29 May 2013


One of the key features of the Cryx army is the power source of their machinery… souls. And it seems that souls give off an eye-watering green glow when used as fuel, which is as intriguing as it is disturbing.

Nevertheless, I had to learn how to paint a green glowing power source on my Cryx Helljacks – not to mention warcasters – if they were going to look the part. You've already seen my green glow attempts with Asphyxious and now it was time to paint the big dog – the Slayer.

More so than almost any other Cryx 'jack, the Slayer has a lot of glowing elements. Having already painted the surrounding areas to an almost finished state I set to work, mixing some Black in with my Vallejo day-glow green paint.

The problem is that the green paint is very transparent, so it took a lot of coats to get a solid foundation. I then added pure green layers before starting to add some white to the mix. By the time I'd reached an almost white layer I realised that it was all a little too light. I then added some thin green layers to build up the colour in the shadows before adding some GW Thraka Green wash in the dark corners.

It turned out to be quite a messy process, as you can see, with areas of my 'finished' model covered in bright green paint. So, with this in mind, I have done some forward thinking with the next 'jack. I used some of the leftover highlight paint to get a couple of quick undercoat layers in on this Bonejack. This gives me a decent base to work up the glow from, before I've spent too much time on the surrounding areas. Hopefully this should give me a better result.

27 May 2013

Painting Update…

Given that it's been over a week since the last blog post – something that hasn't happened in a very long time – I thought that I should show my face.

The last week has been quite trying from a personal perspective; there have been several visits to hospital and lots of relaxing – little time to sit and paint in isolation. However, painting has occurred and here we go…

After the introductory game of Warmachine I was inspired to add more paint to my Cryx 'jacks. As you can see the Helljack is almost complete (top photo), just final touches here and there. Having painted up all his armour I had fun with the day-glo green paint, lots of layers and inks (more photos soon).

The Bonejacks are a little way behind but the two Deathrippers have seen paint this weekend. One is prepped for his green glow, the other has just had some metallics done. They're slowly starting to look like the making of an army. Exciting times.

Elsewhere in the Warmachine/Hordes universe I've constructed my first three Legionnaires for my Everblight army. Not necessarily the best unit choice for Legion, these guys do look very cool and should be quite straightforward to paint. I have another three waiting in the wings but looking forward to getting these guys finished first. They remind me of the GW Dark Elf Executioners, who similarly looked cool but fell a little short on the gaming table. If I refer to these guys as Executioners by accident in the future you'll know why.

As you know I've been spending a lot of time on my secret project with Romans, Vikings and Celts. In a battle last week with Fugs some heroes have emerged that required a little extra paint attention.

After being skewered in a number of games by Roman pila, this Viking hero has been dubbed Ragnar Pincushion. Some alterations to the model were required (arrows in the shield) and he got some more paint and some blonde streaks. His fortunes haven't improved much since but there is hope.

This Roman hero is Crixus. He has played a major role in Fugs' battles this last week, yet only had a black undercoated to wear for the entire campaign. After skewering poor 'Ragnar Pincushion' and holding the line against marauding Celts, Crixus had earned some new paint. Whilst still not amazing to look at, he does now fall in line with his fellow legionaries.

More updates soon…

20 May 2013

Warmachine Intro Game

With a small hobby window on Sunday afternoon, Fugs came round for a game. 'The Secret Project' is undergoing a few changes so wasn't available to play; I took the opportunity to teach Fugs (and myself) how to play Warmachine.

I've had the Mercenaries starter box for many years now, left over from when Bull and I first dipped our toes into the Iron Kingdoms. Last year I built the Cryx starter box so they would be our armies for the day.

Magnus the Traitor was a great warcaster for me when we played Warmachine Mk I (only a few games I grant you). He made learning the rules easy and was quite forgiving. At the time the Mercenaries weren't the established faction they are now, so there were limited opportunities to expand. As it turned out we didn't play much as the models have been in stasis for the last 8+ years.

Needless to say Fugs took to him (and the game) very easily and we will no doubt see more battle coming soon.

Cryx warcaster Deneghra has always been one of my favourite characters and in the latest set of rules she is really quite good (on paper at least). I had not actually played a game with her prior to the weekend so it was a bit of a trial run for me.

We played on my old Malifaux board with a handful of scenery. As expected the game was relatively slow as we were constantly checking rules and definitions as situations arose.

As far as the action goes the game did not disappoint…

Magnus's light Renegade warjack launched his Obliterator bomb at my heavy Slayer helljack, doing significant damage. The Slayer then charged Magnus's heavy Mangler warjack and (with a little experience under my belt) smashed up the Mangler quite badly – Fugs was on the back foot a little.

The Mangler did heavy damage to the Slayer in return, ably backed up by the Renegade's chainsaw arm. The Slayer finished off both the Mangler and Renegade and turned his attention to Magnus, who had taken down a Deathripper and a Defiler bonejack. Fugs' only remain warjack – a light Talon warjack – had killed off my other Deathripper and had moved in on Deneghra.

In the final turn I managed to walk the battered Slayer into Magnus and promptly tear his head off, ending the game.

Cracking battle that ebbed and flowed and managed to show Fugs how the game works in the process. He came away rather fired up by the experience, no doubt looking for revenge. I'm hoping that him experiencing this game, on top of the others we've tried, will help 'The Secret Project' going forward.

I came away quite fired up to paint some more Cryx models. Although I have threatened to bring out my fully painted Legion of Everblight models next time.

We will see…

16 May 2013

Secret Update…

The blog's been a little quiet these last couple of weeks. Usually the excuse would be to do with life getting in the way, but actually it's hobby stuff getting in the way of other hobby stuff. Fantastic!!

I'm in the middle of working on a secret hobby project (aren't we all). Some of you will be aware of some of the details, some of you will not have a clue what I'm talking about. In time I will be doing a massive post about it – I want everyone out there to pitch in and help when the time comes – but in the meantime it means that I'm not getting a lot of time to do my usual painting and blogging.

In other hobby news I have just received a copy of the SAGA rulebook. This game has intrigued me for a little while. I've seen some videos about how it plays, read some reviews, but I wanted to have a look for myself. A rather low-tech (stapled) book but it's well printed and it's a good read. The jury is out on the game itself – I'm not paying £12 for a handful of 'special' dice – but it's a good addition to the rulebook collection. With all these plastic Viking kits kicking about at the moment, it wouldn't take much investment to put a small army together.

In related news, I've been building a few of the plastic Gauls from the Warlord Games' boxset that arrived recently. I also managed to have a read through the Hail Caesar rulebook that came with it – again, an interesting read and good addition to the collection, but not convinced the system is for me… far too many models to buy and paint.

I have also been re-reading my Warmachine rulebooks. I've got quite into the Cryx stuff at the moment as my painting outlet and there's a rumour that Fugs wants a game to learn how it plays.

Hopefully I might have some photos that aren't secret to show you next week!

13 May 2013

Painting Warmachine: Asphyxious

I had a revelation a few weeks ago that I was about to attend Salute 2013 yet many of my purchases from the previous year's show were untouched. I primed a few of my Warmachine models in the hope of getting some paint on them relatively soon. Top of the list of 'easy wins' was my Cryx caster Asphyxious (or Gaspy as he's often referred to in the community). There are many versions of this character but in this instance I was painting classic pGaspy. He has a bit of cloth, a bit of armour and the rest metal skeleton – an ethereal Necron if you like.

I had painted the cloth 'skirt' a few weeks ago – my trusty Cryx Bane Base and Cryx Bane Highlight method being used as it should. When I picked up the model again last week I basecoated the metal with Vallejo Oily Steel and washed it with Black. Rather than go black for the armour, as might be the obvious choice, I went with my Cryx Bane scheme again – you can never have too much practice. The painting on this model was quite straightforward and nice to do in a casual frame of mind. However, I wanted to try out the green lighting that is seen in the officially painted Cryx models and this meant a go at Object Source Lighting, which up until now I've avoided like the plague.

Given that this will be a gaming miniature pure and simple, I felt under no pressure at all. It was nice to dabble with the day-glow green paint I bought for my Plague Marine plasma weapons a couple of months ago. The final result is alright – I'm pleased – it's not perfect but I don't mind. It was nice to play around with the green and white paint, covering an area in green then knocking it back with the basecolours. I'd be quite content to have another go at this, which is good as all the Cryx models will have this green glow to some extent.

Old Gaspy here is not quite finished – his staff needs some highlights and a bit of extra colour. I have to say though that he has been a welcome distraction from Romans and Vikings, as well as being an enjoyably casual painting project.

Hmmm, what to paint next…?!

07 May 2013

Seven Models in Three Hours!

The red team, the blue team and the… err, gold team

With a day of gaming planned for last Sunday I had put together the necessary models during the week. Saturday evening we went to see Ironman 3, getting back around 9.30pm – it was at this point that I decided I didn't want to take plain grey plastic models to Bullcher's the next morning, I wanted to take painted models!!

Those of you who are regular visitors will know that I am a slow painter. A month for a single model is probably the norm, I'm also something of a perfectionist and cannot let models painted like crap leave the paint table. You see then that the prospect of painting seven models starting at 10pm was a bit mad and out of my comfort zone to say the least.

I spray undercoated them in black, finishing off with a brush. I then basecoated all the models in Burnt Umber before applying individual colours one at a time across all seven models. This was definitely 'painting according to Bullcher' as it was more about getting quick colour on there than any form of detail or accuracy. The paint went on so quickly it's not even "inside the lines" for the most part. The final touch was a quick brown wash to finish off (a gesture for my own peace of mind). The quickest painting I've ever done, since my days at tournaments at least.

However, it has to be said, once on the gaming table the painting did its job – the models looked far better than they would have as plain grey plastic. I will probably go back to some of them and paint up the models properly.

03 May 2013

What Makes A Good Wargame?

Image by daarken at deviantart

This is a serious question that I'm asking here…

What ingredients make a good wargame?
Can you take a handful of ingredients and predict a successful wargame?

Britanan Empire in Tor Gaming's Relics 'stitchpunk' game

I've bought, downloaded and leafed through a lot of wargames rules recently. Some of them were the well-known games that everyone's heard of or dabbled with – the big players – and I read them cover to cover (again). Then there were the up and coming games and the more obscure. I even discovered games that I never knew existed that it seems are very popular. I've also discovered that I have no idea about what's going on in our industry as a whole, just what's in my tiny corner of it.

Pseudo Romans and Vikings in Megalith's Godslayer

There have been rules that I loved, rules that I hated and some rules that, to be honest, I couldn't care about either way. I've come across some innovative mechanics and some gimmicky ones. I've also discovered some amazing miniatures to accompany said rules… and I've seen some shockers.

Most gamers have their favourite game – their go-to game that they really love and/or have played for many years. Some gamers refuse to look at anything else; some gamers will dip their toes in lots of games to see what it's all about; some gamers will stick to a genre or a scale.

Real Romans in Warlord Games' Hail Ceasar   (image by Quirkworthy)

Trying to pin down the ingredients for a successful wargame has been difficult because at the end of the day it is all rather subjective, so preferences in things like genre and scale will have an influence. I find myself having more interest in skirmish-level games with "easy to learn, difficult to master" mechanics and awesome miniatures (naturally). I struggle with the big games that are played on large tables with rank upon rank of troops – mostly because I paint so slowly that I would never have a fully-painted army… I struggle with a game of 40k.

World of Twilight by Mike Thorp, cute lizards and 100% homegrown

Having said that I do appreciate that other gamers are the opposite, love the big games and dislike the smaller 'trendy' stuff. So by that rational there is no magic formula to create an auto-success in the gaming world. You can't please all the people all the time, etc.

Song of Blades & Heroes – the successful ruleset you may never have heard of

But surely there must be some common elements in the more successful games – basics that you need to get right in order to hook gamers into playing.

Obviously, if you have the gravitas and money to market it well – just like any other industry – you are going to guarantee a certain level of success… see the Rivet Wars Kickstarter, bit of a random game but smashed their target. Yet that alone is not enough… the Beyond The Gates of Antares Kickstarter proved that – big names behind it, nice visuals, didn't get close to hitting target.

I've discovered home grown rules that you can download as a PDF for less than £10 that are seeing success on a smaller scale, but success nonetheless.

7TV by Crooked Dice, tapping into childhood TV memories
I think if you can back up your rules with a stunning set of miniatures, well… we all known the bright lights of shiny things! I'm guessing that is why some companies give their rules away for free, making their money back on the models. Some games do well without any unique models, building the rules around a genre that is already satisfied by the miniatures industry.

For me it comes down to three things:

• Atmosphere
The game has to generate a vibe that I can get caught up in, be that via the background, genre, scale, models or all of them. If I'm not intrigued or excited about the game before playing, the odds are I won't stick at it.

• Mechanics
I don't want to have to read up on rules for a week before I can play. Often you have to play through things a couple of times for it to all click but I want to come away from my first game excited not exhausted. It's nice to have something unique (or re-imagined) in there, such as the fate deck in Malifaux, but not if it's just for show and isn't beneficial to the game. If I'm not having fun with the rules then what's the point?!

• Miniatures
I know, I'm shallow, but if I'm not loving the models that I'm using to play the game I'm going to lose interest quickly. Sometimes I've found that loving the miniatures has been enough for me to keep playing a game I'm not overly fussed about.

So my question(s) for you to ponder…

What makes a great wargame?
What are your favourite wargames and why?

02 May 2013

Painting Step-By-Step: Sin Assyris part 2

Sin Assyris part 1

At the end of the last step I had finished airbrushing and the model looked as above. It was time to put down the airbrush and get stuck in with a traditional brush and very thin paint.

To finish off the 'skirt' I had my four key colours – Black, Cryx Bane Base, Cryx Bane Highlight and White. Starting with the Base colour I went in with my brush and added layers of very thin paint over the airbrushed work, using lots of water on a clean brush to feather the edges. I pegged back some of the highlights, leaving just the extreme areas. Once happy I added Black to the mix and did the same in the shadow areas, constantly applying water to smooth edges and try to maintain graduations across the model.

Then I went in again with the Highlight colour, bringing up the edges. White was added to the mix for the extreme edges. This resulted, as you can see, in a much higher contrast between the shadows and highlights and allowed me to start to pick out some details in the cloth.

It was at this point that I took the opportunity for an experiment. I had seen lots of videos in Youtube about how to paint power weapons with an airbrush and thought I would give it a go. As much as this character doesn't have a power weapon, one particular sword is meant to be quite fancy so that would do nicely.

I wrapped the model in kitchen towel to make sure than none of the inevitable overspray got near the parts that were finished, or clogged up the detail anymore. With Sin Assyris all tucked up snug, with just the sword showing, I stuck strips of masking tape along opposite sides of the sword – top edge on one side and bottom edge on the other. I then sprayed graduations from Black, through Grey, to White. Once dry I removed the tape and added fresh strips to the parts I'd just painted. I then sprayed graduations of White, through Grey, to Black on these exposed edges.

That should have worked a treat, but in my haste (I had limited time) I had made a couple of key errors. First of all I had slightly missed the line down the middle of the sword when placing my tape, which resulted in one graduation going over onto the 'wrong' side slightly (pic below). The other mistake, as you can see in the photos, was that I didn't let my first graduations dry long enough before putting tape on them. Despite removing as much of the tack from the tape as I could with my hand, it pulled off some of my lovely smooth paint.

However, in terms of the process it worked quite well. You can see what I was trying to achieve and it kind of worked. I will not try and go over it with more spray, but I will go back in with my brushes and use the spray as a base for my brush painting, as I did for the skirt. I've learned some lessons here (always learning) so the next sword I attempt should look pretty fantastic.

To be continued…