Paintlog: Pink and purple potpourri

So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted some of my painting progress so this may be more of a paintdump than a paintlog. However, I’ve done a lot lately that I figure is worth sharing.

Man-O-War

This past June, Privateer Press released a lot of Khador Man-O-War models, which, as you might have guessed, immediately emptied out my wallet and filled my backlog. I’ve discussed these models previously, as I batch sprayed them with the airbrush then got to work, starting with the tankers and then moving on to the medium-based infantry models.

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Anyways, as mentioned in a previous article, I like to do alternate-gender conversions for some of my Khador models, both to represent the contribution of the daughters of the motherland, increase diversity in my army, and put my own little subversive spin on things. Though, between Sorscha, the MoW Bombardier Officer, and some of the fluff in NQP #05, that may be less of a subversion and more of an accurate description of the Man-O-War corps.

IMG_0727.JPGAs a result, Atanas became Atanasija and Dragos became Dragana. Both were done using bald heads from Statuesque Miniatures. For Atanasija, I kept the hat from Atanas and attached that to the head and in both cases I sculpted the hair on with brown stuff. When it came to Dragana, I did a side-swept undercut, allowing me to add in a couple scars to represent the rough and injury-prone life of a Man-O-War, particularly one as renowned for bashing in the skulls of dirty Cygnaran invaders as her.

Atanasija, Dragana, and the standard bearer were all glorious models: nice and big with plenty of detail and some interesting textures to paint. I would go so far as to say that they have pushed aside the Greylord Forge Seer as the best model in Khador.

IMG_0726.JPGWhen it came to the standard, I knew I wanted to freehand something on there but I wasn’t sure what. After mulling it over for a few days, I eventually found inspiration from a slightly unusual source: the flag of the Republic of Angola. Replacing the machete with a hammer created something that had an air of Khadoriness to it. The Man-O-War Bombardier Officer, as one of the few new releases that isn’t actually a named character, was done up in a pretty standard paint scheme, albeit with the double pink shoulder pad to represent the fact that she is an officer, and some hazard striping on her weapon because believe it or not, when you combine a chainsaw and a grenade launcher, you get something that is actually quite hazardous.

Finally, we get to one of my two favourite characters from the Iron Kingdoms: Kommandant Sorscha Kratikoff. In this case, I chose to stick a little closer to the studio scheme than I usually do as I thought she would look good in white and stand out on the tabletop if I’m playing her with a sea of Man-O-War. Howeer, I did retain the pink and purple from my standard army colours. As I was painting her, however, I noticed something interesting about her pose. If you place her flat on the base as intended, she looks to be in a pretty defensive stance, with her feet planted, her weapons at the ready, and her left leg further back to provide support. However, if you lean her forward a little bit, the pose changes. Suddenly, she looks more dynamic, as though she is rushing forwards. And, given that her signature spell in the game is literally called Wind Rush which allows her to make an extra advance, the decision over whether to go with the studio pose or the leaning forward version was kind of a no-brainer.

So, that’s it for now for the Man-O-War. I also have the chariots, but I’ve got some conversions that straddle the line between stupid and stupid-awesome rolling around in my head, so they will probably be a winter project anyways.

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Butchers

IMG_0888.JPGI’ve never been a big fan of the Butcher; guys who go apeshit and murder their own soldiers aren’t exactly sympathetic characters in my book, and when it comes to his little dispute with Sorscha over who murdered who’s father in cold blood, I have to side with my lady Sorscha on this one. Further, when I got into Warmachine, the competitive scene for Khador started and ended with Butcher3 and something about both his playstyle and the idea that if I wanted to seriously compete I had to play Butcher3 rubbed me the wrong way. So, I can say that none of the Butchers have gotten into my gaming rotation, and that may not be likely to change in the near future.

Regardless, I just have to get them all painted. I’ve showed off Butcher1 before, but my Butcher2 and Butcher3 were both interesting conversions that I did a while ago only to have them sit on my shelf for over a year.

IMG_0891.JPGFirst, Butcher3 was fairly straightforward. I had a bad experience with Nyss Hunters back in Mk.II, so naturally, I decided to incorporate pieces of Nyss and a Retribution wreck marker into the conversion. I decided that the dog on the sandbags would be playing fetch, so I added a bow in one of his mouths and an arm in the other. For the other dog, I used the base that came in the package for Butcher and threw on a sword and a severed head because, again, it’s the Butcher, so I have to crank up the gore. Finally, for the Butcher himself, I noticed that the way his left hand was posed, it would be quite simple to add some sausage links to show him feeding his puppies, which I sculpted out of a paper clip and green stuff.

Butcher2_2Butcher2 was more complex. I figured that it might be time for another one of my gender-bending warcaster conversions, but I quickly ran into a problem. If I wanted her to be tournament-legal, I needed to make her out of at least 50% Privateer Press parts. The problem is that, at least at the time I started sculpting, I couldn’t find any female models in PP’s line that had quite the Butcherly presence that I was looking for. Fortunately, a solution presented itself in a somewhat strange place: the Trollblood warcaster Grissel. I figured if I just filed off any of the lumpy troll skin protrusions and found the right head to swap out, then I’d just have to do a simple weapon swap and do some sculpting here and there to make her look more like a Khador warcaster.

Butcher2_2Initially, I ran into the problem of Grissel being so large compared to the average 30mm model that I couldn’t find a head that didn’t make her look like a pinhead. Eventually, I found something that worked – a 40mm scale head from Hasslefree Miniatures from their Kalee model. This larger scale ended up being close enough to Grissel’s size that it worked.

With the head on the body and the weapon swap working out, the next step was Khadorifying the model a little. For this, I needed to sculpt or scratchbuild a few things to make her look less trollish and more Khador. She needed a few armour plates here and there, such as the shoulder pads and the metal loin cloth thing, to cover up some of the most egregious Trollblood details. and give more of a Khador vibe. I would need to sculpt the cape and make it look like the one seen on Butcher and several other Khador warcasters, with the rectangular plates with three buttons or rivets at the bottom. Finally, I’d need to add one of those special coal-fired warcaster backpacks and some fur around it.

All of this I did with sculpting putties such as brown stuff or milliput and bits of styrene here and there. The only exception was the spikes on the shoulder pads, which were from the PP bits store; I believe they were from the old metal Behemoth model. It was also largely done in layers; a lot of the time when you’re sculpting, it’s much easier to get the basic shape in first, let it dry, then do a second layer to get the details.

After the conversion was done, these models languished on my shelf for a while as I never actually played any of the Butchers, until we started getting close to the end of my campaign to clear off my shelf of shame. There wasn’t too much special about the painting; it was mostly just using the same techniques, styles and colour schemes that have been the mainstay for this army. The one thing I did try was the use of Molotow liquid chrome markers and the ink from them to make the very highest highlight nice and bright. They seem to be useful for true metallic metals, though I’m going to need to play around with them a bit more to see if they are something that I would recommend. Particularly, I want to see how they react to brush painting and blending, and how nicely they play with other acrylic metallics.

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Escher Gang

In the past few months, I’ve been dipping my toe into Games Workshop games in the form of Necromunda, which a few locals have been running. Suffice it to say, it has been an interesting and positive experience branching out, and there are aspects of the game that I find liberating compared to Warmachine, even if there are also some issues that I have with certain mechanics.

The two things that have stopped me from jumping into any of the Games Workshop games before are that I don’t really want to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars into a second full-size army game, and that I haven’t yet found a faction in any GW game that really speaks to me aesthetically. I don’t like space marines, boxy tanks or gross nurgley things, and that wipes out a large portion of their line. I like to paint female models, and so many factions have a “no girls allowed” policy. And generally, if I don’t dislike a faction’s infantry, I despise their vehicles or vice versa. The blimpdwarves are okay, I guess, but apart from that, my impression of their style ranges from “ugh” to “meh.”

And then, they released House Escher for Necromunda, which is basically what happens when you give a roller derby team a bunch of guns. Between the mohawks, piercings, and cybernetic implants, GW basically nailed a lot of my tastes dead on with these models. I was immediately hooked, and picked up a box before I even knew anyone who was playing because I wanted the models so badly.

These were great models, though compared to a lot of other miniatures, they aren’t for the faint of heart. There are a lot of fairly small pieces; even the faces and heads are two different pieces. This allows for a lot of customization as once you get the legs and torso together, you can pretty much do what you want for the arms, face, and kick-ass mohawk. Fortunately, they are made of some nice hard plastic and clean up fairly easily, so you don’t need much more than your container of Tamiya Extra Thin to get to work and customize them to your heart’s content

When it comes to painting models like these — a somewhat rag-tag group operating outside of any formal military or anything like that, you want to give each model a little bit of individuality but also have something that ties them together. This goes double for the Eschers with their over the top punk aesthetic. So, I decided to take some common elements and put them in the same colour — their armour plates, chestpiece, and shiny leather boots. With those all the same, I had at least enough of a unified theme that I could go wild and make every model a different combination of hair, skin tone, and colour/pattern on their loin cloths.

As a result, I didn’t really do much batch painting on these. While I’m sure it would have been more efficient if I had, there was enough diversity from model to model that the benefits would have been minimal. Further, I just didn’t feel like it, preferring to at least get one or two more models fully painted before next week’s game.

One slightly odd thing I did was that I added a lot of brass to their guns; while extensive use of brass on guns isn’t very realistic as brass framed firearms went out of style over a century ago, I like mixing brass and steel on my metal bits and love the look of TMM brass with a nice deep purple shade.

Finally, I made myself a little display for them out of a few bits of the sector mechanicus terrain and some sheet styrene. It’s far from perfect, but it’s a nice little extra thing that allows them to have their own special place in my display cabinet.

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Upcoming projects

At the moment, I’m neck deep in Necromunda terrain, trying to get everything I have accumulated for the campaign nicely painted up. However, as I finish that project, I have a few things in mind to do next. First, of course, there is clearing off my shelf of shame. There are only seven models remaining: a unit of Greylord Outriders, a heavily converted Vlad3, and a customized Ruin that spontaneously disassembled after falling off my desk a few days ago. I also have a couple models that I’m planning on using as pets for Necromunda, as the real models don’t exist yet and even if they did, I’m not sure I want to pay Forge World prices for them.

In the stash, I have an Me-109B fighter kit that I want to do up in Spanish Republican colours, representing the one that they captured during the Spanish Civil War. I’ve been a little afraid of some of the small parts, photo-etch and cockpit details included in the kit, but I can’t keep avoiding it forever, especially not if I want to enter it in a themed contest coming up in February. Also, with the focus as of late being on banging out armies, it’s been a little while since I’ve done a display piece, so I’d like to work on either a small model or a bust once I clear my plate.

Finally, there is always finishing those probably ill-conceived chariot conversions. Or, I could just totally blow my new year’s resolution to manage the number of unpainted miniatures I own and totally splurge on sales from the likes of Reaper or Bad Squiddo, but I would never be so irresponsible, would I?

Oh wait, their miniatures come with free candy. Never mind then.

 

 

Happy Accidents and fun with water effects

Bob Ross was known to say that in painting, we don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents. Recently, I had a hobby experience that really drove that point home when working on my Swamp Siren model, and that reminded me just how hard it is to actually mess something up in this hobby.

The model

The Swamp Siren was the first model from MiniCrate, Privateer Press’ monthly exclusive miniature subscription service. It is an alternate sculpt for their Swamp Horror, a Minion warbeast. Now, when one starts thinking of models that Privateer Press can do pin-up alternate sculpts of, the Swamp Horror is not one that comes to mind. However, they hit it out of the pot with this sculpt. It’s a unique twist on both the original model and a mermaid, and just looks damn cool. And the little baby swamp siren in her hand, looking up at her is just so cute.

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Painting

The model is in two parts, mostly one big chunk of resin, with the left arm below the elbow being a metal piece. I pinned mine just to be sure, because there isn’t that much surface area at the contact point, though you may not need to.

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The model itself has three or four main surfaces: The skin, the chitin, the tentacles, and perhaps the webbing between the tentacles. This means that you have multiple distinct textures to work with, and it’s worth taking some time to think about colour choices. While you want these areas to be distinct, you also don’t want them to clash. I decided to stick to mostly pink and purple, but have the skin be in a pale blue-green, similar to the studio scheme.

When it came to painting the tentacles, I decided to start with a textured pattern and paint with thin glazes to add colour. So, after priming the model white, I began by drawing in a pattern of black lines, then followed up with some pink and purple glazes until I got something that I liked. The other thing I did to show texture was adding light lines to the chitin to make it look a little more boney. While I initially did it in purple, I hit it with a blue glaze afterwards.

Water Effects

And here is where I start to get ambitious. I picked up some of the Woodland Scenics Deep Pour water as well as a bottle of tint because I had a vision for a water pour. You will note that I used a square base for her; this sort of think is probably possible with a round base and that was my first idea, however someone mentioned to me that I would have to be concerned about the refraction obscuring the underwater parts.

So, I started by doing a little test and encasing a crappy prepainted heroclix guy in the deep pour water in a McDonald’s cup. This was definitely a good idea, as it showed me how much tint to use to get the desired level of tint in the water, as well as the importance of sealing the base in order to avoid bubbles as air escapes from porous materials.

After his noble sacrifice, I began making some formwork out of plasticard and P3 blister packs. With that done, I mixed up some of the stuff and did my pour, careful to pour it to the level of her hand.

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oh god, it’s horrible

That’s where things started to go wrong.

 

I had thought that I had sealed the base sufficiently with multiple layers of gloss varnish, but evidently, I was wrong. There were some small areas near the base where bubbles started to appear, and as much as I tried to knock the base of the mini to agitate them to the surface where they could be popped, there were some that formed when the resin was sufficiently cured to the point where it was just to viscous for it to make it to the surface.

Of course, I didn’t help it by trying to poke it with a very thin brass rod to try to pop some bubbles that were still underwater. And then, on top of that, one of the corners of the forms started leaking, leaving one of the corners completely messed up.

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So, it came time to fix what I could. The bubbles were unfixable, but I could at least deal with the issues on the corners. I mixed up a little more of the water effects, and poured it into the cavity where I had my leak. After waiting for that to dry and prying the formwork off, I turned it on its side and made some smaller forms to tackle the other bubbles in the corners. I’d pour the mixture into cavities where bubbles had formed, relying on a piece of plastic to keep it from running off the side.

To get this all working together and looking good, this required a lot of elbow grease with the sandpaper, cloth, and polishing compound. Finally, I hit the whole thing with gloss varnish through the airbrush to smooth it all out and give the impression of the wet swamp siren glistening in the sunlight. I had managed to fix the bubbles on the edges, but the bubbles on the inside were still bothering me.

Miniature Paintings

IMG_0761.JPGBecause I decided that I wasn’t being ambitious enough with the goal of doing water effects for the first time on a competition and display piece, I decided to try out a whole new art form. I cut out a piece of packaging, primed it black, and decided to make a miniature painting of a swamp to go with my painted miniature.

IMG_0762.JPGFortunately, I had google image search to work off of, and I had watched enough Bob Ross over the past little while that I thought that I could do

it. I found a picture of a swamp at dusk and decided to go for it, starting with the sky and the water, then following up with the trees on the horizon and their reflection, and finally the trees in the foreground, making sure to highlight the side closer to the sun. With that done, I took bright green and carefully drew in some lettering, and glued the whole thing to the side.

Happy Little Accidents

So, at the end of the day, I wasn’t feeling great about this miniature. The bubbles were annoying the hell out of me, because they represented where I screwed up with the water effects and they were something that I couldn’t fix. However, I decided to post some pictures up on facebook anyways, and you can imagine what the response was:

“Those bubbles are so amazing!”
“How did you do the bubbles?”
“I love those bubbles!”

And so on.

It was really an interesting experience. I was very much being my own harshest critic on this, but even though I kind of started to hate it a little as I looked at all the little imperfections in the water effects, it turned out that people loved my mistake.

And, with this feedback in mind, it helped me be at peace with my work and learn to love the bubbles that had so infuriated me when I first finished it. I would say the two things I have learned from this are that first, Bob Ross was right when he said that there are no mistakes, only happy little accidents. Second, being “too ambitious” in this hobby isn’t really a thing. Now, I definitely got some benefits out of testing it out first with that little HeroClix guy in the McDonald’s cup, but it is because I pushed myself way out of my comfort zone and yes, made a couple happy little accidents along the way, that I came up with something really special.

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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.

Hot Takes: Champions and Khador ADR

Privateer Press recently spoiled some of their changes to the champions format, including the Active Duty Roster. And, like any Privateer Press release, that means there will be a deluge of hot takes, questionable analyses, and not-fully-thought-through opinions. Remember how all the Cryx players thought Ghost Fleet was unplayable trash and their faction was uncompetitive about a year ago? Anyways, I couldn’t let this go by without offering my unsolicited and uninformed opinions on the new format and the new ADR roster for Khador.

Format changes

There are a few format changes for the Masters and Champions tournament formats. First, Divide and Conquer, the requirement that everyone must play all of their lists at least once, is no longer a thing. This is something that may have been necessary in the past when one could just rock something like old-school Haley2 to victory on the strength of one extremely overpowered list, however now that balance is a bit tighter, character restrictions on lists are gone, and outliers are typically addressed through errata rather than being allowed to linger for years, there really is no reason for it to continue to exist and I don’t think it will be missed.

Masters also no longer uses ADR, which means that Specialists are gone from the format. Specialists are basically a sideboard that you are allowed if you bring casters on the ADR list. I like the idea of a format with a sideboard, and feel that there are a lot of underplayed, niche units which are good sideboard choices (hello, Assault Kommandos and Kossites!), however the economy of free points in themes meant it never really worked out. Either you had to create various legal permutations and combinations of your lists with whatever specialists you were afforded, or you had to spend ten minutes futzing around on War Room to get your lists to work out before the game started because you changed out a model which in turn changed the number of free solos from your theme.

They also made a lot of changes to the Active Duty Roster, the most notable being that themes are now a part of it. In addition to being limited to certain casters, you must choose your theme force from a list, and you aren’t allowed to play the same theme force for both your lists. This is an interesting idea, because it makes the ADR a truly limited format by disallowing more than 10% of the models in a faction, and I kind of like it. Further, they are increasing the number of casters available to most factions from four to five, and decreasing the number available to CoC and Grymkin to three, because ADR restrictions didn’t really do much to already limited factions and that helps balance out the big advantage that the limited factions got in the format.

They also discussed in CID the removal of the 15 second minimum turn, which is something that I am agnostic on. I don’t think the 15 second turn is as necessary given the hard turn limit in the game, but I still am not sure it’s a good experience when you’re that low on time and people are just throwing down focus and slapping the clock as fast as they can. However, it’s not something that has affected me greatly; I don’t usually have a lot of clock management issues, and when I do, I’m usually already screwed in other ways and on the way to a loss anyways.

Finally, they didn’t come out and make it official yet, but it’s been said during the CID process that PP is going to remove the painting requirement from Champions. This is probably a controversial statement, but I think it is good for Privateer Press to have a painting requirement on at least one of their tournament formats. It not only encourages painting, but it also means that people who like fully painted armies but aren’t good enough players to qualify for (and/or aren’t willing or able to travel to) huge national conventions like the WTC or Adepticon are more likely to have a chance at having a fully painted experience at smaller, more local conventions. The painting requirement was one reason why I chose to do Champions instead of Masters at the SOO, because it’s refreshing to have a whole day of fully painted games. However, I also think that a painting requirement and a limited format aren’t a great combination, as you could end up in a situation where players aren’t allowed to play their painted models due to the restrictions of the format. I think it would be a good idea to flip the painting requirement from Champions to Masters, or introduce a new format, or something so that painting requirements in Warmachine don’t go the way of the dodo. Dallas and the team at PP do a lot of work to promote the hobby aspect, and it would be sad to undermine that effort by eliminating all painting requirements from every official format and signal to the player base that it’s not important to at least aspire to play it painted.

Our Roster

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Anyways, onto the Khador ADR roster. Our caster choices consist of Kozlov, Sorscha3, Irusk2, Butcher1, and Zerkova1, and we are limited to two themes: Armoured Corps, and Jaws of the Wolf. Of course, I only play one of these casters and Armoured Corps has a lot of new models that I haven’t fully examined yet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t spew my uninformed opinions out onto the Warmachine internet.

Kozlov

Ironically, for a caster who is supposed to be an Iron Fang, Kozlov is probably best in Armoured Corps. Fury and Tactical Supremacy are both excellent support spells for Man-O-War, particularly Shocktroopers, and I’ve been running him in Armoured Corps already with my patented “just take two of all the good models in the theme” list. Double Shocktroopers, double Drakhun, double Kovnik, and double Forge Seer, then season your battlegroup to taste. Once our new releases come out, I think that will open up a lot of new tactics and list builds with models that have previously been not that great such as the Demolition Corps and Bombardiers. Also, Atanas is going to unlock a lot, because the ability to move through your own models allows for a lot of options on the battlefield.

Jaws could potentially be interesting. Kozlov has some battlegroup support spells and his feat affects all models, including warjacks. The problem is that after spending three focus on upkeeps, and without any free charges or other forms of focus efficiency on the feat, he doesn’t have the focus to support a large battlegroup. However, PP has proposed allowing journeyman warcasters in Jaws of the Wolf, so bringing Andy1 and Sorscha0 and throwing a jack on each of them, plus perhaps one on a Forge Seer could solve some of those focus inefficiency issues.

Sorscha3

Sorscha3 is the latest iteration of Sorscha to be released in June, and she is my most anticipated model in a long time because it’s Sorscha in a Man-O-War suit and that is awesome. She grants Flank [Man-O-War] to her battlegroup, has a cost 1 jack support spell, Iron Flesh, and a cloudwall feat with clouds that hurt. I think there are a lot of tools here that could potentially be unlocked, but it’s pretty clear here that she’s a Man-O-War caster, so for my money, it’s Armoured Corps for her.

Also, she can take Beast 09 and Forge Seers can now cast Winter’s Wind on Beast. You’re welcome.

Irusk2:

At first glance, Irusk2 seems like he doesn’t really synergize with the themes available. He’s an infantry support caster, but his tools don’t seem to support Man-O-War as good as some others — I mean, how many Man-O-War can you fit in an Artifice of Deviation anyways? And with almost none of his kit doing anything to support warjacks, Jaws seems like a bad choice.

That is, until you remember that there is more to Jaws than just spamming warjacks. Irusk2 is a great infantry caster, and there are some interesting infantry choices in the theme. If you stack Battle Lust on top of the Kayazy Assassins’ minifeat, they can do a lot of damage with those little knives. Between Stealth, Tough, and Artifice of Deviation, they’re going to be difficult to remove on the way in. And just to add on an additional level of obnoxiousness, throw on Alexia1 so when they do finally kill one of your dudes, they come back as a zombie.

Butcher1:

I also think Butcher1 could be interesting in a combined arms Jaws list, if only because stacking Gang, Fury, mini-feat and Butcher’s feat on a unit of Kayazy Assassins allows for some truly hilarious damage potential on those tiny daggers.

I’m probably the only Khador player who has never actually played any of the Butchers (because I’m on Team Sorscha), but over at Avatar of Slaughter, Robert McCormick has been making some noise about Butcher1 in Armoured Corps, so… I dunno, go over there and read something from someone who actually knows what he’s talking about.

Zerkova1:

I don’t know, she… has a cloudwall, I guess? To be honest, I’ve only played Zerkova1 a couple of times, and I haven’t done particularly well with her. She doesn’t really help warjacks or help infantry hit hard, and she seems to lean more towards either Legion of Steel or Wolves of Winter as she would want to use the cloudwall to deliver something that packs a bit more of a punch and has a higher volume of attacks than Man-O-Wars.

On the other hand, countercharging Drakhuns through a unit of Shocktroopers behind a cloudwall seems legit, Ghost Walk could be fun combined with Demo Corps or Drakhuns, Hex Blast can more or less risk free take an enemy upkeep off a unit of Man-O-Wars, and Frost Hammer can be used to spray down single wound infantry jamming your Man-O-Wars without being so powerful that it can actually hurt the guys in the big metal suits.

Okay, I take it back, try her out in Armoured Corps.

My Pairings:

So, what am I going to run? First off, I’m definitely running Sorscha3 in Armoured Corps when she comes out, just because Sorscha is an old favourite of mine and Sorscha in a Man-O-War suit is straight up awesome. For a second list, since I’m restricted to Jaws, the smart thing to do would probably be a combined arms Jaws with two units of Kayazy Assassins and either Butcher1 or Irusk2. However, I don’t own any Kayazy Assassins and probably won’t want to paint 20 of them, and I’m also not particularly smart. Which means I’m going to wait for Sorscha0 to release and then make some sort of weird Kozlov Superfriends list, taking Kozlov and both Juniors and relying on his feat and the ability to stack speed buffs to hit hard and fast and be ARM 22 against melee. Because screw it, Cygnar shouldn’t be the only ones who are allowed to have fun with their juniors.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I am intrigued by the new format as I think it will be nice to have a truly limited format, especially for people who can’t be bothered to remember what all 1,200 or so models in the game do or are sick of worrying about the OP boogeyman of the week. For Khador, I think there are going to be two challenges. First is going to be our usual Khador issues with incorporeal and recursion. Fortunately, however, Ghost Fleet isn’t on the ADR so we don’t have to worry about basically autolosing if we didn’t bring mass RFP and mass magic weapons or because our opponent brought a Wraith Engine, so this may be less of an issue than it is in unlimited formats.

Second is the fact that we are restricted to two themes which are generally comprised of heavily armoured, low defense, SPD 4 models. This means that it’s very easy to end up in a situation where you have two similar lists that share similar weaknesses, which is not a good position to be in in a two list pairing. Further, these bricks of slow models could struggle into some of the very live scenarios that exist in a post-SR2017 world.

While this looks like it could be a problem and the first reaction might be to complain about being dealt a bad ADR following on an underwhelming CID because PP doesn’t like us as much as they like Cryx and Cygnar, I think this ADR could be an opportunity to force some exploration and creativity in list building. We could see some more experimentation with combined arms Jaws lists, as well as the use of mercenaries to supplement the weaknesses of Armoured Corps. Already, the wheels are turning for me regarding things like combining Kayazy Assassins with Butcher1 or Irusk2, or finding some mercenaries that may be useful as flanking pieces for Armoured Corps lists.

Now, to sit and wait until my next big order of plasticrack comes in…

Southern Ontario Open 2018 – Recap

I alluded to this in my last post, but a couple weekends ago, I attended the Southern Ontario Open in Hamilton. For those that don’t know, the Southern Ontario Open is a three day con and probably the biggest Warmachine convention in Canada, and it features both a Masters and Champions tournament, Iron Arena, hobby programming, IKRPG, and some other events like Steamroller scrambles and Company of Iron. It’s attended by a lot of big names in the Warmachine community, and is getting more and more popular among Americans, in part due to the high caliber of competitive play and in part because the exchange rate on the Canadian dollar makes it a relatively inexpensive con.

I headed out on Thursday, and I decided that this year, I would moderate my goals. Last year, I went with high hopes, only to be crushed repeatedly by bad dice as well as my own suckitude. Protip: never say “All right, I need a six, so I’m going to boost to make sure.” I went 1-4 in Champions, lost a good chunk of my Iron Arena games, and lost every single game where I played a caster other than Harkevich. Knowing that the SOO has a very high caliber of player, I decided that I would just try to equal my previous record, and try not to get frustrated over silly things like dice.

Champions

Champions is an interesting limited format in Warmachine. The two big differences between Champions and other tournaments are that players are restricted to warcasters who are on the Active Duty Roster list, and official Champions tournaments have a painting requirement. I enjoy Champions, because the limited meta means that you don’t have to worry about some of the boogeymen out there and you have to worry less about tailoring your list to defeat the Mad Dogs, Una2, Denny1 Ghost Fleet/Coven Dark Host, Gaspy3 Nine Slayers, Nemo3, or whatever list is running roughshod over the meta at any given time. You get to see some casters and lists that you don’t usually see in other formats, and ironically, you might even have a little more freedom beacuse you don’t have to worry as much about whether you can deal with that boogeyman list out there. To quote Tim Banky from this year’s State of the Game address, one could say that the format is very Hegelian.

I know this is probably a controversial statement, but I also like that Champions is a fully painted format. The painting requirement is one of the big reasons why, when I decided that I would do one of the two tournaments and spend the rest of the time in the Iron Arena or hobby lounge, I settled on Champions instead of Masters. There is something about two fully painted armies duking it out that makes the whole experience a little more enjoyable, and it was nice that seven out of my nine games at the SOO (six Champions, and one Iron Arena) were against fully painted armies.

I know there is talk about removing the painting requirement from Champions, and I do kind of see an argument for it. After all, it can get awkward when you combine a limited format and a painting requirement because it is possible for players to end up in the unfortunate situation where they are limited to models they don’t have painted yet and aren’t allowed to play their painted stuff due to the restrictions in the format. However, I hope that PP keeps the painting requirement in at least one of their official tournament formats, both to encourage painting and to make it so that events with painting requirements are run once in a while. Even if they don’t, I hope people who run big events like the SOO will consider retaining it for part of their official programming. It’s nice to have the occasional fully painted brawl and a convention where there is plenty of other programming going on like Iron Arena and hobby classes is the perfect place to implement a painting requirement for one of the two big tournaments.

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Top secret tech; do not steal

Anyways, getting back to list construction, my choices were two of Sorscha1, Kozlov, Old Witch2, and Vlad3. Since I don’t have the model for OW2, and didn’t feel like acquiring and painting enough cavalry to make a Vlad3 list, my pairing was basically made for me. For Sorscha1, I went with a Winter Guard Kommand list, featuring a Grolar and a Demolisher in her battlegroup and a Juggernaut on Andy, as well as Aiyana & Holt because magic weapons are a thing these days. The battlegroup is a little unusual, however with this list, I was gunning hard for a pop and drop assassination so between the d3+2 POW 12 shots on the Grolar, and the two POW 15 shots on the Demolisher (as well as Bulldoze, Girded, and ARM 23), I figured I would have plenty of additional guns to finish off any enemy caster who survived Sorscha’s assassination run.

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Also, these lists barely fit on one tray, so that’s a bonus

When it came to Kozlov, my list build was relatively simple. Go in Armoured Corps, and take two of all the good models. Double Shocktroopers, Double Drakhuns, Double Kovniks, and Double Forge Seers. Fill out the battlegroup with cheap jacks, and take Saxon Orrik for Pathfinder and a unit of Kayazy Eliminators as my second merc choice because they are Friendly Faction and good. Kozlov is usually not considered a competitive caster, but I feel that the toolbox available to her basically gives an Armoured Corps list pretty much everything they need to get up the table, hit hard, and be obnoxious to remove.

I ended up going 3-3 in Masters, losing to Denny2, Heretic, and Vlad3, and defeating Borka2, Kozlov, and Rhyas. While going into the tournament, my theorymachine told me that my Kozlov list was probably kind of meh, I actually really enjoyed playing it and ended up dropping it five times, playing my Sorscha1 list only into Heretic. I went 3-2 with Kozlov, and I’m happy with my 3-3 overall record. It’s probably better than I excpected, and definitely exceeds my goals for the tournament.

In my Vlad3 game, I was cursed with bad dice, but I also had good dice in the Kozlov mirror match and my opponent’s dice in the Rhyas match absolutely went out the window and his Blightbringer couldn’t kill anything. I also had two games go down to tough rolls – Kozlov failed his tough roll against Deathjack, but had he survived, Denny2 was about to get POW 22 Juggernaut to the face, but next game, Borka2 failed his tough roll after almost facetanking an entire unit of MoW Shocktroopers and a Juggernaut, both with Fury cast on them.

I’m not going to do a play-by-play of all my games, because quite frankly, I don’t think those are all that interesting and the details are starting to fade from memory, but I have five general things to take away from my experience in Masters.

1.   Warmachine is a lot more fun when you aren’t getting frustrated over things like dice. Last year, I didn’t have the best time because after getting my face kicked in four times in a row, I was starting to get a little frustrated. This year, I resolved not to get salty and to try to stay positive no matter how bad the game was going, and while I got frustrated my first game over losing Saxon early to an arced spell, I was able to recognize that and get myself back into the proper state of mind to enjoy the game by the end of that game.

2.   Dice happen, but while I had individual games where they didn’t do what I wanted them to, in the long run, it all averaged out. It’s important to not get frustrated over them, and try not to get yourself into situations where you really really need to make any single roll. It’s easy to say you lost because of dice, as in my game against Vlad3 when there were a couple important rolls that I didn’t make. It’s more productive, if you want to get better at Warmachine, to ask yourself what you could have done differently to not have your game hinge on a single die roll, no matter how good the odds. In that game, I missed some critical die rolls and flubbed some damage rolls, however, I could have been a bit better at playing the scenario and then I wouldn’t have been so far behind on points that I needed everything to go right on my turn to not lose.

 

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Kozlov mirror match? Only in Champions…

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My Kozlov. Yes, the axe is unrealistically large, but this is Khador.

3.   Kozlov might be better than everyone thinks she is. Yeah, she is your average, kind of dull, straightforward battlebox caster, but she can give an Armoured Corps list a lot of what they need to pose a serious threat. Under her feat, Shocktroopers can charge with a threat range of 13” which isn’t bad for a slow unit. Unyielding is great on Shocktroopers, as it can give you a turn of ARM 23 against melee in shield wall. Fury makes them hit harder, and Tactical Supremacy can help them get up the board without running and lets them stay in shield wall. No-knockdown and pathfinder on your battlegroup is legit, and a no-knockdown tough warcaster is just icing on the cake. Pending soon-to-be-released CID changes, something like this list might actually make it into my competitive pairing for unrestricted formats.

4.   Especially on Spread The Net, you need to consider the scenario starting on deployment. In my game against Vlad3, I managed to win the list chicken and get a favoured matchup and also take a commanding lead on attrition, but I still lost in scenario. No doubt part of this was due to dice (see what I said above about not saying “I need a six, so I’ll boost to make sure” – it’s hard to win any game when you roll multiple triple ones in a turn), but had I managed to position my solos a bit better from deployment and either score one more point or contest the opposing flag one more time, I wouldn’t have lost on scenario and then with a massive attrition advantage, I would have likely been able to come back and win.

5.   Models with 2” reach are really good at denying countercharges. In my game against Borka2, I managed to only take one countercharge the entire game, and I had factored that in when I moved my unit in. Part of this was because of experience playing into Karchev, but part of it was the fact that I had a lot of models with 2” reach. It gets easy to prevent enemy models from being able to countercharge by engaging them when you can take advantage of long reach to engage multiple models at a time, particularly if you have fast models like Drakhuns who can get to the sweet spot they need to tie up multiple beasts.

Iron Arena

I managed to get three Iron Arena games in this year, playing Kozlov twice and my old Strakhov1 list once. I mentioned in my previous article how my Strakhov1 game was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in a game of warmachine, but the other two games were pretty good as well. The first was playing the brick of MoW into Circle, where I managed to win by scenario via attrition. Finally, the last game was also without a doubt the drunkest opponent I’ve ever played against in Warmachine. He could barely move models or do math, but since it was on Spread The Net, I figured that accurate math or measurements didn’t really matter because he was also too drunk to effectively play scenario, so I won 5-0.

By the time I went to trade in my Iron Arena points, the prize table was pretty picked over with a most of the stuff there being for factions that I don’t play, so I picked up something for a friend I thought he could use and which I know he will enjoy painting.

Hobby Lounge

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WIP: My Fenris conversion. This is going to be fun to transport…

I spent a good chunk of my time at the SOO in the hobby lounge, working on my Fenris conversion and trying to pick up what I could from the more talented painters in there. The hobby lounge at the SOO is a little out of the way so there are a lot of people who don’t set foot in there the entire weekend, but it’s a great place to have a seat between rounds and paint some models to unwind from an intense game, or just to hang out and learn from the masters. It’s almost criminally under-utilized by the mass of attendees, and I think more people should at least pop in check it out over the weekend. Personally, I got a lot of progress in on Fenris, probably getting the mounted version at least half-finished there alone. Which is good for me because I don’t paint mounted models very often and tend to get frustrated when painting horses.

Painting competition

I also entered in the painting competition again this year, entering Nancy Steelpunch in the small models category, Mary Read in large, one of my Man-O-Wars in Medium, and a whole pile of Man-O-Wars in the group category. The competition this year was more intense than last year, but I managed to eke out a victory in the small models category, and win a Bradigan Pitt model, which I will probably convert into a Kayazy Assassin Underboss because I’m not a huge fan of the movie Fight Club. Will from Moosemachine won best overall with his Borka bust, and there was an amazing Cyclone in the medium category. More importantly, I got some really good feedback, particularly on Mary Read to help me get the bird right and on doing eyeballs. The only suggestion I might have for the painting competition is that since it takes place in the out-of-the-way hobby lounge, it might drum up more interest in the hobby aspect of the game to have a display case in a higher-traffic area for entries.

Overall

The SOO was a blast, and I would say that if you are anywhere remotely near Southern Ontario and vaguely interested in Warmachine, you should really consider going. With Masters, Champions, Iron Arena, and the Hobby Lounge, the SOO has a little bit of something for everyone. I had a lot of fun, and in terms of my win/loss record, I exceeded all my goals and had a lot of fun and got some experience with a new list. The event definitely re-ignited some passion for Warmachine that had been fading as of late, and I would definitely give it five Hegels out of five.

hegel

You don’t even know who I am, do you?

My best game of Warmachine

So, I made it to the Southern Ontario Open on the weekend, and I plan to write an article about my experience sometime over the next week or so (protip: go to the SOO), but I wanted to touch on one experience in particular and give a shout out to a fellow Warmachine player.

By the time Saturday night rolled around, I had spent a good chunk of the day in the hobby lounge painting my Femris and recovering from Friday’s Champions tournament, but I did want to pick up some Iron Arena points because there was one prize that I had my eye on for a friend. For the uninitiated, Iron Arena is just an area to play casual games and get points for playing which can be redeemed for prizes which are generally donated to the event. Anyways, I was strolling around, looking for an opponent, and found one in a Mercenary player named Jeremy from London, Ontario, who was rocking an Ashlynn list.

Little did I know that my little exercise in farming Iron Arena points was going to provide me with best game of Warmachine I had ever played.

The Game

So, my opponent was running Ashlynn in the Llaelese Resistance theme with a couple Nomads, a unit of Trenchers, a unit of Stormblades, and some other miscellaneous stuff. I brought out my Strakhov1 list that I had been playing just about all the time into literally everything right up until I fractured my hand and took a break from the game for a couple months. Both of us were fully painted, and the scenario was The Pit II from the SR2017 packet, also known as “wrestling belt.”

Anyways, I got to go first and I knew that Ashlynn has an upkeep spell that grants her and her battlegroup no-knockdown, so I decided to put Superiority on Torch instead as it seemed like with sustained attack, Torch would be much more effective as an assassination piece than the Grolar. Both me and my opponent ran forward, me positioning aggressively with the jacks and him using Dig In to give his Trenchers cover.

At this point, the first thing I do at the start of my turn is measure the distance between Torch and Ashlynn. I’ve done the top of two Strakhov1 assassination many times, so it’s kind of old hat for me. With Ashlynn “only” about 16 inches out and with just a few trenchers between me and her, it was going to be an easy assassination. At this point, I started to feel a little bad, and offered to proxy base out my assassination run and maybe do a take-back. After all, killing someone top of two is kind of a “gotcha” move and can leave an opponent with a bad taste in his mouth. I chat about it for a bit, and decide to go for it. After allocating focus and activating my support models, Strakhov1 casts overrun on himself, feats, and charges the nearest trencher, killing him. This triggers overrun, allowing Torch to take an out-of-activation movement, getting him to within charge range of Ashlynn. Strakhov sprints back to relative safety, keeping Ashlynn barely within his control range to allow Torch to get on-target.

Next, my eliminiators activate, charge across the board under Strakhov’s feat and clear out the trenchers in the way, side stepping out of the charge lane that Torch needed to get to Ashlynn. So, I go in on Ashlynn, killing Sylys with the assault shot, and bring the saw down to bear, boost the attack roll to ensure a hit… and miss.

Damn. That’s not good. Missing with the initial reduces the amount of damage I can do, doesn’t trigger sustained attack, and makes this assassination run a lot harder. I swing with the fist and go at her with the saw, connecting and giving her a couple good hits, but it’s not enough to kill her. She ends up sitting there, with one hit point, taunting me for my failure.

So, this is bad. Leaving a caster on one box sucks with no focus kind of sucks, and if I don’t kill her, I’ve basically given away an 18 point warjack for free. So, I come up with a plan to do that final point. I’ll have Behemoth walk forward and boost a shot into the back of my own warjack and kill her with the blast damage. No problem, right?

Well, the first shot hits, and I roll to finish off the game, needing a nine on three dice. And… I roll an eight. Okay, no biggie, I have a second shot. Boost the attack roll… and I miss.

Okay, well, if I get lucky, the AoE will deviate onto Ashlynn and… nope, straight back, far enough to not contact Ashlynn. With nothing else in range to possibly put any damage into her, I have to accept my failure on the assassination run.

It’s at this point that I look down and see Eilish Garrity, a model I could have activated before my assassination run to get a reroll on one of my horrible dice and probably succeed on the assassination.

Damn. I’m rusty with this list.

So, I do what I can to try to protect Strakhov from the possibility of counter-assassination, running forwards with some jacks and battle mechaniks to protect him, while other models do what they can to engage or damage my opponent’s army and pass the clock over to my opponent, who is sitting there with his caster on one box and Torch in his face.

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Fuck this guy and his fuck his cat too.

People who are familiar with Harrison Gibbs will know what happens next. He has a once per game ability to restore Llaelese warrior models back to full health. Fun fact: Ashlynn is a Llaelese warrior model.

So, my opponent got to live the dream, restoring Ashlynn from one hit point back to full health. At this point, I’m pretty sure I’m boned, but instead of trying to go after Strakhov, he easily kills Torch on the counter-attack, gets some work done with the Nomads, contests his zone, and moves his gunmages towards mine.

So, with my feat gone and Torch lost in exchange for nothing in return, I’m definitely down but not out. I look at the board and see that if things go well for me, I could get up on scenario points and get into a good position. There’s a Nomad in my opponent’s zone, but it’s at that point that I remember that Strakhov has Battering Ram, a spell that I always forget he has because I never cast it, and which can be used to push a model out. Things go well; I manage to kill my opponent’s objective and score his zone, as well as snagging a point in another zone to get up 3-0.

We keep going, and things start looking up for me. I get some luck here and there, and have some fun plays, such as a Forge Seer charging a Trencher, killing him, and triggering Battle Wizard, which allows him to throw a snowball at a couple of gunmages and kill them both. My models get a lot of work done, my Eliminators are really hard and annoying to remove, and eventually I start seriously threatening a scenario victory.

At some point I clock out, but the game is so damn fun that we keep playing it out. Eventually, it comes down to him needing to kill my objective to get enough points to prevent me from easily winning on my next turn. The objective had taken some damage, so between the surviving gunmages and Taryn, he should be able to easily destroy it and stay in the game so long as his dice don’t totally fail him.

You can guess what happens next. With the objective left with one hit box remaining and no more models to activate, he passes the clock to me. Behemoth blows away the last gunmage with a bombard shot, and just saunters into the zone to give me the last control point I need to win.

We shake hands and report our games, then a little while later I see my opponent staring at his phone in the hall and offer to buy him a beer in the hotel bar because that was a great game. He accepts, and we discuss controversial issues like Khador jack costs (Marauder and Juggernaut should both be 12 points), and my theories on Mercenary list-building (Take Shae, Devil Dogs, a couple Jack Marshals, and about eight freebooters).

Why was this game great?

There were a lot of reasons why this was the best game of my life. First, I’m not saying that this was the best-played match that I had ever played; far from it. We both made a lot of mistakes, and probably a couple rules mistakes (“Hmmmmm, would that AoE have hit and killed Gibbs last turn?”), but it was just a hell of a lot of fun, and I think there were a few reasons for this.

First, fully painted armies. I know this is controversial to some, but I agree with the concept in the Steamroller packet that fully painted armies makes for a more enjoyable experience for all. With both of us fully painted, this made the game just that much more visually appealing.

Second, the game didn’t matter. It wasn’t a tournament game where the winner advances and the loser is knocked out. It was just a casual Iron Arena game, and since there are no points for winning in Iron Arena, there were no stakes and no pressure, so we were both in it to give the opponent a fun and challenging experience.

Since it didn’t matter, we didn’t get hung up on trying to correct things we forgot and rules issues. I’m not saying there were no take-backs, but if one of us forgot something on our card or went scrambling to War Room to figure something out, we just said “screw it” and kept going. I could likely have killed Gibbs with blast damage before he fixed up Ashlynn, but we were so focused on Ashlynn that I totally forgot to even roll for it. Then he forgot some damage buff and took an extra activation or two to kill Torch. Then I charged something, not noticing a cloud that was staring me in the face and I had already moved the model and neither of us knew whether it started out in the cloud or not and could actually draw line of sight. In fact, from a technical perspective, it was kind of a comedy of errors. But, we just took the D&D approach of “if it takes this long to figure it out, make a decision and go with it.”

Also, since it didn’t matter, it meant we could laugh at stupid stuff like dice which would normally make us frustrated. During the Champions tournament the previous day, I had one game where I couldn’t roll worth crap, including rolling two triple-ones on the same turn and flubbing some key attacks that I in all probably should have hit. Then I had one game where my dice were on fire, and one game where my opponent’s dice just went cold. One game I lost by not making a tough roll, and another game I won when my opponent’s caster failed a tough roll. Overall, I had been on enough dice roller coasters the previous day that I resolved not to get mad and just laugh at it.

This is one thing that I’m really happy with my play on this game was going hard for scenario and utilizing every rule on Strakhov’s card (yes, I even cast Battering Ram) to get a point here and a point there and keep the scenario pressure going. Instead of getting angry that my assassination run failed and now Ashlynn is going to go back up to full health, I knew that so long as I didn’t get counter-assassinated, I had a lot of pieces threatening deep into his scenario elements and even with the failed assassination run, I killed a fair chunk of his infantry just to clear a path. By realizing the potential for assassination was not great after I screwed up the first try, and that I was threatening deep enough to make a serious play for scenario, I managed to pull out a victory that I wouldn’t have been able to had my reaction been to get angry, go on tilt, and basically give up.

Finally, I have to give a big thanks to my opponent. The game was a thoroughly enjoyable roller coaster, and we both got to live the dream on a couple things (see: Hot Meal restoring Ashlynn from one hit box to full health). This wasn’t the sort of game that people are going to watch on a stream to see our strategic genius, but it was a hell of a good time.

And, at the end of the day, isn’t that what truly matters? My goal as a Warmachine player isn’t to win the WTC, but if I can laugh at failing a Strakhov1 assassination run, then I think that qualifies as winning regardless.

Should you #playitpainted? (spoiler: yes)

I’d like to preface this by saying that my views on this subject have changed over time, likely in proportion to the percentage of my army that I have painted.  Also, as a single guy with no children, I recognize that I have a little bit more hobby time than some other people. Finally, I’m not writing this article to judge anyone or shame them for playing with unpainted armies… okay, maybe a little bit.

Warmachine has a bit of a reputation as a game focused solely on the tournament scene, with painting being an afterthought at best. Most tournaments don’t have any painting requirements, and there aren’t any soft scores like in Warhammer games. While the Steamroller packet strongly encourages the use of painted models and best-painted awards, this doesn’t always happen. Finally, between the complexity of the game and the focus on the competitive aspect, the sheer time requirement for someone to get to the level of “internet microcelebrity” can preclude someone from developing their painting skills because they’re spending their free time studying War Room rather than painting techniques.

Personally, while I recognize that when they started out they had to do a lot to distinguish themselves from their main competitor, and while I see Privateer Press putting more of a focus on the hobby aspect in recent years, I feel that it is sad that Warmachine has that reputation. It’s not fair because there are a lot of great painters who play and paint Warmachine and a lot of really nice armies out there, but it’s also not totally undeserved given the number of grey armies out there and the fact that most Warmachine media focuses more on competitive tactics rather than hobby content.

Anyways, it’s a reputation that I think we need to shake off, and we need to do that by getting our stuff painted.

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A fully painted battlegroup advancing up the table, led by Kommander Strakhov

Why should you play it painted

First, painting is fun. It’s a great hobby, and I honestly don’t see it as a chore to paint my figures for a tournament. In fact, lately, I’ve been enjoying it so much that I’ve been having a hard time pulling myself away from the painting table to squeeze a game in. There isn’t much in this hobby that is more rewarding than admiring a fully painted army, and that sense of pride and accomplishment when you bring it onto the battlefield only to get mulched by some Cryx-playing jerkwad.

Second, aesthetics are a vital component of any sort of wargaming. While I’m not the sort of guy who is such a stickler for immersion that I will accuse someone of ruining a D&D game for cracking a Monty Python joke, it is a hobby which more fun and immersive for both parties when you both have fully painted armies. That fun and immersion is why we spend hundreds of dollars on models instead of playing with cardboard chits or just playing on Vassal. As such, striving to play fully painted will make the experience that much better for you and your opponent. This shouldn’t be a controversial statement; even the Steamroller document, bible of the hardcore competitive scene, agrees with me on this.

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The document also “highly recommends” Best-Painted awards, and lays out alternate rules for tournaments with painting requirements.

Playing it painted also makes the game more attractive to bystanders. The visual aspect is the first thing that a newbie to tabletop wargaming in general or Warmachine in particular sees. It’s why companies like Privateer Press and Games Workshop put so many resources into art and sculpting; nothing sells models like cool models and pictures thereof on the box. We all want to grow our communities, and playing with painted models can help add some visual interest to our tables and catch the eye of potential marks to be suckered into this money pit of a hobby.

Finally, in a game like Warmachine, fully painted armies can make it easier for your opponent to distinguish models from each other. Our miniatures aren’t very big, and when they are just a big blob of black-primed infantry, it can be difficult to make them out at a glance from across the table. Especially for newer players who may not know the subtle differences between models enough to spot them on a black-primed miniature from a couple feet away. Further, sometimes you can paint your army to make it easier for both you and your opponent to distinguish the models. Personally, I have a system that clearly identifies my leader and attachment models with the most cursory of glances, which is of benefit to both me and my opponent.

As one bad example of this, I had a game a long time ago where I was playing against a Circle opponent who had both an Argus and a Winter Argus in his list. These are both two-headed dogs with a little bit of barding each, and the main way to distinguish them is by the fact that in the art, Winter Arguses have white fur like a husky. As you can imagine, “this one has brown fur, this one has white fur, and neither of them are painted” made it a little more confusing for me than necessary and resulted in the untimely death of some poor Winter Guards who made a tactical error as a result.

Are there excuses?

All that said, there are some legitimate excuses for not playing painted models. First, new players can’t be expected to have a fully painted army. It took me several months to manage to have a decent fully painted list in Warmachine. For a lot of new players, playing and painting motivate each other, and being told to pick up an army and then go away until they can come back fully painted means that they will never come back. So, it makes sense that a lot of new players are going to be rolling with unpainted miniatures for months while they feel out what kind of army they want to play and get up to speed on painting it.

Also, none of us are perfect, and sometimes life happens. Occasionally, we will have a unit that we really really want to play but is still on the painting table, or perhaps we want to try something out to see if it “earns its paint” before going all in on committing to buying and painting that list. Or we may forget a model at home and have to borrow or buy one on short notice. I don’t think committing to playing it painted necessarily means that 100% of your figures will be completely painted 100% of the time. While that may be a worthwhile goal to strive for, other factors get in the way sometimes, and that is completely understandable.

Further, not everyone paints to the same level of quality or at the same rate. I like to think my army is painted to a pretty high standard, so it does take me a little longer than someone whose idea of painting involves dipping a miniature in a can of wood stain. As a result, it may take me a little bit longer to get my army painted because I’m putting a lot of care into every highlight rather than just banging out something that meets the bare requirements. Being too strict on painting requirements can actually have an adverse effect, where players half-ass their paint jobs just to get them done and end up with something that they are unsatisfied with instead of taking the time to do it right.

Finally, there are formats such as journeyman leagues or other escalation type campaigns where collecting and painting new models are part of the game. I’m thinking of starting up a Minions army next time there is a Journeyman league locally, and quite frankly, I doubt that I will be able to stay completely caught up on my painting while participating in this league. That’s also completely understandable, because the whole point of the Journeyman League, aside from welcoming new players, is to collect, paint, and build more and more plasticrack.

When should you commit to playing it painted?

Between those very good reasons to play it painted and those few caveats, I feel like we can lay down some rules as to when you should play it painted. Again, these are more personal things than anything hard and fast in the ruleset, but I’m throwing these out to start the conversation.

  1. You are playing on a stream on the internet. Seriously, if you’re trying to show off the game online, at least do it fully painted. The internet lasts forever, as will the shame of video evidence of your unpainted miniatures.
  2. You have been at this for a while. It’s totally okay for new players to not be fully painted, but if you’re coming in week after week with the same unpainted army for years, it might be time to pick up the brush and at least give it a go.
  3. You are playing in a very public place where you are showing off the game. If you’re at a big convention with a lot of people walking by, one of the goals of being there is to try to attract bystanders to check it out and maybe hook them into buying a battlebox and coming out on game night. However, if you have a bunch of grey plastic armies duking it out on flat terrain, you’re not going to have the same level of visual interest that is going to encourage new players to check it out.
  4. You are a community leader. With the destruction of the Press Gang program, who exactly is a “community leader” is not so well defined anymore. But this can include people who do all sorts of different things, whether it is organize tournaments, run painting sessions, volunteer to show new players the ropes, or talk about stuff a lot on the internet. However, these people tend to be ambassadors for the game, and as such, they should be leading by example and promoting the game. And part of that involves holding one’s self to a higher level of painting and sportsmanship than the average player.

Conclusion

Wargaming is better for everyone when we can all #playitpainted. It may not be a goal that we will ever reach, but it is good to aspire towards fielding only painted models. After all, the most important battle on the tabletop is not the fight between Khador and those filthy Cygnaran pig-dogs, but the ongoing war against the forces of black primer and bare plastic.

My gaming resolutions for 2018

So, with the dumpster fire known as 2017 almost behind us and a new dumpster fire undoubtedly upon us, I figure now is a good time to make some resolutions for the upcoming year. And, since I don’t see myself actually achieving any sort of resolution regarding getting into shape or that sort of thing, I’m going to split these into a two parts: hobby and gaming.

I’m going to start with the gaming resolutions, because these are easier and because I don’t have any resolutions from last year to revisit, so I should be able to bang these out. I’ve been taking a little break over the past few weeks from the hardcore competitive scene in order to reflect and refocus on what I want to get out of the game and enjoy the painting and collecting aspect.

Be a better opponent

I like to think I’m not a terrible person to play against, but like most players, I will occasionally get frustrated when the dice don’t go my way or I get hit with something I didn’t see coming. And the later happens a fair bit in Warmachine, because it’s a game that really rewards system knowledge; many a game has been won and lost based on an assassination that the other player didn’t see coming.

I want to be the guy who is always going to be a fun opponent, whether I’m winning or losing. I want to be the guy who can really show the new players the ropes and spread my enthusiasm for painting and playing with our wardollies.

That means no talking about dice (unless my opponent started it), no commenting on what models I think are too powerful, and no chalking losses up to bad matchups. Even if I roll triple-ones on my assassination attempt. For the second time that day. Again.

Get better at moving models

Warmachine players tend to place a lot of focus on what they call a “clean” game — one made with very precise measurements, no accidental bumping of models, quick setup, and no stumbling over words when casting spells or explaining the table state. It’s why there is a veritable cottage industry of tokens and measuring widgets, and many players have spent hundreds of dollars on laser cut plastic doohickeys to make their measurements that much more precise.

For me, I don’t know whether it is a lack of hand-eye coordination, or my brain getting ahead of my mouth, but this something that I sometimes struggle with during my games. It tends to take me longer than my opponent to get all my models out, lay out all my cards, and set up my tokens, markers, dice, and measuring widgets the way I want them. And I still at least once a game can’t find a focus token or status marker. And then I go to make a measurement and end up bumping my opponent’s caster, and now I’ve more or less ruined the entire game because we can’t recreate the exact table state at the start of my turn.

Over the past year, I’ve had a couple games affected by this sort of thing, and there were a couple times where my opponents were less than thrilled with my ability to measure between point A and point B. It sounds stupid, I know, but if I want to keep playing Warmachine, one of my new years resolutions is going to have to be getting to the point where I can measure precisely enough to play a game to the standard that the community demands.

Branch out a little

There is something to be said for having your own comfort zone in Warmachine. Whether it is a faction or a list, you will get more practice and perform better if you stick to one thing long enough to know it inside and out. It’s one reason why JVM is such a big name among the cool kids tournament club. That said, if you never venture outside your comfort zone, you never have a chance to experience all your faction or the game has to offer.

I’m probably going to start a second faction in the upcoming year. I don’t expect myself to go all in and replace all my Khador, but being able to mix it up with Minions or Convergence once in a while will likely be a nice change of pace. I also have really got my Strakhov1 list humming perfectly, but I also want to branch out to some new casters within the faction. Vlad1 is popular, Old Witch 2 can be built in many ways, Strakhov2 looks intriguing, and I’m probably the only Khador player on the face of the planet who is too much of a hipster to play Butcher3.

Lower my sodium intake

The Warmachine internet is a funny thing. There is a lot of insightful stuff out there, but there can also be a lot of negativity. Especially in a CID world, where everyone is an armchair designer, we end up spending a lot of time talking about what PP “needs to change” rather than about how to play the game as is. People like to focus on the negative; after all, this is the game where there was a change.org petition this year because some people didn’t like a proposed rule.

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And the award for “dumbest moment in wargaming in 2017” goes to…

This can be a little extra frustrating as a Khador player. Right now, Khador is considered to be one of the most powerful factions, and it is quite popular locally. And it’s easy to see why; Khador has a lot of models with pretty solid baseline stats. Also, it is possible to create Khador lists that are very straightforward and powerful and just try to brute force their way to victory through attrition. As a result, people tend to complain about marauders or rockets or just the fact that there are too many people playing Khador. It can be a little disheartening for an innocent Khador player who picked up the faction back in Mk.II because Russians with axes are cool, and played Harkevich because he’s basically the only really good guy in the Iron Kingdoms, to all of the sudden be “that guy” with the cheesy, OP army.

All this negativity is something that can really suck the fun out of the game, and which I don’t really need in something that is supposed to be fun. In short, I need to know when to close lormahordes or Party Foul, step away from the internet and get back to painting my army.

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He said Warmachine is supposed to be fun! Get him!

Conclusion

One thing I didn’t put as one of my resolutions is to win a tournament or improve my W/L record or anything like that. While it’s always nice to get better at the game, I don’t think I’ll ever get to the point where I will be inducted into the cool people club of minor Warmachine celebrities. In 2018, I want to focus on enjoying the game more and helping my opponents enjoy the game more. That’s what’s important, not the battle for seventh place at the local Steamroller.

 

Company of Iron: 28th Iron Valkyrie Heavy Assault Korps

Lately, it seems like more and more miniatures companies are moving into the skirmish game market, that is, games that require a lot fewer models than army-scale battles. With not everyone having the time and disposable income for army-scale gaming, reducing the barrier to entry in tabletop wargaming by having fewer models makes sense. Privateer Press is no exception, having released Company of Iron several weeks ago.

CoI is basically Warmachine/Hordes scaled down to the skirmish level. With no warcasters or large based models, the game focuses on solos and units, the grunts of the Iron Kingdoms who make up the majority of the armies, even if the warcasters and warlocks get all the glory. The game uses alternating activations rather than the I Go, You Go system in Warmachine and some of the rules have been tweaked in accordance with the smaller scale and alternating activations, but people who have played Warmachine will be able to pick it up in no time.

Anyways, I haven’t played it enough yet to write a detailed review, however I did manage to get a company painted up.  So, without further ado, I will introduce the 28th Iron Valkyrie Heavy Assault Korps…

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28th Iron Valkyrie Heavy Assault Korps

 

Commander:  Kovnik Aleksandra Volkov – Man-O-War Kovnik
Upgrade:  Ironhead Scrapper

Other Models:
Koldun Kovnik Olegna Yanova – Greylord Forge Seer
Sgt. Ilena Filippova & Pvts. Antonovich, Kotov, Petrova, and Yegorov – MoW Bombardiers

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Inside the dark interrogation chamber, Aleksandra Volkov clutched her side in pain. Her injuries were still raw, and though she had gotten a few bandages to stop the bleeding, she had been quickly arrested and whisked away by armed winter guards and thrown into the brig.

“Ms. Volkov, I grow weary of your protestations,” said the kommissar responsible for interrogations. “Perhaps if you cooperate, we may show some mercy…”

“Do your worst,” replied Aleksandra, still clutching her likely cracked rib.

The impatient kommissar raised his hand to strike, but before he could, he felt a powerful grip on his arm. “You are dismissed,” said the grizzled old voice, one that made Aleksandra look up in shock. She could see little more than the silhouette, but the heavy armour, bushy beard, and powerful voice could only belong to one man: Kommander Izak Harkevich, the Iron Wolf.

As soon as Harkevich released his grip, the kommissar scampered away, knowing his place.

“Ms. Volkov, I must admit, I’m surprised to find you here so soon after your repairs to Black Ivan,” mused Harkevich. Coming closer, the Iron Wolf leaned over and offered Alex a canteen of water, one the parched woman quickly accepted. “Now, why don’t you tell me what happened out there…”

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Kovnik Alexandra Volkov, after trading her wrench for an axe

Aleksandra “Alex” Volkov grew up around warjacks and other heavy machinery.  Her father was a member of the Khadoran mechanics assembly, and Alex would often sneak into his shop after school.  From a very young age, he had her gradually progress from an assistant handing her tools to an apprentice mechanic in her own right.  Following her father into the mechanics assembly, she found herself attracted to the maintenance and repair of warjacks.  Eager to prove herself in the male-dominated world of the mechaniks assembly, she donned a steamsuit and volunteered for the heaviest and most difficult work available – that of a heavy wrecker.

 

Soon, she was assigned to Llael, the frontlines of the battles to defend Khadoran territorial integrity and protect the new Llaelese provinces.  She was sent to a maintenance and repair facility near the fron, working with other mechaniks to keep the mighty steel machines of the empire running.  It was here that she first felt a connection to the mighty warjacks that she would marshal around the repair yard.

Llael was rough.  Though she was not often in the front lines, she had seen komrades come back from the battlefield, wounded and dying. However, in spite of the grisly backdrop, she also found love during the occupation.  It was Oksana Fyodorova, a sniper with dozens of kills to her name. For months, they grew closer, becoming each other’s one point of light in the grim darkness of war.

One day, she had the opportunity to repair a unique black destroyer, equipped with a claw, some additional spikes, and a few other accoutrements, which had taken hits from Cygnaran gunfire.  As she made her repairs to its boiler and stacks, she felt a special connection to the unique warjack, and after a few days work, she had it up and walking around the yard again before it was returned to service. Through her repair of Black Ivan, her abilities soon came to the attention of Kommander Harkevich, the supreme commander of all Khadoran forces in the region.

However, a few weeks later, tragedy struck.  In a tactical retreat, Oksana was left behind and reported missing in action and presumed dead or captured in the face of an overwhelming Protectorate assault force.  In response, Aleksandra suited up and headed towards the front lines to find her, stealing some weapons from the armoury on the way out.

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Koldun Kovnik Olegna Yanova provides arcane support

 

In the dead of night, Aleksandra frantically charged through the Llaelese countryside, looking for any sign of her lost lover. Oksana had been reported missing in action when her position was overrun. Alex knew that as a Widowmaker, one who dealt death from afar to the enemies of the empire, that if Oksana was taken alive, she would have had the worst punishments the Menites could deliver inflicted upon her.

But as she rounded a small outcropping, she heard a bloodcurdling scream of pain. It was what she had feared the most; there, up ahead, was a wrack with a female figure chained to it. As she got closer, her fears were confirmed; Oksana had been captured and wracked. Panicked, Aleksandra dashed towards her, desperate to get her down.

“Oksana!” she called out, the figure attempting to look down at the source of the shouting. “It’s going to be okay, I’m here…”

All Oksana could respond with was a scream of pain and a rattling of her chains.

“I’ll get you down, I’ll…”

“Halt!” On the crest of the hill stood a Protectorate commander, along with a couple cavalry and a dozen infantry. “Lay down your arms.”

Aleksandra looked up at Oksana, writhing in pain. Knowing there was no way to get her down, she offered her lover one last gift. Pulling out a blunderbuss, she took careful aim, closed her eyes, and pulled the trigger, releasing Oksana from her pain. As she dropped the weapon, Aleksandra looked back around at the charging Protectorate warriors. With fire in her eyes, she picked up her axe, promising herself she wouldn’t let them take her alive…

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Eventually, she did find her lover, chained to a wrack. She tried to save her, but with a Protectorate ambush force closing in, she did the only thing she could to ease the pain, and ended Oksana’s life with a well-placed shot from a hand cannon. In the ensuing brawl, she tore through wave after wave of Protectorate troops, until she finally collapsed near the Khadoran front lines and was dragged back to camp.

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Sgt. Ilena Filippova.  Yes, that’s a grenade launcher with a chainsaw for a bayonet. Any questions?

For several minutes, Harkevich listened to Alexandra’s tale. Everything she said was corroborated by the few scouts and sentries who had seen parts of her rampage; the fanciful speculations of the kommissar notwithstanding.

 

“You have been charged with a number of military offenses,” stated Harkevich matter-of-factly. “Stealing military equipment, insubordination, unauthorized interactions with the enemy…” he paused for a moment. “Normally, you would be court martialled for these offenses and sentenced to hard labour, but one of my Lieutenants had witnessed you tearing through an entire unit of Protectorate troops single-handedly and nominated you for a medal. So…”

Harkevich slowly stood up from the chair across from Alex. He knew that revenge was a good motivator, and anyone who was crazy enough to take on an entire company of enemy troops single-handedly, and a skilled enough combatant to live to tell the tale, would be a good soldier. “…it’s either a court martial, or a new assignment as an officer in the Armoured Korps. Your choice.”

Alex looked up at the Kommander, surprised at the offer. “Sir, I’d like to become a Man-O-War…”

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Given the option of court martial for insubordination (among other things) or being impressed into service in a Man-O-War suit, she chose the latter. Under the watchful eye of Kommander Harkevich, she came to command the 28th Iron Valkyrie Heavy Assault Korps, a unit consisting of herself, Koldun Kovnik Olegna Yanova providing arcane support, and five Man-O-Wars equipped with Bombardier grenade launchers:  Sgt. Ilena Filippova, and Pvts. Anonovich, Kotov, Petrova, and Yegorov.

Painting my Grolar, Part 1

November has been a busy hobby month for me.  I started off the month with a lot of stuff on my hobby table, and have been trying to finish it off and give myself a bit of breathing room on my desk for me to scatter dozens upon dozens of little bottles of acrylic paint.

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The studio scheme.  Note: I don’t believe in studio schemes.

One of the things I’ve managed to finish was the Grolar/Kodiak multikit from Privateer Press, which I decided to magnetize to make it possible to use it as both variants in my games (even though the Grolar just looks way cooler).

As shown in the previous article, I managed to get him assembled, magnetized, and the gaps filled around the beginning of the month.  While the position of the legs was pretty much set, and without major conversions it would be difficult to do a repose, the given position is at least a dynamic one, with one foot in front of the other, unlike a number of PP’s older warjack kits.  The arms, on the other hand, had ball joints at both the shoulders and elbows, so there was some room for posability there, though one had to be careful with the Grolar that the back of the hammer wasn’t whacking himself in the shoulder.  I decided to pose him such that the left arm was slightly back and the right arm slightly forward, as though he were striding across the battlefield, and I did have to make the point of contact for the Grolar’s hammer slightly off-center to give it some clearance between the back of the hammer and the front of his shoulder.

Airbrush time!

Anyways, with the model all assembled, it was airbrush time!  Lately I’ve been experimenting with airbrush priming to good results.  I like to use an old single-action airbrush to prime, using the same logic for the airbrush that I use for my regular brushes — don’t use a nice brush for anything that isn’t paint, such as primer, varnish, etc. So I put together my airbrush setup, loaded my Badger 350 with white Stynylrez primer, and got to work.  At this point, the model was still in multiple sub-assemblies to make painting easier. I had pulled off all the magnetized bits, and I hadn’t glued the hips to the torso assembly yet.

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As an aside, Stynylrez has been my favourite primer lately.  At $10 for a 60 mL (2 oz) bottle, the price is right (compared to $4-5 for a 1/2 oz bottle of something like Vallejo or Reaper), and it’s thin enough out of the bottle to just drop in the airbrush and shoot with no thinners necessary.  It seems to stick well to all materials, and I have yet to have any problems with it not sticking to and chipping easily from metal figures like I have had with Vallejo’s primer. And, I’m lucky enough to have a hobby shop that carries it nearby.

Anyways, once I had a bunch of white primed doodads that vaguely resembled robot parts, it was time to start putting colour on the model.  I knew I wanted to do a pink striped pattern, partly because I thought it would look cool and partly because this is my second one of these and I wanted to be able to easily distinguish the two on the gaming table. So, I pulled out my good, dual-action airbrush and got to work. With a bit of thinning and the right additives (Vallejo Airbrush Thinner and Airbrush Flow Improver), Reaper MSP paints can be easily shot through an airbrush to good effect.

Anyways, I started with the pink, simply because pink is one of those colours like yellow which is far easier to lay over white than over a dark colour, and by doing the pink first, it would reduce the amount of masking I would have to do and worrying about overspray. I started out with 09268 Punk Rock Pink as a base coat on the areas that I wanted to do the stripes on, then worked up into 09262 Blush Pink and finally 09281 Brains Pink for the highest highlights.

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The moment of truth

After waiting for the pink to dry, I used Tamiya masking tape, which is available in a variety of widths from about 2mm upwards, and is perfect for doing things like hazard stripes at this scale.  After masking off the stripes, it was time to pull out the airbrush again and break out the purple.  I used my usual purple recipe, Reaper’s triad of Nightshade (9022), Imperial (9023) and Amethyst (9024) purple and got to work.  First, I loaded the brush with Nightshade Purple, the darkest shade, and covered the entire model, making sure not to miss any spots.

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With the Nightshade Purple laid down, I assembled the hip joint and stuck the model to the base. By having it more or less fully assembled, I could more easily see which angle the light source was coming from on pieces such as the arms and place my highlights appropriately. I then moved onto Imperial Purple, getting probably most of the upper surfaces, and then going to Amethyst Purple for the highest highlights.  In the picture, you can see that the highlights were placed with consideration of both what areas of the model will be hit by the sun, and also how to create some contrast between light and dark on the sharp edges on the torso.

The moment of truth came when I pulled up the tape.  There was a little bit of bleeding and whatnot (which was probably mostly my fault), particularly on the left shoulder where there were a lot of rivets interfering with getting the tape down nicely, but nothing I couldn’t touch up with a brush.

So, with that done, it was time to put away the airbrush and bust out my brushes and wet palette, because I still had a lot of traditional painting to do…