air to settle on the wet primer, not helping the situation at all. I also mentioned it to the manager at my local GW store, and he suggested holding the can closer to the miniature – I’d been holding it almost two feet away, as I’d heard holding it too close can obscure details etc. So I’ve tried both a closer priming, and moving the models to dry, and I do believe that has done the job for me! Everything I’ve primed now looks pretty great, so that’s going to be really useful in the coming weeks and months as I move on to painting this stuff!

Finally, I’ve spent the afternoon building up more Necron Immortals, while listening to the Tabletop Minions live show that Adam does every other Sunday, and that was really great. If you guys don’t already, I highly recommend checking out that channel and subscribing, as he has a lot of awesome, top-notch content! In fact, in these week’s live show, I even get mentioned! Check it out!

In the coming week, I’m looking to get at least some of these Deathwatch chaps finished, with the chapter insignia and other remaining bits finished, and perhaps get the Stormcast Eternals base-coated, if nothing else. Since I worked out how to use those flat brushes from GW, I’ve been feeling much happier about painting guys in general. I mean, there can be something quite intimidating about having a lot of guys that you need to paint with one colour but the brushes you have aren’t exactly huge. So that’s cool. I’m going to try to focus like this more in the weeks to come, and see if it helps with getting stuff actually finished. I did have success when I was only working on the small numbers of Alpha Legion marines, but have a lot more stuff built up and primed, so we’re really getting into intimidating-territory now!

The Beast Arises!

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Sunday evening is going pretty great!

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In a change to my original intentions of getting back to the Powder Mage trilogy, I decided to read the first book in The Beast Arises series at the weekend, as I’d heard it was a quick read, so thought it’d be good to see what it was all about before I then went in for the larger tome. I have to say, I thought it was pretty great!

The story is relatively straightforward, dealing with the Imperial Fists prosecuting a war against the xenos race labelled “Chromes”, after their shiny exoskeleton, on the planet of Ardamantua. It is the 32nd millennium, and while the Horus Heresy is in the past, its echoes continue to be felt. This is something I really liked about the book, actually – despite having only read nine of the books in the chronologically earlier series so far (though, obviously, knowing how it all ends!), I thought it was really nice to see all the little nods to that era. Something I particularly liked was how it feels almost-mythical, when Primarchs led their Legions into battle, and the like.

The plot on Ardamantua has a lot of general battle scenes, and while I’m not generally a fan of the Imperial Fists, I still thought they were generally quite interesting. For the first half of the novel, though, I found the situation on Terra much more interesting, as we see the political manoeuvrings of the High Council and the like. I’m a sucker for political stuff though, so it was kinda expected!

There’s a weird kind of disconnect roughly in the middle, where the Council agrees to dispatch a relief force of Imperial Fists to the planet, emptying the Imperial Palace of the honoured sons of Dorn, and they arrive six weeks later, where the planet is massively changed. Completely by chance, I put it down at this point, so it wasn’t exactly an issue, but I thought it a bit odd. Anyway, the relief force eventually meets up with the entrenched marines down there amid a massive gravitic storm which, it turns out, is being caused by the arrival in-system of a huge Death Star Ork battle station. The planet is overrun with the greenskinz, and they pretty much wipe out all of the Imperial forces both on the planet and in orbit. Luckily, however, word is sent to Terra before they are entirely overrun – sent to the High Council, though intercepted by the Inquisition. So I’m looking forward to the further power-play between these two factions, I have to say!

This book was pretty good, anyway – it’s less than 250pp, so a real quick read, which perhaps makes the price of £12.99 a bit steep. However, I enjoyed it, so I can’t complain too much or too loudly! I’m not an Imperial Fists fan, but it was nevertheless interesting to see the big yellow guys – as the historical defenders of Terra, they are a huge part of the lore, after all.

Something that I have to commend it for, however, is the incredible sense of expectancy that is created by the fact that the series was publicised as being the story of a huge Ork invasion, but we don’t see them until almost the end. Knowing this somehow creates a huge tension as you read as, because you’re just waiting for them to show up and stuff, but the marines are still fighting weird metal-insects (which seem to be a favourite Dan Abnett enemy!)

It was a really good start to the series, anyway – not as strong as Horus Rising for the Horus Heresy of course, but that book is pretty much the gold-standard for any kind of sci-fi multi-book series for me. Definitely worth checking out, anyway!

But now, I really am going to start reading The Crimson Campaign

Time for a change…

Hey everybody!
It’s Tuesday Game Day here at spalanz.com, and time for a bit of a ramble, I think. Not that my other blogs aren’t a ramble, of course!

For over two years now, I’ve been writing about some of my favourite games every Tuesday, but I thought I might try something a bit different today and just talk about gaming more generally, see how that goes. I’ll keep doing game blogs, of course, but maybe once in a while I’ll do more of these, sort of casual things.

First of all, I wanted to talk a bit about what games I’ve been playing lately. I’ve not actually had a lot of time to play games unfortunately, though have had a couple with some 40k-themed stuff. Notably some more glorious defeats in Space Hulk: Death Angel, which is pretty par for the course with that game, and also Conquest – including my first victory with my Necron deck! I’m a bit behind with the latest war packs, so I’ve been using Anrakyr the Traveller rather than having the new Illuminor Szeras, who I’ve been looking forward to for a while, but managed to get in a victory a short while ago when I played at the local store against a Space Marines deck that was pretty badly put together. But it’s a victory, and I’m not going to deny myself that!

I’ve fallen behind with the expansions, though – I’ve only got the first two packs from the new cycle, while FFG have just announced the fourth is available! Eek! I haven’t really been buying a lot of games lately, however, and have fallen behind with quite a few things, Lord of the Rings also being a case in point. I haven’t gotten to play much of that game lately, so I guess it’s no big deal, but still!

While there doesn’t appear to have been much announced for Conquest – I believe there’s currently a conspiracy theory doing the rounds that FFG and GW are about to part ways – I am impressed with the next cycle announcement for Lord of the Rings: we’re going to Harad! Back when Heirs of Númenor was announced, I was hoping we’d be seeing more from the Southrons, and while it’s taken a while, we’re finally getting there!

The Sands of Harad

In terms of fantasy settings, I think the desert locale is vastly under-used, and so cannot wait to see what’s in store for us here. The mechanics sound really interesting as well – paired traits that buff each other sounds to me very much like the dual-colour deck thing from Magic, of course. The effects of the temperature sound really intriguing, hopefully it’ll be super cool, anyway! Something I found very interesting from the expansion’s announcement was how the article didn’t include any information about the upcoming cycle, which made me speculate at the time that maybe it was moving to a distribution model similar to that Call of Cthulhu adopted before it was finished, of deluxe expansions only. However, we’ve recently also had the first look at the new Haradrim Cycle, which sees us trying to capture Oliphaunts! Oh, my! I’ve been away from this game for too long, but I think this upcoming expansion is going to be exactly the thing I want to get me back into Middle Earth with aplomb!

Something else I haven’t gotten round to yet is the new Eldritch Horror expansion – I’ve been eyeing it up, of course, but my local store had a shipment that came without the character cards, and it seemed to take forever for them to send replacements. I think he’s only recently put it up for sale, but I haven’t really had the money to get it, what with spending on more Warhammer kits! Seeing as how there probably isn’t going to be a new expansion out for Christmas this year, however, I think I might wait and get that one for myself then – it’s hardly the same as a big box thing, but it’s Eldritch Horror, so it’ll do! I haven’t actually played Eldritch Horror for a long time, sadly, so will have to try and change that soon!

Since my two-year anniversary with the Warhammer stuff, I’ve been mainly focused on the building/painting of minis, of course, and I tend to go along with these things lately – particularly given how many kits I have unbuilt and unpainted! I’ve actually been super-busy on that front, as I think last weekend’s hobby progress blog shows. Just been on something of a production line for building and priming models, which is probably going to keep me going through the winter, anyway!

Which leads me to…

The main gaming thing that has been on my mind for the last few weeks has been getting properly into Warhammer 40k, though. I may or may not have mentioned that my local GW store has been running a sort of mini-campaign-type-thing that starts off small and allows you to build up your army over time – it sounded perfect for a beginner like myself, and I actually got myself a list prepared of a Necron Overlord and two troops of Immortals, but due to work commitments have so far missed both events!

I am, however, really keen to get going with this whole thing, so I’m trying to arrange a suitable time with one of the guys from the store to get me in a learning game soon – stay tuned for that!

Conspiracy 2

As I get back into Warhammer, I seem to have lost my momentum with Magic once more, though these games tend to wax and wane for me, so I’m not too bummed at having spent a lot of money on snow-covered lands lately! I’ve kinda been following the spoilers for the second Conspiracy set, though I’m not really planning to get involved in drafting that, primarily because Draft has never actually interested me, though. I still have a bunch of decks built up, including a lot of Standard decks that I’m still somewhat keen to try out, but haven’t managed to play much of the game whatsoever since the Eldritch Moon prerelease last month.

I’m still planning to go to the Kaladesh prerelease next month, however, as that was a really good time!

It saddens me a little when I realise, I have probably the two most expensive gaming hobbies ever: plastic and card crack. But y’know, they’re enjoyable, so I’m not going to complain too loudly!

Anyway, that’s probably it for this blog, I don’t like to ramble on too much of course! I think I might try to change up the feel of these Tuesday blogs in the future, though, as just blandly talking through a game’s components can be, well, pretty bland. Might try and get some kind of game-report type of thing (I did try it once, of course!) or something. We’ll see. Anyway, hopefully if you made it this far, you enjoyed it (don’t be afraid to leave a comment!), and I’ll see you all in the next exciting installment!


Xenos Dan Abnett

At the weekend, I read the first book in the Eisenhorn trilogy by Dan Abnett, Xenos. It was a pretty good book, though I have to admit right off, I don’t think it was as great as the Horus Heresy stuff I’ve read from him so far. That’s a difficult judgement to make, so I’ll try to expound upon it…

The book is told in first-person from the Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn’s perspective, and many times feels a bit like a memoir as he breaks the fourth wall (if such a concept can exist in books) to address the reader directly. Overall, I think I liked the style of this narrative, though there were times when I thought it was a bit weird – I think there were a couple of instances where plot twists were described that Eisenhorn clearly knew of the twist, but the first-person narrative came across like he didn’t. I’ve not read that many novels with unreliable narrators, but still, it somehow didn’t really do it for me, if I’m honest.

The plot of the book is fairly wide-ranging, its breadth being fairly shocking if I’m honest! It starts with Eisenhorn hunting a Chaos cult-leader as he engineers some nefarious scheme, but the subsequent investigation takes him on a planet-hopping journey on the tail of more cultists of Slaanesh, and even a couple of Emperor’s Children marines!

There were odd moments where the plot felt a bit, not rushed per se, but it certainly flew by in a manner I wasn’t quite expecting. Along the way, we get to see some of the inner workings of the Inquisition, but in the main this is more of an action novel as we see Eisenhorn on the trail of the Chaos cultists, who are trying to recover a powerful artifact called the Necroteuch, a book serves more as a plot device than anything else. The cultists are carrying out some archaeological research, recovering artifacts of the saruthi xenos race, in order for them to trade for the book. When Eisenhorn thwarts their attempts, the Inquisition believes the matter is over, but Eisenhorn soon discovers that the cultists are attempting to recover a copy, so the Ordo Xenos unites to prevent them, along with a full kill team of Deathwatch marines. They eventually do so, uncovering a traitor in their midst and finally eliminating the last of the cultists.

It’s a good book, don’t get me wrong, it’s just no Horus Rising, which I think I expect almost every Warhammer 40k novel to be these days! The story of an Imperial person going after Chaos cultists who are somehow involved with xenos artifacts is something of an old one, I feel, but it’s still worth a read. The fact that it’s first-person meant I got through it fairly quickly, too, which is a bonus!

As I stated in the last novel review blog I did, I’m reading this trilogy and the Powder Mage trilogy interspersed, so it’s on to The Crimson Campaign next, then I’ll return to Malleus soon!

Hobby Progress, week 33

Here we are again, folks! Week 33 of my hobby progress blog, well and truly on the slide down to Christmas! I’m actually really surprised I’ve managed to keep this up all year – not that I really expected to abandon it, of course, but more because I hadn’t thought I would actually be doing something hobby-related for all 33 weeks of the year so far! But anyway.

I managed to get two days off work this week, and the weather was correspondingly awful, so I have quite a lot to talk about!

First up, Deathwatch. It’s on everybody’s mind, no doubt, due to the ongoing releases coming out of GW. I’ve got ten of these guys on the go right now, five from Overkill and the five Veterans from Death Masque. Having primed them Chaos Black, I’ve been intending to follow Duncan’s tutorial and so painted the armour Abaddon Black, then highlighted with Eshin Grey and Fenrisian Grey. First of all, painting black on top of black has always made me scoff – I’ve never had to do it, but I’ve never really seen the point. Having now done this, I am a total convert to this idea! In many of the videos from Warhammer TV, they say how Abaddon Black has a different finish to Chaos Black, but they don’t tell you that Abbadon Black has a much nicer finish, which is what I find. It felt a bit foolish at first, but I could definitely see an improvement after doing just one marine, so eagerly did the others!

Eshin Grey has proven to be an extremely subtle highlight, while Fenrisian Grey has gone over it far too brightly, so I’m really not happy with the look of these. I think I might need to start over, but I might try a much darker grey, maybe Dawnstone, rather than the Fenrisian they tell you to use.

That said, I’ve tried edge highlighting in these as an attempt to begin to level up my painting, and my first attempts have not been a success! A lot of these marines have therefore been carefully, lightly drybrushed to highlight them, trying to only hit the edges and not the whole armour. At any rate, I don’t think they look all that great, so it might be back to the drawing board. We’ll see.

Hobby Progress 33

Next up, the Vanguard Veterans I mentioned last week! Having rescued them with dettol, I’ve re-primed and sprayed them Macragge Blue, then drybrushed with Chronus Blue and washed them with Drakenhof Nightshade, as is my standard Ultramarine scheme. It could be my imagination, but the second paint job here doesn’t seem to have taken quite as I’d expected – the marines appeared to be shiny even after the primer, and I’m not entirely sure why.

That said, I’ve had the worst luck with sprays recently. The weather, as I mentioned, has not been great – it wasn’t too bad when I was doing all my spraying on Thursday, however, but the primer and the spray base colour both came out really powdery and rough on every marine I painted this way. So I’ve taken a toothbrush to them and tried to brush it all off. For the most part, this has worked, but it left a lot of guys – particularly the blue ones – quite shiny, too. Maybe I’ve made a mistake here? I don’t know. I certainly made sure the can was warmed up, and shook it for at least two to three minutes each time. I do wonder, though, if priming them indoors might not be the best of ideas. There was a lot of particulate matter in the air after doing that, and they were in that environment to dry, so maybe I should move them away to dry…

Anyway, onwards!

Hobby Progress 33

The four Alpha Legion guys have been base coated, washed and drybrushed with my usual scheme as well, so they’re coming along nicely. I’ve been thinking quite a bit how I’ve found these chaps really quite painless to paint, but for my Ultramarines, I seem to take a lot longer and agonise over the details – but they’re essentially very similar! Hopefully I can speed up with my Ultras, therefore, as I have rather a lot of them on the go in various stages, and would really like to have them finished soon!

I’ve been building a lot of models this week, as well – Necrons, Terminators, Librarians, and more marines in general. As I said last week, it’s the time of year where I start to plan for the winter and, if I can get stuff primed when the weather is consistently good (well…), I will do! So let’s take a look at some new stuff!

Hobby Progress 33

First of all, more marines – this time, Terminators! I love the Terminator kit, and even though it’s a fairly old sculpt now, I still think it holds up. There’s something of a classic look here that I really enjoy, anyway. They’ve had the same treatment as the Vanguard Veterans, so they’re ready for details to start being added in.

Hobby Progress 33

Last week’s nostalgia prompted me to build up five Lychguard, who also turned out powdery and awful, but I think I’ve managed to save them with copious amounts of Nuln Oil! I think I’ve talked about this before, but as the Lychguard were the first Necrons I’d put together, all of my subsequent builds have seen me try to match that first paint job, and so I’ve never really had the chance to progress. These chaps, however, I’m hoping to see myself do something not necessarily wildly different, but I’m going to really try to make a good accounting of them. I still have five more with warscythes hanging about from earlier in the year that are also unfinished, and five with sword/shield from last year that need some work, so I’m going to be working on those side by side and see how they all turn out. I think I could do with going through a lot of my Necrons and trying to improve them – the Triarch Praetorians, in particular, never ended up exactly as I’d have liked.

Time for stuff that I’ve built and not yet primed/painted! Let’s start with the Librarian from Dark Vengeance. I’d bought this box back before last Christmas, built the five Deathwing Terminators, and sold the rest. I had thought about keeping the librarian, but didn’t bother in the end, and have periodically regretted it since. So I did a search on ebay for him recently, just out of curiosity, and found I could get one for £3! (I also saw the five Deathwing guys for £8, which bummed me out). Turmiel arrived on Thursday while I was priming guys, so I built him up and primed him, as well. Seeing as how his backpack was completely separate, I decided to make him more Dark Angels-y than he is, and gave him an ornate one from the DA Veterans kit that I’d bought specifically for the censer bits. While I now have a backpack with a librarius skull on it, I feel I may have a use for it further down the line…

Going through the DA Veterans bits had inspired me, however, to start building more Deathwing Terminators! The chap on the left has a storm bolter that has the Deathwing sword strapped underneath it as well as a shoulder pad from the Veterans box, while the sergeant on the right has the power sword, as well as a censer hanging from his belt. The Standard Bearer has a little shield thing with feathers also from the Veterans kit, but is otherwise pretty standard-fare.

My original five Deathwing Terminators I built and painted earlier in the year are a mix of regular guys and Command Squad guys, and reading the DA codex, I think I need to make all five from the Command Squad in order to field it, so I’m trying to build marines that will allow me to bulk those five out into two separate squads. So the plan, ultimately, will be to have three squads of the terminators, one squad of the Knights, Belial, the Venerable Dreadnought, and a Drop Pod and Land Raider. Though I’m seriously thinking about making at least one more dreadnought. I’m not going for the whole Dark Angels force, as I only want the Deathwing because the colour scheme is one of those 40k schemes that genuinely excites me. But anyway!

What else have I been building? Oh yeah!

Having built up three Devastator marines back in the spring, I’ve finally built the remaining two – and the armorium cherub! I don’t know why I seem to build things in threes, though painting the Maximus marines has shown smaller numbers tend to focus me somewhat. Anyway, I’ve finally got the five done, and I have to say, the Devastator kit is absolutely incredible for the number of spare bits you have in there! I put a photo on instagram (if you don’t follow me there, why not?!) that shows the sprues as they are once all five marines are built, and it’s incredible! So many weapons options for the sergeant alone! But so many spare heads, hands, it’s all just amazing! I reckon all you’d need is some legs and backs from a bits seller and you could make at least three more marines out of this kit! Totally awesome!

I have no idea if the Ultramarines use cherubs in the fluff – they always seem to be a Blood Angels thing in the artwork we see – but built one simply because I could. I also want to challenge myself to paint more flesh, so it’ll be a good thing for that.

But speaking of Blood Angels…

I’ve finally started to build stuff from the Shield of Baal box! (Well, I suppose the Genesis Chapter terminators I’d done over the winter were the sprues from here too, but anyway). There’s a lot of convoluted reasoning going on here, so allow me to begin…

Blood Angels have rarely interested me, as a colour scheme. I don’t think I’m very good at painting red, and I find that the colour is far too strong sometimes for its own good. The lore of Blood Angels is somewhat interesting, but I don’t find myself drawn to it in the same way I am to the Ultramarines, which might sound odd to anyone familiar with the lore, but anyway! Reading the Shield of Baal novellas almost two years ago was a lot of fun, though, and given that box came out very soon into my hobby career, so to speak, I do find myself quite nostalgic for Blood Angels because of that.

I’ve also recently found myself thinking about trying a different marine force, just to keep my motivation going. In that respect, the Deathwatch have come along at a good time, as I had been looking at the Start Collecting box for the Blood Angels. Much like the Space Wolves, I like the idea that the kits they have are full of chapter-specific sculpts, rather than the more generic stuff that you can buy upgrades for. It’s really only those two chapters who have this as well, as the Dark Angels, for all the fact they have their own Codex and the like, the marine kits are generally the standard line. Anyway, I’m kinda rambling here. The main thing is, I liked the idea of having a really customised-looking force.

This is kinda what got me looking at the Shield of Baal box, and the Death Company sprue inside. Those marines are basically a Space Marine Assault Squad kit, but totally made for not just the Blood Angels, but very specifically for the Death Company of the Blood Angels. I thought that was incredible at first, and looking over the sculpts, I was blown away at the level of detail on those guys. So I decided to build some up, especially seeing as how I’m already painting black marines for the Deathwatch, and see how they turn out! I think it could be a fun little side project, and might even field them alongside my Ultramarines when the time comes for me to finally get some games in! I’ve got two built so far, so hope to get the rest done soon, and then I’ll probably work on them over the winter…

So that’s been my week! Pretty huge, I have to say, but enjoyable, as well. The primer issues I’ve had have caused me to lose some faith in my painting in general, but I’m powering through those currently. I really want to just keep painting, and try to get to the continuous improvement stage where I can try new things and, as I mentioned, really level up my painting skills.

Next weekend is the Bank Holiday weekend, and I’m hoping for more fun and frolics with painting miniatures there, as well. Then for September, I have a sort of mini-project planned, which I hope will be very exciting indeed! So stay tuned for that!


It’s Deathwatch time at Games Workshop, with a third week of releases for the elite xenos-hunting Space Marines – and what a week it is, too! Following on from the boxed game Death Masque, which featured the Emperor’s elites pitted against the Harlequins in Shield of Baal style, and last week’s re-packs of existing Space Marine kits with the Deathwatch upgrade sprue, this week sees pre-orders for some new kits alongside more re-packaged boxes.

Last week, we had bikers and tanks, with some captains and the minis from Overkill. This week, we’ve got terminators and vanguard veterans, a venerable dreadnought, and a librarian and a chaplain. These are all just packaged along with the upgrade sprue (the terminators, hilariously, have three such sprues because of how the terminator shoulder pads are distributed), and while it’s nice to have these options, I’m not exactly going to rush to buy any of them. More importantly, however, this week sees the actual Kill Team box go up for pre-order, with a new Watch Master mini and the new Corvus Blackstar flyer.


The new ship looks really nice, though I don’t know that I’d rush to get it first. I’ve not built a lot of these kinds of big kits, mainly as I prefer troops and the like, but I’ll no doubt get one in due course. I mean, the iconography on the thing is enough to get me interested! The main thing, for me, is the new Kill Team box. Well, not exactly new, as it’s the five-man squad from Death Masque, but still…


I built the Death Masque minis in a pretty random fashion, trying to pay some attention to the way I was loading the weapons, but mainly aiming for some cool minis. I still don’t actually have the Codex, so I was going of some of the spoilers that stated these guys can be built in any configuration, rather than the usual one heavy weapon per five models, and all that stuff. I still believe that’s the way it goes, but I’ll be getting at least one other box of these chaps, so I can always make up another group to bulk out the squad properly.

And speaking of building miniatures, we get to why I really wanted to write this blog today – Warhammer TV have put up another video, this time showing how you can build the models from the Kill Team box:

I have to say, I’m incredibly impressed with Games Workshop lately. I know I regularly sound like a fan boy here on this blog, but I don’t really care – GW are putting out some amazing stuff, and I love it! While videos with Duncan are hardly a novelty, videos where he just builds miniatures definitely are – until now, I think we’ve only seen this sort of thing with the Dark Vengeance and Age of Sigmar starter boxes, which are meant for new entrants into the hobby anyway. Seeing this, with the glut of weapons options available and the awesome way you can pose these guys, it really speaks to me of what the hobby is all about!

(Oh yeah, and if you watch to the end, it looks like they’re going to put out a video on painting the Corvus Blackstar too – it’s currently private, but that’s definitely a ship!)

The minis look incredible, I have to say – Mark VIII armour didn’t appeal to me in artwork, but having not only seen actual minis kitted out this way but built my own as well, I really like the look overall! I’ve started to paint mine following the GW scheme, anyway, and tomorrow’s hobby progress blog will feature them in no small dosage – look out for that one, it’s gonna be huge!

Overall, this Deathwatch stuff has gotten me really excited. I’m guessing that three weeks will be the extent of the release window, as I don’t know what else we could have for these guys, so I’m excited to see what the Bank Holiday weekend will bring for us…

Promise of Blood

Promise of Blood is the first novel in Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage trilogy, published in 2013. I first came across it in the excellent Geekritique’s blog, The 25 Most Anticipated Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of 2015, where he talked about the third book in the trilogy (it was also the blog that got me to read Leviathan Wakes). It sounded awesome, so I bought the first in the trilogy, then put it on the shelf for over 18 months…

As an aside here, if you don’t already, you should totally follow Geekritique, because that blog is just fantastic, and is my go-to for keeping up with news like this!

Anyway. I started to read it two weeks ago and, as is true of anything that isn’t a Star Wars novel, was a bit hesitant at first, not really knowing what I would be in for, and all that. A lot of books I start, but give up on because I’m just not that into them, for whatever reason. While I liked Brian McClellan’s writing, I felt a little like something was off at first, like the story was rushing a little, but I determined to stick it out for five chapters, as they weren’t exactly long.

Well, I was amazed!

I’m not going to discuss the story in any real detail here, but give more of an overview, however there may well still be spoilers, so proceed at your own peril!

The world of the Powder Mage trilogy is basically magic and muskets. Magic users exist in what we’d think of as a traditional sense, they’re called Privileged and they wear rune-covered gloves to do their thing. In the land of this trilogy, there are nine distinct kingdoms, with the action taking place in what appears to be the central land-space, Adro. Each of these kingdoms is, obviously, ruled over by a King, who has a royal cabal of Privileged sorcerers. Promise of Blood opens on the night of a coup in Adro, led by the powerful Powder Mage, Field Marshal Tamas. Powder Mages are a bit like magic users who can manipulate black powder in some form or other – Tamas appears to be able to control (I think it’s called “bounce”) bullets without the need for a gun, for instance. These Powder Mages are referred to as Marked, which is a bit like a rank below Privileged. Finally, there are more minor folks called Knacked, who have some kind of special ability – Tamas’ bodyguard Olem, for instance, never needs to sleep – but they aren’t particularly powerful in the more traditional sense.

So anyway, Tamas kills the king of Adro, along with most of the nobility, in what feels like a magically-imbued French Revolution. He also dispatches the entire royal cabal, but it turns out there is powerful, old magic in play whereby anyone who kills the king of any of the nine kingdoms will have his own days numbered, something called “Kresimir’s Promise”. Finding out what this is all about forms the first portion of the book.

When Tamas survives an attempt on his life, he determines to ferret out the traitor who arranged it, which forms the second portion. Tamas pays the inspector Adamat to investigate each of his council, while he sends his son Taniel to kill the last surviving member of the royal cabal, who is living in exile halfway up a mountain. Throughout all of this, there is a threat of invasion from the nearby kingdom of Kez. The Kez army is led by an extremely powerful sorcerer who is attempting to bring the god Kresimir back to earth, in a holy place on the same mountain that Taniel is dispatched to…

The story has a lot going on – there are so many twists and turns, I can’t begin to cover them all here and do them justice! The world of this book is so rich and vibrant, the magic system so interesting and new, the characters so wonderfully well-written, and the politics and intrigue so compelling, I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

I was initially put off a little by just how fast-moving the story appeared to be, as I felt we weren’t getting a good look at the world the author had created, but it turns out my fears were unfounded – this is definitely an action novel, but the pace of that action has no adverse impact on the lore, as we learn as we go along.

Something I really appreciated was how the book didn’t attempt to over-compensate for its genre. So often with fantasy novels these days, authors appear to feel the need to drop f-bombs and have gratuitous sex-scenes to make us feel like we really are reading a book for adults, and not kids. While there is the odd “shit” thrown in, overall the book seems to know what it is and go with it, and we get exposition when the characters are chasing each other down, rather than inexplicably in a brothel. So I definitely appreciated that.

If I were to really level a criticism at the book, it’s that sometimes we seemed to move too fast. For the first portion, Taniel is accompanied by two mercenaries as he tries to track down a Privileged, and one of these mercenaries is something called a Mage Breaker. He can basically nullify the powers of a sorcerer in the area, and it sounds like an incredibly cool concept. We’re told it’s really rare, and then he dies (I did warn about spoilers!) I just felt like we could have seen some more with this character, or more exploration into the magical system – though I can’t deny, we’re pretty much given all of the information to make this whole book make sense and function well, so it really is a nit-pick… Of course, there are two more books in the series to get through yet, as well as a few novellas, which sound pretty amazing. And there’s this:

There’s a new trilogy coming, starting “early 2017”, so I’m super excited for that!

Overall, this book is amazing, and I cannot recommend it enough. I’ve just taken delivery of Dan Abnett’s Eisenhorn trilogy, which I’ve wanted to read for a while now, so I plan to read both trilogies interspersed, so look for The Crimson Campaign (which I believe is equally as good, despite being the second book in a trilogy) to come soon!

Join the Legion!

Hey everybody!
It’s time for another game day blog here at spalanz.com, and today I’m returning to an old favourite, Thunderstone! Having already looked at Wrath of the Elements and Dragonspire, it’s time for Doomgate Legion!

Thunderstone Doomgate Legion

This expansion was released in 2010, as the second expansion to the deck-building game (preceding Dragonspire, which actually came out the following year). Much like the earlier expansion, it very much offers more of the same in terms of heroes and village cards, as well as enemies to fight in the dungeon. However, there are a couple of things that are worth pointing out, so let’s take a look!

Thunderstone Doomgate Legion

First of all, we have the Swarm enemy. This is a deck of cards that is placed off to the side, with another deck of placeholder cards that is shuffled into the dungeon deck when the game begins. The deck off to the side is made up of an increasingly-difficult enemy type, which is revealed whenever a placeholder card is turned over from the dungeon deck. It’s the same as the Horde enemy from Wrath of the Elements, though I really like this idea, as it can often be hit and miss whether you can actually defeat an enemy in the dungeon. Now, there’s usually more of a chance you could actually prevail! Great mechanic, I have to say, so it’s nice to see it back!

Thunderstone Doomgate Legion

The disease deck also gets something of an overhaul here, with some “special” diseases mixed into ten of the more regular diseases we know and hate from Thunderstone. The remaining fifteen comprise three copies of five new diseases, which is an interesting way to make the game more difficult for the more seasoned dungeon-delver.

Accordingly, there are also more cards in the enemy deck that interact with diseases, notably the Evil Druids:

Thunderstone Doomgate Legion

Thunderstone comes across as something of a generic fantasy deck-building game, but while you can enjoy the heck out of it in that way, there is also a story attached to the game. In the first expansion, you fight your way through Dreadwatch Keep as you try to find the Stone of Agony. Here, you’re battling against the Doomgate Legion as you search for the Stone of Avarice, and the enemies are the secretive members of this cult-like order.

In addition to enemies, we also have Treasure cards that later turned up in Dragonspire, though I didn’t really delve into what they do in that blog. Mainly because it’s fairly straightforward – the cards get shuffled into the dungeon deck as normal and, when revealed, you immediately gain that item and place it face up in your play area. It doesn’t get shuffled into your deck, however, and you can use it later for a specific benefit, such as bolstering your attack. Pretty decent, though the card is destroyed to use it, and for one-time effects, they aren’t exactly world-beating. But still, the variety is always good! We also have Guardians, who were first seen in Wrath of the Elements.

Overall, it’s a nice little expansion. I really like the theme from this one, which feels more apparent to me than previous expansions. As with all my Thunderstone blogs, this is more of a retrospective than a recommendation to buy the game, as it’s been out of print for a number of years already, but Doomgate Legion is actually still available at the time of writing for less than £30 on amazon! It’s definitely worth snapping up if you haven’t got the game already!

Hobby Progress, week 32

Hey everybody!
It’s week 32 of tracking my hobby progress, and this week is rather special for me, not because of any significant amount of progress being made on, well, anything, but because it marks two years since I started down this Warhammer road! But first of all, what have I been up to this week?

The answer: building more models.

You know, this blog project was intended to track my progress with painting miniatures, and to keep up motivation and the like, but has developed into more of an activity update. At least, it has in my head. I mean, I would rather think of it as, “I need to get painting so that I can have something to show for Sunday”; rather than, “I need to get something to upload for Sunday”. Building stuff is fine, so long as I then paint it! But all that said, we are now entering into the time of year when I want to start stocking up on models built and primed, ready to paint over winter. So there is that. But still!

This week, I did actually try to paint some people, but that didn’t turn out well for me, if I’m honest. I built up the Vanguard Veterans kit that I’ve had hanging around for ages, and was casting around for some way of painting them different to Ultramarines, settling on Scythes of the Emperor. For those who didn’t follow that link, the colour scheme is a dark grey/black head, arms and legs, with a yellow torso and backpack. I thought it’d be cool to try something new, and while the black bits were easy, because of both the level of detail and the way I’d posed these guys, painting the torsos yellow because a nightmare, one that probably wouldn’t be worth it as very little of the actual torso armour is visible! So I abandoned it after three guys…

But you can see them on the far right of the picture up there!

Also built this week were four more Mark-IV marines for my Alpha Legion, two of whom are bare-headed, which might be interesting. I’ve also built five of the Deathwatch marines from the Overkill box, which are very beautiful models, I have to say! And I bought Death Masque, having told myself I’d wait until the models were available individually (because Duncan’s recent tutorial has shown they will be…) I’ve built up the Venerable Dreadnought and four of the five Deathwatch Veterans, and I have to say, I was quite surprised at the quality of the plastic in that box.

The Dreadnought had some pretty bad mould-slips, but it’s an older kit so I wasn’t expecting a pristine cast, you know? But the new Veterans were pretty uninspiring when compared with the marines from Overkill, and even if you think, “well, they’re not character models”, they still didn’t feel the same quality as the maximus marines from Betrayal at Calth. They felt like an old kit, is what I’m trying to say, even though the sprue is datestamped 2016. So, hm. Maybe they were a bit rushed, and the actual single-box release will be a nicer cast. I’ll be buying more, because of course I will, so we’ll see what they look like…

Hobby Progress 32

So it’s been two years since I first put a brush on a piece of plastic (or, more accurately, finecast resin). It was 10 August, if we’re being strictly accurate, though it was actually a Sunday, which is why I’ve held off posting anything on my blog until today. Without trying to be particularly arrogant, I’m actually really impressed with how I’ve progressed as a painter in that time, something that I feel is pretty accurately summed up in this picture:

Hobby Progress 32

The beast of Nurgle was the first project, and the Alpha Legion marine is the most recent finished project I have, from July. The beast is okay if you think everything in a Nurgle army needs to look like it was sneezed-upon. Overall, I’m unimpressed with it, but I think part of that might actually be because I’m not all that much of a Nurgle fan anyway. But there is so much more that I could have done with it, but didn’t. The ‘ardcoat is probably unnecessary, but I didn’t really know what I was doing, let’s be honest! By contrast, the marine looks like, well, how marines actually look. Sure, all of the panels aren’t perfectly edge-highlighted, and there are spots where I probably should tidy up the paintwork, but overall, this looks like an actual miniature that I quite gladly accept as being my own work!

The last two years have seen a whole bunch of models painted up, and more than anything, I’m really, really happy that I’ve actually stuck with this. I think I’ve talked about this already on my blog, but for years I’ve never thought of myself as particularly crafty, being more creative with words than anything else. The thought of making something out of bits of plastic – granted, bits of plastic that were already largely looking good on the sprue, and only required release and a bit of glue – let alone actually painting these bits of plastic… it made me a bit nervous, to say the least. But I tried it, couldn’t believe how amazing it was to be creative in this manner, and have stuck with it since! Yeah, there may have been times where I’ve taken a small break, and times where I’ve felt a little overwhelmed by the huge stack of plastic in boxes that I’d collected to my person, but I don’t think I’d ever felt like throwing in the towel.

I think my one regret so far has been not playing as much with these things. I love the look of Warhammer 40k, and I love the idea of playing battles with these guys, no matter how abstract that actually is. So I thought it’d be time to set out some hobby goals for the next twelve months!

Top of the list, then, is to play more. My local GW has just started some skirmish-style 40k games as a regular thing on a Thursday; unfortunately I couldn’t make the first one last week, but I’ll be heading up there this coming week, armed with 250 points of Necrons, so we’ll see what happens!

I also want to get moving with more of my Necrons. This is an army that is really, really dear to me, being my first and all, and I want to try to improve upon it. I’ve noticed that, when painting new units for them in the past, I’ve tried to match the look to the rest of the army, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, “the rest of the army” contains some of the very first models I ever painted, and I feel that I could do so much more better with them now! I’m not going to 100% change the look of the army, but I do want to try and be better with some of the things I plan to add in the coming months. Top of that list is the Doomsday Ark that I’d planned as my summer project about a week before Age of Sigmar dropped last year. Might try to make that happen this Autumn…

I’m going to enter Armies on Parade at my local store this year, too, with my Stormcast Eternals. I already have a lot of, I think, really nice models, and when I played that four-player game earlier in the year, a lot of folks did stop to admire my guys, so I’m thinking I might as well! I want to try to get a few more guys painted up for this, starting with the Knight-Heraldor, and maybe the Dracothian Guard. There are still, what, six weeks or so before the event, so who knows what I might be able to add!

More than anything, though, I want to improve my painting skills generally. I’d like to think I’m a half-decent painter – like I said before, my marines look like marines, and not a car crash. But I’d like to get better. Every so often, I manage to turn out something that I’m really impressed and pleased with, but more often than not, I churn out stuff to something approaching a tabletop standard, and leave it at that. Recently, I’ve come to notice that I’m painting models just to get the colour on there, rather than taking my time and making things look really nice. I also have a lot of gaps in painting things, which are sometimes unavoidable, but usually means that I’m never really improving, if that makes sense? So I want to just go at a lot of things, and really try to produce some miniatures that I can be really proud of!

Even though this blog was only intended to run for 2016, I think the idea of some regular checking-in progress blog is good enough to continue well into the future! I’m thinking I might try to get as much as possible finished in the four and a half months that remain of this year, so that when 2017 begins, it will indeed be a “week one”, though I’ve picked up plenty of models this year that have been going on from 2015, so I guess it’s no big deal. Anyway, might have more of a think about that.

That’s all I can think of for the time being, anyway! I’m sure more ideas will present themselves as time goes on, and I’ll add them in to my progress blogs over the coming weeks.

RuneWars, the Miniatures Game

Hey everybody,
Today’s game day is all about this bad boy that was announced last week at GenCon: RuneWars, the Miniatures Game. Yes, I’m still reeling!

I mean, wow!

First of all, something I talked about briefly in my GenCon blog last week is how big for the company this development is. FFG have previously made wargames, such as Dust Warfare, but for years now they appear to have been happy to produce more regular board- and card-games. Edging back into the market that is still primarily dominated by Games Workshop is a really interesting development, especially considering the fact FFG license Warhammer. I find this really interesting, and can’t wait to see where they go with it!

The game itself looks a whole lot like X-Wing, with movement dials and templates, even the upgrade cards. I actually can’t decide if this is a good move or not – though it does feel right that FFG have their own mechanic for all their wargames. The rank-and-file thing I can kinda take or leave, though I know a lot of wargamers like that. Something that put me off the idea with Warhammer was how it would limit the modelling options of some units, as you’d need to get them to fit together. However, it seems as though it won’t matter here, as the models are pre-assembled (but not pre-painted)

With all the templates, dials and cards, not to mention the custom dice that are also involved, it looks like the game could get a bit messy, but I suppose that will depend on how the rules for army-building work – I mean, the only video overview of the rules I’ve come across from the convention so far suggests games last no longer than 90 minutes, so I don’t imagine armies will be that large…

At any rate, this game looks pretty epic, and I’m actually really excited to see FFG launch this game with the Terrinoth theme! While some folks are sharing their uneasiness over what this means for Battlelore, not to mention their relationship with GW, I’m sure it’ll be a hit, and as I’ve already said, I look forward to seeing what they do with the line in the future!

Exciting times ahead!