Painting as first tiebreaker in Warmachine?

A little while ago, I came up with a joke. It was that for Warmachine, the Steamroller document should have percent of models painted as first tiebreaker. The joke was that this was such a silly suggestion, so absurd on face value and so unlikely to be actually implemented that it was humourous.

I know, my sense of humour leaves something to be desired. But the more I thought about it, the more I started thinking that having some sort of metric based on proportion of army painted as the first tiebreaker really isn’t such a terrible idea.

The problem of tiebreaks

Right now, in Warmachine, it’s generally easy to determine who won the tournament. The way matchmaking is done, assuming you play enough rounds, by the end of the day there will be one guy who won all his games and didn’t lose any. He’s the winner. But from there, it gets a little messy – with multiple people going away with win/loss records like 3-1 and 2-2, it’s not as straightforward to determine placings below first.

There are two ways that can be used to determine tiebreakers. First, as the Steamroller packet suggests, you can use Strength of Schedule as the first tiebreaker, which basically scores you based on how well your opponents did. If your opponents won a lot of games, that implies that you got your 3-1 record against stronger players, and you get credit for that in the form of a higher SoS score. The other option, which is currently the second tiebreaker for people who have the same W/L record and SoS, is to use an in-game measure such as most control points scored to rank players.

Both of these have their issues. Strength of Schedule can be frustrating for a lot of players because in a lot of ways, it’s beyond their control. If their first round opponent goes on to win all the rest of his games, you’ll get a high SoS, while if he drops from the tournament and waters his sorrows at a bar, your SoS will tank. As such, it seems odd and can be frustrating to have second place be determined by something like how many of your opponents stick around and win some more games and how many drop from the tournament. In-game methods like using total control points have their disadvantages as well, in that they can reward unsportsmanlike behaviour such as dragging a game out to farm control points long after the opponent has any hope of winning, or colluding with an opponent to maximize your control points.

But what if there were some sort of method that is 100% within a player’s control, and doesn’t reward players who engage in questionable behaviour on the day of the event in order to cheese the system? Hmmmmm… perhaps we might be on to something here with this painting thing?

How to encourage painting anyways?

Another issue is the question of how we encourage and reward painting in Warmachine. It’s been something that has been on my mind for a while, and something that I’ve talked about a fair bit lately, possibly to the consternation of others.

There are a number of things that can be incorporated into tournaments to promote painting. Soft scores, best painted awards, painting requirements, in-game bonuses for painted armies, and so on are all possibilities. Unfortunately, one thing I’ve seen on internet discussions of this topic is that none of these possibilities please everyone.

Soft scores are basically heresy in the WMH community, and given the response that I got when I suggested that painted armies could get +1 on the roll to go first on the old PP forums, so is in-game bonuses. Some people argue against painting requirements in the name of inclusivity, and some people don’t like best painted awards because it’s possible for the best painters to always win. Finally, some people object to any system where the highly skilled competitive players have to share the prize pool with filthy casuals and hobbyists.

Regardless, I feel like it’s more important to do something to celebrate and reward painting and encourage people to get armies painted up than it is to find the perfect solution that no one would object to, because that solution doesn’t exist. This may not be the perfect solution, but it has some advantages. People who don’t have or don’t play fully painted armies aren’t turned away, and it can be effectively implemented regardless of the size of the tournament or the prize pool. Further, it encourages people at all skill levels to at least get their armies painted to whatever level satisfies them, instead of being a prize that only the James Wappels of the local meta are in contention for.

Cut to top X

One more reason for implementing painting as a tiebreaker is that a lot of big tournaments end up being streamed online. When games are being streamed, it’s good to have painted models on the table in order to make for a better looking stream and promote the game online. Many large tournaments also end up with a cut to top X, whereby people end up playing a few rounds to start, and then at the end of those rounds, they take the top 4 or 8 or 16 players and put them into a playoff bracket.

You can see where this is going. While the people who go undefeated are guaranteed to make the playoffs, there are a lot of people who end up with an X and 1 win/loss record. Some of them make the playoffs and some don’t. By using painting as first tiebreaker, this means that there will be more painted armies in the finals which is good if the games are being watched or streamed.

But what about competitive players who hate painting?

I’m sure there are going to be objections to this idea. After all, it’s basically heresy in certain segments of the Warmachine community that painting should have anything to do with competitive play. However, there are some simple ways that individuals who wish to be competitive players can tackle that issue. First, people who want to be competitive under such a regime would have an incentive to get their armies painted up. Best case scenario, everyone gets fully painted, in which case it would still go to a second tiebreaker such as strength of schedule or control points. Failing that, people who are that competitive could just win every game and not need to deal with tiebreakers. Simple, right?

Conclusion

I don’t think this idea will ever replace strength of schedule as the default first tiebreak method in standard Warmachine tournaments. However, I think does have its advantages and is worth considering — perhaps not for all tournaments, but for some; I do think there is some advantage when there is a diversity of formats. At the end of the day, it may not be perfect but it’s better than doing nothing to promote the hobby aspect and at the very least, I hope this will provoke some thought and positive discussion regarding the question of how to encourage and reward painting at tournaments.

How to stay motivated at painting

One of the things that a lot of people talk about when it comes to painting miniatures is motivation. A lot of people want to get miniatures painted, but find themselves lacking in the motivation department and as a result, end up with grey unpainted miniatures on the tabletop week after week. Personally, I’m hooked on painting to the point that I start getting the jitters if I go on vacation for a week and don’t bring some paints, so the idea that I lack motivation may be a little odd. However, I do occasionally find myself in a little rut with my painting or end up with a project that I have trouble bringing myself to start.

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When you’re this hooked on something, you don’t need motivation…

So, without any further ado, here’s some stuff that I have found helps with painting motivation.

1. Try New Things

Variety is the spice of life, and doing the same thing over and over is boring, which is why working on an assembly line gets real old real fast. If you’re getting bored with painting, perhaps you need to mix things up a little?

This can be done in a number of ways. You can take a break from painting an army in all its uniform colours and paint something like a mercenary model or just a random figure that you kind of want to paint as a palate cleanser. Or, you can mix in things like vehicles, warjacks, and special character models in between all your mook infantry wardudes. Or, within similar models, you can try new techniques.

Trying new techniques is also how you improve as a painter. Maybe this next model could be your attempt at learning two-brush blending, or non-metallic metal, or a new type of weathering or basing, or just some sort of new technique that would be good to add to your arsenal. This advice isn’t limited to aspiring competition painters either; even if you are just painting to play, there are plenty of techniques you can try out which will help you pump out better models faster. Things like rattle can tricks, new dry-brushing techniques, or sketch style are all simple techniques that cater to people trying to speedpaint an army. Or, you can try out new products such Army Painter’s colour-matching primers, or textured acrylic mediums for basing instead of sand.

2. Know your limits when assembly-lining

In most large-scale wargames, you have to paint a lot of mooks to fill out your army. While it can be tempting to line up 30 or 40 infantry models and paint them assembly line style, having too long of an assembly line can actually be detrimental to your motivation and result in you taking longer to finish the project. It’s pretty easy to get bored when you need to paint 80 boots, then 40 pairs of pants, then 40 tunics, 40 guns, and so on. Further, by doing it this way, you’re delaying those wonderful moments of satisfaction when you call a miniature finished, take a deep breath, and put it in its rightful place on your shelf or in your army case.

Yes, sometimes you have to just put your head down and get a lot of models done. I know that feeling; I’ve painted more than enough Man-O-Wars over the past several weeks to seriously need a break from steam-powered, heavily armoured medium-based Warmachine models. But I also know that while it is theoretically more efficient to make a big assembly line, my limit is about ten or twelve models at a time, and even less for very intricate models like my Necromunda gang. More than that, and I’ll have to split them up and finish a few at a time to prevent myself from going crazy. Not to mention that it starts taking up a lot of room on my painting table.

3. Manage your WIP

Speaking of having too many models on the painting table, managing your work in progress is a good idea. By this, I mean making sure you have the right number of painting projects on the go.

If you have only one thing on your desk, then that can help you focus and get it done, but it can also delay your progress. There are a lot of steps in miniature painting which involve waiting for something to dry, so if you only have one thing on the go, you’ll end up sitting there twiddling your thumbs while the wash dries, or more realistically, booting up some video game and then not coming back to it for the rest of the night. Or, there are times when you just mentally get stuck and can’t look at that one thing anymore, and you can take a break from it by working on something else.

So, it is good to have at least two projects on the go at any given time, but much more than that and you can start running into issues. Having too many on the go will clog your paint desk, and you may lose efficiency switching from one to the other all the time. Further, it can be a demotivator – when you have seven things to do, even just deciding which one to do first can be stressful and prevent you from doing any one of them.

 

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This is why my FLGS doesn’t accept credit cards.

4. Manage your backlog

 

This is related to managing your WIP. I made the laughable resolution last year that I was going to end the year with fewer unpainted miniatures than I started.

Again, this is related to the idea that having too much on the go can demotivate you. When you have a whole shelf full of unpainted miniatures, it looks like a monumental, if not Sisyphean, task to finish them all. Further, it can be hard even deciding which ones to paint, as any time you pull one model off the shelf to paint, you’re forgoing getting dozens of others painted.

While I don’t always pass my will save on the “purchase something shiny and new” check, one thing I do to manage my backlog is to avoid assembling and priming my models until I’m close to painting them. This way, with them still in their boxes, they aren’t sitting on my shelf, staring at me, begging with their cold, grey, lifeless eyes for some paint.

5. Set yourself up for success

A little while ago, I rearranged my painting desk. The big change was that I placed my portable spray booth for my airbrush on top of my desk and left it there. The result of that was that I now use my airbrush more, and because I’m using the best tool for the job, I’m more productive.

Sometimes, just making it easier to start your painting session makes you more likely to paint. If you have to clear off room on your kitchen table, pull out your models, pull out all your paints and brushes, get your paint water, and so on and so forth just to start painting, then you’re not likely to start painting because it’s easier to just boot up a video game and waste your whole evening doing that.

While not everyone has the luxury of having a permanent workstation where their works in progress can sit there undisturbed by pets and toddlers, the less you have to do to get started painting, the better. If you can get yourself a painting table, do it. And while you’re at it, set yourself up with a workstation where everything you need is within arm’s reach. This way, you don’t get distracted or lose your motivation because you have to get up and walk all the way across the room.

6. Do a little each day

The #hobbystreak tag, where people post what they’ve done each day on the painting front and try to get the longest streaks has been popular since late last year. Some people are up to 250 by now, which I don’t think even I could match. However, it is a great motivator to at least do a little each day. Not everyone can commit to hours-long painting sessions, but if you can squeeze in even a half hour before you go to bed and make painting part of your routine, you’re going to get a lot more done and you’re going to be less likely to lose motivation.

7. Celebrate small victories

When you finally bang through that unit of a dozen or more, you should celebrate that. Bask in that warm feeling of accomplishment. Take a picture, post it on the internet, and show your friends – you might even motivate them to paint, or get some valuable pointers. Maybe even reward yourself, such as buying yourself something like a new paint or basing product that you’ve been eyeing, or paint yourself a model that you’ve been wanting to paint but doesn’t fit in your current army project.

8. Join leagues and groups which promote painting

Extrinsic motivation is good, and leagues and the like can be a way to incorporate that into your gaming. I once was part of a league where you would get experience points for a model which could be used to purchase upgrades for one of your models on the table. As a result, I got Alexia and the Risen – a character model, a couple solos, and about 20 zombies – painted and my insanely powerful Marauder put the hurt on a lot of fools on the tabletop. Things like journeyman or slow-grow leagues which incorporate a painting reward are great for a community because they motivate people to get their stuff painted.

Alternately, there are plenty of groups online where miniature painters can challenge and motivate each other and celebrate each other’s work. There is the aforementioned #hobbystreak tag, but also there are things like the monthly Warmachine/Hordes painting challenges and various facebook groups where painters work to challenge each other.

9. #playitpainted

When it comes to Warmachine, I think it’s been over a year since I fielded my last unpainted model. Nothing motivates quite like a hard deadline, and if you really want motivation to get your models done, commit to only playing it painted. I’ve written before on why it’s good to play painted, but one thing I didn’t touch on is that if you tell yourself that you’ll only play with painted models and you have a new army list that you want to play, that’s going to motivate you to get them done. Especially if there’s a tournament coming up that you want to play that army in.

Conclusions

Motivation is a fickle thing – sometimes you have it and sometimes you don’t. And part of the reason why I’m writing this article right now is that my motivation to paint yet another Man-O-War is flagging a little. However, there are a lot of things you can do to help keep yourself from falling into a rut and falling behind in the ongoing war against the unpainted grey horde. Just rearranging your workstation and committing to painting a little bit each day can help with motivation and get your armies done in no time.

Everlasting Wet Palette – Review

So, I’ve been preaching the gospel of the wet palette for a little while now to anyone who will listen. It’s an amazing tool that had in a short time really improved my painting, and now I don’t go painting without it.

For the uninitiated, a wet palette basically consists of a container, a sponge-like material to absorb moisture, and a semi-permeable membrane. You put the sponge in the bottom of the container, add some water, and put the membrane on top. You can put acrylic paints on top of the membrane, and the small amounts of water that permeate through will keep the paints nice and fresh throughout a painting session and beyond, which allows you to mix paints and keep the colour on your palette for more than a few minutes, or utilize advanced techniques such as blending.

Various art stores and game companies have been selling them for a number of years, and you can make one yourself out of a sandwich container, paper towel, and baking parchment, but last year, Redgrass Games put out a kickstarter that got a lot of people’s attention, claiming to have come up with “the Best Wet Palette for miniature painting.” I, of course, was not immune to this hype and went in for the Painter version.

The product

This product consists of a few pieces. First, there is the top and the bottom of the palette, made out of sturdy ABS plastic and sporting a rubber watertight seal between the two pieces. The studio version is about the size of a piece of paper, while the painter size which I have is about half that. Together, they are about 1″ thick and held together for travel by an included elastic band.

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Closed up

The foam on the inside is the most interesting part. It’s only a few millimetres thick, and claims to be mold-resistant, though I haven’t had it long enough to test that claim. The palette actually comes with two pieces of foam, so in a pinch, you can use the lid as a second palette. They also include the. Initially, the company wanted to produce a reusable piece of paper, but that didn’t pan out, so instead they’ve provided 100 pre-cut sheets in the box, which fit over the sponge nicely. Simply hold the paper down on each corner for a few seconds and spread it flat; it will want to curl initially, but as the paper absorbs the water, it will stick to the foam.

Finally, there is the “Wavy” attachment, which is a small plastic piece with five paint wells which magnetically attaches to the side of the palette. This is used for anything that you don’t want to get onto your palette, such as metallic paints or inks. I’ve found it to be a useful addition, though I often find myself bringing an additional dry palette with me as five wells often just aren’t enough, especially if I’m working with metallics and inks.

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In use, with the wavy clipped on the left side. Using baking parchment instead of the provided paper.

The Good

First, any wet palette is good. If you are painting with acrylics and you don’t have one, get one now. Whether it is this one, one of its competitors, or a sandwich container with paper towel and baking parchment, there are a myriad of reasons why you should be using a wet palette. While it does help save paint, the real reason you want it is because it makes advanced painting techniques that much easier.

This is a well-designed and well-made product, and it’s clear that the people behind it have put a lot of thought into the various features to make it the perfect tool for miniature painters. The case feels sturdy, and the two halves are held tightly in place with the elastic band. With the elastic on, it seems to seal quite nicely. The foam spreads out nice and flat, which makes it easy to lay down the paper on top without many air bubbles.

The palette is also pretty close to the perfect size for me. It’s a got a little more surface area than the P3 wet palette (which I’ve shied away from as I’ve heard mixed reviews on it), and is not as big as the Mastersons brand that I’ve seen in art stores which would just take over my entire painting desk. Further, the slim design allows it to easily fit in a backpack or a bag if you want to paint somewhere outside your home base, and the low profile of the sides make it a little more ergonomic to move the brush between paint and model as you aren’t reaching with your brush down into a deep container.

Most fascinating, you can actually close the lid, put the elastic on, and turn the palette upside down and the foam will stick to the bottom, the paper will stick to the foam, and your paint will stick to the paper. As such, so long as you don’t have too much or too little water, you can probably even take your palette on the go and open it up and start painting again. Further, with the elastic band holding it closed, you could easily tuck a couple brushes or some other tools (I usually bring a slim dry palette for inks and certain metallics) under the elastic and be ready to go.

The Bad

The only actual flaw I’ve found with this product is that the paper is a little fragile. Now, I may have been a little rough with it, using some large, cheap synthetic brushes to get large amounts of paint for things like painting the rims of bases, but I had noticed small tears beginning to develop underneath my paint, which in turn caused paint to leak down through the paper into the sponge. After a few sheets, I’ve personally switched back to baking parchment, which is still better than any wet palette paper I’ve tried.

Beyond that, there is the question of value. Yes, this is a good product, but 37€ retail (Don’t worry, mom, I didn’t spend that much — I got it on kickstarter) is a steep price to pay for just a better version of something you can more or less make for free out of a sandwich container and some paper towel. On the other hand, given the amount of time I spend painting, I’ll probably get that down to a few cents an hour in no time, but not everyone has the same hobby budget as I have.

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The competition. Not as good, but hard to beat the price…

Conclusion

At the end of the day, this is a well-designed product with a lot of thought put into making it perfect for miniature painters. However, the price tag is the biggest issue, and whether it is right for you is going to depend on how well a sandwich container and some paper towel meets your needs and how well it can fit into your hobby budget.

For me, as someone who has a small painting desk and who regularly takes my painting supplies halfway across town to paint at local museums and game stores, one of the things I’m always looking for is a way to improve the efficiency of both my painting space and the space in my backpack. This product succeeds on both counts, and while the price is a little steep in comparison to its main competitor, it lives up to its tagline.

What I’ve been up to – Man-O-War new releases

So, I’ve had a bit of radio silence on this blog, and aside from some personal and family issues, people who know me well enough have some good idea of what I was up to and why my social life and wallet have both taken a hit over the past month or two.

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Lock and load… airbrush time!

That’s right; after a long wait, the new Man-O-War models for Khador released a month or two ago, and being a good son of the motherland, I had to pick up the full FA right away and start getting them painted. There’s been a lot of discussion online about the competitive viability of the Armoured Corps releases and what casters to pair them with. But, since I’m not actually good at this game, I’m going to talk about the most important part: the models themselves.

Tankers

The tankers are pretty cool and look powerful on the tabletop. The sculpts are sort of a cross between a Man-O-War and a warjack. They are mostly resin with a few metal bits, and they are not multi-kits, which is kind of a disappointment as I think these guys would have been prime candidates for a hard plastic multikit. However, the resin is pretty good. On both of these models, the head, body and legs are the same one piece, aside from a couple metal bits on the knees. They are distinguished by the weapons on the arms, as well as the big shoulder-mounted gun on the suppression tanker. They’re nice sculpts; I would say they are what you would expect for something halfway between a Man-O-War and a Juggernaut-chassis warjack.

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My tankers

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masking is fun… it’s even more fun the second time when your first layer of paint comes up with the tape

The shields pose the modeller with a couple questions. First, you’re definitely going to want to paint in sub-assemblies, and it can be a touch tricky to get the arms installed in a manner such that the shields line up correctly if they are being held together in front. Second, the shields cover up a lot of the model, so there are a lot of details that you won’t see as they’re being blocked from view by these big shields. On the other hand, they do provide the modeller with a decent-sized flat area which can be a nice canvas for some freehand. Personally, I used some 2mm Tamiya tape to mask off a hazard stripe pattern, then added some fun little subliminal messages in Khadoran runes to the effect of “Play it painted” or “3 Colours Min” before weathering. Additionally, I converted the arms on a couple of mine to repose the shields so that I at least have one or two where the detail underneath is a little more visible.

Aside from that, there were two minor issues I had with the sculpt. First, for some reason, my Siege Tankers weren’t quite up to the same level of quality as the Suppression Tankers, with more mold lines to clean up in some tricky spots on the legs and a couple air bubbles to fill. Since the issue is mostly confined to the legs, you can conceal any mistakes in the mold line removal process with mud and weathering, so it’s not that bad. Also, they’re far better than cleaning mold lines on the old restic MoW. The second issue with the models is that the shields themselves are paper-thin and you have to be careful not to damage them when you’re cleaning up the mold lines. However, there is a simple solution to that issue if you have share that concern or if you accidentally stabbed the tip of your hobby knife through the thing while trying to clean mold lines (not that I would do that) – take some plastic from a PP blister pack, cut it to an appropriate size and shape, and super glue it onto the back of the shield to reinforce it.

Solos, Units & Attachments

The Man-O-War Bombardier is okay. I mean, it’s a fine model and I didn’t have any quality issues, and the combination chainsaw grenade launcher is one of the coolest infantry weapons in the Iron Kingdoms, but it also doesn’t hugely stand out like the character models released – which is totally fair, because it’s a non-character model. Yeah, it’s a little plain compared to the other awesome releases in that it isn’t much of an improvement in the looks department from your average MoW mook, but it’s not terrible, aside from one little problem. It’s missing the small bandolier of rockets on the right shoulder that all the other Bombardiers have. This is a bit of a problem because it hurts the cohesiveness of the unit, and it just doesn’t feel right to see the officer without them. Typically, the unit leaders and officers are supposed to be a little more ornate on the details than the grunts, and without the bandolier of rockets, it’s actually kind of opposite as well.

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Bombardier Bombshell

Though, while I’m at it, I will touch on the conversion rules, as a lot of people are looking at the Bombardier Bombshell as a substitute and “is this tournament legal” keeps coming up. This is a cool model, and it’s one that I’ve used as the basis for a conversion a while ago, so it’s no surprise that with this awesome model in existence, people are going to want to use it to represent the most important model in the unit. However, since the Steamroller document specifies that the Bombardier Bombshell has to be used as a grunt, not the officer, and you can’t proxy in a tournament, doing so is technically not tournament legal. On the other hand, technically, anyone who makes a big issue about that is an ass, especially if it’s well-painted, because it’s such a cool model. Finally, if you really want to use her, I think there is a loophole. All you have to do is do a little conversion on her shoulder pads, making them a touch more ornate and looking more like the officer’s, and it’s now a conversion and not a proxy and therefore legal. Just don’t quote me on that if you get into an argument with a tournament organizer or one of the Wills at PP.

 

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Some of the new releases…

On the other hand, Dragos, Atanas, and the standard bearer are straight up awesome. Until now, the Greylord Forge Seer has stood out as clearly the most amazing looking model in Khador, but now he has some serious competition. Dragos has the heft commensurate with his character background as a big badass who dual-wields giant hammers, and has plenty of characterful details in the form of pelts, skulls, and battle damage. The ornate detail on Atanas and the Standard Bearers is just a wonderful touch, and I feel like it’s going to look really well when I finish it.

 

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Sorscha3. My first reaction when I saw the concept art was “shut up and take my money”

Kommandant Sorscha, aka Sorscha3 is great as well; they’ve captured the Man-O-War feel, but made some changes in proportion and design to make her distinct. With how the gun and the armour look, there have been a number of jokes at her resemblance to Samus Aran from the Metroid games, and I’ve jokingly inquired if I can use a tennis ball as a proxy. One thing I’ve noted as I paint her is that if you tilt her forward a little, you can really change the pose from one that gives the impression of Sorscha at the ready or slowly advancing to one that gives the impression of movement, as though she is running. I haven’t mounted her to the base yet, partly because for this model I’m preferring to paint her separately so I can get at all the tricky little places on the leg, and partly because I haven’t figured out my basing strategy yet.

 

Chariots

Image result for man-o-war assault chariotFinally, we get to the chariots. I was a little worried on this front for a couple reasons. First, they are sold by Black Anchor Heavy Industries, which is Privateer Press’ direct-order subsidiary for huge-based models. I was initially a little concerned on this front for two reasons. First, there are the well-documented concerns that the international WMH community has with BAHI and getting dinged with customs, currency conversion, etc. that raises the price of BAHI models. Second, I have seen some of PP’s large resin models suffer from quality issues as of late. That is not to say that PP’s resin models are bad; far from it. When the quality is there, they are great. But if you get unlucky and get a bad model, you can end up with a dumpster fire of mold lines, misalignments, and resin bubbles. Fortunately their customer service is great, but having to wait for the company to ship replacement parts internationally isn’t good for anyone.

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Pictured: Stupid conversion idea.

However, in this case, my concerns turned out to be not well founded. At about $85 USD, the models aren’t that expensive as far as BAHI goes. Further, they are multi-kits and you are provided with both gun and shield assemblies which appear to be relatively easy to swap out, so you only have to buy one kit to get both. Second, the quality was spot on. A couple of the horses had some small mold lines, but the rest of the twenty or so resin parts that make up two of these kits were great. And the horses don’t really matter to me because I have some stupid conversion ideas rolling round in my head.

 

Representation

I’ve been known to do a lot of gender-swapping conversions on my army, in part to balance out the gender imbalance, in part to represent the contribution of the daughters of the motherland, and in part because it’s a creative exercise in making the model very different while keeping the spirit and distinctive elements of the model intact. Man-O-Wars tend to be common targets for these sort of conversions, because due to their bulky armour, conversions are as simple as swapping out the heads.

But further to that note, I’m glad to see that we have a couple female Man-O-War models in this release in the form of Sorscha3 and the Bombardier Officer. I’m a big advocate of gender diversity in miniature gaming for a lot of reasons, ranging from grand political concerns about representation to the simple fact that the more diversity you have in a miniatures line, the more cool miniatures you have to paint and the more likely you will have at least something that everyone will like.

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Zarya: not your average video game girl… but still a badass.

Thing is, gender diversity means more than just the male/female ratio of your models. If you have a lot of female models in your line, but they’re all skinny white girls who are either lightly armoured ninja types or backline spellcasters, then that can be a bit of a problem. First, it undermines the goal of increasing diversity in a miniatures line. Second, there is a harmful stereotype in a lot of fantasy settings that women can’t be the tanky front-line paladins in full plate and are relegated to either sneaky roguish or backline support duties. A good example to counter this is Zarya from overwatch — she is a popular character is because she’s a big, physically imposing female character who plays a tanky role in the game.

 

I think Privateer Press has been doing a lot better on this front in recent years. I was a little critical of them in the past because while they had a reasonable number of female models in their line, a lot of them were kind of samey. They had plenty of high-DEF low-ARM models that fulfilled the wizard or rogue archetype, but not a lot of heavily armoured or really physically imposing female models (outside of the trolls, pigs and gators, who are all trolls, pigs and gators). Aside from the aforementioned questions of representation, from a practical matter, it made my still as yet unpainted Butcher2 conversion kind of tricky because it was hard to find a female model with the requisite body type from PP’s line to use as a basis for the conversion. However, there have been a number of releases over the past couple years that have filled in that hole quite nicely. Sorscha3, the Bombardier Officer, and Sofiya Skirova for Khador are all badass, and other factions have been feeling the love as well with models such as Gwen Keller and Beth Maddox in Cygnar, Cyrenia in Protectorate, and even Iona, the upcoming Circle warlock.

As a result, I think putting Sorscha3 in the Man-O-War suit was a stroke of genius. Not only does it expand the diversity of the line by adding physically powerful female models in Khador, but she’s one of my favourite characters and taking the lightly armoured, high def, extremely mobile Sorscha character and sticking her in this armoured suit really turns her on her head. Before she was teased, I was hoping that we would eventually get a Sorscha3 on a horse (Horscha?), but this is even better. Not to mention that it’s a welcome departure from the “this caster gets two friends” concept when some casters have gone epic as of late. Some people said it should have been someone like Harkevich instead who got put in the suit, but as much as I am a Harkevich fan, that doesn’t really make sense in the context of his fiction.

So, big ups to Privateer Press for this move to increase the diversity in their line through recent releases, and keep ‘em coming. Just don’t steal my thunder by releasing a Butcheress Mini-Crate before I finish painting mine.

Conclusion

Aside from the chariots, which are a little on the expensive side for those of us who don’t live in ‘Murica, these models should be considered a buy by just about every Khador player out there. I know a lot of column-inches in this article have been devoted to my tiny, niggling issues with them, but those are just that – small technical issues on otherwise awesome models that can generally be resolved with a moderate amount of modelling skill. Dragos, Atanas and the Standard Bearer are particularly wonderful models that rival the Forge Seer for the title of best model in faction, and the others are must-haves for anyone who likes steam powered badasses. And if you don’t, then shouldn’t you be playing Cygnar?