Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve Snack Challenge

Battle of the Depression-Eating Heavyweights!  Fight!

It's a whole bag of Kroger Potato Skins (with cheddar and bacon) vs. an entire box of OreIda Bagel Bites!  We're sure to have a battle on our hands, folks!  Which of these foods yields the most self destructive power?!

Round 1: Pure Energy
Bagel Bites:  4.5 servings @ 210 calories per serving = 945 calories
Potato Skins: 4 servings @ 240 calories = 960 calories
The judges are calling this a tie!  The contest could go either way!

Round 2: Sheer Mass
Bagel Bites: 88g/serving = 396g total
Potato Skins: 99g/serving = 396g total
Another tie!  Have you ever seen such a match-up?!

Round 3: Fat City
Bagel Bites: 7g fat/serving = 31.5g fat total
Potato Skins: 16g fat/serving = 64g fat total
Advantage, Potato Skins!

Round 4: Take That, Pancreas!
Bagel Bites: 28g carbs/serving = 126g carbs total
Potato Skins: 17g carbs/serving = 68g carbs total
This round goes to the pizza equivalent!
We're all tied up again!

And now, the lightning round...

Round 6:  Fiber Is For Bran
Bagel Bites: 1g fiber/serving = 4.5g total
Potato Skins: 4g fiber/serving = 16g total
Potato skins have more fiber!  Bagel Bites are the winner!!!

Tune in next week when we pit an entire bag of Doritos Spicy Nacho against a box of 'Nilla Wafers!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reality Imitates Comedy

I need you to read something.  Seriously.

First, read THIS. It's from 2003.

Now, read THIS.  It's from today.

Is it April Fools Day or something?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

40k Fingernails

"Daddy?  Will you paint my nails?" my 9-year old daughter asked.  My daughters have only asked this particular service of me a handful of times.  "Sure, sweetie.  How would you like me to paint them?"  After a few ideas suggested and rejected, she asked if I could paint Space Marine symbols.  Have my ears gone insane?!  Of course!  An opportunity to nerd out and have daddy-daughter time?  Oh, yeah!

Behold the results.  I picked the Space Marine chapters for their basic colors, and she picked Hawk Lords because "she likes birds."  I suggested painting her other hand as enemies and she loved the idea.  She picked most of the enemies from the 40k rulebook.  I wasn't really sure what to do for a 'nid fingernail, so I went with a warrior face.  I did a basecoat of white enamel, followed by the design in acrylic, followed by a clear enamel sealant.  All in all it took about 1.5 hours.  She is absolutely ecstatic with the results.  I am ecstatic that she is ecstatic.  There is a lot of ecstatic here right now.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Chili Cook-Off Strategy

I like chili.  For more than 15 years I have toyed with different recipe variations for chili, from the basic to the more "open" shall we say.  All that remains the same is that my recipe always uses beans, beef, and tomatoes; I don't cook white chili or chicken chili or what have you.  Way back in the early days someone asked me if my recipe had a name.  I chose "Chili for Forty Humans," an oblique reference to the first Simpsons Treehouse of Horror.  The recipe has evolved but the name has not.


My chili is a weekend chili.  The kind that stays on the stove for three days as the liquid reduces down and the taste homogenizes between the ingredients.  Only this past year have I had the opportunity to participate in chili cook-offs.  I have not won.  I have not even come close.  Today was a good example.  It got me thinking, what makes a good cook-off chili?  These are the things I will be thinking about next year at my employer's cook-off.

  1. Thickness - since each person could not possibly take an entire bowl of every entry, you chili should be thick enough to have a small ladle full contain most of the key ingredients and hardly any liquid.  My chili was way too soupy today, but after it simmers for another six hours it might be okay.
  2. Punch - the chili should have an immediate taste/heat effect upon eating.  People are trying lots of chili, and if yours is mild or subtle it will come off as tasteless.  Again, that's where mine was inferior.  After tasting some of the other entries I could barely even taste mine, and I know what my chili tastes like.
  3. Quantity - this one is mostly smoke and mirrors.  The photo above is a good example of an obvious incongruity in popularity.   If you had to pick which two of the above three chilis would finish first and third, which one would you not pick.  I filled that crock pot up practically to the top, and even though it got consumed a fair bit it still looked like someone had seen a fly floating in it and word got around.  Granted, it wasn't exactly terrific but if it can't be popular it could at least look popular.  By the way, congrats to Josh (left) and Brian (right) for their winning chilis.
There you have it.  I'm not, by nature, a sore loser but I am a curious loser always looking for ways to improve.  There, if someone ever needs to write something about me they can truthfully say "self described curious loser."  That's just great.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Thoughts on Ultramarines: The Movie

Expectations are a complicated thing.

Last night my wife and I watched Ultramarines: the Movie (let's call it U:tM.) I specifically asked my wife to watch it to get her input as a scifi fan but not a 40k enthusiast. Her knowledge about Space Marines specifically is limited to the fact that they wear power armor and that mortally wounded ones can be entombed within a Dreadnought. I asked her to point out anything about the movie that was perplexing in a "I feel like I should know what that means, but I don't" sort of way. As for me, I do not possess an encyclopedic knowledge of Space Marines. My knowledge is limited to the codices and rule books, as I have not read any of the Space Marine related novels.

As a movie, Ultramarines is definitely more than just fan service. Dan Abnett's screenplay tries first and foremost to be a story about Space Marines rather than just a series of "I know what that is!" clips. This is what differentiates this endeavor from video-game intros and cut scenes. The Dawn of War intros (inevitably the standard by which any 40k footage will be judged) are beautiful and dynamic, but they are not really storytelling exercises as much as a series of short atmosphere shots or combat demonstrations. They are also very heavy on exposition, something a movie cannot afford to be if it wants to keep the audience's attention. I would also venture a guess and say that the entire budget of U:tM was less than the intro movie for a major video game. The scenes tend to be dark and the animation is mostly non-intrusive, with some awkwardly stiff times. When From The Warp's Ron Saikowski solicited questions from members to ask Codex about the movie the animation of marines was foremost in my mind. Here is my section of the Q/A:
18. I would like to know the challenges of animating power armor, especially in terms of trying to model a realistic human anatomy in there somewhere. Did anything need a "redesign" to make it able to be animated?
It was a challenge to animate the power armour, and we went to great lengths to really think about and explore how a Space Marine wearing it would move. One of the ways we thought about it was to look at someone wearing ice-hockey pads – it gave some approximation of the walk cycle. But, of course, it is power armour so not heavy. Games Workshop’s advice was that the Ultramarines are twice as agile and as fit as any Olympic champion, so the movement is still fluid despite the bulk of the armour.

Codex certainly took the Olympic champion advice to heart, as the marines were quite agile. I am admittedly not accustomed to seeing marines move in that manner, and the armor always seemed like it would have more obvious weight than it did.  It wasn't what I was expecting but I got used to it quickly.  There were some moments where the subjects on-screen just moved too fast to comfortably watch, but that was a function of cinematography rather than character animation.

Story-wise, it wasn't bad.  There's only so much you can do in 75 minutes, and I give Dan Abnett kudos for keeping the story small, which allowed there to be real characters rather than just a series of anonymous combatants.  My wife and I laughed about Allison's blog comment about it seeming very... manly.  It did.  "Are we talking Conan many or Brokeback manly?" my wife asked jokingly.  Let's go with Conan manly.  Only once in the movie did Stef have to ask me what was going on (the extraction of gene-seed, which brought the manly question back up.)  Other than that, it was enough straightforward scifi stereotype fare that she didn't have any trouble keeping up.  She did think the apothecary armor was too Star Wars Stormtrooper-like.  To my surprise, she actually rather liked it.  Not in the "I need to go buy an army now" kind of way, but more in "I just watched a fun SyFy Original Movie" vein.  (SyFy is a cable/satellite channel focusing on science fiction, and known for their crazy original movies, mostly about monsters.)  My overall opinion... it was good, not great.  The plot and execution would have probably made a better graphic novel.  In fact, I hope they do one in the same style as the short graphic novel that came with the collector's edition set.

If Codex makes another 40k movie I will buy.  I suppose that's praise enough.

--side note:  Distribution for the copy of the movie I got came from Datapak in Howell, MI.  Anything contributing to Michigan's terribly economy is good news to me.  Did any other U.S. recipients get theirs with a Howell, MI return address?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ultramarines Movie Unboxing

It has arrived! 

My children are less than thrilled.
On the other hand, my parents took me to see Alien when I was 10.  Am I overprotective?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ultramarines Shipped!

They said they would get order shipped this week, and it looks like they made their goal (for me at least.)

Hi Mike Howell,
This email is to confirm that your order has been shipped.
Your order has been despatched via Priority Mail.
If you have any questions about your order please contact us at
Thank you again for your business.

The curious part to me was that my order number is around 4800, but my shipping ID is only around 4200.  Does that imply that there were as many as 600 people who ordered more than one?  I guess I hadn't considered ordering more than one, and the shipping price was low enough that I didn't even consider pooling an order.  Hmmm.

Other news.... nobody showed up for hobbying last night.  I haven't picked up a brush in a solid week.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

40K Legos

Don't even pretend you don't realize how awesome this is.


Monday, November 29, 2010

It Figures.... Ultramarines Delayed

Yay.    :-(


Dear Mike

RE: Order 100004835

Unfortunately, due to a production issue outside of our control, we are not able to start shipping your order for the ULTRAMARINES DVD Collector's Set today, November 29th as planned. We are working around the clock with our third party suppliers to resolve the issue as soon as possible and hope to be able to give you details of a new ship date tomorrow.

We at Codex Pictures know you will be very disappointed not to receive your DVD as soon as anticipated and are equally distressed ourselves that this has happened.

Please accept our sincere apologies and rest assured we are doing everything we can to resolve the issue and get your order to you quickly.

Codex Pictures


I was wondering why there wasn't some big fanfare about the release date on their website.  Now I know.

Six Unrelated Things

Ulthwe Eldar: I'm working on a Wraithlord; a few small mods and he's looking pretty menacing with his sword.  The base is covered with a mix of vinyl wall spackle and sand, and it works great and is heavy enough to keep the model upright on inclined surfaces.

Ultramarines movie: I am pre-order 4835.  I understand these should be shipping today?  Hopefully?

Android: I have begun to develop for my HTC Evo.  I'm really digging real Java development for this phone.  Way better than J2ME ever was.

Ring The Bell!:  I took a shift ringing a bell for the Salvation Army on Saturday.  It was much more fun than I thought it would be.  I was also surprised at the high rate of donation, but mostly when my six-year-old cub scout was there with me in his uniform.  Just by myself... not so high a rate.

Parenting Moments: Designer7x shares painting with his son.  The next generation must know delayed gratification gaming!

Painting Competitions:  I have been undecided on whether to go to Adepticon to take part in the first Crystal Brush competition or go do Games Day and attempt another Golden Demon.  My wife's response: "Why not do both?"  <3 <3 <3

Attention Coffee Makers

I appreciate you trying to make coffee.  I really do.  But I expect more out of you.  When my kids help me in the kitchen I know at the end I'm going to have half a cup of flour on the floor and some egg shells in the batter.  They're kids.  It's expected.  When adults handle foodstuffs I have somewhat higher expectations.  Perhaps they are unrealistic.  I just expect that I can drink a cup of coffee without the bottom of my mug being filled with coffee grounds.

Let's discuss how this happens and how to avoid it, shall we?

First, our assumptions ... we're talking about regular drip coffee from a standard office coffee maker.  Not Turkish Coffee.  Not some French press thing.  Nothing fancy or complicated.  Here's the basic concept.
fig. 1, Coffee correctly confined in filter
Here we see the filter "basket" with a filter in it, and dry coffee grounds in the filter.  The water pours over the coffee grounds, absorbing some coffee-ishness from them, then seeps through the filter to the waiting coffee pot (not pictured!  don't panic!)  The filter has a very special job, you see!  It keeps the coffee grounds nicely separated from the final product: coffee that is 100% liquid.

Here's how it can go terribly wrong...
fig. 2, Coffee has escaped the filter!
You see, some coffee has escaped the bounds of the filter, making its way to the exit of the basket and therefore into the coffee pot.  And since coffee has a dark color, you never notice it until you drink it.

The end result.....
fig. 3, an unpleasant coffee-covered tongue
Do you see the problem?  We want to drink our coffee without having to chew it at the end.  You know who can help us?  You can!  You can make sure all the coffee is in the filter before adding the water!  When you pour the dry coffee grounds into the filter, do it slowly and carefully.  Not a single ground should escape its filter home if you are careful.  I know you can do it!

Do not just fling the grounds haphazardly at the filter, as I suspect you are doing currently.  You are not Tom Cruise in "Cocktail" when you make coffee.  Take your time and do it right for once.
fig. 4, some jerk

  Seriously.  I'm sick of crunchy-style coffee.

Monday, November 22, 2010

More BuckyBall Art

Can you name the game?  If not, it means your childhood is not as cool as mine (hint: cool is pronounced old in this instance.)  For clarity, the image was run through an edge filter.  It works remarkably well on metallic balls on a conference table.

...and yes, I know the imagery is not perfect.  It's iconic.  Cut me some slack.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Gamers: Dorkness Rising (all too true)

In some dark former life I used to .... roleplay.

As a greasy teen I played the fare of the day.  AD&D, Gamma World, Star Frontiers, Call of Cthulhu, whatever my high school nerd buddies and I gravitated toward.  And it was fun.  But for all the hiding in basements yelling at each other and throwing dice as a teen, it wasn't until I tried roleplaying as an adult that the real freakshow began.  Seriously, these were some of the most malformed ego disorders I have ever encountered.  If you have gamed, you know the people and you know how accurate the stereotypes are.  The min-maxer; the serial NPC murderer; the rules lawyer; the person who throws mini-tantrums when things don't go their way. 

Tonight, I was perusing Netflix on-demand and came across "The Gamers: Dorkness Rising" and started watching it, and I was surprisingly entertained.  I found myself remembering people I hadn't thought of in years as the characters in the movie did things in-game that were so typical of the miscreants in my gaming circles.  The acting isn't stellar but you don't think about it most of the time.  The important thing is that the people who made this film love the source material and it showed.  If you have never role-played, you probably won't find this terribly appealing.  If you have, this will make you laugh.

Searching for the above image, I have discovered that "Dorkness Rising" is really part 2.  I think I'll go watch part 1 now.  Both of them appear to be available on youtube.  Oh, and they have some sort of website with more stuff.

Accidental Sobchak

A coworker was messing around with the Bucky Balls and came up with this:
It is, of course, a stylized rendition of Walter Sobchak chucking his bowling bag at a nihilist.  I don't think he had that particular image in mind when he started, but that is clearly what he has produced.

In case you have not seen The Big Lebowski, or do not remember the scene....

Magnetic art of this caliber is way out of your league Donny.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

SpecOps Killzone BatReps: Everyone's a Winner!

Last night Mark and I played two SpecOps Killzone games, my Space Marines against his Orks.  Mark has the dubious honor of getting me into this crazy hobby a few years ago, so he has no excuse for ever losing to me for any reason, ever.

That said, I wiped his Orks out in game one without taking a casualty.  Orks <= lol

He reciprocated by changing his army and wiping me out and only losing 4/18 Orks.  /shame

The mission was Extraction, in which one model for the defender is the "High Value Target" or HVT.  In game one it was a Nob w/ a power klaw.  The Ork list was 4 Lootas, a few boyz with shootas and said Nob.  My list was the six model force from my last post here.  The battle field was this attractive group of white boxes to represent.... something boxy I guess.

The battle started well for the Orks, with one of the Lootas making a very unlikely armor save against the Terminator's storm bolter.  Things didn't go so well after that, with every Space Marine making his armor save against the few Ork shots that hit.

Finally, the Orks got tired of doing all the dying and the Nob charged the Terminator.  Noooo!  He's the High Value Target!  If I even touch him with that power first it'll turn him into pesto.  So I was actually rooting for the Klaw to kill the Termie so that I could rapid-fire the Nob to death with the nearby tactical Marines.  No, instead the Termie made his invulnerable save and proceeded to flatten the Nob.  As a side note, I know you can't "turn off" the power fist anymore, but can one choose not to fight in melee?

Anyway after total Marine domination, Mark retooled his Ork list to maximize shootas, big shootas and throw in a couple burnas.  The result.  Ouch.  Ouch.  Ouch.  Ouch.  So many shots... so many wounds... so many armor saves, most of which I saved but every miss was a dear loss.

The end result... everyone won!  Well, not all at once, but both Marines and Orks got their moment to shine.  Mark is writing up the scenarios for these, and I'll link to his much neglected blog once he posts them.  It was a fun game and I'm looking forward to playing the next scenario.  Apparently the goal is to ramp up from SO:K 175 pts last night to an Apocalypse game!  Yikes!

Mark's blog, for scenario fluffiness:

Monday, November 08, 2010

SpecOps Killzone Space Marines tonight!

A friend and I are playing some SpecOps Killzone as part of an 40k escalation series.  He will be playing Orks (including, I fear, Lootas) and I will be playing Space Marines.  My list is as follows:

Vanguard Veteran Fraunhofer (power weapon, bolt pistol, medipack, team leader)
Tactical Marine Leitus (bolter, bolt pistol)
Tactical Marine Banhof (bolter, bolt pistol)
Tactical Marine Leipner (missile launcher, bolt pistol)
Tactical Marine Justov (heavy bolter, suspensors, bolt pistol)
Terminator Hestophar (storm bolter, power fist)
Total: 174 points

More after the battle!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

SpecOps Killzone BatRep: 'Nids vs. Orks

Outta da way, bugz!  We's got some know-wotz fer da Boss!

175 pt game, reconnaissance.
Orks were attackers.

Ork list:  Lugruk's RuffBoyz (174 pts)

Lugruk, Nob w/ 'eavy armor, power klaw, slugga (50 pts)
Skabgut, Nob w/ 'eavy armor, choppa, slugga (25 pts)
Gobstik, Nob Painboy w/ 'eavy armor (55 pts)
Skumbad, 'ard Boy w/ shoota, close combat accesssories (11 pts)
Durthug, 'ard Boy w/ Big Shoota (15 pts)
Skarslag, 'ard Boy w/ Big Shoota, targeter (18 pts)

Steve's Tyranid List:

3 x Warrior w/ Venom Cannon, scything talons
5 x Hormagaunts, adrenal glands

This was a lunch-hour battle, so our terrain was made up of boxes I had around my office.  Very urban, I suppose.  Turn 1 saw the Orks surge forward and kill a 'gaunt with the big shootas.  Nids fired venom cannons and put a wound on both Lugruk and Skabgut.  Turn 2 we rolled for priority and Nids won (and they won every turn thereafter.)  Hormagaunts practically flew across the table and each big shoota got charged by two of them, doing no wounds at all.  The warrior on the far side of the table sniped Skumbad, taking his shoota out of the game.  The boyz returned hits on the gaunts for no wounds, then really did some hurt when the Nobs charged in for the bottom of turn 2.  Skabgut fell to a venom cannon, and poor Durthug was left struggling with a gaunt as the rest of the mob pressed toward the goal.  Watching the painboy stomp off must have been irritating.

Once the gaunts had been dealt with, it was onto the warriors.  Turn 3, Orks called the Waaaagh and charged all the way into assault with the two warriors in the back.  it was the beginning of the end for the nids.  Lugruk showed why his name goes on top of the list as he single-handedly (hur hur) power klawed each warrior into bite-sized morsels.  

Things may have gone differently if Steve had done things in a slightly different order.  Lugruk missed an armor save near the end of the game, but still made his FNP roll.  In the same turn, at the same initiative, Painboy Gobstik was killed by the Warrior he was engaged with.  If the Painboy had gone down first, Lugruk would have gone down as well.  It would have been pretty dicey for the Orks after that, with only the two big shoota boyz, Durthug and Skarslag, left to take out two Warriors.  Instead, the last bug got significantly ganged up on and finally fell to Lugruk's Klaw.  Victory for da Orks!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Renaissance Has Begun

Listen up, you lot.

When the web comic Ctrl-Alt-Delete does comics on war-gaming, it's funny stuff.
When Penny Arcade does a comic on war-gaming, it's something big.
When Penny Arcade does two comics on war-gaming in less than two weeks, something huge is happening.
When the largest prize ever offered for a miniature painting competition is at an American convention....

...we are seeing the beginning of a renaissance of miniature gaming in America.

I can hope, can't I?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Last Night's Revelations

Because education is good.
  1. My hand makes a lousy cutting board.
  2. A bread knife is plenty sharp to slice the skin on your palm open.
  3. band-aids make everything better
  4. The Kids In The Hall are looking really old nowadays.
  5. Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning is fantastic on freshly roasted pumpkin seeds
  6. Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning is about 99.4% salt
  7. Salt really hurts when it gets into the corner of a fresh bread-knife wound.
And now you know.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Attention All Gamers: Cavalry != Calvary

It's a small thing, but it drives me to distraction.  Behold:

CavalryTroops trained to fight mounted on horses (or perhaps bears.  Or sharks!)

Calvary: A hill outside ancient Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified, also called Golgotha.

Notice the small, but all-important spelling difference in letters 3-6.  Gamers seem to have no problem referring to cavalry as "cav" but only seem to be able to say "cavalry" about 50% of the time instead of saying "calvary."  Cav-al-ry.  Cal-va-ry.  Not the same.

Also, when you say "supposably" you probably mean "supposedly."  Supposably is a real word, but it means conceivably.  So, GW is supposedly releasing a new Daemonhunters codex soon, but they are supposably releasing a new army made up of power-armored chihuahuas in 2011.  Supposably.

Spoiler Alert: The Chicken Gets It

Please, please tell me who this cinematic is supposed to appeal to?!?  After rooting for this oppressed chicken as she makes her daring escape attempt I was appalled to see her get snuffed by the stupid cook guy. Really depressing.

Doesn't the little guy (or gal) win anymore? Shame on you, chicken haters. I don't care about your dark mood-setting back story. All I hear is blah, blah, blah now anyway.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Goblins Need Love

When it comes to WHFB Orcs and Goblins, regular old Goblins are the middle child.  The one who always claimed "Mom liked you best!" of the other units in the army.

They have no Night Goblin trickery, like netters or fanatics. They have no squig herds or squig mounts.  They don't hate Dwarfs.
They have no poisoned mounts or wall-walking, like forest goblins.
They have no T4, tusker charge boar mounts and chariots, no choppas, no warpaint ward saves and no super-armed shock troops like Orcs do.

They are just.... goblins.  The basic troop model doesn't even have the option for a hand weapon on the sprue, so you have to convert them to get the 6+ ward save in cc.  Sure they have wolves and wolf chariots, but they are completely mundane.  They have war machines, but these are the basic ones from the rulebook (except for the Doom Diver of course.)  What role do goblins actually fill in an O&G army?  What are they good at that there aren't already multiple options for?

Let's take Skaven as our comparison, another horde army.  Skaven basic troops are clanrats, skavenslaves, stormvermin.  I'll leave off giant rats and night runners, since they are quite a bit different.  The three troops I mentioned each have their specific rules and strengths.  Slaves are amazingly cheap, pop when they break from combat, and you can shoot at an enemy in combat with them.  Clanrats are basic and fairly cheap but you can attach a weapon team to them, or hide an assassin in them.  Stormvermin are very similar to clanrats except they have better gear, a better initiative and weapon skill, can take a magic banner, and a unit of them can be boosted with a special character.  Each unit has something special about them, something that can make them more useful.  Goblins do not.  They have hand weapons, spears or short bows.  They might have shields.  They might have command.  That's it.

I have to admit, I have a thing for armies that don't include their best basic units.  My Witch-Hunters army includes no Sororitas at all, and I'm building an army of all mounted goblins and discovering that there are exactly zero surprises in the army except for the die-rolls.  Even the wolf riders and chariots don't have very much killing power, and now you need minimum 10 riders alive at the end of combat just to disrupt, so forget MSU gangs.  Maybe the next army book will make their place in the O&G army more defined.

So here's my petition to GW: please give goblins something night goblins do not have, other than just light armor.  Maybe a unit upgrade of a goblin big boss (as opposed to the current "boss" unit champion) that doesn't count against the hero points (perhaps with a lowered magic item point limit too.)  Something.  Anything.  Please.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Making Terrain ... with Fire!

My wife and I tried a little terrain making using cheap styrofoam and a blow torch. The result was interesting, but not exactly what I had hoped.

All the same, I got to play with fire.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New Skaven Models!

From the GW email newsletter:
In January 2011, following the epic release of The Island of Blood, the Skaven will be receiving reinforcements, including new models - visit the website tomorrow for more information from the Studio. And with these new additions gathering on the horizon, there is no better time to start up or expand your very own Skaven army
Yes!  I'm really interested in seeing what new models are released.  The Night Runners are clearly a candidate, as they are similar to the last edition of clan rat.  I'd love to see a better Thanquol model too.  What I'd really like to see, beyond all reasonable hope, is a box of giant rats and packmasters.  Currently the only way to get 18 points of giant rats is to buy them with 80 points of rat ogres in a $40 box.  I was personally hoping that the new rulebook would give rat ogres/giant rats a mixed unit rule like kroxigors/skinks get based on the way they are sold, but hey.... no biggie.  So, like I said, if you want to field any reasonable number of giant rats you are forced to buy a lot of $40 boxes, even if you use all the other smallish rats that come with plague monks, doomwheel, etc.

So what other Skaven units are old..... gutter runners?  I still like those.  The warlord?  Yeah, I'd love to see a multi-option warlord box.  Same with warlock engineer.  And, oh!  Plague priest!  I'd love to see a good model for him!  I guess I'll just wait for tomorrow and see what's in store.

In the words of the immortal General Vorg... Squeeks!

EDIT:  Apparently the "more information" on the web site is that we can look forward to more information.  Oh, well.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Quote of the Day

While playing with magnets at work.....

Paul: As they (the magnet groups) gain mass they become more attractive.

Matt: Yeah, that doesn't really work in real life.

SpecOps Killzone Orks WIP 1

I'm digging through the Orks to find models to fit my Special Operations Group (SOG) for SpecOps Killzone.  The two big shoota boyz I had painted a few years ago for a "Paint Assault On Black Reach in a Month" painting competition (which I lost... other examples of the losing models here, here and here.)  The Nobs are all converted from WHFB Black Orcs, combined with some old metal Nob parts and things I made sure to bitz order before GW shut down the bitz orders, like the Dok Bosspole thingy.  The 'urty syringes are scratch built from miscellaneous bits and brass rod.

I did some browbeating tonight to the gang to get them to play, and even sent one of them home with a printed copy of the rules.  Hopefully.......

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Time To Evacuate The Earth

I've been having a lot of fun reading the Earth Evacuation Blog.  It's basically a collection of news stories and theories about how the Large Hadron Collider will destroy our planet through generation of minuscule black holes.  It may be a little crazy, but it's not timecube crazy.

For introduction, this page has some "key posts" that help a new reader get up to speed.

BTW, I am firmly against destroying the earth, since this is where I keep most of my stuff.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

SpecOps Killzone Orks

I am very interested in playing SpecOps Killzone, and will be trying to convince my local group to try it out.  The low model count might actually get some people into the game who otherwise are reluctant because of the steep entry cost of a normal 40k army.  I may even donate some AoBR Marines or Orks and miscellaneous bits to help someone start.  There is also a forum dedicated to the rules.

So here is the first 175 pt list I'm planning on trying out.

Lugruk's RuffBoyz (174 pts)

Lugruk, Nob w/ 'eavy armor, power klaw, slugga (50 pts)
Skabgut, Nob w/ 'eavy armor, choppa, slugga (25 pts)
Gobstik, Nob Painboy w/ 'eavy armor (55 pts)
Skumbad, 'ard Boy w/ shoota, close combat accesssories (11 pts)
Durthug, 'ard Boy w/ Big Shoota  (15 pts)
Skarslag, 'ard Boy w/ Big Shoota, targeter (18 pts)

The goal is to have a hard close combat core, boosted by the FNP conferred by the painboy, and a shooting group laying down S5 firepower (albeit at a less than impressive BS2.)  Skumbad will stick with the combat group, looking for opportunity shots.  The force has a consistent 4+ save and a total of 9 wounds, 7 of which will have FNP conferred.  The combat core can assault with 9 S5, 4 S4 and 4 S9 attacks if everyone gets in base contact, so I'm hoping that will wipe out anything they get near.  I haven't really looked at the scenarios much, so this may change if I see the need to adapt to a list that makes more sense for them.

I Must Not Be Smart Enough To Understand Socialism

A pleasant young lady handed me a flyer advertising a public meeting tomorrow night entitled "The Breakdown of Capitalism and the Fight for Socialism."  It was surreal enough in its text, that I present it as delivered.  Color emphasis is mine.

Public Meeting sponsored by the International Students for Social Equality
The Breakdown of Capitalism and the Fight for Socialism
The world capitalist system is ensnared in its greatest crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  The financial turmoil that began two years ago with the sudden failure of Wall Street icons has metastasized into a global economic breakdown.
The Obama administration's claim that it has "broken the back" of the recession is a self-serving lie, told by cynical politicians who are convinced that the people can be made to believe anything.  Tens of millions of people are unemployed, and millions have been thrown out of their homes.  Public schools and universities are cutting tens of thousands of jobs and reducing admissions.   State and local governments are responding with mass layoffs, pay cuts and the elimination of basic social programs.
The corporations and wealthy, led by the Obama administration, have used the economic crisis to increase their wealth, seizing on high unemployment to lower wages and increase profits.
In the aftermath of the 1929 collapse on Wall Street, the government and the press repeated endlessly the refrain: "Prosperity is just around the corner."  But the depression that began with the stock market crash and then spread throughout the world lasted more than a decade and led to unprecedented suffering and destruction.
A new warning must be raised with all necessary urgency.  The present crisis will not simply go away.  There is no peaceful, let alone easy, way out of the economic and social impasse into which capitalism has led mankind.  Join us for a series of meetings to discuss the socialist program and the political strategy for building a working class movement against capitalism.

So, let me get this straight.  An economic crisis leads to higher profit?  That must be why so many new businesses have opened or existing businesses expanded during the current economic situation, creating so many jobs.  And the concept that high supply and lower demand for workers led to a lower wage clearly has nothing to do with basic economic truths and everything to do with greed.  And Obama, as a consistent voice for expanded and extended social programs, is clearly the ringleader of the corporations and the wealthy.  Also, schools and universities are apparently turning students away in reaction to the tens of thousands of job cuts they have made.  Clearly peaceful methods of reversing this trend is impossible and the time for violent uprising is at hand.

Look, I've never won the Nobel prize in anything but this is highly counterintuitive to me.  We can't even afford what we're providing for people right now (and still wouldn't be able to, even if the wars stop tomorrow.)  The idea that providing more services, requiring more government revenue, taking that revenue from businesses, causing the businesses to employ fewer people, causing more people to be in demand of social services, causing prosperity just does not add up for me.

Sadly, I will not be able to attend the public forum.  Does somebody with a mightier brain than I care to explain any of this to me, especially the "reducing admissions" part?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Moment To Remember

I stayed up to watch the first of the Chilean miners arrive safely on the surface after two months underground.

How can you not tear up at a moment like that?

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Gaming Table's Innaugural Match

Thursday saw the first game played on my home-made gaming table.  For about $50 in supplies and a little experimentation it turned out pretty nice.

The first battle was 1000 points Skaven vs. Seth's Warriors of Chaos.  Having never played more than 500 points vs. Chaos (and it was Hordes of  Chaos back then) I certainly had an idea how dangerous they can be.  What surprised me wat the one squad of 12 warriors with the Mark of Tzeentch ended up nearly unstoppable, taking only one wound the entire game from, of all things, a slave unit popping.  Winning entire combats on "static combat res" doesn't quite cut it against these guys.

Deployment certainly reminded me that I hadn't played in a while, as I made the rookie error of deploying my general on the opposite side of the board from my main blocks of clanrats and slaves.  Even when steadfast, slaves hold up a lot better at Ld7+ranks than they do at Ld2+ranks.  The Warlord general (on bonebreaker) ended up on the opposite side in a unit of rat ogres with a single block of slaves.

My only caster was a Warlock Engineer, lvl 2, who had the misfortune of rolling skitterleap for his 2nd spell.  I was really hoping for something more ... destructive.  Anyway, with the number of dispel dice my opponent had to throw most turns it was nearly impossible to get a spell off, and I only got warp lightning off once, after skitterleaping over next to the chaos knights.  This was the single 40k vs. fantasy moment, as Seth was perplexed by the fact that he couldn't attack the engineer with the knights that were 3" from him.  He had his revenge by reforming a unit of warhounds and making an epically long charge to hit the engineer.

So on that far side of the tables where the two generals (mounted chaos sorcerer and bonebreaker mounted warlord) faced off, the slaves made the shortest charge in Skaven history.... 7 inches.  They were charged in turn by the warhounds, who popped them and restrained pursuit.  They then fled when charged by the warlord's unit, leaving the warlord flapping in the breeze to be charged by the chaos knights, the sorcerer and the other unit of warhounds (fresh off wiping out my engineer.)

In the middle of the table, things weren't going much better for me.  A unit of warriors with 2 hand weapons is a force to be reckoned with when you are WS3 T3.  Choppity choppity chop.  A few attacks back, a wound or two, saved by the 5+/5+ combo and he wins by an awful lot.  The marauders were a fairly even match, but those warriors!  It really made me wish I had brought a warpfire thrower or a few globadiers or something
So I left 70 rats hanging in the breeze while the warlord rode his Moulder toy to his own demise.

Next time, I think I'll remember what makes Skaven a force to be respected.


Friday, October 08, 2010

A Subtle Reminder of My Own Cowardice

A coworker just wandered by.....

"I just talked to Bill," he said.  "He ascended that wizard he'd had for ages."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah.  Don't you have a Tourist right on the verge of ascending?"

(ashamed) "Yes..... I'm just too scared to continue."

And so, I present this post: My Unassailable Cowardice  If you've ever played a Tourist in Nethack, perhaps you understand.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

1000 points of Skaven for Intro Game

I'm rethinking my choices for the intro game.  The prior list had a lot of destructive power to it in the form of magic and Skryre craziness.  I think I'm going to reshape the list into something a little more ... mundane.

Warlord on Rat Ogre Bonebreaker, shield @ 151
Warlock Engineer, lvl 2, Warp Energy Condenser, Foul Pendant @ 150
25 Clanrats w/ full command, shield @ 133
25 Clanrats w/ full command, shield @ 133
25 Clanrats w/ full command, shield, spears @ 145
20 Skavenslaves w/ musician @ 42
20 Skavenslaves w/ musician @ 42
20 Skavenslaves w/ musician @ 42
3 Rat Ogres, inc. Master-bred and 2 packmasters @ 158
995 points, 142 bases

Again, the goal is a fun intro game.  I have no interest in utterly destroying in someone's first game.  With this list it will be much more a test of numbers vs. super-chaos-choppity.  The Foul Pendant is more to protect the engineer from himself than anything else.  I lose more engineers to my own Warp Lightning than to the enemy.

Another fellow may be bringing 1k of ... something.  Not sure yet.  Lizardmen?  Vampire Counts?  He has an army of Lizardmen that he has converted to look undead that he plans on playing as either, so we'll see what (if anything) he brings along.

Tonight, light! Tomorrow, game!

I went to Lowe's on my lunch hour today to purchase a 4' fluorescent strip for my basement gaming area.  I picked up a couple daylight quality bulbs for it, so I should have some awe-inspiring light in that room.  The entire purchase was <$30.  The table has a short edge pushed against the wall, so I'll be mounting this light on a ceiling joist directly above the table, centering the 4' light on the 6' table as much as possible.  I also plan to hook up the light to my existing wiring so that one switch controls this new fixture and the existing fluorescent bulb on the other side of the room together.

Gaming at my house has begun.

Now I need to buy some free standing shelves to hold terrain pieces.  Not that I actually have many terrain pieces, but it will be nice to have someplace to put them once I have them.  Until that time I will be playing with proxy terrain.  Cereal box hills.  Pringles can towers.  Paper cut out forests.  Epic stuff.

Expect pictures from tomorrow's big inaugural game.  Skaven vs. Warriors of Chaos.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Intro Game vs. Warriors of Chaos

We are going to do an intro game of Warhammer Fantasy during the Thursday night hobby session, a first for the group.  Seth will be pitting his Warriors of Chaos against my Skaven in a 1000 point game.  Seth basically has a WoC battalion + a mounted lord that he's running as an exalted hero, and I am lending him a chaos sorcerer.  The battalion is basically 12 chaos warriors, 10 warhounds, 20 marauders and 5 chaos knights.  I am considering the following list:

1000 Pts - Skaven Roster

Grey Seer (1#, 240 pts)
   1 Grey Seer @ 240 pts (General; Hand Weapon)

Warlock Engineer (1#, 93 pts)
   1 Warlock Engineer @ 93 pts (Level 1 Wizard; Hand Weapon)
      1 Warplock Pistol
      1 Warp-Energy Condenser

Clanrats (77#, 475 pts)
   24 Clanrats @ 210 pts (Musician Mus; Standard Bearer Std; Hand Weapon; Spear; Light Armour; Shield)
      1 Clawleader (Hand Weapon; Spear; Light Armour; Shield)
      1 Poisoned Wind Mortar Weapon Team (Poisoned Wind Mortar; Hand Weapon; Heavy Armour)
   24 Clanrats @ 133 pts (Musician Mus; Standard Bearer Std; Hand Weapon; Light Armour; Shield)
      1 Clawleader (Hand Weapon; Light Armour; Shield)
   24 Clanrats @ 133 pts (Musician Mus; Standard Bearer Std; Hand Weapon; Light Armour; Shield)
      1 Clawleader (Hand Weapon; Light Armour; Shield)

Warp-Lightning Cannon (1#, 90 pts)
   1 Warp-Lightning Cannon @ 90 pts
      1 Engineer & Crew

Warplock Jezzails (5#, 100 pts)
   5 Warplock Jezzails @ 100 pts (Hand Weapon; Warplock Jezzail)

Total Roster Cost: 998

I don't have a lot of experience with WoC.  Is this list going to roll him badly?  With so few models I am afraid the war machines will decimate him, something I don't want to do in a starter game.  I also know that those warrior and knight blocks will eat clanrats like The King of Town at a chinese buffet.  Any thoughts, readers?  Is there balance, or would you play something different?  Drop the cannon or the engineer and play some slaves perhaps?

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Unlikely Mural

Wednesday I acted as representative for a friend at his parole interview.  Not in any lawyerly way, just as a friend giving a personal statement.  Those of us representin' were placed in the visitation room until it was our turn to go before the interviewer.  The room was empty but for the three of us.  The visitation room was groups of spartan looking chairs, some facing each other and others arranged so that they all faced the same way, like a classroom or a movie theater.  There was a podium at one end of the room, but the chairs that were arranged for such a thing did not face the podium.  Along one way was a series of vending machines, including one of those rotating sandwich machines that my friend called "The Wheel of Death."  The Pepsi vending machine repeatedly commanded me to ENJOY A REFRESHING DRINK on its little LED blinking screen.  If I was an inmate without quarters I would probably find that galling.

The strangest thing was the mural at one end of the room.  It was a scene of various Hanna Barbera characters engaged in a sack race, Top Cat, Astro from the Jetsons and Muttley, if memory serves me correctly.  Meanwhile Fred Flintstone played some sort of a guitar while Yogi and Boo Boo sat on a log eating from a pic-i-nic basket.  Pebbles and Bam Bam were seated on a see-saw made from a log and a rock.  The whole picture was arranged top to bottom, with the mural cut roughly in half by the horizon, and the path that the sack racers were taking going from horizon to bottom of mural.  The non-racers were situated to either side.  What really made the thing surreal were the overly realistic landscape elements in the mural.  Trees lined the path that could have come out of any Bob Ross painting, and mountains stretched up in the background.  The mountains were huge and steep, pointed crags that were forbidding enough to be the quest goal of any good fantasy novel.  They lacked snow but were painted with enough skill to see that the lighting was coming from about 45 degrees from the left of the mural.  The realistic trees and the Mountains of Pointy Doom were a jarring contrast to the happy cartoon antics happening below that horizon line.

I wish I could have taken a picture, but it turns out you can't bring your camera phone into a state correctional facility.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Perplexing Box

On an ordinary Tuesday, a box arrives in the mail...

My wife has determine that having daughters has corrupted my sense of awesome. I thought "corrupted" seemed a bit negative, so she downgraded it to "tainted." My daughters both squeeeeed when they saw the box, so now I have the choice of buying each of them their own box or giving mine to them. No way I'm giving up my precious mousies, so it looks like I better go get the credit card...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kung Fu Movie... Filmstrip-Style

Check out Bob's favorite movie, as portrayed in filmstrip style "frames and captions."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Installing Ubuntu 10 on a Dell E6510

Had a little heartache with this one.  My brand new work laptop just didn't want to boot with Ubuntu 10 (lucid lynx?... I forget the animal names.)  The problem was a black screen after boot, which it turns out is caused by the open source nouveau graphics card driver.

The solution:
  1. Boot from install CD.  Press F6 immediately after POST to go to the installer menu.  
  2. Once in the installer menu, press F6 again to select "Other Options"
  3. Choose "nomodeset" in the Other Options menu and press enter, then press escape.
  4. Choose "Install Ubuntu" from the menu and install as you see fit.
Once installed, boot the system without the CD and do the following:
  1. Hold down shift on boot to enter the GRUB boot menu.
  2. Press 'e' to edit the first item on the boot option list.
  3. On the line that includes "quiet splash" and add "nouveau.modeset=0" to the end (no quotes)
  4. Press ctrl+x to boot
  5. Choose "boot into low res mode only this one time" (or similar) when prompted.
Once booted into low res mode you can update the hardware drivers to use the proprietary nVidia driver, in fact you will be prompted to do so after booting the first time.  Install the driver (ignoring the other update manager window for now.)  Rebooting after installing the proprietary driver will eliminate the black screen issues.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Unlikely Truth: Our Hobby Isn't That Expensive

As much fun as complaining about the price of this hobby might be, I'd like to present a counterpoint.

Yesterday was great fun.  I went to a Michigan State football game (vs. Northern Colorado) with my dad while my wife and kids spent the day with my mom.  Looking at the ticket stub, my eyes kept gravitating to the price on the ticket: $49.  And that's just college football... NFL tickets are more.  Potentially a lot more.  Even the act of taking my three kids to an IMAX 3-D movie, after concessions and admission, can get pretty near the $100 mark.  For the price of a weekend activity with the family, one could get a good start on a new army.

Part of why I am suddenly of the opinion that this hobby isn't the money-pit that many people portray it as is the fact that fleeting, temporary entertainment is incredibly expensive, while the same money spent on miniatures is a one-time investment which results in something you can use to your heart's content.   Even in the hobby realm it's comparatively cheap.  Have you ever priced serious RC cars, or model trains?  How about telescopes?  Even plastic military models give war-gaming a serious run for its money.

So the next time you feel obligated to declare that you are never buying from manufacturer X again because of a price hike, or if you get irritated that minis seem to be priced by in-game usefulness rather than the quantity of raw materials used to manufacturer them, take a look around and see what everything else costs.  Good grief, look at your own cell phone bill or cable bill.  Are you really getting your money's worth for those?

Like my dad once said:  I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no socks.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

WHFB: Long Range Throwing Weapons?

So, throwing weapons.... a staple of my Gutter Runners.  I recall stipulations in prior editions that thrown weapons did not receive the -1 penalty for long range.  I can find no such exclusion in 8th ed.  Does this mean that my poor rats are shooting at -2 if they move and throw more than 3"?

At least they get to march and throw.  That's a good 18" threat range.

EDIT: Slicer sets me straight.  I thought Quick To Fire was only a stand and shoot thing, but it also removes the -1 for move and fire.  The long range modifier still appears to apply though, so only -1 instead of -2.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Gnawing Urge for New Armies

So I'm reading Rhellion's blog post in which he chronicles his Ogre Kingdoms opponent walking away from a game in the bottom of turn two because he didn't like how charge reactions work in 8th ed.  And then I started thinking about Ogres.  And thinking more about Ogres.  And starting Army Builder to see what an Ogre list could include in 2k.  And looking at GW's web site to see what an Ogre battalion includes....

You know what?  With a little conversion, you can have a 2k Ogre army for about $150 and a little conversion work.  I can't say I'm not tempted.... a unit of 6 Bulls in two ranks of 3 would get 22 S4 attacks with ironfist = 11 hits = about 7 wounds + 3 S5 impact hits + 3 S4 stomps = about 12 wounds on a typical T3 troop if you can get all 6 Bulls into combat (yeah, I know... good luck with that.)

The list:
Tyrant w/ Skullplucker, Armor of Destiny, Obsidian trinket, potion of speed, luck Gnoblar
Butcher w/ Talisman of Protection, 2 tooth Gnoblars
6 Bulls w/ Crusher, Bellower, Stardard Bearer, ironfist, light armor
6 Bulls w/ Crusher, Bellower, Stardard Bearer, ironfist, light armor
6 Ironguts w/ Gutlord, Bellower, Standard Bearer
20 Gnoblars w/ Groinbiter
24 Gnoblars w/ Groinbiter
4 Leadbelchers w/ Thunderfist, Bellower
4 Leadbelchers w/ Thunderfist, Bellower

It's basically two battalion boxes, with two of the Ironguts converted to be a Tyrant and a Butcher, and a couple Gnoblars nabbed to act in the luck/tooth capacity.  Is it optimal?  No.  Is it playable?  I'm sure it is.  Does it look like fun?  Yeah, actually it does.  The only thing I wonder about is how useful Gnoblars would be with their M4 stat.  Seriously, getting the big guys into combat (and away from shooting) seems like the best way to use their strengths, and Gnoblars as a screen would slow them down.

So now I have to wonder... why!!?!?  I already have my beloved Skaven (including a bunch of on-sprue ones from Island of Blood!) and my wolf riding goblin army, which consists of exactly ONE assembled and painted model (and about a dozen unassembled.)  So why am I toying with the idea of another army?  The rules?  The minis?  I really don't know.  I'm already jonesing for a Hordes Minions army, and I have a ton of Eldar to build and paint.  Why do I want Ogres now?!!?

What drives you?  How do you turn it off?!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Extremeast-09... or something like that

A friend has commissioned me to convert and paint for him a Beast-09 warjack using the Extreme Juggernaut as the base model.  The pose will resemble the fluff art in the Khador book, with Beast-09 standing on a barricade of sharpened logs in a snowstorm.  His army isn't snow based, so I'm leaving the snow off.  The ice on the ax is also getting the ... ax.

So why convert a Beast-09 when there is already a model?  As you can see, the Extreme Juggernaut is considerably larger than the regular Juggernaut.  For a unique, named warjack, the larger model just seemed appropriate.  Many people have converted the Extreme Juggernaut into a Khador Behemoth, a conversion commonly called an Extremoth, but precious few mentions of people making Beast-09 from the kit.

A quick comparison of the standard Beast-09 model to the EJ shows that I will need the following for starters:

  • additional shoulder pyramid spikes
  • longer ax haft and additional ax "gubbins"
  • extended exhaust pipes
  • modified knuckle spikes
  • modified thigh details
  • ring of runes around neck
  • modified head spike
  • cute little "first place" ribbon on left side of chest
The final product will be based on the artwork more than the original model, so some of the aspects of the model that are exaggerated (like the ring of runes) will probably be much smaller on the conversion.

Stay tuned, Khador fans!

Vallejo Black Lava (part 2)

Continued from part 1.

Here are the post-drying states of the three models I tested Vallejo Black Lava on.

The leftmost base received a fairly generous coating and then the space marine legs were stuck into the wet goop.  The adhesion was quite good after it was dry, and took a fair bit of tugging to get them detached.  You can clearly see one of the footprints left behind.  The base was then basecoated scorched brown and drybrushed khaki and bleached bone.  The texture is quite nice.  This is a slotta base, and the lava does not seem to have sunk into the slot at all.  I can see myself preparing many bases like this at once for future use.

For the middle base, the lava was placed over the cork used for the base build up.  I drybrushed a little cold gray onto the black to pick out the detail.  You can see that the cork top surface is replaced by the very small grit of the black lava in a nicely random looking pattern.  The cork edges were also nicely obscured by the lava I applied there.

The third base was given a thinner coat of black lava around a miniature that had already been glued to the base.  You can see that the texture is a bit different than the first base, which got a heavier coat.  I can see the application of this thin a coat of black lava for things like metal corrosion.  I gets the job done for basing, but doesn't make for a very rugged looking base texture.

I'm very pleased with the way this is working out and I will be using this to base a whole lot of tIoB clanrats in the near future.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Vallejo Black Lava (part 1)

Following the lead of several other bloggers, I bought a jar of Vallejo Black Lava texture paint to try for basing (and eventually mud and corrosion effects, if I get the gumption.)

First off, I was impressed by the size of the container for $10 (from Sprue Brothers.)  Maybe I have Citadel price desenitization, but I was expecting about 1/4 of what I got.  This looks like enough to base an army.  The jar itself has an inner plug that should keep the gunk from drying out for a good long time.  So far so good.

I tried three tests to start.  The first, the assault marine, was a figure glued to a base.  I painted the black lava around the feet onto the base.  It was surprisingly easy to keep it off the feet of the mini... much more so than using glue and sand.  The second test was to paint a round slotta base, clumping it on thick enough to cover the slot, and then placing the marine legs into the black lava.  I wanted to see if the black lava would sink into the slot over time, and if it has any adhesive qualities.  Lastly, I used a little thinned out black lava to paint on some of the cork texture on Skrolk's base.  I wanted to see how fine a texture could be achieved (on top, the flat area of the cork) and if the texture on the broken side of the cork could be obscured.

I'll detail how they dry and paint in part 2.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Poor Island of Blood Skaven Take One for the Team

First off, let me say that I love the new set.  The minis are awesome.

Poor little rats.  GW just posted the Island of Blood reference sheet on their website.

By my reckoning....

High Elves: 953 pts and not legal list
Skaven: 659 pts, legal list (except for the mysterious warlock engineer halberd)

Now, I'm not expert as to which number is higher than other numbers, but it sure looks like the High Elves are at a distinct advantage over the Skaven.  I thought maybe the inclusion of the griffon was the issue, but the more I fiddle with the list the more I realize that I can't make a High Elf list work with those models.  There are just too many points in special and too few in core.  Even if the Prince just walks and gives up all his special equipment he costs too much to fit with the small core points level.

So I'm interested to hear if anyone has played the set as delivered.  Are the High Elves just unable to handle the model count that Skaven bring?  Or are the Skaven magic/weapon teams just too much for equitable High Elf points to handle?  Maybe they are just there to lose and give a feeling of false security to the Forces of Order in some cunning plot by the Council of 13.  Inquiring minds want to know.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Severius Saves The Day

Today's battle: Protectorate of Menoth led by Grand Scrutator "check out my new cloak" Severius vs. Legion of Everblight led by "Gluefist" Lylyth.

Ready..... fight!

The match mostly consisted of me moving my forces up so Matt could beat on their faces.  Gorman Di Wulfe underestimated the advance distance of a Shredder (remember, folks!  You don't have to charge in Warmachine!) and got, well, shredded.  My warjacks advanced into woods when fighting against Legion (the fourth classic blunder, I believe) and got beaten into scrap.  The Crusader was killed in one turn of savage thrashing without getting a swing.  The Revenger at least did some damage, but got pounded into art for his trouble.  My Bastions skirted the woods and managed to do some hurt to the Carnivean from the other side.

And then Matt made a game ending error.  He moved Lylyth into the woods, within 12" of Severius and less than 3" of the edge of the woods.  Next turn I up-kept Eye of Menoth (of course) and Defender's Ward on the Bastions, then with my remaining 6 focus moved up and cast Immolation on Lylyth.  Three times.

First attempt.... needed a 7.  Rolled a 6.  Rats.

Second attempt.... needed a 7.  Rolled a pair of 5's. Crit!  7 damage, and you are on fire bow-lady!

Third attempt.... needed a 7.  Rolled a ...  7!  (whew)  6 more damage for enemy Warlock.

So 13/16 health gone from L, and my damage potential for the turn is done.  I run the remaining choir up so they are engaging Lylyth and hand the turn over.

Legion's turn: Fire does not expire and the resulting damage roll takes the rest of Lylyth's health.  Menoth.  Is.  Victorious!

If my little caster-on-caster gambit had failed he would have eaten me alive with his remaining warbeasts, but a Warmachine/Hordes game can turn in a moment.  Fun game!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Wanted: Island of Blood WHFB rulebook.. $20, you ship

Just what it says in the title... I want to buy someone's Island of Blood Warhammer mini rulebook.  I'll pay $20 via Paypal and you pay the first class postage to Michigan (U.S.)  Please be able to mail it within a couple days.

If you are willing, email me, hakoMike, at gmail.  I'd rather deal with one of y'all than someone on eBay.

Road to Games Day 2011

I am undeniably excited.  Games Day this year is in Chicago and the date does not conflict with my regular summer vacation plan.  After a two year hiatus I will get the chance to test my painting muster against the rest of the country.  With the talent pool undiluted by multiple Golden Demon competitions all summer I know my chances of winning are even lower than before, but I'm giving it a shot.  Painting for competition also fits well with my goal.  Now, what to paint?

So who is going?  Maybe I'll get to meet some of y'all in person.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Simple Menoth Freehand

I know... I'm on a posting glut.

I was pleased at how well this little 5 minute freehand came out.  I had painted this gaming quality Severius model for Warmachine a while back, but his plain cloak never really did it for me. 

This little freehand occurred to me as a way to break up the ubiquitous "line parallel to cloak edge" freehand.  I tried to space the little "Menofix" shapes based on the folds in the cloth so that they would seem roughly equidistant.  Not perfect, but it adds just enough color to the back of the fig to make it more interesting.

Watch Out Where the Huskies Go

I've noticed that my recipe for snow apparently yellows over time.  The recipe?  White glue + baking soda + water.  You see in this pic (taken today) that the snow on the ground is quite a bit more yellow than it was when I entered this into competition (closeup pic.)

A couple of the little flying sparks have been lost on this piece...  I probably should repair it because (believe it or not) the whole thing is a gift for someone who paid me to do a large Space Marine commission.  That's his chapter color scheme.  I really should send it to him....

I always liked how the OSL came out on the banshee. 

Skrolk WIP 4

How long do you paint a single mini before you just call it done?  I'm not painting Skrolk for competition or anything, but I just can't seem to get to that "time to wrap this guy up" moment.  I uncovered a mold line running up one side of the censer and across the bone staff-topper, and had to scrape it down and repaint those portions.  I have meticulously highlighted the pages of the book, almost to the point where I am afraid to try the freehand work there.  I resculpted part of the base in putty because I thought it looked to "corky."

It's been two weeks of work on nothing but Skrolk, probably along the lines of 30 hours of work.  Maybe I'll just go for the gusto and paint him competition quality.  It's not like I haven't gamed with my competition minis before...

Man that photo came out high contrast (high gamma?)  Once again my photography/Gimp skills stab me in the back.  How Skaven of them.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Second Most Expensive Time of the Year

Yesterday the family and I went to Staples to buy school supplies.  Two and half hours and $300 later, we walked out laden with binders, pencils, backpacks, etc.

My dreams of buying Island of Blood this Saturday have all but evaporated.

All for the best, I suppose.  I am trying to focus on high quality painting and having 40 new clanrats to gawk at can't help.  I already own the rulebook, and it's not like IoB is going away anytime soon.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Skrolk WIP 3

My regular Thursday night painting buddies, Jimmy and Seth, came over tonight.  Jimmy converted penal colony guard, Seth painted his Chaos Lord on steed, and I worked on Skrolk some more.

Tonight was hands, feet, and staff mostly.  I'm not sure why, but I basecoated Charadon Granite and then lined all the grain with skull white.  Not drybrushed, lined.  It took a while.  After that I very selectively washed is sepia, green and flesh in various places.  Again, I'm not even really sure what I was going for. 

Let's see.... added some turquoise corrosion to the bells; gave the book a touch up of the black cover (no idea how I want to paint that yet); painted the cords leading to the bell and charm.  I honestly can not remember the colors I used.  It looks like a Reaper Bone Shadow base, then adding skull white to it for highlights.

In other news, some spammy jokester left 38 advertisement comments on my various blog posts here.  It's nice how easy they were to remove with the blogger tools.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Skrolk WIP 2

Tonight I worked on the robe, the bells and the book.  I'm photographing on a gray backdrop now and it appears to have helped the quality.

One thing I'm trying to do is highlight all the way up to skull white in places.  I really like the mini painting style of Massimiliano Corso, and have always wanted to be able to highlight as high as he does.  This rat doesn't go to that extreme, but I'm stepping out into new territory.

Just a quick color rundown....
Skin: tallarn flesh, elf flesh and skull white
Robe: gnarloc green, scorpion green, skull white
Bells/chains: Reaper shadowed steel, Reaper polished silver/gryphon sepia wash, bright bronze details.
Book/horns: Reaper bone shadow... will work up to khaki then bleached bone, then skull white

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Skrolk WIP 1

Hold you in his armchair you can feel his disease.

The digital camera has been found.  I'm not sure why I thought I could photograph this guy, especially in light of how poorly I did photographing that Blood Raven Shrike proxy.


Tonight's work was entirely on the face, with a little highlighting on the cloak.  The fluff behind Skrolk is that he clawed his own eyes out after beholding Plague Lord Nurglitch, but that he can see through Horned Rat given plague-o-vision or something.  To represent this, I painted one eye (the right one) as closed and tinged green.  The left eye, which was a little deeper in the cloak, is painted as a bright spot of Scorpion Green with a white highlight.  All my other Skaven have red eyes, so this green eye is meant to represent his magic sight.

If I am going to replace my top five minis on CMON, I am going to have to learn how to photograph these things.  They just don't seem to be in focus.