7.17.2017

SDCC Schedule

So, between a bunch of writing commitments, some medical stuff, some work stuff, and actually playing a game of 40K (haven’t done that in a while) the past three weeks have been kind of a blur.  I don’t have an actual post for you. 

However...

If you’re into that sort of thing, I thought I’d mention my San Diego Comic Con schedule.  This kinda snuck up on me in a couple ways.  I hadn’t planned on going, and my big plans for the coming weekend involved putting together my Lizardman/Seraphon army for Age of Sigmar. 

Anyway, turns out the folks at Random House had some clever ideas for early Paradox Bound stuff and they asked if I wanted to be part of them, sooooo... the Lizardmen will have to wait.  So if you’re going to be at SDCC and wanted to tell me what a crappy painter/ gamer I am... well, here’s what I’ve got for you...

Thurs 7/20, 1:00-2:00 – I’m doing a signing at the Crown Booth (1515).  It’s going to be cool. If you happen to be a fan of my writing, you really don’t want to miss this, okay?  Seriously.  Please be there and hop in line.  It’ll be worth it, honest.

And that’s all we’re saying about that...

Friday 7/21, 3:00-4:00 – Some random giveaways at the Crown Booth (1515).  Odds of being given something increase if you tell them "The road beckons."  I’m not officially there, but I’ll probably be informally hanging out/lurking a bit if you had something you wanted me to scribble on.  Or if the booth folks handed you something you wanted scribbled in.

Saturday 7/22,  1:00-2:00 – There’s a big cross-genre panel in room 28DE. I’m up there on stage, but so are a lot of better, classier authors like Sarah Kuhn, Charlie Jane Anders, Vic James, Daryl Gregory, and Pierce Brown.  It’ll definitely be worth it to see all of them.  And one of us may something wise and clever about writing.  Or at least funny.

Saturday 7/22, 2:15-3:15—All the folks from that panel are going to be under the sail for a signing.  And Mysterious Galaxy will be there with piles of books from all of us, so it’s a great chance to get something scribbled in without having to lug it around for half the day (and to fill in those holes in your collection).

I don’t have anything official scheduled for Sunday, so—to be horribly honest—I’m not sure I’ll be there or not.  I may try to sneak off with that life sized Spider-Man LEGO sculpture.  We’ll see how that goes...

Hope to see some of you there.

6.28.2017

Dark Imperium, Week Two

So, spent the weekend putting some of the Dark Imperium models together.  Let’s go over a couple observations and impressions, from the modeling and customizing point of view

First observation... A complaint I had with the DarkVengeance set was that all of the Space Marines were firmly Dark Angels.  All the iconography was sculpted on the models—sometimes quite a bit of it.  It was gorgeous, no question, but it was also a lot of work if you wanted to use them for anything else.  Despite the prominent display of Ultramarines colors and heraldry on the box and promo pics, Dark Imperium avoids that issue, and the Primaris look fantastic without being pinned down to any particular Chapter.  Which is cool, because I plan on using them with my Relictors.

Of course, the flipside to this is that the opposing team is... well, 100% Nurgle.  There’s not a single model here that’s even vaguely something else. Which is great if you have a Death Guard army, or have been wanting one (it is a full army, after all), but otherwise... it’s a bit limiting.

Past that...

Another DV issue was that many of the models (especially the Chaos Chosen) went together in really bizarre ways.  Heads and arms would be a single piece connected by the trim on a shoulderpad.  Legs would be split lengthwise through the kneecap.  It was almost as if GW went out of their way to cut the models in the most bizarre ways possible.

The Dark Imperium models go together in much more basic standard patterns. Heads and arms are separate on a lot of the models—standard connection points, although it’s worth pointing out that the arms tend to be complete-with-shoulder pad, just in case you had clever ideas.  This means there’s a bunch of easy tweaks to do that can customize the army without resorting to cuts or filing or putty. 

The simplest one is head swaps within the set. Many of these models have separate heads, and they all use the standard neck-ball that Space Marines of all types have used for the past... what, almost twenty years?  I swapped the heads of these two Plague Marines and didn’t have to cut or trim a single thing.  

Also, because of that standard socket, most older head would fit on these models, too (and without too much of a scale problem).  Yeah, it wouldn’t make much sense for a Primaris to wear a Mk 7 helmet, but it’d be simple to work a lot more bare heads into the army to give them a less straight-out-of-the-box look.  I bet some of the Space Wolves unhelmeted heads would look good, too.  Or if the Plague Marines look a little too Nurgley for your particular army, it would be easy enough to swap in some regular Chaos Marine heads to bring them down a notch.

Helpful Hint—I’d perhaps avoid heads with bionic implants for Primaris soldiers.  After all, they’ve been in so few battles at this point, how many of them would have lots of replacement parts...?

The PoxWalkers worried me a little.  There’s ten variants (two of each in the set), and they all have pretty extreme horns. Silly as it may sound, they’re so extreme that it actually makes them all very distinctive.  It felt obvious they were repeating poses/models within the squad (to me, anyway). So I shaved off a few of the horns and spikes. It helped break them up a bit, and it also helped to inch the whole squad a little closer to my existing plague zombies.

Worth noting—I tried to make those cuts as smooth as possible, and I saved all the horns and spikes.  We’ll see how the final rules (and squad sizes) shape up for PoxWalkers when that new codex comes out in the hopefully-near future, and then I might move some of the spikes and some old skeleton horns over onto my zombies so they all look good together.

Also, one last thing to consider. All the Primaris Marines wear Mk X armor.  Every one of them.  Which really means the only difference between the troops, the sergeants, and the lieutenants is the paint jobs.  Want to give all those guys helmets?  Just trade with friends and give that guy a red helmet.  Want to use that unhelmeted Lieutenant as another sergeant?  Done!  Silly as it may sound, the uniformity gives us a bit more space to mix and match

Is there a lot of room for making this model  into that? Well, we may need to see the full Primaris book before knowing that for sure.  But there’s definitely lots of conversion and cutomizing possibilities within this set.

Next time, I may show off a few of them.

6.20.2017

Dark Imperium

Well, it’s been about five years since the last Warhammer 40K starter set.  A bunch of us from the Atomic Warlords site sat around this weekend with some rum, the new Dark Imperium set, and a few of the index books. We had many thoughts. Most of them positive.

Marcus was going to talk about the revised game mechanics over at Atomic Warlords. Very short version—they’ve moved 40K a lot toward Age of Sigmar.  Not all that way, but if you’re somebody who really loathes those game mechanics, you’re not going to be happy with the grim dark future...

I wanted to talk about the value, though.  I know a ton of people have already broken it down in different ways. I juat wanted to do a nice, simple "how much does this save us" sort of view...

We’ve got two HQ units (the Primaris Captain and the Lord of Contagion).  Going off the average clamshell prices for single figs, it wouldn’t be outrageous to say these would be $30 to $35 each.  GW’s been getting slightly better about pricing, though, and there’s some online retailers who offer nice discounts, so let’s say they’re only going to cost $25 each-- $50 for the two of them.

There’s two more character figs for the Plague Marines, so there’s another $50.  There are three more Primaris characters, too, but Marcus pointed out it wouldn’t be surprising to see them as some kind of command squad.  Let’s conservatively call them $40 altogether.

There’s also that Foetid Bloat-Drone. It’s dreadnaught sized, so I don’t have trouble believing it could be a $35 or $40 set once we get one with options.  We’ll call it $35.

At this point, we’re already over the box set’s price tag of $160.  We haven’t even added in the three five-man Primaris squads, or the jump troops, or the Plague Marine squad, or that twenty-man PoxWalker squad (probably another $40,easy).  Heck there’s a full-sized, hardcover rulebook, which sells for $60 on its own.

Also, something we realized late Sunday night.  This is a very complete, balanced set.  It’s two actual, viable armies that are pretty fairly matched, not a couple random things that look good individually but don’t really match up (y’know, like a bunch of cultists vs Dark Angels terminators...).

This set is a freakin’ amazing value, even using my very conservative prices.  Half price on everything, if not more.  Split the box with someone, Chaos and Primaris, and get an army for $80.  Heck, let them keep the rulebook, haggle a bit, and get your half for $60 (heck, GW’s giving the basic rules away for free).  That’s maybe a third what you’d pay for either set.  Literally 66% off!

If you don’t have a ton of money to spend (been there, believe me) but really want to get into the game... this might be worth saving up for.

6.15.2017

Counting the Hours...

            Tick-tock, tick-tock...
             I’ve got to admit, I have high hopes for this new edition.  No idea if they’ll be met, but I have high hopes.
            I don’t know about you, but the past few editions have been... well, a bit of a letdown for me.  Honestly, at times it felt like someone at GW really had it out for me. 
            Chaos had become a mess on so many levels (although the Traitor Legions book did help with that a bit).  That pretty much put the Alpha Legion, my largest army, out to pasture.  But at least I still had my beloved Relictors!
            Well, until someone declared them Excommunicate Traitoris in the fluff.  Stupid Inquisition...  Yeah, that doesn’t affect day-to-day games, but it still just felt like getting kicked when you were already down.  Imagine if it had been the Space Wolves.  Or the Blood Angels.
            Heck, I never even finished my Dark Eldar army.  They came out, sold a ton of models, and then the entire army took a hit to their saving throws with the new edition.  I already have an army that runs around with thin armor.  But at least the Catachans get real tanks...
            Plus, the game itself had become so bogged down.  Pages and pages and pages of rules, rolling dice again and again and again for what should be simple results, units that were so randomized they were effectively useless.
            And let’s not forget—the whole reason I started this page was because GW effectively priced me out of the game.  I needed to find newer, cheaper ways to play that didn’t involve models which had practically doubled in price.  Paperhammer was, if I may be so bold, Emperor-sent at a time when I didn’t have a lot of good things going on in my life.
            If it weren’t for my friends at the Atomic Warlords, I’ve got to be honest.  I probably would’ve dropped this game a year or five back.
            Anyway...
            I have high hopes for this weekend.  I really want this game to be fun again.
            What about you? What are you hoping for?

5.16.2017

A Shameful Moment of Self-Promotion

             Hey, so sorry.  I know I haven’t done much here in months but... I need to take a minute to make a sales pitch.
            It’s kinda how I make my living.
            I’ve got a short story collection coming out from Audible.com next week—Dead Men Can’t Complain.  It’s a bunch of short stories that I’ve had published in various places over the years, plus a trio of all new ones that have never been seen (or heard) before. Most of them are stand-alones, although you may find hints to a few things I’ve written in the past (or may be planning for the future).  It’s an Audible exclusive—no print, no ebook, no special kanji edition—it’s audiobook only. 
            Because they wanted to publish it and they do fantastic work, that’s why! 
            You can pick it up using your Audible credits (if you’re a member) or straight through Amazon.  And one of the great things about audiobooks—you can listen to them while you build and paint.
            Hint-hint.

1.22.2017

Genestealer Cultists

So, let’s try to get this year off to a better start...  Not paperhammer, but here’s a money-saving tip—one we’ve probably all tried at one point or another.

One of the wonderful-yet-frustrating things about GW sets these days is options.  So many of these kits are just packed with options.  Phenomenal-looking options (even if some of them are a bit silly).  And we end up with lots of leftovers.

I had some extra neophyte weapons for my genestealer cult, and I wanted to use them all up. My lovely lady had gotten me the Armored Claw for Christmas, so I figured I could put them on the Cadian bodies.  Extra weapons, plus the change of arms and shoulders helps to move them a bit further away from Guardsmen and closer to mine-workers, visually.

However... the Cadian torsos have really narrow shoulders. I tried a few different ways of putting the weapon-arms on them, but no matter how I angled it I ended up with a sizeable gap.  Then I tried a couple of spare Catachan torsos I had—not much better.  They were wider, but that gap was still pretty big.

You can spot potential genestealer cultists by shoulder width. It’s a fact. Who know?

I played with a few different ideas of bulking out shoulders with plasticard and putty, but then I had a thought that tied back to one of my (very few) posts from last year. Maybe I had some older figures I could repurpose with a bit of cutting and scraping...

Meet some of my old, scratchbuilt genestealer cultists.  They’re built from the original plastic guardsmen, circa 1994 (I think).  I found a couple of them floating in the bitz bin way back when and used them to bulk out my (at the time) all-metal Genestealer Cult army.  Which, believe it or not, also came from the bitz bins...

A few quick slices and those old cultists had all new arms on them. Heads were a bit trickier—I needed to make some neck sockets. I used the thinnest drill bit I had for my pin vise, found the center, and gave myself a pilot hole (maybe just 1/8” deep) on each model.  Then I swapped out bits to my largest, which gave me a nice, centered socket.

Helpful Hint—when you need to center something like this, take your time.  Check and double-check.  Heads are always going to be a focus point for a model.  We all know how bodies go together, so even on this scale we’ll pick up on things that don’t line up.

After that, it was just gluing heads on and... done.  Some heavy weapons guys who will blend in nicely with the rest of the cult.  And all it cost me was some older models I wasn’t going to use anymore.
You may notice (like I mentioned above) that the new limbs are slightly out of proportion on the older body.  The arms, notably, are a bit long.  There’s a few ways to adjust for this, but I’m not going to worry about it much in this particular case.  Genestealer cultists have a lot of distorted body parts, so these won’t stand out much.

Next time—swear to Tzeentch—I’m going to finish up that Destroyer.