Back in Action

After making my own custom miniature (my daughter, born on September 18th!), I’ve been out of commission for blogging purposes. But now I’m working my way back into action! So let’s see a few things I’ve had time for.

First, I’ve been putting together some bits from Scibor to decorate my Land Raider Achilles. These beautiful pieces are decorated with the Grim Reaper, complementing the commander who rides in the Land Raider, Captain Tharsis the Grim. Here are some photos…

I had to cut a big hole in the side of the Land Raider first:

Then I placed the (50mm square) reaper plate in the hole (this is the opposite side from the previous photo).

I glued sprues across the back, providing both a glue point and a way to keep the plates basically straight:

Here’s a shot of the Land Raider sides and top (with additional reaper plates, which did not require cutting big holes in the Land Raider):

Of course, I need to put some Green Stuff borders around the big plates – there are big gaps (neither my knife nor Scibor’s plates were perfect) and the plates obviously don’t match the contours of the tank. I debated cutting the back corners of the big reaper plates to match the angle of the back of the Land Raider – that might have looked better, but I think framing the square plates will look good.

If I did this again, I would consider trimming off the “background” of each reaper image and rounding the sides and bottoms of the plates. This might make them stand out, kind of like statues more than engravings. Then I could just smooth down the Land Raider and glue the “statues” to the sides. That might fit onto the tank better. Still, cutting out the plastic means the plates sit into the sides of the tank, rather than sticking out of the sides. I do think a clean border around the “plates” will look great… all I need to do is be skilled with my sculpting!

Second, I worked on two more Captains for my Space Marine army. I’m pretty keen on heavily customized Captains… and when I run out of Captains, I’ll do Honor Guard. And when I run out of Honor Guard, my sergeants are going to start looking real good.

Introducing Atlan the Doughty, Captain of the Immortals (1st Company)…

Atlan is a Scibor body (looks kind of like an Adeptus Custodes to me!) with Scibor shoulders and Grey Knight Terminator arms. He is “counts as” Vulkan He’stan, so that’s artificer armor, a relic blade, and a heavy flamer.

Alongside him is Ptolomaeus the Unyielding, Captain of the 3rd Company…

Captain Ptolomaeus is blurry, but he’s basically a Force Commander kit with some Green stuff on his legs and arms from Sanguinary Guard. I love the Sanguinary Guard bits, so you’ll see them scattered around as I work my way through the box. I also did some work to add wings to his helmet, which doesn’t look great here. He needs a bit more work, but he has artificer armor, a power sword, and a plasma pistol (and he “counts as” Cato Sicarius).

Clearly, I need to take better pictures, but I don’t have an ideal setup right now…

And… I should really be painting, but uh… I avoid painting like the plague. I think my fear that my painting isn’t good prevents me from painting, which means I don’t get practice, which means I don’t get better. I just need to sit down and do it… but I haven’t yet!

Thanks for reading – more to come soon!

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I’ve integrated Google’s “+1” doodad along with Twitter and Facebook sharing buttons to make it easier to inform your friends that you’re a huge dork! You can “share” the main page or individual posts – so enjoy that feature, bub!

Now, More About Power Cards…

The Warhammer 40k game is fun, but its rules are not organized well in current rulebooks. (I hear the 6th edition rulebook will be well-organized.) Thus, teaching a new player can be a pain. But… what if there were handy cards to hand the new player as a reference?

Of course, the default Magic card style isn’t really great for 40k stats, is it? It could work a little better for special abilities like psychic powers…

That’s a little better, but it doesn’t help us remember the WS of an Ork Loota. What if someone were to make a template that could easily display 40k character stats, vehicle stats, weapon stats or special rules so we could reference them easily during the game?

The templates aren’t done yet, but the first one (for infantry, characters and other things with wounds) came out very nicely. I’ll still need to finish a vehicle (possibly also a walker) template, a weapon template (with room for their rules) and two ‘generic’ templates (one with an image slot and a text box, and one that’s just a big text box).

Remember folks, Gamer + Graphic Designer + Programmer = Super Nerd… and I am that Super Nerd.

Review: Death Angel

And next in our continuing series of Space Marine games, today I’ll be reviewing Death Angel, a cooperative card game by the wonderful folks over at Fantasy Flight Games.

Firstly, when I was told there was a cooperative Space Marine card game, my eyes rolled back in my head. First, I love cooperative board games. Second, I love Space Marines. Sure, this is a “card game” and not a “board game,” but… shut up. You play the cards down on the table, and they make their own board, so damn it, it’s board game enough for me!

Death Angel lets each player take the role of a team of two Space Marines (Blood Angels Chapter, clad in terminator armor). The game ties directly into the Space Hulk board game that Games Workshop released a few years ago (itself a reprint of a classic board game they released eons ago). The characters of Death Angel are the same characters from Space Hulk, and the tale is the same – Blood Angels veterans in terminator armor board a space hulk to exterminate genestealers and win the day.

In Death Angel, each turn, each player chooses an action for their squad from three different actions (represented by cards) – Support, Move & Activate, or Attack. Each squad performs these actions slightly differently, with different bonuses or extras. They use these actions as they move through the corridors of the space hulk to fight the genestealers that amass around them.

What I Like:

  • Death Angel is a great cooperative game. The actions are chosen secretly, so you have to know what your opponents can do and are likely to do so you can work together with them. Between that and the genestealers who are constantly multiplying right behind you, the game offers a solid challenge
  • The cards have great art, they’re nice quality and they’re easy to read and understand.
  • The game doesn’t take much time to explain and is easy to understand even if your friends don’t know a heavy flamer from an assault cannon.
  • Even if your friends don’t know a heavy flamer from an assault cannon, the game is still very true to the Warhammer 40,000 universe, so fans will geek out over the art, the card names, and the stories on each character card.
  • The game takes only a few minutes to set up, less than a minute to clean up, and less than five minutes to explain. Despite this, the interaction of various cards and situations creates a good level of complexity and a lot of replay value.

What I Don’t Like:

  • The game may be too easy, but only a tiny, tiny bit. I may also just be too good at games. Compared to Space Hulk, where the genestealers almost always eat the Space Marines alive, I can win the day with the Space Marines most of the time in Death Angel. However, I haven’t played a game yet where I didn’t feel like we were going to lose. And maybe that’s a good cooperative game – feeling like you’re going to lose, but winning enough to have fun with the game. At any rate, it’s not super easy, so this really is a tiny complaint.
  • Some of the teams may be more boring than others, or slightly less effective. Certainly, the team with the Librarian and the team with the power sword Sergeant feel very effective while the team with the lightning claws or the team with the heavy flamer can feel overshadowed by their battle brothers. Again, this is a very tiny complaint, and it would be near impossible to make every team feel equally lovable while also making them different enough to have flavor. Any shortcoming here is totally forgivable.

Nerd Moment: Getting the figures out of my Space Hulk game and placing them on the corresponding Death Angel character cards. I was filled with nerdy glee.

I highly recommend Death Angel to anyone who likes cooperative games, or anyone who loves Space Marines and wants to give a card game a whirl. Fantasy Flight produces solid products, and if you don’t own one of Arkham Horror, Lord of the Rings: The Board Game, Descent, Fury of Dracula or Talisman, then what the Hell is wrong with you? Buy Death Angel and make up for your lack of Fantasy Flight games.

The best part about Death Angel is that it sets up quickly, cleans up quickly, and is easy to explain to new players. This is truly lacking in almost every other cooperative game in existence, so Death Angel makes a true mark for itself by this virtue alone.

Review: Kill Team

I always have room for more Space Marines. So, when THQ announced they’d be doing a little prelude game for their Space Marine video game, I was excited to hear about it.

Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team is a stand-alone DLC game. While Space Marine is an over-the-shoulder, Gears-of-War-but-seriously-Gears-of-War-wasn’t-that-original-in-the-first-place-so-shut-up-about-it style shooter, Kill Team is… well, it’s Smash TV.

You remember Smash TV? “Good luck… you’ll need it!” Well, Kill Team uses the double-joystick style controls of that game. The left stick will move your Space Marine. The right stick, when pushed in a direction, fires your ranged weapon in that direction. When I was a kid and played Smash TV, that annoyed the Hell out of me. But, when I played Kill Team, I really loved this control scheme.

Kill Team
Yeah, it's kinda like that.

Kill Team is, of course, rendered in 3D with an isometric view and a panning camera, so it’s more advanced than its arcade ancestor. It’s a straight-up guns and explosions shooter, so don’t expect a lot of depth and innovation here.

What I Like:

  • Foremost, Kill Team embraces the Warhammer 40,000 universe. The models, the weapons, the inside of the Ork Krooser – all of it is taken right from the rich universe of the 40k game. Every detail is fanservice for those of us who love 40k. In fact, the game opens with a model I covet greatly – the Caestus Assault Ram. The game uses THQ’s beloved Blood Ravens, although Space Marine is supposed to feature an Ultramarine. The fact that I can even comment on that means they care about the lore.
  • The controls feel good. Usually, I have problems with Xbox sticks, but because I’m not trying to precisely aim an FPS, this is much easier. There are a few problems, but I put a compliment here because usually games of this type are finger-crampers, but this control scheme is easier on the hands.
  • The graphics and sounds are fun. They’re not groundbreaking, but they fit the game, the world, and the $10 price tag.
  • The gameplay is enjoyable. The permanent upgrades come at a nice steady rate. The four characters are each fun to play and the differences are enough to pick a favorite.
  • Power-ups sit there indefinitely. Because the gameplay features a lot of doubling back, if you do well in an area, you can leave a power-up or a health refill in case you need it when you come back. Everyone loves power-ups, so this is a nice change from the norm.

What I Don’t Like:

  • Melee doesn’t seem as effective as shooting, but there are two melee-focused characters out of the four. After playing a bit, I got the hang of using the melee characters much more effectively, but there’s a learning curve at the very least. It seems to me, if you want two melee characters, melee needs to be developed more than it is.
  • The game seems to have some control bugs. They’re not major at all, but sometimes my Space Marine just seemed to slow down and stop while I was pressing the stick. Either Space Marines are lazy, the controller is flawed (I don’t think s0), or there are slight bugs. It wasn’t very annoying, though.

Nerd Moment: “Why doesn’t the plasma cannon have a blast effect?” Yeah, it’s just a video game, Chuck. Don’t nitpick.

All in all, Kill Team is a fun romp with big explosions and orks saying funny things. It’s definitely worth $10, especially if you’re a 40k fan. But you’re not going to be playing it for years to come, except possibly as occasional stress relief (“Die, xenos! Die!”)

I read somewhere that THQ might use this engine as the basis for more games. I would be very excited to see this ported to a Space Hulk game – Terminator teams versus hordes of genestealers. I’d buy that for a dollar!

Magnetizing the Nemesis Dreadknight

When my Grey Knights came in, I immediately got cracking on the Nemesis Dreadknight, which you may remember from a previous post. This model looked like a really fun chance to magnetize something new. It was a huge success, partly because Games Workshop seemed to want to make it easy on me. Without further ado, let’s get to the meat of it.

For this, I used 3mm rare-earth magnets (1mm thick), a 1/8″ drill bit, super glue, Kneadatite green stuff and good old plastic model glue. I also made the following decisions:

1) I didn’t like the hydraulics supporting the arms, so I removed them entirely. Keeping them would make this project more difficult, but I can’t tell you how much more (since I didn’t do it).

2) I didn’t care if the gun barrels matched the gun housing precisely. (You’ll see what I mean later.) If you care, it would be easy enough to maintain the consistency with more magnets. But I think it looks fine my way (if not better).

3) The torso could easily be magnetized to the legs, allowing rotation of the torso at the hip. That could be pretty cool. I didn’t do that because it didn’t add much utility or style, in my opinion.

Now, on to the fun!

Firstly, I assembled most of the model, leaving the arms for last, since that’s where all the magnets are going. In these two pictures, you can see how I cut the hydraulics, leaving the ball joint in the shoulder and cleaning them off to be rounded. I think it looks much better.

Next up, magnets!
Continue reading Magnetizing the Nemesis Dreadknight

Grey Knights Incoming!

I’ve gotten some of the new Grey Knights, I assembled some old metal Grey Knights, and I’ve done some more work on my daemon prince… but I’ve been too busy to update!

So, here’s a quick shot of the Dreadknight’s assembled legs. And yes, that huge paper behind him are the assembly instructions. There are… a lot… of pieces to the Dreadknight. It is a very awesome miniature, even for the relatively high price, and with so many pieces, it reminds me of the car models I did as a kid.

Now, naturally, I’ve had to do some customization on the kit to give it that “Chuck is very particular” feel. For instance, I’m removing the arm hydraulics (they distract too much from the baroque look of the Grey Knights army, in my opinion) and I’m magnetizing all the weapons (which ought to be pretty easy).

Updates to come, time permitting!

Yo Dog…

I am extremely excited right now because I am a huge Grey Knights fan (and have been since I was introduced to 40k). Today, Games Workshop announced the new Grey Knights, including the Grey Knight Nemesis Dreadknight. It looks goofy at first glance, but I think it’ll be very cool on the table. Even though I’m positive on the Dreadknight, I couldn’t resist…

YO DOG I HEARD YOU LIKE POWER ARMOR SO WE PUT POWER ARMOR ON YO POWER ARMOR SO YOU CAN FIGHT DAEMONS WHILE YOU FIGHT DAEMONS

(Most of the credit for this joke goes to my good friend John.)

Daemonic Update

When last we looked at my custom daemon prince, I had redone his head and a few details here and there.

The next step was to bulk up and detail his lower legs. Thanks to some bits from Scibor (who I am now pimping left and right in this blog), I had some nice boot fronts for him. I had to bulk the calves up with Green Stuff, and I had no real plan for how they would look when I started mixing the Green Stuff. I started to put some folds in and just went with what was happening. It is better to have a plan. But here’s how they came out:

It doesn’t look too bad, after some post-curing slicing and dicing. The nice part about Green Stuff is that it’s practically a carving medium after it cures. You could even carve details into it, if you were good at that sort of thing – I’m probably not. So, here’s a shot of the fronts, where I used the Scibor bits.

Again, Scibor is a great sculptor who does great bits. The details on the leg armor are generic enough that it works for a daemon prince just as well as a Space Marine Captain.

Next up were his arms and weapons. I liked the swords at first glance, and I thought I would just keep them. In all the time since I started this project, I decided they didn’t quite have the right look. A jeweler’s saw does the trick – a clean cut without losing a lot of metal.

The arms came out really nicely, and a little Green Stuff will add details, like the top and bottom of his fists. Then, I pinned and glued the arms onto him.

What’s great is that I’ve kept the cleft feet under the bulkier leg armor, and that his left arm will look fine without a weapon in it.

My next step is to find the right combination of bits and whatnots to give him a cool polearm or staff that he’s holding in his right arm, angled down towards his feet (so that it all fits nicely on a 40mm base). Then I add some wings to him and he’s all done!

We’re Back for Round 3!

Moving is done. Kinda. I mean, the basement is a shambles, but I have cleared and moved enough that I can work on minis again, and play games again!

Here’s where I picked up!

This is Tharsis the Grim (Tharsis being a big plateau on Mars). Tharsis is the Captain of the Second Company of my homebrew Space Marine Chapter, the Basilicans. I would describe Tharsis as dour and thorough. Tharsis likes firepower. Wait till you see his signature land raider.

Anyway, Tharsis is a resin sculpt from Scibor’s Monstrous. Expensive? Yes. But I fell in love with this mini when I saw it, and I cannot be denied little space men whom I love. Tharsis came with a sword and shield, but if you look at your Space Marine Captain entry – you have the codex handy, right? – you’ll see that doesn’t work with Terminator armor. But of course, you knew that. So, using a hammer from MaxMini (all the best bits come from Europe), I gave him the old Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield look. Here’s Tharsis first assembled:

Tharsis the Grim

Ah, Tharsis the Grim has the iconography of the Grim Reaper. Clever. So this is a great miniature, Scibor is a great sculptor, he runs a great web site full of great things, and this is all great. Two problems – first, possibly because I cleaned too aggressively, the left hand isn’t flush against the wrist. There’s a huge gap. Second, the hammer, which I drilled out and pinned, of course, doesn’t line up too well with the pole that the hand is holding. Actually, I pin everything, including the hand to wrist and arm to shoulder in this miniature.

Tharsis the Grim
Green stuff to the rescue!

Continue reading We’re Back for Round 3!

Defile the Defiler, Part 4

Another progress report on the Defiler! Here’re some detail shots. You can see the skulls I arrayed on the tail. I put the skulls there to cover up where the wires terminate a bit. Next is a detail shot of the box at the base of the tail. My Green Stuff sculpting hopefully looks fleshy. I ran the wires from the front into the box as well.

And below is a closeup of some work on the leg joints. Green Stuff helps holds the whole thing together and it gives the look of daemonflesh growing on the Defiler… hopefully. The second picture is a shot of the front claws. This is a fun picture because the blades on the back of the claws are very thin, but they were still pinnable. A little bit of glue would probably not hold those on for long, but a pin will hold them on for a very long time.

The box ended up looking odd to me. Its square-ness didn’t seem to blend with the shape of the model, so I decided to give it detail that would blend its shape into the main chassis. In the shot below, you can see I added some pipes to the box. Later, Green Stuff would complete the “blending” of the box into the chassis. Next is another shot of the tail with skulls, this time with a blade! The blade was broken off the leg, and it was the only leg-blade left, so I saw no purpose in putting it back on a leg. Also, two of the armor plates that go on the leg are missing, so I gave up on those, too. So, I pinned a blade onto the gun mount and it looks pretty cool.

And below, finally, are two shots of the finished Defiler. Of course, I have to file off some seams and make sure holes are covered, and after the first coat of primer, I am probably going to have to go back and clean up some more (especially where there’s detail lost in the piles of paint and primer), but it is (basically) the final construction.

More to come!