Saturday, 4 April 2020

Review: 28 Magazine Volume 2

Good morning/afternoon/evening everyone!

Welcome to the first Subby Saturday! This week, I'm looking at the second volume of 28 magazine. For the uninitiated, 28 is a free-to-download magazine that focuses on the grimdark side of the hobby, with articles about painting, modelling and gaming (and more) in the seedier sides of the Warhammer universes. For fans of Blanchitsu, this is the magazine for you.


The focus of this issue is very much on Mordheim, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the classic Warhammer skirmish game. With that in mind, let's have a look at the contents...
First up is a look at the art of Ni Yipeng, who provided the cover of the issue. A fabulous artist, who wears his influences from Adrian Smith and Brom strongly on his sleeve, while forging his own style. I urge you to check out his work worthwith, if not sooner.
Next up is an interview with Tuomas Pirinen, principle writer of Mordheim, as he gives his insights on what it means to create a living environment to play in, which is followed by a brief look at the background of the Mordheim MMXIX event, before a close look at some of the warbands created for the event. Then there is a brief but touching eulogy to Picta Mortis, who was a real creative force in the Grimdark before being taken far too young from cancer.
Some scenery is up next, first in the form of a guide to casting scenery out of meat bones (yes, really!) by Helge Wilhelm Dahl, which includes some really useful tips for casting scenery pieces at home. This is followed by a very detailed, in-depth look at building The City Of The Damned, by Maron Szopa. This fabulous article is full of useful advice for building scenery pieces, something to refer back to over and over again.
Then we have a series of articles looking at different artists' approaches to creating their work. Each one of these is a marvellous insight into the workings of an artist's mind, where they get their inspiration, etc. They also showcase some stunning pieces of work in detailed photos.
Next is a look at the entrants and winners of the Ian Miller challenge, a competition to create a miniature piece inspired by the work of the iconic artist. Honestly, some of the work on show here is just mind-blowing, with some utterly incredible creations.
Up next is a great look at the different tools, media and techniques used for sculpting miniatures, with the focus being on converting models. Yet again, this article is full of really useful information, and will be referred back to again and again. After a look at another beautiful warband, we're presented with a deep and in-depth treatise on the Horus Heresy. Where it came from, what it means to people (both in-game and in the real world) and what makes it so endearing (and enduring.) This is a thoughtful and well-written essay, giving the reader a great deal to mull over. It's truly amazing to me that one particular corner of this hobby of ours can provide something to think so deeply over.
Another warband pops up next, before another epic article on scenery-building, this one by Sol Vince and focussing on Necromunda-style terrain pieces. As before, the amount of useful information and inspiration in this article cannot be underestimated.  This is followed by an interview with Forge World (amongst others) sculptor Edgar Skomorowski, where he discusses his background, inspriations and working methods. This is followed by a look at a jaw-dropping scratch-build of the Emperor on the Golden Throne, by Johnathan Marshall.
A thoroughly interesting look at the rules of narrative gameplay is followed by ten pages of galleries, showcasing many artists' work, then a look at painting rust effects before yet another in-depth article, this one by Kristian Simonsen, on the processes of painting a warband from scratch. This is followed by a brief look at The Navigator, a wild scratch-build by Mikal Van Leeuwen, before a bit of a look at the creation of a couple of Tor Megiddo warbands for Oil And Blood. There's a look at a couple more Warbands before an overview of Carrion Pass, a multi-day gaming event that took place at Adepticon 2019, followed by a look at Simon Elsen's incredible Khemrian Nagash conversion. This piece is really quite incredible, and gives a whole new look to the Lord of the Undead. Stunning. A final look at some more artists' creations, this time with a 40k focus, rounds things off.
Phew.
I realise I've gone on a bit* but, frankly, a piece of work like this deserves all the praise it can get. 28 is a stunning publication. Every one of it's 180+ pages(!) oozes quality, from the way the articles are written, to the glorious photographs, to the layout of the pages themselves. there's a massive amount of inspiration to be had here, useful information to be gleaned, and a damned interesting read, even if you aren't a particular fan of the Grimdark aesthetic. It might have taken them nearly a year to get this second issue finished, but it's been worth the wait. The fact that this is available for free is beyond belief. It's worthy of being printed in a large-format, glossy coffee-table book. Frankly, if they produced a version like that, I'd be at the top of the queue to order a copy. This really is the pinnacle of online self-publishing and every person who has worked on or contributed to it it should be very proud indeed.

28 magazine can be downloaded from their website HERE and I suggest you do so. I cannot recommend it highly enough. 


*One person in particular will probably agree with that, if he'd bothered to read all this...

Monday, 30 March 2020

Mortal Realms: Issues With My Issues...

Good morning/afternoon/evening everyone!

In last week's post, you may remember me discussing some of the problems customers had with their subscriptions to Warhammer 40,000: Conquest. It seems that some of those problems have carried over to the new Warhammer Age Of Sigmar: Mortal Realms collection. I'd just like to mention the experience I've had from Hachette regarding the collection.

(Cue wibbly-wobbly recollection effect thingy.)
When the partwork was originally announced, back in september of last year, I subscribed straight away. It quickly became obvious that the release back then was a trial release, of only four issues, and only to certain parts of the country. This is the standard practice for these partworks - a combination of testing the market and getting the hype train running. Unfortunately, as I wasn't in the right part of the country, I could not buy the test run issues. However, I did receive an email saying that, when the full launch went ahead, I would receive the first two issues free as a thank you for my interest. Zoom forward a few months to the main release at the beginning of this year.
(Cue sped-up effect covering a few months in roughly thirty seconds)
I phoned up to upgrade my subscription when the first issue came out. I was told that, as I was due to get the first two issues free, that I should hold off from upgrading until after they had been sent out, otherwise I'd be charged for them. My first delivery arrived on Feb 3rd and so I did as instructed and phoned them and was told that my subscription would be upgraded. Four weeks later (3rd March, right on time) my second delivery arrived. When I checked the invoice, however, I discovered that I had been charged for the standard subscription price. I checked my subscription online and, sure enough, it still said that I had a standard subscription. So I phoned again and was told that there had been a mistake and the upgrade hadn't gone through but that this was not a problem, as they could do it right away. I was then told that my standard subscription would be cancelled and a new premium subscription would be put in place. Great!
On the 14th March I decided to check my subscription page on the website. Sure enough, my old sub had been cancelled but there was no sign of the new one on there to replace it. Unfortunately their customer service provider on the Facebook chat was down over the weekend so I had to wait until Monday 16th to phone them.On Monday I used the live chat on the webpage to contact them and was told that there had been a mistake with my upgrade and it now would be applied. Unfortunately they could not apply it from issue 7 as before, and would have tomapply it from issue 3 for...reasons. Luckily I would not be charged for the duplicate issues3-6, apparently. I was also told I would receive an email confirmation within a few days. On Thursday, having not yet received an email, I checked my account page again to find that my new subscription still hadn't been added so I contacted them through webchat again. I was given my new subscription number and told to enter it on the "add new subscription" but this didn't work. I was told that it mught take another day for the system to update and to keep trying. On Friday morning I tried again and, miracle of miracles, my new subscription was added, from issue 3. A standard subscription.
Sigh.
Another webchat ensued. This time they confirmed that the subscription was premium, and that the website would update in a few days. Unfortunately, as I had effectively started a new subscription I would not receive my next delivery until the next despatch at the beginning of April. This would be from issue 4, apparently. I've also been told that, for my troubles, I will receive a credit note for two issues. I'd like to assume that that is on top of the already-promised free issues 4-7 but I'm not going to count on it. I've also been promised an email confirming my new subscription. I won't hold my breath.
Final update: On the Saturday following my last webchat I got a letter confirming my premium subscription (which would start from issue 4, meaning I'm going to be waaaay behind everybody else) and confirming my free issues. Now I just have to wait and see what my next delivery brings. The way it's been going for some, I may get a few parts of How To Build An X-Wing...

So, anyway, with any luck, that's now all sorted out. Now, as you may know, I wanted to try and paint the collection as it went along, and write up reviews of the issues as I got them but then I had a thought. It's seemed a bit daft to keep doing reviews of the issues as I got them because, as a subscriber, I get them after anyone who has got them from their local newsagent or other source and my reviews would be way too late. I'd be covering stuff that other people had gone over many times by the time I got to it. Also, if I was showing what I'd painted it would be from the previous batch of issues to the ones I was reviewing, which again made little sense. Given my situation described above, I'm going to be even further behind that with a normal subscription schedule. So, I've decided to abandon the idea of reviewing the magazines and just focus on my ongoing campaign to paint the miniatures. To that end, I've decided to add another page to the blog devoted exclusively to this. You'll see it appear at the top of the page in due course, alongside one for Conquest, as I'm going to try to get that little(!) lot painted too. In the meantime, here's my test pieces for the Nighthaunt and Stormcast Eternals colour schemes. It took me a few goes to get what I wanted with them, but I'm happy with the way they look, and that they'll carry over to a good-looking pair of armies. I'll be providing tutorials on how I did them when I set up the Mortal Realms page.


One final note. I'll be making some changes to my scheduling of posts. My work rota is changing as of next week and, as I produce almost all the work for this blog during my quiet time at work, I'm rescheduling my posts around the new rota. Subby Sundays will now become Subby Saturdays. The Mortal Realms/Conquest updates will be released fortnightly on Mondays, which will henceforth be known as Mortal Conquest Mondays (and expect to see the first of these a week tomorrow.) The Middlehammer Memory Lane, Stuff of Legends and Retro Miniature Monthly posts will now be on a Thursday. As always, I'll do my best to maintain this schedule and provide you, dear reader, with some cool stuff to read. In the month ahead, I've got a couple of reviews lined up, and a close look at some of the work I've been doing to tackle the huge backlog of commission painting that I've got to deal with.

Thanks for reading!
-Stu

PS: one last little thing. I don't run this page as a way of making money, it's just a hobby thing for me, something to do to while away the hours during nightshifts. However, if you were to click on the link below and order yourself a copy of the Warhammer Age of Sigmar core rulebook (at a discounted price) Amazon Associates give me a tiny little kickback...

Sunday, 22 March 2020

White Dwarf issue 452 and other stuff.

Good morning/afternoon/evening everyone!

As I'm sure you're already aware, earlier this week Games Workshop, in light of the ongoing global situation, cancelled this year's Warhammer Fest which means no Golden Demon. I had kept my fingers crossed that such a measure would not be necessary as the event was still more than six weeks away, but it looks like that was a forlorn hope. However, I am still going to carry on with my entry in case the event gets rescheduled for later in the year.
With the cancellation of the event (and Adepticon with the associated US Golden Demon) GW have announced that the big reveals that were to take place at the events will, instead, be revealed online so mark these dates: Saturday 28th March at 14:00GMT and Saturday 4th April at 14:00BST to see what's coming up. they've also promised that there will be some way of getting hold of the event exclusive miniatures too so fingers crossed for that. Plus, Warhammer Community is now on Twitter, so check it out here and see what they are up to.

There is a little good news for us hobbyists, though! The new White Dwarf is out! So, if you need some shut-in reading, here's what to find within this bumper-sized issue:
WARHAMMER 40,000
Echoes From The Warp. Elliot Hamer looks at matched play and narrative play games.
Index Astartes: Space Wolves. A detailed look at the history of the chapter and its culture, with new rules, a detailed painting guide and a look at some of the staffers' models.
Galactic Warzones. It's Waaagh! zones this time, with a look at Ork Mekworlds. Some interesting ideas and some great conversions on show.
Kill Team: A Mysterious Menace. New rules for using The Archivist, the new Zoat(!) character from Blackstone Fortress.
Talons Of The Emperor. Jason Lee's stunning Custodes army.
Journey's End. A Custodes short story set during the Indominatus Crusade, by Dirk Wehner.
Blackstone fortress: Alien Intelligence. the hunt for a lost Jokearo means a new mission and new rules.
Adeptus Titanicus: Two new narrative missions and a guide for creating your own.

WARHAMMER AGE OF SIGMAR
Rules Of Engagement. Jervis Johnson riffs on an old idea to create a new campaign system.
Land Of Dead Heroes. A full campaign set in the land of Hellost.
A Tale Of four Warlords. An immense battle report brings this year-long series to a close. There's also warscrolls for the converted Squig-Shamans used by Ben Johnson.
Warcry: Lord Of The Pits. A new campaign for the Spire Tyrants.
Glory Points. Dave Sanders looks at the different ways to play Warhammer Underworlds.

OTHER STUFF
Worlds Of Warhammer. Jordan Green talks about establishing a background for your collection.
Black Library: A Return To Holy Terra. An interview with author Graham McNeill
Faith & Fire. Part two of the serialised story by James Swallow.

So, once again a packed issue. A little light on painted miniatures for my liking, although the Custodes army is worth a look. The high point of the magazine has to be the Hellost campaign, though. It takes up quite a chunk of the issue and will provide some inspiration for many, I think. A shout out must go to the front cover, too. Kai Lim's cover has a hint of Kev Walker about it, and the spot varnish has been used to great effect to enhance the image.

So, that's just about it for this week. Just one more thing. I was in my local Poundland the other day, stocking up on those amazing not-Toblerone Twin Peaks choccy bars and I grabbed these two paints.


They're an absolute bargain at a pound each. I use Poundland sprays for a lot of my undercoating (I'd use even more if they did a matt white...) and I thought I'd see what these came out like. I did a test spray on some paper to see what the colours are like, and you can see the results below. 

The Poundland paints are on the right of each picture, with Citadel sprays on the left of each (Death Guard Green and Mephiston Red respectively) to compare them too. As you can see, the Poundland green is a little too bright and yellowy and the red a little too flat and brownish for them to be straight replacements for the Citadel paints but I'm sure they may come in handy and for the price...

Finally, a quick word about you-know-what. Obviously, this is a very difficult time for everyone and for some more than others. I've had to cancel a week away with The Better Half, during which we were going to scatter my dad's ashes in the place he wanted to be, alongside my mum. Not being able to do that has been a bit of a blow but it could have been much worse. As care support workers, The Better Half and I  have a "safe" job and, as long as our health remains good, our lives will be fairly unaffected by what's happening. Others are not so lucky.
There will be people in isolation, some that will not be able to get out and about. There will be people who are scared and alone, and those that will be suffering hardship or loss. I dread to think how my dad would be if he was still living in his flat, getting all his news from the tv. And what would have happened to him had I been unable to do my daily visits for two weeks just doesn't bear thinking about. Please, if you have vulnerable people living near you, family or otherwise, offer them what help you can. Do their shopping, pick up their prescriptions, or just pop in and see if they're okay. Also, support your local businesses in every way you can because they are the ones that will feel the pinch the most. Big companies will weather the storm, mostly, but sole traders, small businesses and the self-employed, particularly those in the gig economy, or those who depend on other businesses to survive, will be hit hard. Do what you can. Be good people. Help each other. 

Okay, that's me done for another week. apologies that today's post was a little late. I had a few technical difficulties and it's been a busy few days...Keep safe everyone. Next week I'll have an update on my Mortal Realms situation.

Thanks for reading!
-Stu

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Warhammer 40,000 Conquest: Retrospective

Good morning/afternoon/evening everyone!



So, Warhammer 40,000: Conquest finally comes to an end. After 80 issues, 20 months and a total cost of just shy of 640 of my finest pounds. And it ends, not with a bang, but with...well...more of the problems that have plagued it all along. But more on that later.
First though, lets look back on what we got from he collection. It's quite a bit.

PRIMARIS SPACE MARINES



3x ETB Primaris Intercessors
3x ETB Reivers x2
Leiutenant Calsius
Librarian
3x ETB Agressors
ETB Redemptor Dreadnought
Apothecary
Chaplain
Captain
5x Scouts
Land Speeder
3x Bikes
Attack Bike
2x Space Marine Heroes
5x Sniper Scouts
Repulsor
Captain in Gravis Armour
2x Lieutenants
1x Ancient
10x Intercessors
3x Inceptors
5x Helblasters

DEATH GUARD PLAGUE MARINES


3x ETB Plague Marines x2
6x ETB Poxwalkers x2
Myphitic Blight-Hauler
Foul Blightspawn
Biologulus Purtifier
Lord Felthus and Cohort
Death Guard Rhino
Plague Surgeon
Plagueburst Crawler
10x Cultists
Typhus
Icon Bearer
Plague Marine Champion
2x Chaos Spawn
Tallyman
Lord Of Contagion
Noxious Blightbringer
Malignant Plaguecaster
7x Plague Marines
Foetid Bloat Drone
20x Poxwalkers

SCENERY PIECES



Munitorum Armoured Container x3
Battlefield Accessories
Ryza Ruins
Thermic Plasma Conduits
Thermic Plasma Regulators
Heamotrope Reactor
Imperial Objectives
Galvanic Servohaulers
Sector Mechanicus Crane
Galvanic Magnavent

PAINTS AND BRUSHES

Abaddon Black x2
Retributor Armour
Macragge Blue x2
Death Guard Green x2
Leadbelcher x2
Bugmans Glow
Agrax Earthshade
Nuln Oil
Mechanicus Standard Grey
Rakarth Flesh
Mephiston Red
Astrogranite x3
Reikland Fleshshade
Celestra Grey
Steel Legion Drab
Athonian Camoshade
Liberator Gold
Wild Rider Red
Stormhost silver
Necron Compound
Ogryn Camo
Dawnstone
Calgar Blue
Thousand Sons Blue
Temple Guard Blue
Cadian Fleshtone
White Scar
Nurgle' Rot
Nihalikh Oxide
Starter Brush
Medium Base Brush
Medium Layer Brush
Large Drybrush

Which, altogether, amounts to over £1150 worth of stuff which means that the we got all that stuff at nearly half price, which almost makes the problems worthwhile...


Oh yes, the problems. Conquest had quite a few of them. Many subscribers experienced lost issues or duplicates, or extended gaps between issues. There were those that were charged incorrect amounts, or had payments taken when they shouldn't. A perfect example of these problems was the bonus items. These were extras, initially only available to subscribers and were sent out automatically (and charged for) unless the subscriber opted out. Unfortunately, many subscribers received the opt-out letters in the same package as the bonus item, or sometimes afterwards. It then proved damn near impossible to get a refund if the bonus item wasn't wanted, as Hachette's customer service operator was, frankly, hopeless.
Practical concerns weren't the only problems, either. Some of the content was of dubious quality or poorly chosen. The bonus content, for instance consisted of a slipcased art book which, while of decent quality, was overpriced and contained some repetitive content; a Silver Templars background book which, at the price, really should have been a full codex; and a painting guide which would have been far more useful had it been provided earlier in the series. The premium subscriber content was a disappointment, consisting of little more than a few cardboard boxes, some cards and some tokens, although the game boards were nice. Some of the magazine contents, too, were less than ideal. Unnecessarily repeated or old miniatures were used when better alternatives were available (Reivers, Scouts, Cultists...and quite a few more) and did we really need repeated paint colours (sorry, "refills!") including 3(!) pots of Astrogranite..?
Still, for all it's failings, Conquest brought us a new Ultramarine character (and a miniature so far unique to the collection), gave us a new Adeptus Astartes chapter and provided a lot of content at a bargain price. It provided a route in to the hobby for many, with useful guides to painting and gaming throughout the run. So, all told, it balances out to be a success and we can only hope that some lessons have been learned that will be applied to Warhammer age Of Sigmar: Mortal Realms, the new collection that has picked up where Conquest left off.
From a personal point of view, I'm rather pleased to have got to the end of the collection as it's the first time that I've succeeded in collecting a partwork from beginning to end since War Machine about 35 years ago*. I have two full Warhammer 40,000 armies to play with and, although I never managed to achieve my goal of painting everything by the end of the series (or, frankly, to even get it all assembled...) I do still plan to get them all painted eventually, and I'll track my progress on the blog.
There you have it. Farewell, Conquest. Let's hope there will be more partworks of this type to come. Warhammer: The Old World anyone?
If you want to collect Conquest from the beginning, you can do so here.

Thanks for reading!
-Stu


*A fantastic collection of magazines that covered a different type of fighting vehicle every issue. I really wish I still had them. I wonder if any of my readers remember them...?

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Reviews: Game Nite 41 and Irregular 2-10

Good morning/afternoon/evening everyone!

So, since the last time I reviewed these three magazines they've published new issues, so it's time to have another look at them...

Game Nite #41


Game Nite is primarily a reviews magazine. After a rundown of their top 10 games reviewed of 2019 (useful this, it gives me a quick checklist to see what I might want to pick up) the rest of the issue is mostly filled with a host of reviews. I won't go into too much detail here (reviewing reviews always seems a little odd) but I will say that the reviews are excellent and well-written, giving you all the information you'd need to decide whether or not to purchase, and I recommend giving them a read. There's reviews of:

Cutthroat Caverns- app version of the card game
King Tactics: War of the Roses- app version of the board game The Rose King
Building Blocks Of Tabletop Game Design- book
The Necronomicon Gamebook: Dagon- choose your own adventure gamebook
Paladins Of The Western Kingdom- board game
Skulk Hollow- board game
HEXplore It: The Forests Of Adrimon- board game
HEXplore It: Return To The Forests Of Adrimon- board game supplement
Crimson Company- card game
Links to purchase all of the products reviewed in the magazine are included below.

In between the reviews is an interview with Richard Garfield, creator of Netrunner, Magic The Gathering and a personal favourite of mine: King Of Tokyo (seriously, play it, it's loads of fun.) This is a superb interview, looking into his thoughts behind many of the games he has written, as well as his general thoughts on games design. Honestly I could have read another dozen pages of this. Finally, the magazine finishes off with their extremely useful index of all their reviews and interviews.
As usual, Game Nite is a quality product, well written by people who know their stuff, and is a useful resource for those seeking information on what to entertain themselves with next.
Highly Recommended.

Game Nite magazine is available for free download from the Game Nite website.

Cutthroat Caverns Android Apple
King Tactics Android Apple
The Necronomicon Gamebook: Dagon Kickstarter
Crimson Company webstore




Irregular Magazine vol 2 #10



Irregular Magazine is more of a mix of articles than Game Nite and, within its 60 pages, you'll find reviews and articles on painting and gaming for a variety of systems. The first quarter of the magazine is devoted to gaming news and, it must be said, the information presented here is very good. Rather than just deliver the usual soundbites and press releases these are in-depth looks at what is coming out soon. Just the sort of thing you need to get you salivating for new toys to come...
Spread out in the rest of the rest of the magazine is a series of articles covering:

The editor's current and future gaming and painting projects;
A look back at the Images Of War series of books published by Pen And Sword;
An all-too-brief overview of the Paranoia RPG;
A set of articles looking at inspiration for games: Fengdu- The Ghost City; The Persian Empire; and the influence of Asian TV
A look at a new set of stamps portraying classic video games.

These are all excellent articles and, as you can see from the list, there's quite a spread of subject matter (with a distincly Asian-oriented* feel). I wish the Paranoia article had been longer though, as it's an old favourite of mine (I used to love reading the bonkers scenarios in old issues of White Dwarf) and I'd love to know more about the creation of the game.
In between the articles are a number of reviews and, like the rest of the magazine, these are well-written and informative, going into plenty of detail. They cover:

Chieftain by Robert Jackson- book
Images Of War: US Cold War Tanks And Armoured Fighting Vehicles by Michael Green- book
Armies of the Hellenistic States 323 BC to AD 30 by Gabriele Esposito- book
Qin Army from Watchful I Studio- miniatures
Late Imperial Chinese Armies 1520-1840 by Chris Peers- book
Arkham Horror: Final Hour- board game
Links to purchase all of the products reviewed in the magazine are included below.

Finally, to round off the magazine, there's a look at Castle Gaming Table top Hobby Centre in South Yorkshire. There's an awful lot to recommend with Irregular. It's a great spread of reviews and articles, and contains lots to read. And, if you think it's lacking in any department, there's always the opportunity for you to contribute and fill the gap.
Irregular Magazine is available to download free from the Irregular Magazine website.

Watchful I Studio website



Thanks for reading!
-Stu
Please note: all supplier image links above are provided by Amazon and I am not connected to them in any way, however I am a member of the Amazon Associates programme and therefore I get credit if you buy through them.



*pun very much intended...

Sunday, 1 March 2020

The Road To Birmingham: Part 1

Good morning/afternoon/evening everyone!

This year's miniature for the Golden Demon Master's Category has been announced and it is the Primaris Captain in Phobos Armour.

The choice was always going to be controversial (frankly, no matter what it was, that was always going to be the case, no matter the choice of miniature) but I approve of the choice. I like the Primaris miniatures on the whole, and this is one of the better ones. The Phobos armour is far more interesting than standard Primaris armour, without the huge blank pauldrons and grieves dominating the shape. There's cloth, an expressive face and and a nice mix of details and empty spaces. I like painting Space Marines (at least individually) and I'm looking forward to this one.

While I'm here, though, I thought it might be a good time to look back on my previous record in the Masters. Since the category was created, in 2017, I've entered them all, to ever diminishing levels of success! The miniature for 2017 was the Aeldari Farseer.


That year I was lucky enough to win a bronze demon trophy, to my eternal surprise. Unfortunately I couldn't really enjoy the moment. I had a really bad attack of gout that morning and I didn't have any meds on me. I thought I could tough it out but it got progressively worse during the day and, by the time I was invited up to the stage to collect my trophy, I was having trouble keeping vertical. It kind of took the shine off the day but, hell, I won bronze and I was over the moon!
In 2018, the miniature was a Stormcast Eternal Knight-Questor.


Unlike with the Farseer, I had no clear plan for a colour scheme for this miniature and I had a couple of goes to work out what I wanted. I think my work suffered for this lack of a clear vision and that is why the end result wasn't a complete success. I wasn't able to experiment with the look that I finally settled on, so had to carry develop the method of painting as I went along, which lead to a lot of going back over finished work as the process evolved during the painting. It also meant that the end result was a little rushed and nothing is really finished to the level I would have liked. In the end I was pleased enough to get a finalists pin for my efforts and I learnt a valuable lesson: don't try to experiment with new techniques for a competition piece like this- it's always best to use techniques or styles that you've practiced and become familiar with.
In 2019, the miniature chosen was the Idoneth Isharann Tidecaster.


This is a miniature that I really liked. An animated pose, with lots of details and interesting textured base. This time, also, I had a plan for a colour scheme. I'd looked at a lot of early 20th century sculpture in bronze and copper (what was obviously an influence on the design of the Idoneth miniatures) and wanted to recreate some of the colours from those sculptures. I wanted the cloak to look like ancient, faded silk and the armour to look like copper. I tackled the cloak early on and it took me way longer than I expected it to. There's many, many layers of nearly totally transparent layers of wash used to give the colours, and each of those has a highlight layer in between, to give the required sheen to the silk. And the placement of those highlights was a challenge as well, because I wanted to get the reflections as realistic as possible. All of this took time to get right meaning that, when it came time to do the copper armour I was running out of time. And, if getting the cloak right had been a challenge, he copper was much more so. Forgetting the lesson I'd learned last year, I tried to work it out as I went along, requiring numerous repaints. In the end I never did get it quite right and so the end result is not what I wanted. I was, however, very happy with other aspects of the miniature, the coral effect on some of her jewellery, the base, and her skintones. I was a little disappointed not to place at all in the competition (she didn't get so much as a single sticker on her card) but, never mind, them's the breaks.

So, here we are again. Now, I should point out that it's by no means certain that I'm going to make it to Warhammer Fest this year but I'm going to paint the miniature for the competition anyway, just in case I can make it. My target is to work my way back up the way I've come down and see if I can get myself a finalist pin (I'm hoping there's a new design of pin to go with the new trophy...) And this time I will pay heed to the lessons learned from before. Luckily, I know my way around painting Space Marines and I don't need to mess around with new techniques. It's simply a case of applying techniques I've used for many years and applying them in the best way I can. All I need to do is decide which chapter to do it...

Thanks for reading!
-Stu

*Anyone who has experienced gout will know I'm not exaggerating. That day has left me with a permanent limp and constant pain in my right foot that varies from feeling like I've just stubbed my toe to "Excuse me, sir, would you mind moving your aircraft carrier, you seem to have parked it on my foot."

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Reviews: White Dwarf and Miniature Wargames

Good morning/afternoon/evening everyone!
It's time to have a look at a couple of this month's magazines...

WHITE DWARF Issue 451

160-page mega-size issue! It says so on the cover. So, filling those 160 pages, what do we have? Well, to kick off there's more than four pages of readers models, which is very welcome, and something I hope survives when the magazine goes back to its normal size. Everyone loves to see their work in print (even an old hack like myself) and the fan pictures are a superb way of giving something back and should be encouraged.
The Age of Sigmar section begins with the Tome Celestial which focuses on the Ironsunz, an orruk warclan of considerable ill repute. The article covers the background, exploits and history of the clan in detail, and includes a set of warscroll battalions and a detailed painting guide, finishing up with a short story by Jordan Green. Rules of Engagement looks at preparing army lists and there's a close look at a substantial Sylvaneth army by Sam Wilson, one of the Forge World studio painters. All good so far. Unfortunately, there's a huge missed opportunity in this section of the magazine. The Fyreslayers are introduced to Warcry with a new set of player cards and pecial abilities. Unfortunately, these cards are printed in the body of the magazine. Now, it's great that these new rules are being given for nearly free but they really, really should be given as a set of proper cards. By including them within the body of the magazine they have created ill feeling in the community (any arguments on the entitlements to free stuff could be applied here but that's not the point) when they had an easy opportunity to create some really good feeling. It's what's known as a bit of an own goal. And you know what? It's not just this instance it applies to. Later on in the magazine there's a new character for Blackstone Fortress which could also have been printed as a separate card. These extras appear in nearly every issue of the magazine and there's absolutely no reason why they can't provide them as actual cards. In the grand scheme of things it's a tiny outlay for GW, which would create a lot of positive feelings. Okay, rant over.
Bridging the gap between AoS and 40k is Realms of Chaos, which is replacing Fantastical Realms (at least for the next four issues.) The focus is on the Realm of Nurgle and includes some background, a gallery of painted miniatures and a painting and modelling guide. An excellent article.
In the 40k section proper, here's a short story by Colin Cubbonand a look at some of the greatest heroes of the Indominatus Crusadebut the bulk of the section is about the grand finale of the Tale of Four Warlords, with a look at the leaders of the forces and a cataclysmic final battle report. It'll be interesting to see what they come up with to fill the space now vacated by ToFW. Robin Cruddace looks at his work on the Space Marine codex to finish the section off.
In the "other games" section, Warhammer Underworlds gets a double-header this month, as Glory Points looks at the meta of the game, while there's an additional look at the two new warbands for Beastgrave. Blackstone Fortress adds the Eversor Assassin as a playable character (there's that thing that should have been on a card...) and there's a look at squadron markings for Aeronautica Imperialis. Finally, for MESBG there's a look at the King of the Dead. A small note- I'd like to have seen a painting guide to the Army of the Dead miniatures here.
There's a big chunk of Black Library stuff this month, too. There's an interview with author James Swallow, which serves as an introduction to the first part of the serialisation of Faith & Fire, a Sisters of Battle novel, which is due to continue for  installments. I think this is a great idea. Short stories are great, and very welcome indeed, but to serialise a full-length story is bloody brilliant, frankly.
So, a big magazine with lots of contentof the usual quality but with a couple of near misses.
White Dwarf is available from your local ewsagents, GW, FLGS or from the GW website.





MINIATURE WARGAMES March 2020 issue 443

This issue is a bit of a scenario special with multiple scenarios for many different rulesets. I'll come back to those later but first I wanted to focus on what is, for me, the highlight of this issue, which is a look at the advantages of painting just for gaming, or "The Art Of Coarse Painting" as writer Conrad Kinch puts it. It's an extremely interesting article, looking at the mindset and methods of putting in only the effort and time that is necessary to give the required level of finish for tabletop pieces. Recommended reading.
Next up is a guide to gaming the Mexican Revolution using the Black Powder rules. This detailed article includes a brief painting guide and some digital downloads from the magazine's website. There's more for Black Powder later in the magazine, adapting the ruleset for use in the Boxer Rebellion. This month's Command Decision looks at a decisive battle during the Napoleonic Wars at Quatre Bas in Belgium in the summer of 1815 and this is followed up by a battle scenario for the Thirty Years War, involving drunken Weimarians fighting in the snow in Tuttlingen in 1643. There's also a scenario for Bolt action, based on a raid during the Battle Of Iwo Jima during WWII. Finally, on the historical front, there's two (count 'em) scenarios for Black Seas, one based on a battle between two French ships (The Loire and Semillante) and three British ones (Kangaroo, R√©volutionaire and Mermaid) in 1798, the other between one French ship (Droit de l'Homme)  and two British ones (Indefatigable and Amazon) in 1797.
So, that's it for the historical side of things. On the fantasy/sci-fi side there's a scenario involving all sorts of dark rituals that can be used for either Warmachine or Hordes in the Lost Morddhic Killing Fields. The Great Train Heist is a Malifaux scenario based around a...well, you can probably work it out. The Box Room is a scenario for Infinity, where a squad of troops must get a package out of an office building. I have to admit to being slightly underwhelmed by these three scenarios. Although there's nothing wrong with these scenarios as they are, each giving a different battle layout to play with, I think they could have played with the premise a little more and made them into cool little sub-games. Imagine using the Malifaux characters and basing the game on something like Colt Express, for instance.
In the rest of the magazine there's a step-by-step build of a hatched hovel which is excellent. Strips of cut-down eggboxes for wooden planks is one of the best ideas I've seen for a while. On the subject of scenery, this month's centre-page cutout is a set of three round, conical-roofed buildings that can be used or sci-fi or fantasy settings. A neat touch is that they're designed to utilize cardboard tubes of the Pringles variety to make them more durable. Finally, there's the usual selection of news and reviews and the last word goes to Mike Hutchinson, designer of Gaslands, who talks about house rules.
So, in conclusion, a good issue of the magazine with a lot going for it for gamers of both a historical and fantasy bent (minor criticisms of the non-historical scenarios notwithstanding) and a couple of really good articles to read.
Miniature Wargames is available from newsagents, your FLGS or from the TTG website. A subscription to the Kindle edition is available by clicking the image below.



Thanks for reading!
-Stu