Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Inter-store tournament

After more or less one month without visiting my local GW store, I paid it a visit last Friday, with the idea of arranging a game (with my tyranids) against anyone wanting to. As I got in, a new advertisement hanging from a wall attracted my attention. It read something like “New WH40K Campaign: Fist of the Emperor”, and was an event organised by some hobby stores of the area (GW and non GW). These events are rather infrequent where I live, and it gives me the opportunity of enjoying at least twice games per month, so I knew I have been very, very lucky to know of this on time, because I had to fill in my entry on Monday the latest. The very Saturday I was back in the store, with a copy of my army list and the money for the registration.

Both this inter-store championship and my list – and the way – I play with tyranids have already been mentioned before, so I will just make a mental exercise of reminding myself what I have to do (I’m not a frequent gamer, so this reflection is more than necessary). Well, I have this terrifying beast of Hive Tyrant and his tyrant guard, who remain yet to be beaten in close combat. These will advance relentlessly towards the enemy through cover (if possible), and will be backed by a zoanthrope and some units of gaunts (about 30 gaunts), and maybe the Dakkafex too. This will give my opponent a clear objective to shoot, won’t it? Meanwhile, the warriors will take a nice firing place and spit acid death over the battlefield, and some other gaunts (about 30 again) and another zoanthrope will hold back to take objectives and that stuff. Two Carnifexes with barbed stranglers and scything talons will hold back for the first turns (if possible, in cover) firing and weakening infantry squads, and then will advance while firing to exploit the holes made by the kamikaze assault group and hopefully cause havoc in the enemy lines (this tactic worked sooo well in my last game that I want to repeat it as many times as possible). The Broodlord and his retinue will outflank the enemy, working at the same time as a bait/fire magnet that if manages to reach an objective, will probably chew it up completely.

That’s mostly all. I tried to keep it simple in general terms, but if I face an army that I know that will kick my ass if I play in this way, I’ll try to think of an alternative. My main “Plan B” is negating a possibly disastrous deployment by reserving everything, although this is a very risky tactic, useful only if I play Kill Points missions (my weakest with this army list). Anyway, the best way of improving my tactics is playing games, so I’ll try to learn something from every one of them; and hopefully in a few months I’ll be a hard challenge in the battlefield for any opposing general.


Army List – Hive Fleet NidhĂ„gg


- Hive Tyrant: all kind of close combat directed biomorphs, scything talons, bonesword & lash whip, Psychic Scream. Retinue of two tyrant guards
- Broodlord: feeder tendrils, toxin sacks, flesh hooks and reinforced carapace. Retinue of six genestealers


- Tyranid Warriors (5): toxin sacks, reinforced carapace and scything talons. Deathspitter (4) and barbed strangler (1)
- Carnifex: enhanced senses, twin-linked devourers (2)
- Carnifex: scything talons and barbed strangler

Core units

- Spinegaunts: three units of 10
- Termagaunts: two units of 10, one unit of 11

Heavy Support

- Carnifex: a more resilient one. Scything talons and barbed strangler
- Zoanthropes (2): Warp Blast and Synapse Creature

Total: 1.500 points, six scoring units (good!), sixteen kill points (d’oh!)

Friday, 12 December 2008

Eldar War Walkers

Although I haven't finished painting my 500 points list yet, I've already started thinking on its evolution to a 1.000 points list, and the units that will be added to my army to achieve this goal. I have several things in mind, but today I feel like writing about my reflections on one of the units I like most of the eldar army: the war walkers.

Eldar war walkers have for me the strongest point to consider when choosing a unit: really cool models!! And also one of the most important secondary points: they're plastic!! The combination of these factors made them a must in my army, and when I started considering their colour scheme and pre-viewed in my mind the results, it was totally clear that I had to use them no matter the cost.

In terms of rules, eldar war walkers have some obvious strong and weak points that can be summarised basically in that they are super-shooters made of crystal. They are a nimble and versatile heavy weapons platform, being able to move like infantry and so benefiting of a safer movement through difficult terrain and the running special rule if they need so; but are also extremely fragile with an all-round AV10 which offers a reliable protection from lasguns only. The squadron rule saves you some points in spirit stones, but destroys them if immobilized, so it's neither an advantage nor a disadvantage. They pack an extra trick too, with their scouts special rule, which allows them to perform an additional move before the battle starts (which can be of some aid in certain cases as a small redeployment tactic) or make a flank attack if they are hold in reserve (this new tactic among my favourites for its inherent "Surprise!" factor). Their BS is average, scoring hits in a 4+ roll, but their basic cost is ridiculous (30 points plus weapons). All in all, an interesting unit that should be used wisely.

When choosing weaponry for your walkers, you must have into account three things:

A. They're BS3, so hitting percentage is 50%
B. They're extremely fragile, and most of the time they need to stay out of enemy range or receive cover saves for their survival
C. Their cost in point depends a lot on the weapons their carry

You can use different combinations of weapons on your walkers to fulfil different roles on the battlefield, but I've seen them more commonly equipped with a common weapon and thus becoming a specialized unit. I'll be using them in this way too, because in terms of eldar fluff I favour the idea of specialized units (it's their way, so I better won't change it). And when it comes the time for arming them, these are the options:

Brightlances: very good tank hunting weapons, with a medium-long range. On the paper it sounds very good to have a unit of tank hunters on legs, but let's admit it, these guys are not snipers (A) and cost a lot of points if equipped with these weapons (C), and it's not pleasant to see a 90 points model disabled by bolter shots (B). I consider this option too expensive and not very reliable; eldars have better tank hunters than those and with a lower prize. Not in my list unless I'm facing an Armoured Fist of the imperial guard.

Starcannons: the bane of heavy infantry, two shots per weapon, medium-long range. This option packs an average of two S6 AP2 hits per walker in the unit, which will terrify any space marine/necron/tyranid nidzilla player. But power doesn't come without cost, and at 80 points per model it's still an expensive option, though I'll seriously consider it when facing some armies such as Ravenwing or Plague Marines armies. In the last Eldar Codex, starcannons were downgraded to two shots per round (instead of three), and the new WH40K rules have nerfed them a bit more with the improvement of cover saves, so they're not the weapons they used to be; but can be devastating if used properly (just read the posts of Fritz in his The Way of Saim-Hann blog). In a tournament with fixed lists this may not be the best of the options, but can save you the day when facing one of those heavily-armoured-infantry armies, and will provide good support against most other foes, excluding imperial guard and the kind.

Eldar Missile Launchers: versatile weapons with long range. Eldar missile launchers are some of the less used eldar weapons, maybe lacking some of the eldar glamour, but nevertheless are very effective. S8 AP3 shots can deal with most armoured targets but those with AV14, but again their average accuracy (A) does not make them the best unit for tank hunting; and their S4 AP4 template is quite good when dealing with medium and light infantry. This versatility is at the same time their main handicap, not being excessively efficient in neither those roles; but when combined with the scouts special rule and the flank deployment it allows it gives you the advantage of being able to surprise a tank from its back (or rear, if you're lucky) and catching infantry hiding behind rubble in the open (and thus negating cover saves). All in all, probably the most versatile option, with a medium-high cost of 70 points, which outstands against an army in particular… can you guess which?

Eldar Scatter Laser: medium-long range weapons with an insane rate of fire. Each of these weapons packs four (yes, FOUR) S6 AP6 shots, so a unit of three war walkers with scatter laser means… 24 shots!! This is translated in 12 hits on average, or 18 if you guide the unit. Who is scared of orks now? This option is the most praised by everybody: it combines good anti-infantry firepower, specially against poorly armoured foes, but being also a threat for heavily armoured enemies due to the sheer amount of wounds they can cause (after all, 3+ saving throws are also failed); and also some anti-tank ability, specially against light vehicles such as transports or light walkers but also against heavier vehicles if you manage to surprise them with a brilliant flank deployment (this scouts rule is truly amazing). Moreover, when facing S4+ or better armies, you can place the walkers in cover or behind scenery without fear of having obscured line of sight to the enemy; their armour save will always be equal or better than the cover save you granted them in this way, and in return you get a cover save yourself, something very good for the survival of the walkers (B). With a medium cost of 60 points per model, I understand why this is the most popular option of all.

Shuriken Cannon: medium range weapon with high rate of fire. The lightest of all the eldar heavy weapons packs three S6 AP5 shots, and can be considered as the younger brother of the scatter laser, with less range and rate of fire, and a slightly better AP. This weapon option is often dropped by most players, who don't even consider it a "heavy" weapon; but as it happens with the scatter laser it allows you to use cover in your favour, and is lethal when used against orks, imperial guard, small tyranids and other eldars in the open. For the ridiculous cost of 40 points per model (what can be called a sale), you can get a unit that will surely surprise your opponent, and ruining his/her plans with such a simple unit makes your victory count as double!

After these thoughts, I guess I'll be using the scatter laser or shuriken cannon settings most of the time, depending on how tight on points I am. But I wont discard starcannons and missile launchers against certain armies… by the way, have you guessed which army is really afraid of eldar missile launchers? Of course, the Tau! F8 AP3 ammo means instant death to Crisis Battlesuits, and S4 AP4 templates can decimate fire warriors in the open. You see, every weapon has its strong point...

Edit: I forgot to mention the pinning special rule the EMS has... another good point when facing armies with average or low leadership... I definitely should try them sometime.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Advances achieved

The army is growing!!

Well, not exactly a flow of troops, but I've finished painting five basic Dire Avengers. It has taken me ages, due to both the facts of still being under recovery from my broken leg and the damned colour scheme I've picked for them. It seems that I never learn…

I had first planned to paint them using the standard GW scheme, but then I had one of those moments of inspiration and decided to try something completely different. I wanted to give them a really serious looking style, standing out their elite role in the army, something generally obviated in favour of other aspect warriors; and at the same time I wanted to give them a monastic and sober look, in order to point out their courage and stoical attitude in battle. So these guys were going to have a very reduced pallete of colours, and a single contrast colour. And they weren't going to be painted in GW's style, but more in Rackham's, meaning softer highlights and different mixtures of paints.

So I started with a basecoat of Enchanted Blue, washed it with a mixture of Iyanden Darksun and Badab Black (those ink products are priceless for army painters, how have I been able to live before they were released?) and then repainted Enchanted Blue in most of the armor plates and progressively highlighted them with Hawk Turquoise (two highlights were enough for me). I painted the facemask, the crest of hair, the shuriken catapult and some other accesories with Chaos Black, and highlighted them (but the facemask) with Scaly Green, Scaly + Snot Green (50/50), and pure Snot Green. Also painted all the gems and eyes in green colours. Finally, I painted the clothes, ribbons and the two stripes-for-troop-integration in white for contrast. The result was different and good indeed, at least for me, although the miniatures turned out to be a bit too dark, and the highlight work is so subtle that it can only be appreciated at close range and not in the tabletop (a real pity, but hey, that's also something I've learnt with this experiment). Also, my camera seems to have problems to distinguish between blue and turquoise, and the pictures I've taken don't do justice to the paintjob, but that's something I can't change by now.

Finally, I Photoshop-ed the pictures in order to give them a cooler look. Well, at least that was the idea; I'm not an expert on photo edition. But again, I'm happy with the results :) Those Avengers look really menacing! Shake with fright mon-keigh, the true warriors of Asuryan are coming!

Hope you like those guys. Advice and suggestions are always welcome!

Monday, 17 November 2008

Chipped paint tutorial

In my previous post I posted some pics showing an experiment I had made on weathering techniques. Some people have asked me how I did it, and I’ve tried my best to write a SBS with some pictures. Hope this is ok, I’m really a noob with those writing-and-explaining things.

For some time, I’ve been amazed with the weathering effects I’ve seen in recent models. Well, with recent I mean since 2006 or so. It’s obvious that in the painting community there have been some kind of changes, evolving from the omnipresent “old school” style (McVey’s old ‘Eavy Metal style) to more diverse trends and schools, each of them very well defined. We have now the non-metallic metal (NMM) trend, for example, which has become very popular (thanks for example to the painting staff of Rackham miniatures); and opposed to it we have the True Metallics trend, which has redefined the way of painting with metallic paints. Besides, different styles or “schools” have been created, each one with its distinctive characteristics: some use glazing as the main resource, some aim at ultra-realistic painting, some use freehands extensively, and so on.

Of all these styles and schools, the best known and respected for professional painters is undoubtedly the French school. Their style of extreme cleanliness and super-smooth colour transitions, coupled with several new and original colour theories, have placed them at the Olympus of the miniature painters for a long time. This doesn’t mean that the best painters in the world are French, of course there are great painters in all the world, but their style is clearly defined, easily recognized and justly feared in all the Golden Demon contests. Moreover, recent achievements obtained by some other different schools owe to the French school part of their basis, sharing with it several concepts (such as colour theory) although following a different evolution in other fields.

One field the French painters started developing a couple of years ago were new and more realistic weathering techniques, especially focused on rust in metals and damages in paint (chipped paint). I remember being amazed when looking to those superb paintjobs in Coolmini, wondering how in Earth was possible to paint that, and firmly believing that never in my life I’d be able to do something like that.

Until last week.

In recent years, my own style has also evolved. I used to paint in the “old school” style (still my favourite for painting miniatures for gaming), but then I started becoming more interested in the new techniques I was seeing being developed. I was lucky enough to know a couple of high-level painters who were also very friendly, and they taught me different tricks and gave me useful tips for improving my painting. Also, I found in internet almost endless resources on the field of miniature painting. With the passing of the time, I have gathered a lot of resources in different webpages, hand-written notes in my notebook, and also a couple of books I’ve procured. And it was about time to put them to work.

Ok, sorry for this long introduction. Now let’s go to business: the Star Vagabonds’ chipped paint tutorial (or how to spoil nicely flat surfaces with rust). And to make it easy (and short) I’ll make it simple, using as example a plastic rod from any plastic kit (see brush for size reference).

I didn’t prime the rod to save time, and directly painted it with Shadow Grey. Then I gave it a few glazes of Chaos Black and Space Wolves Grey to give it some volume, although this effect is barely recognisable on the pictures, due to poor lighting (it is possible to see it better in the yellow painted – orange glazed rod of my previous post).

Then I took a small piece of sponge (or foam, well I don’t know how to say it in English; any help over there?). The size of its “grain” is important, as it must be very small. I used the material GW supplies with its blisters, the very same material where the rod is laying on the pictures.

I made a mix of Dark Flesh and Bestial Brown, dipped a little bit the sponge in it and carefully but quickly “hit” with it the places of the rod where I wanted to have rust. In this step it is very important to have a colour that is really rust-looking (Dark Flesh mixes are perfect), and also to place this rust in natural places for it, such as sharp edges and broken parts of the material (the edge of the rod, for example). And also, it is essential to remember that less is more, and overdoing with the sponge will ruin the general effect. Be gentle with it, and it will reward you. This is the result I obtained.

Last, you can add a few more details, such as different tones of rust (I used Vermin Brown for it) or even bare metal showing itself under the rust. But remember that those are just details, don’t overdo them. Less is more!

The final step to give real volume to the chips of paint would be underlining the rust areas with a thin line of a colour lighter than the base. That would be Space Wolves Grey in our case, but I was feeling too lazy to do it in a plastic rod. Instead, I’ll post a picture of the Warmachine Deathripper I’ve painted this weekend to show this effect (sorry for the poor quality of the picture).

This effect can be used in a lot of surfaces, but excels in flat surfaces, such as those found on vehicles or certain miniatures (space marines, for example). But the possibilities are infinite, and yours to play with them.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Sport is dangerous

It’s been about two weeks since my last post, but this doesn’t mean I’ve stopped painting and/or modelling during this time for no reason. The truth is that last week I broke my fibula while playing soccer, and I’ve been very busy laying on bed and cursing my fate.

Despite this, I’ve managed to paint for short (quite short) periods of time, and I’ve made some progress with my dire avengers. One of them is already finished, I hope to show you a pic of him this very week. And I’ve made certain progress on my weathering techniques, I’ve made some tests with a plastic rod (from a Wave Serpent plastic kit) and I’m more than pleased with the results.

Apart from that, not too much to say. Oh, well, I’m really jealous of my fellow bloggers who keep on their good work with painting advices, battle reports, and that stuff. I hate you guys. But I admit that some of the articles I’ve read this week are pretty interesting, especially the FTW article on photography tricks (although I favour Photoshop over Picasa, but the methodology is quite the same).

Ow, I have to recover as soon as possible. I'm a dreadful patient. And I want to paint!

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Starting small

I’ve been thinking of finishing a first batch of miniatures and start using them for playing in small battles of about 500 points, mainly because it’s going to take me a looong time to finish painting 1.500 points of eldar, and I think I can have those first 500 points finished before Christmas – or during Christmas holidays the latest.

I’ve thought of a very simple list, with 3 core units and a fast attack option – the main reason being that I’ve already painted a unit of guardians and a vyper, and I’m on the way of painting a dire avenger unit. So the idea is this:

- Eldar guardians (10) with brightlance grav platform. This unit includes a warlock with witch blade and the embolden psychic power.

- Dire avengers (10), including an exarch with dual shuriken catapults and the bladestorm exarch power

- Eldar storm guardians (10), with a flamer and a fusion gun (the special weapons included in the boxed set). This unit includes a warlock with singing spear and the enhance psychic power.

- Vyper with scatter laser and shuriken cannon

Now, the main trouble for this will be finding somebody willing to play those really small battles with me…

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Contest open!

Fritz, from the Way of Saim-Hann blog, has started a painting contest focused on a jetbike mounted eldar HQ. Apart from applauding his initiative (great idea man!) I haven’t been able to do much more, being my painting schedule so tight currently. The entries for this contest are very original indeed, and there are several good paintjobs there too.

Check it and vote your favourite!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Monday night game

Briefing: this post is quite long, and deals about playing with tyranids, currently my main army; so no eldars today, sorry. Nevertheless, if you want to get some gaming tips to use with or against these bugs, you are welcome to keep reading :) And of course, if anybody has a comment or suggestion, is also very welcome to write it down.

Last Monday I went to my local GW store, where I had to play a game against one of its friendly red shirts. Where I live, games are usually played on a 2.000 point basis, but for this time we agreed on playing a 1.500 points battle. Why? Well, basically two reasons: first, I’ve lately realized that playing against 2.000 points of nids (my army) means a battle of no less than 3 hours, including deployment and that stuff. I suppose that’s normal when you have an army of around 100 miniatures; I wonder how long will it take me to play a “Green Tide” ork player… but I’m sure it will undoubtedly be very funny! The second reason is the organization of our imminent inter-store championship; where gamers of all my area will be competing for several months, each one defending one gaming store of my county; and all the battles must have a maximum of 1.500 points per side, so this was an excellent occasion to make trials with different army lists.

I always play with the same army, more or less. It is composed by the minis I’ve got with the passing of the years, from different presents such as battleforces, plastic boxes and so on; so I have to stick to those minis I have, and I can’t make big variations in my army list. That’s not a problem, because these minis are the ones I like most (gaunts, carnifexes and warriors mainly), and are mainly made of my favourite wargaming component: plastic.

So then I ran an army with a close combat Hive Tyrant with two tyranid guards (which to date have simply eaten everything that has crossed their path – including a C’tan), and an infiltrating Broodlord with a retinue of 11 genestealers. Fire support was provided by a unit of six warriors with deathspitters, two zoanthropes with warp blast and two Carnifexes with barbed stranglers. Basic units were sixty gaunts (half termagaunts, half spinegaunts) in six units of ten, whose mission was seizing objectives. My opponent played Dark Angels, and had four squads of five marines, one five-man squad of the Deathwing, a Land Raider Crusader, a Whirlwind, a Demolisher and a Venerable Dreadnought, all commanded by Belial. Mission played was “Seize Ground” with four objective markers, with the “Pitched Battle” deployment.

I won the roll for starting the game, so I deployed first. Everything was in cover (just in case he stole me the initiative and got first turn), but the broodlord, who was in reserve to outflank the enemy. My enemy did more or less the same. First couple of turns were excellent for the nids, thanks mainly to the new rules on templates, and in my very first turn I killed 7 space marines just shooting with the warriors (five small s6 templates and a big s4 one are nothing to laugh at) and the carnifexes (adding another two big s8 templates). I call that tactic “wound saturation”, ‘cause even the finest power armour of the galaxy can’t protect all your soldiers when the enemy causes more than twenty wounds to your units in a single shooting round. That tactic is now even better, due to the new rules on wounds allocation, and a couple heavy/special weapons were lost for the marines (nice!). My opponent was surprised of this firing power – he wasn’t expecting that from the nids – and we changed roles; he advancing towards my fire line whereas I was re-deploying my troops and firing at him.

The only unit of my army that advanced forward like a furious juggernaut was the Tyrant and his retinue, managing to kill a unit of marines and destroying the Dreadnought before blowing up in a cloud of ichor and dribble when the Demolisher got a direct hit on them. It was not a problem, because their work was done; they diverted most of my enemy’s firepower – and I must say that it was hilarious when he managed to get two wounds on the tyrant firing just bolters – and destroying part of the marine’s army (at the end we made some calculations, and realised that the big guy had paid his points back – wooo!!). On the other side of the board, the broodlord advanced relentlessly towards the enemy, under a rain of fire that was wiping genestealers from his retinue very, very fast.

I kept holding back and firing my enemy until turn 4, when I advanced to claim the objectives. The already punished units of marines were not rival for my carnifexes (which also had scything talons – who said multipurpose ‘fexes don’t work?), and they wiped out two combat squads and the Land Raider. The Broodlord survived a specially intense turn of fire, in which the Crusader fired everything it had to him and the last member of his retinue, and again thanks to the new wound allocation rule it caused him four bolter wounds he saved with his reinforced chitin (3+ armour save), while the genestealer died from two wounds of assault cannon, two of bolter fire and one of multimelta. Then, he chewed up a combat squad of marines and the whirlwind. Nasty beast :)

On the other hand, the Deathwing squad advanced towards one of the objectives no matter the rain of fire falling on them. Albeit I left the unit very, very weakened – leaving just a lightning claws terminator and Belial himself – this couple managed to open a bloody path through three units of gaunts (killing one every turn) and a zoanthrope, and there they stood claiming an objective (Belial’s special rule allows him to pick terminators as core units, being able then to hold objectives)… until the warriors shot them and killed the last termie of the unit.

After seven turns, my opponent only had the Demolisher and a wounded Belial remaining, while I was controlling two objectives. Great victory for my bugs!

As a conclusion of the battle, I must admit that the few games I had played before under the new 5th ed. Rules had served me well in tactical terms; thanks to what I’ve learned from them I knew well how to time my movements, and for the first time in years I had a real tactical plan with my army, instead of just deploying and advancing wildly towards the enemy. New template rules are terrific with some troops, and the tyranid warriors were claimed “unit of the game”, killing in total 10 space marines and the last scoring termie (the one mentioned above), and even wounding Belial himself, just with shoots and more shoots; and providing the synapse necessary to allow my gaunts to hold two objectives; having lost just two members out of six. Amazing performance! The Broodlord was also terribly effective when it reached combat; now the feeder tendrils allow you to repeat all failed rolls to hit and that rule is terrific! The Hive Tyrant was also good, a close combat behemoth as always, although he was dead for turn three; and the Carnifexes also did an excellent job. Nice!

Next game I’ll make a “small” adjustment to this army list, dropping from eleven to six the retinue of the Broodlord and reducing the squad size of the warriors to five, to count with some more punch… in the form of a Dakkafex, a Carnifex with two twin-linked devourers. Cool!!

Monday, 13 October 2008

My first fire dragon

Although I’ve decided to stick to non-vivid colours when painting my eldars, sometimes I simply can’t help making changes on the way (and that’s something applicable to every aspect of my life). Thus, I’ve devised a good painting scheme of blues & bones for the core of the army (that means guardians and vehicles), but now I can’t think of applying the same concept for the specialist warriors, who are different and peculiar troops (“special(ist)” troops we could say). It also must be said that sometimes I suffer from a weird disease called “painters' fever”, whose effects are hallucinations with different sizes of brushes and pots of paints mixed, coupled with the imperious urge to capture all these ideas on a mini.

The combination of all those ideas was the decision of painting my specialist warriors breaking the main colour scheme of the army, and also trying something different with them, something even daring, both in their colour scheme and in the technique used.

First specialist warriors I decided to paint were the fire dragons (because the minis are just so cool). Well, I haven’t painted all of them, just one; but that’s because that’s the way I usually do things when experimenting with colour schemes, and only once I’m pleased with the results obtained (usually after a lot of that on-the-way changes) I start with my standard “painting line”.

So the first consideration was: how was I going to paint them? Let’s take a look to some fire dragons painted in a standard colour scheme (GW’s one):

They look very nice, don’t they? Bright and hot colours, fitting very well to their “flame-ish” background and their “melta” role and weapons. But… there is something missing here… there is no contrast between the undersuit and the reinforcement plates, and although that’s not a problem with darker colour schemes (such as dark reaper’s ones), I don’t like it for brighter colours, so… what to do?

Well, first, choice of colours. After some minutes of thinking, I decided to stick to a limited palette of two main colours, a contrast colour and an extra neutral colour for some parts. Thus, I decided for dark red and blue-ish white for the main colours (undersuit and reinforcement plates, respectively), with dark grey (almost black) as the neutral colour, and some dots of blue for the contrast on details. While black and blue are easy colours to paint, and I’ve recently mastered (more or less) a red-painting technique of my own recipe, white is a colour that demands a lot of work and is very difficult to paint properly, but if painted carefully can lead to excellent results. I also went for a grey basecoat, the one I favour lately above the rest just because I’ve achieving very good results with it. And after a few hours of trying different combinations, the mini was finished.

I’m really pleased on how it turned out. The picture is not good at all, I’m sorry; I’ll try to shoot better ones once I finish making my light box – based on this excellent article – but shows quite well the idea I’ve trying to carry out: a contrast nice to the eye, and a different scheme for a miniature. This result reminds me somehow of the Star Wars stormtroopers hehe; with the undersuit black instead of red he could be one of Lord Vader’s personal guards.

I attempted some OSL in the mouth of the weapon, but didn’t turn out well, so I dropped it for a simple glowing effect like the one you can see on Warmachine miniatures (this is difficult to see in the picture due to light reflection, hope to solve it someday). I also like the eye very much (I admit that I’ve been veeery lucky with its result), and also the blue ribbon hanging from his waist; the two stripes it shows are being used as a technique of “troop integration” and are being painted on very infantry miniature of the army, in different places and colours (see eldar guardians soon).

So I’ve finished my first specialist warrior! Only seven more to go, hehehe. I’m planning to paint them on two groups of three, and finally paint the exarch; but due to my painting schedule – really too many projects currently – that won’t happen until March next year. Meanwhile he will be a nice addition to my bedroom cabinet :)

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

About the last Games Day

A couple of weeks ago was hold the main and most popular of all Games Days around the world, the UK GD. Crowded with thousands of people, from dedicated gamers to master-crafted painters; and full of all types of Games Workshop imagery, to an extend never seen before, and blah, blah, blah.

Well, at least that’s what my friends have told me, since I didn’t have the chance to attend the event. What they’ve told me is that it has nothing to do with any other games Day they’ve seen (and that means many), this one being much bigger and crowded than the rest. I suppose that the fact of being at its home place has something to do with it.

But what I can say without any doubt, and I don’t need to go there to make sure myself, is that the Golden Demon Contest hold there is by far the most popular of all, to which people of dozens of different countries travel to show their stunning pieces of art. Every year, some of the best miniature painters of the world gather there and compete to win a Demon Trophy and the UK Slayer Sword, the ultimate prize for a painter of Games Workshop miniatures. And every year we, simple mortals, are presented with some of the most amazing creations anybody can dream of; from exquisitely painted miniatures to scratchbuilt conversions, all of them full with a small spark of that thing some people uses to call magic.

This year I’ve seen some really new and interesting jobs, especially in the “Duel” category; where the entries have been really great. May this serve me as inspiration, because I’ve been working in a project for the Golden Demon for over a year… yes, I’m that slow at painting. The Slayer Sword was awarded to Nano, who sculpted and painted a superb Space Marine; congratulations to him and all the winners! I must say that his mini is not exactly my cup of tea, specially the choice of colours; but I admit that his technique is perfect, and the Sword is well deserved. Here there are some pics of the green and the finished piece.

Next post: my first fire dragon…

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

So many ideas in my head…

... and too many things to do preventing me from posting!

Last week I’ve been really busy and I have barely had time to write some lines in the blog. But that doesn’t mean that I’ve been idle on my eldar project, not at all. First, I’ve spent some hours trying to pick a colour scheme for my fire dragons, and after a few hours painting on a model I think I have it (hurray!). I’ve also played two games last week (what is a lot for a person who used to play a game every 2-3-months) with my nids, being defeated once by some hard-hitting black templars and snatching a last-turn draw from a serious defeat in a game last Sunday against imperial guard (3 hellhounds giving me a lot of trouble with my smaller nids). Aaand I’ve also been reviewing the pictures from GD UK ’08, specially Golden Demon ones, and I have to admit that in some categories, it’s definitely been the best of all times (just check the “Duel” entries, simply a step forward from the typical dioramas we used to see). And last but not least, I’ve got some magnets that will help me a lot with my idea of a fully customizable eldar army.

I expect to write all this down in the following days!

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Prices rising!

I'm in a rush at the moment, 'cause I've just noticed that in a couple of days Games Workshop is increasing prices in all their non-plastic products; and I forgot it completely! This afternoon I'll head to my local store to mail order the last bits for my alredy planned 2.000 points army, such as a farseer, autarch, specialist warriors blisters, a special edition ranger and that stuff around 100 € (that is, 150 $). Saving between 15%-30% of that money will be great!

If you also forgot about the new prices, you'd better hurry up too!!

Monday, 22 September 2008

Recurrent problem (and big tamtrum)

Shit happens. Everybody knows. But some things really drive me nuts.

Imagine that you’ve just finished painting a model you want to use in your games. You may have invested a lot of time and effort on it (specially if it is a relevant model on a table, like a commander or so) and you don’t want your finely painted model to be damaged during a battle (battle damage is cool when painted on a model, not when suffered by it). So what can you do? The answer is simple: protect your model. How? Well, you can use different methods, such as glass covers and stuff (seriously, I’ve seen it!), but for miniature gamers the most broadly extended method of protecting miniatures is varnishing them.

Varnish. The sound of that word gives the creeps to most of the top miniature painters I know (and I know several Golden Demon winners). They keep reminding me not to use it, and I keep telling them that apart from painting I also play with the minis, and therefore varnish is essential to keep them in good shape and avoid as much as possible those eventual scratches that come with the use, touch and falling (ouch!) of the miniatures; so it is a must for me. By the way, I have to congratulate Nano for his well deserved Slayer Sword in the last UK’s GD, your painting really rocks man. Keep up the good work!

Now back to our subject. There are plenty of varnishes out there in the market, lots of different brands and types, and in different formats (mainly intended either to be applied by brush or by spray). Personally, I don’t like a gloss finish on a mini, I mean, I DON’T LIKE IT, because in my opinion it ruins all the careful work of layering, blending and glazing a miniature giving it a completely different look. Even with miniatures to which I haven’t dedicated too much time (such as typical core troops – for example gaunts in my tyranid army) I really hate having a glossy finish on them. I think that gloss varnish should be used only for really glossy surfaces, such as watery or bloody ones, for example, but not for faces, clothes or even weapons.

Ok, no problem – you can think – just use a matt varnish. Matt varnish. Hah! As if it were so easy to find a REAL matt varnish! Most of the “matt” varnishes I’ve checked are not real matt, but satin varnishes. Crap! And as far as I’ve checked through the interned and talked with loads (and loads, and loads…) of other painters, I’ve discovered that there is just one real matt varnish in the world: Testors Dullcote. And I’ve also discovered that it is impossible to get it outside America or the UK, due to shipping restrictions on the product. Super crap!

So in the last years, I’ve trying different brands of varnishes available in my local stores (not only GW stores). I’ve found that GW’s “Purity Seal” is a satin varnish that luckily suits quite well the look of my nids (in the future I’ll post here some pics of them too), but is unacceptable for other minis (like high elves). I tried several other brands till I found the one that, although not completely matt, gives a minimum satin effect to my miniatures: Vallejo’s Matt Varnish. Currently I’m happy with it, but I use it only in my gaming minis, not the display ones.

At this point, everything was more or less wine and roses with my minis and the varnish, until yesterday I made – again – a mistake when varnishing a mini: I oversprayed it A LITTLE. I’ve done this too many times, but I find it impossible to control when applying varnish with a spray. The result? First, a super glossy surface in my carefully-painted-with-all-my-love weapons platform; then, some round circular spots with a white borders; finally, cries of anger of the painter (yes, that’s me).

Luckily, it has only affected a small area (the back part of the brightlance), and it wont take me more than two minutes to fix it, but it could have been much worse, and that's really annoying.

This problem happens to me not really very often, but yes every now and then. I spray the minis from a reasonable distance, in an open environment (the balcony of my flat), and quickly. And even that, this shit keeps happening. Guess I’ll have to live with it, but I’d kill for a can of Testors, or for some good advice on varnishing miniatures with spray…

Monday, 15 September 2008

First and (probably) last painting session

Well, at least for my girlfriend, hehe.

Last Friday I had the brilliant idea of arranging a painting session at home, and I asked my girlfriend to come and try her skills with the brush. So I cleaned part of the kitchen’s table, brought there my lamp, water, paints and that stuff; so we can have a nice environment this first time painting together.

I gave her one eldar guardian, already assembled and primed; and I took another, so I could explain her what to do while I did it myself. That seemed me a good idea, and proved relatively effective, but for the fact that she was barely listening me and was doing all the things on her own. Damn girls…

After an hour or so trying to teach her about the importance of thinning down paints or the best way to apply paint with the strokes of the brush, we both gave up, she admitting not having patience for this (patience is not one of my hot-tempered honey qualities). Well, at least she tried; and in the end we reached the agreement of she learning a bit how to play the game and visiting and supporting me when I played, and I doing all the painting business. If somebody there thinks that’s not a good deal, I strongly disagree. It’s FAR more than what I had before, so it’s ok for me and I’m happy with it.

Oh, and I must say that even with her lack of patience, she wasn’t doing bad at all, as the “end of session” picture shows. Pity she won’t go any further… well, maybe I can take her as an assistant when making scenery; we’ll see.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Alaitoc Guardians: First idea

Guardians are the most basic eldar troops. In fact, they are not exactly soldiers, but civilians, who have been called to arms due the serious lack of troops from which the surviving eldar Craftworlds suffer from. They can be equipped with a short-ranged weapon with a high rate of fire and average potency called shuriken catapult, or with melee equipment such as pistols and swords. They can also carry some special weapons such as flamers and meltaguns, and also heavier weapons mounted on grav platforms, allowing them to fire on the move. Eldar technology is that great!

I love guardians. Simply love them. I think they are among the best miniatures designed by Games Workshop. Soft curves and simple but effective poses for basic minis. The new heavy weapon platform is also really cool (and bigger than the previous one). And they all are plastic! Even better for handling and gaming :)

So, undoubtedly, I knew beforehand that my army needed at least one unit of them, though I'd like to include more (maybe this will be more than necessary due to the new 5th ed. gaming rules). Tactically, I see the guardians in a multipurpose role, both valid for defense and attack, but also not specially good in neither of those roles (well, civilians after all). But the essential point of units of guardians is that they are Core Units in the army organisation chart, and therefore able to hold and take objetives in the battlefield.

So if I had to start with some minis, it should be with those. As I've previously mentioned, the Alaitoc colour scheme includes a blue-spot pattern of camouflage, using the yellow colour as a contrast. But as I wanted to avoid "horrible vivid colours", I had to do a few changes to it... and thus I decided to change the yellow colour for a bone one; and use red for details to create a good contrast. So I had the reference (a guardian painted by Games Workshop, see picture) and my own idea... would it fit?

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Back from holidays

… and working again. Dammit!

Well, best things don't last forever, and holidays are over. I haven't posted anything lately, and I think it was about time; because in the last months I've finished painting the first unit of the army: ten eldar guardians with a brightlance platform! I am very proud of the work I've done, not because of the quality of the paintjob (that I consider more than tabletop acceptable) but because the colour scheme I picked up turned out really well. I applied it again to an eldar vyper - a unit that under the new rules won't be used very much I'm afraid - and the result was again more than satisfactory. Hurray! Now I only have to take some pictures of the units on all their glory to show them here, mmm, maybe next week.

I've also finished my eldar wraithlord modelling project… more on this soon, but for the moment just want to tell you I got inspired by Jamie's miniature (from Coolminiornot). Really an excellent example of a dynamic miniature (and a brilliant paintjob too), and that's the feeling I want to give to mine...

Monday, 11 August 2008

The Alaitoc Craftworld

"Occasion, servants of the Almighty Emperor may be fortunate or skilled enough to capture an Eldar alive. The majority of those who fall into our hands are from that caste known by our military forces as the Rangers. These Rangers can provide us with much information about their people, under correct inducements. Over the last two millennia, a surprising proportion of these captured Rangers hailed from the craftworld of Alaitoc. Perplexed by this course of events, my predecessors began a detailed analysis of this craftworld which I have attempted to continue. This has been a very hard task, as Alaitoc is one of the most secretive craftworlds, drifting on the very edge of the galaxy. Ever since war broke out between them and the Emperor's righteous armies, following the Beelze Conflict, they have shunned all direct contact with other races.

Intrigued by the propensity for the Alaitoc Eldar to follow the so-called 'Path of the Outcast' I endeavoured to find the root of this from amongst their number. The information I managed to elicit was interesting but unfortunately the subject died before it could reveal anything of depth or detail.

It appears that the Eldar of Alaitoc are the most puritanical adherents to the culture known as the Path of the Eldar - that lifestyle by which an Eldar will dedicate itself to the pursuit of knowledge in one sphere of life at a time. This zealous attitude has led to many of the Alaitoc Eldar becoming Rangers - either made outcasts by their masters for some slight misdeed, or tiring of the harsh discipline of their craftworld. For some, the very isolation which the Alaitoc Eldar value has only served to heighten their curiousity and inquisitiveness regarding the greater galaxy.

Although disenchanted with their craftworld, those on the Path of the Outcast still remain loyal to Alaitoc and many of them return to it in due course. Due to its isolation, the craftworld makes much use of its many Rangers to gather news, keeping it informed of the actions of other craftworlds and alien races so that the Alaitoc Eldar might respond if necessary.

When the Alaitoc fight a war, they gather their many Rangers through the webway, sending them ahead of their main force to sow disruption and anarchy in their enemy's army. The Rangers are highly skilled at destroying supply dumps and ammo caches, pinning down units trying to attack and generally breaking apart any coordination and cohesiveness the enemy army might have. When the Alaitoc make their major attack, the enemy will already be half-defeated - having spent days or even weeks chasing shadows, they will be desperately trying to gather together the fragments of their army into a fighting force."

Inquisitor Czevak - Teachings on the Unholy, Chapter XI
'The Tyranny of Alaitoc'

Alaitoc craftworld lies in the eastern edge of the galaxy, the frontier region which has never been reconquered by the Imperium. Before the days of the Imperium it was colonised by humans, Orks and Eldar, and even now it remains a sprawling zone of border empires and outlaw worlds.

This melting pot of races and cultures lies far away from the immediate threat of Chaos, but even so the threat cannot be ignored. Numerous parties of Eldar Rangers, who retain their ties to the Alaitoc craftworld, explore and patrol the thousands of worlds beyond the reach of the Imperium. They secretly monitor the isolated civilisations and strange races that live there. All Eldar craftworlds have Rangers, but the stringent devotion to the Path of the Eldar that inhabitants of Alaitoc follow means that this craftworld produces a greater proportion of scouts than any other.

The sword symbol of Alaitoc represents the Sword of Vaul, the weapon forged in the Smith God's desperate battle against Khaine the God of War. It represents the defiance and determination of its people, a sign that no matter how hard the fight the Eldar will never abandon it. Alaitoc is associated with the colour blue, or with the mixture of blue and yellow. However, the Pathfinders and Rangers who accompany the forces of the craftworld to war wear camouflaged coats that blend into their background.

Monday, 4 August 2008

The Eldar

The Eldar are an incredibly ancient alien race, who once ruled a vast empire across the stars. Then came the hideous times of the Fall, when the Eldar fell from power. Though they are now few in number, the Eldar are one of the most technologically advanced races in the galaxy.

The story of the Eldar is one of regret and decline. Millennia ago, their race held the galaxy in their grasp. Their power was great; the Eldar could reshape entire worlds by the power of thought alone. Nothing threatened their dominance, and the Eldar began to lose themselves in the decadence of their comfortable existence.

However, their decadent indulgences exacted a terrible price. Unbeknownst to the Eldar, the energy from their depravity had caused increasing disturbances in the Warp. Eventually, these disturbances coallesced into a Chaos god who came to be known as Slaanesh. When Slaanesh was born, the energy from his birthcry travelled through the Warp and obliterated the minds of the majority of the Eldar race.

The few survivors, scattered on craftworlds on the edge of the galaxy, realised what had happened and committed themselves to avoiding the same fate. By devoting themselves to self-discipline, the remaining Eldar avoided the decadent follies of their brethren. Now, the Eldar fight to keep their ancient race from extinction.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Dawn of War II

Sorry, but I can't help posting this...

Do you wanna see REAL eldars (and some pesky marines) in action??

OMG, I'm gonna love 2009...

Friday, 4 July 2008

About WH40K

Well, I’ve been thinking of writing some general ideas about the WH40K game and its universe before started posting more specific things on my Alaitoc army. Briefly, WH40K (or Warhammer 40.000) is a wargame played with high quality miniatures made of plastic and/or metal, that one has to but, assemble and paint before gaming (although the painting point is not always respected), which makes it a game with a broad range of possibilities for a dedicated hobbyst. And I am a dedicated hobbyst :)

WH40K is settled in the far, distant future of the 41st millennium, after humanity has conquered the stars and wages war against a myriad of enemies that threaten the named “Human Empire”, through the whole Milky Way. At the moment, the 5th edition of the game is about to be released, with a new revision of the rules and some interesting additions to an already vast and rich background.

For more information about the hobby, visit the
Games Workshop webpage. And for more information on the WH40K background, check the wikipedia or other sources in the internet; or better, get some of the fantastic WH40K novels available from the Black Library.

Monday, 30 June 2008

The beginning of this all...

Well, here I am, writing my first post in this new blog I've created in order to make a small following of the new army I'm working on. To be sincere, it's not exactly "my" army, but my girlfriend's, and as all the armies of WH40K have "terrible ugly figurines" but the Eldar, there was only one option for her to choose. What a shame for a devoted Tyranid player, but hey, a new challenge in the hobby after more than 13 years painting & playing is always welcome.

Now that I've clearly stated the "why?" of the Eldar, it's turn of the "why?" of Alaitoc. And again, the answer is clear: "I don't want to have figurines painted in those horrible vivid colours!". So bye bye Saim-Hann and Iyanden; and Ulthwe too (because I'm fed up of paiting armies with black as the main colour). I started thinking on painting the minis on my own choice of colours, when I fixed my gaze on the Alaitoc vyper of the Codex: Eldars. Mmmm, nice blue spotty effect... it's so different from what I've painted to date, should be a nice change... and blue is not "horrible vivid", but yellow... mmm, and what if I change the yellow colour for a bone one? .... Hey, I got it!! We're going for an Alaitoc army!!

Aaaand, once decided the basic organisation of the army (basically the miniatures she liked most), I started cutting, glueing, assembling... and painting.

More posts to come soon!