Played Some 40K

Posted: August 25, 2014 in Battle Report, Diseased Sons

After over three years away from the gaming table, I’ve now played 5 games of 7th edition Warhammer 40,000, including one large in-store Apocalypse game. There is no way I’m writing turn by turn battle reports, I just don’t have the time, instead I will focus on high level observations from a longtime 40K player.

  • Randomness is back in a big way. You play a random mission, which has random tactical objectives, random game length, charge lengths are random, the psychic phase is back and it is random.
  • Allies and unbound armies make the game even more random and non-canonical. 
  • There is a major arms escalation, the old days of the bolter and the chainsword being enough to kill most foes is gone. Players do not have to follow the force org chart so those of us who continue to play with no special characters, no allies, and follow the force org chart are at a big disadvantage. Basically our troops win ties when competing for tactical objectives, but the average troop is rarely seen on the battlefield and generally has a short lifespan.
  • What is in is big models with ever fancier guns that completely retcon decades of fluff. No longer are terminators the best, centurions seem to be better. Dreads have been supplanted long ago by better dreads and Forgeworld dreads.
  • Forgeworld is almost necessary, some folks make their army from four or more books, cherry picking the best units from all. Folks who have stayed loyal to one army for as long as me basically don’t exist.
  • The days of small infantry tactics, target prioritization, focussing on mission objectives seems to be gone. The winning tactic seems to be biggest baddest special character (model) running up the field relying on cover and lucky charge distance roll. The counter for this being either not advancing at all thus forfeiting most tactical objective or trying to build a model/unit that can kill your opponents special character and wonder unit once they inevitably get into H2H.
  • The books needed for my army now weigh more than my army, especially when you count in cards, tokens, dice, templates etc. Without a car an army isn’t really portable.
  • Unpainted models are allowed in official GW store events, I definitely have spent more time painting my army than anyone I’m likely to play and their handling of my models often leaves something to be desired. I doubt I’ll be lending models to random people again any time soon. I prefer 1500 point games to massive chaotic affairs where the only tactic is running forward and dying.

So since I have very little time to play and don’t really enjoy lugging even one case of models all the way to Burnaby I need to get a better job and a better apartment to host. I don’t even mind mostly painting. I’m surprised tabletop games have lasted this long, video games are cheaper, require less space, and you can randomly find an opponent online easily if you play the popular games. The advantage the tabletop games have is customization. I can play my army. I can also play my friends, assuming you still have friends who play Warhammer 40,000. There are too many rules in 40K for a beer and pretzels game, the models are also expensive and with the emphasis on bigger and bigger armies and models, GW is giving up on recruiting new players and focussing on selling more stuff to existing fans. The stores still serve as defacto daycares for young boys. I seem to have gained one or two disciples because I actually took the time to play, talk with, and remember the names of these youngsters.

I have made yet another 1500 point army list with a minimum of troops and the biggest and hopefully most dangerous models in my collection. But long term my army needs overhauling again. I need to paint some old models for fun, but I also need a new general, a new Chosen squad, a new large model probably a Soulgrinder, and actual Fast Attack so Raptors and Bikes. Maneuverability is more and more important, being only able to move 6 inches a turn is a disadvantage. I’m not a fan of Deep Striking so raptors or more likely bikes will get painted up finally, besides Toughness 6 bikers has to be good right?

Here are some pictures of my army in action against loyalist and chaos marines, those seem to be the most popular armies, though Guard and Eldar have some fans, saw little Tau or Tyranids.

18 Foot long Apocalypse table

Boris now has 4 Hull Points

Landraiders also have 4 Hull Points

Lefty volunteers to defend the portal

Drop Pod assaults are still common

Hand to Hand combat under the bridge

Chaos Champions are special

My Lord needs a better retinue

Terminators are back in my army listKhorne is no longer popular

Typhus is very popular

Chaos Cultist #2

Posted: July 17, 2014 in Rank and File, Servants of Decay, WIP
Tags: ,

Once again after my job interview I headed down to GW Highgate to amuse the staff. This time I had a slightly better plan and bought the box of 5 Chaos Cultists for I think $12.50 a veritable bargain in GW land and once again took one model pretty much from start to finish in a single sitting. This time it actually took less time because the cultist was only in two pieces and I used less paints.

I did buy my own brush and still couldn’t do really fine detail work and I didn’t do my best on the greys or the skin tone or the metallics or the blacks but I did some useful browns and tans and a passable purple. I also pulled off some strange hair colour again using some mystery colour which I blended with some other colours.

WIP Chaos Cultist

This model is good enough. I’m one of the only people in the world who wants to paint less well. There are things I’d like to fix on this model, it also needs basing. I made some fundamentally poor decisions in the name of experimentation and efficiency. I should have base coated black or at least grey. I should have probably done only one brown or if two browns then done less work on them. I should have done a darker grey. I should have not kept trying to use GW’s blue shade. I think their blue glaze may be more to my liking. Some parts of it are purple that shouldn’t be, some parts are brown that probably should be purple etc. etc.

I also think I’m a “Layer” man. The thicker high pigment paint is fine for most but even more efficient me likes the smoother applying paint of the Layer range. I’m not in such a hurry that I can’t do two whole coats of paint. A base coat whether with a “Base” or a “Layer” then a wash then a highlight looks good. You can even use your base coat as your highlight colour or your base coat mixed with a little white, grey, or even one of GW’s flesh tones.

Mostly finished Chaos Cultist

I even helped some kid base coat his Tau. He didn’t seem too concerned with quality control. I want to paint more efficiently if I can get by with two colours and a wash, great! But I still want to clean my model carefully. I want to apply my colours evenly and cleanly. I want to take 5 or 15 minutes to let the washes dry. I want to use more than one brush so I can paint some finer highlights. But first I need to get a new job and a new slightly larger place, one with room for a dedicated paint station. Also the CFA will rear it’s head again soon so 40K season for me is only a couple months long.

I really don’t know how to play Warhammer 40,000 anymore. I will learn the rules again. I own plenty of models. I can play the game, but I don’t really care to play the metagame as some have termed it. I also think given my limited time and the fact that getting a model done in four hours is “quickly” for me. I need to choose an army and models that have high points values and are quick to paint. Alas I have plenty of painted models, what I want is generally new tactical options and to paint the fancier models, painting Chaos Cultists is not that efficient in an hour per point way of thinking or more correctly 1.25 points per hour. Also the game has moved to a more over the top playing style where people are deliberately fielding unbalanced armies and GW will happily sell them more models to do so.

My reliance and loyalty to Nurgle doesn’t really cut it in a world with special characters that are released in a limited edition and models that are 888 points each in game. There is definitely an arms escalation in Warhammer 40,000 from a simple squad game with say twenty men and squad level commander to armies that are anything but troops.

I tried to make this cultist at least similar to my test model, but with completely different paints and not having the original test model to compare with, it isn’t perfect, but since when did Chaos Cultists all dress the same. Thor apparently painted 105 Chaos Cultists in a batch in approximately 2 weeks, I’ve now painted 2. If I can get 30 done I’d be happy, I want them all to have auto pistols except the champ and three flamer dudes.

Servant of Decay test figure

So I went to see some old friends who just happen to run a gaming store. So while we were talking they said, why don’t you buy a model and paint something, so it became something of a challenge. The models I bought were the new (to me) Nurglings and I used the store paints and even more challenging the store brushes to paint one stand. Nurgling stand in three pieces

I never timed it, I wasn’t in a big rush, I picked Nurglings because I like to paint them and they are good to experiment with, they also can’t look wrong. I used five different colours to basecoat with, one grey, one purple, one green, one blue, and one brown. I never wrote the paint names down, I can’t even pronounce GW’s current paint names. But a clever person could figure out what I used.

I painted the model in three pieces until I got to the highlight stage. I used just one very well-used starter brush which made doing good eyes and teeth almost impossible. I had to repaint a lot of lips and noses. In the end I just had to say good enough because the store had to close.

I used every wash err “Shade” but the red one because it had ran out. I used purple and blue to shade my red. I also used the red glaze some. I tried one of the dry paints, it isn’t for me, but I can see how it would help painting an army of skeletons for instance. Finally after I used many many washes and I used the flat of the brush to do my highlights such as they are, I tried the texture paint to do the base. It never dried in time to highlight, I even used some special tool to apply it.

My basically finished stand of Nurglings

People badmouth GW but they make nice models, expensive, but I spent about six hours painting this one stand of Nurglings. I’m old, my back seriously had ceased up by the time it came to highlighting. I could have done better with some better brushes, even using a smaller brush to do highlights and the faces would have helped, but I stubbornly stuck to the one brush even after it became less and less pointy. As Owen noted this was the first model I had ever painted in a store. Usually I go home paint with my paints, with my brushes, which I keep very good care of and sort my colours specifically from lightest to darkest. This model was very much ‘winged’.

If I can get a new job and a new place to live, I’ll put together a painting desk. I’m one of the few people in the world who wants to paint worse. I spent maybe six hours on this Nurgling from opening the package to taking the last photo, Owen looked it up, it was a 15 point model in an army I don’t want to use needing a book I don’t own. So since 1500 points is the standard Warhammer 40,000 game size where I come from, I only need to paint 99 more Nurglings to have an army. If I want to get an army painted I gotta choose models that are easy to paint and high points value, which is why I never start a new army err faction as GW terms them now.

Of course I already have painted almost a dozen Nurgling stands and plenty of other Nurgle demons, more than enough for a 1500 point army, they just wouldn’t be much of a force seeing as how I don’t even know the rules, let alone built an effective army. Unlike everyone else I’m not big on summoning or deep striking, I’m more into just painting stuff that looks cool.

I actually think I did a better job on the backs of the Nurglings, but I never took a photo of the backs, when the model is finally officially done, based and sealed I’ll take another photo. The tips of the horns kept rubbing off, it’ll be tough to match the paint perfectly, someday I’ll paint again, it was July 18th 2011 when I last finished a model. My back is so shot. Six hour painting days or other long, long days in front of a computer is hard on the back, so what do I do when I get home? Update this blog and pour myself a whisky.

Textured Paint Applied to the Base

I learned this from the Bolter and Chainsword if you actually want to try and steal the intellectual property of Games Workshop instead of waiting a few more days for your physical copy to arrive, I suggest you search the Internet using Topsy not Google.  It’s also Debate Night in America so the Twitterverse and Blogosphere are extra busy tonight…

I haven’t played 40K in years it seems. My life is on hold. I got sucked into following the rumors and some overly opinionated B&C posters seem to have caused various threads to get shut down if not getting themselves banned. I’ve never been banned from any online forums, but I have become disgusted and left some. Sadly given all the other alternatives, the B&C is probably still the best 40K forum as far as I’m concerned.

In the past few weeks I’ve come up with two army lists. One is sort of a wish list based on rumors I read online. The second one is a throwback list back to the end of 2nd Edition and the dawn of 3rd. Basically it is all Plaguemarines in small 5 man squads to maximize champions and special weapons. My general will be a Nurgle Lord on a bike, giving him toughness 6 and making Plaguemarines Troops. I also want to try out my Defiler.

Plaguemarines seems to be a bit cheaper, they are 120 points for five and a champ. Just about every squad in the new codex comes with a champion, which combined with the must challenge and boons of chaos rules, will lead to people painting spare Spawn and Demon Princes in addition to more aspiring champions. I have several painted Beasts of Nurgle but I could use a new Demon Prince perhaps. I thought all my Plaguemarine squads had a champion model, but every squad doesn’t have a champion with a powerfist. I probably will run some cheap champs with just melta bombs, that is what I did in the past.

All the Nurgle Terminators I rebased

The other big debate I’ve seen in the blogosphere lately is whether Rhinos are worth it. I plan on using some eventually, especially Rhinos with Havoc missile launchers, but I’ve run foot slogger lists before… I need to do a lot of painting eventually, but my first proposed army list is entirely painted and should come to about 1500 points. I need to get my army out of storage and shoot more pictures of it to put on Flickr… I plan to use some Nurgle Terminators too, though ultimately I’d like some Khorne Terminators with the Forgeworld bits to go with the one I already painted. I plan to do some Nurgle Raptors, but I think Khorne or Slaneesh Raptors maybe better, I’ve been collecting bits for that but now I’ll have to get the new Raptor kit too, maybe some of the many 3rd party bits too.

Servant of Decay test figure

I haven’t gotten to play sixth edition so I’m unsure how much anti-air I need. I was originally thinking Dragon thing, but I’m now thinking I might just add some more models to my Forgeworld wishlist… Cultists are something I’ve been going to do for a long time. I think a squad with a Dark Apostle sitting behind the Aegis Defense wall would be a good home objective sitting squad. It will take me a while to paint them, I think I’ll first concentrate on painting more vehicles that I already own plus maybe a Forgefiend, 8 shots at strength 8 seems like it could be fun, though most people seem to like the other builds…  I always take the path last traveled.

I’m still anti-special character. Chaos seems to have a lot of special characters, I think Ahriman may be the best as I like the Warlord trait he gets. I think knowing what your warlord trait is in advance is a huge advantage and infiltrating three units seems awesome. I also like Fabius Bile as he has Strength 5, a special needle gun, and plus makes one unit better. You could totally make a super scoring troop choice with Fabius and other upgrades. Everyone is talking about Abaddon Deathstar Leroy Jenkins builds or Typhus horde J.R. ‘Bob’ Dobbs builds.  I’m a slow painter so a horde of cultists will take me months to paint, but I have plenty of power armored CSMs already painted. I need to get some games of 6th Edition but mainly I need a job.

I plan to convert a new Chaos Lord of Nurgle on Bike model plus some mates for him to ride with. I have the bits but in the mean time I will just use a model I converted during 2nd Edition.

I’ve spent yet more time fine tuning my miniature painting news aggregator. Time I probably could have used more productively. I tend to put a lot of time and effort into ‘side projects’. Side projects that don’t earn income or help solve any of my problems.

The first week or so was spent wrestling with PHP, particularly with SimplePie and other related code. I still have an outstanding issue with that codebase that no one seems to want to acknowledge or suggest any solution. I definitely did not want to become an expert in PHP, RSS, and Atom feeds.

I also spent way too much time gathering more RSS and Atom feeds. I originally just used the blogs I subscribed to, but FtW Ron had visions of 100s if not a thousand blog feeds being aggregated and merged together. It was while building that, that I discovered the issue with merging multiple blogspot feeds. I don’t know why people particularly in the miniature painting hobby have stuck with blogspot and continue to create more Blogger blogs when so many other free options exist.

The hobby is much more commercial than it was 15 years ago, back then everyone was a hobbyist except a few people who worked for one of a few miniature companies. Now there are many, many mini manufactures, many online stores, professional miniature painters, professional miniature sculptures, and numerous semi-pro hobbyists who supplement their income through their website and the hobby. I’ve always avoided going down that route, but I don’t really feel qualified to give career advice, given the mess I’ve made of mine. I’ve tried to keep the miniature painting news aggregator non-commercial, but maybe I’ll finally breakdown and put an ad on one of my ‘side projects’. I’ve also chosen to focus on miniature painting rather than a specific manufacture or game system, just like I tried to do with this blog. Focus can be difficult to maintain.

The miniature painting news aggregator looks and operates a lot like AllTop. That isn’t a coincidence. AllTop is one of the more successful news aggregation sites. My aggregator is much more specialized, even personalized. It is random, deterministic, algorithmic, chronological, and social. It sources information from Internet darlings like Twitter and Pinterest. You can pin, tweet, or like the featured story/photo. Information is pulled from major hobby sites like Tabletop Gaming News, Beasts of War, and Cool Mini Or Not. News is also pulled from an eclectic collection of smaller hobby blogs and websites. Information is also found by search agents, such as the YouTube painting tutorials, but other less mainstream search engines are used like Topsy. I even added Reddit’s miniature painting section.

I’ll try to continue to ensure it runs OK, I don’t think it’ll ever be fast unless I reduce the amount of content or do something else drastic. I’ll try out new feeds and I hope sites like Chest of Colors fixes one of their feeds, but mainly it should just be there for bored hobbyists who want to see cool stuff. Checking more than hourly will be futile, but hopefully it can become a useful tool for finding cool miniature painting news online.

I’ve been spending too much time online. This isn’t news, but what I’ve been doing a lot of lately is scouring the Internet for RSS and Atom feeds to pass into the miniature painting news aggregator I made. I could mention again how I think Blogger is inferior to WordPress or how not all feeds are created equal and not all behave as you’d expect them to, but what I really thought I’d write about is how a lot of hobby blogs don’t produce very consistent or high quality content. Revised miniature painting news aggregator

Ron is relaunching the From the Warp blogger group, but he is still using the exact same technology that ultimately let him down. He’s trying to be more selective as to which blogs he includes. There are a lot of these ‘blog networks’ now. Many bloggers seem to be a member of them all and rely on them to send readers there way. I’ve been reading the headlines and opening paragraphs of a lot of blogs both on FtW but also from the TGN Blogging Network and I’ve noticed a lot of poorly named blogs, poorly chosen post tiles, and a lot of low quality content.

I never set out to make a miniature painting news aggregator. I never set out to write PHP, but I have time on my hands so I try to do something with my education. I never wanted to curate yet more miniature painting information, but I’m disappointed with a few sites and the technology they use. I tried to find technology that would help me find quality content and feeds. I really don’t want to scrape content, so sites without valid feeds or an API will just not be part of what I continue to build, but for those hobbyists that do want more readers/followers there is a lot of things they could be doing that doesn’t involve switching from Blogger to WordPress.

First of all I understand people have limited time to devote to the hobby or to painting miniatures and people have their own favourite websites or forums that they frequent. My miniatures and paints are all in boxes in storage and I haven’t played a game of Warhammer 40,000 or anything that uses miniatures in about a year. However if you have time to blog, you have time to blog better. If you have time to post pictures to the Internet you have time to ensure those pictures are sorted, titled, and tagged intelligently. If you have time to comment on multiple blogs and forums and social networks, you have time to do something intelligent and useful with all that content and energy.

Cool Mini Or Not supposedly has the largest collection of painted miniatures online, but there is no way to subscribe to feeds of say the top minis submitted that week. There also is a lot unpainted or poorly painted miniatures so I don’t always find the coolest stuff by looking at random images on CMoN. I’m also interested in how things are done, not just seeing a high resolution picture of the final model. CMoN is definitely an online store now and I don’t find their site the best use of my limited hobby time. Dakka Dakka and Warseer both have galleries, Dakka Dakka had an RSS feed I thought would give me pictures of new and cool miniatures but it has proved erratic and disappointing. Warseer is not a personal favourite of mine, I’d prefer more hobbyists posted their completed miniatures to Flickr. I’ve also discovered that aggregation isn’t enough, a certain amount of curation and quality control is necessary to produce the best results.

Tumblr was a big disappointment as far as finding cool miniature painting content. Facebook is a mostly closed network, so Twitter particularly #miniaturemonday has proven much more useful. I’ve even decided to join Pinterest to see if I can use that site to build a better curated collection of cool minis. I asked several people for suggestions as to what feeds to include and basically no one could be bothered to make any useful suggestions so more and more of my own personal preferences and biases are being reflected in the miniature painting news aggregator. Other news aggregators of course exist, PopURLs is mentioned by Ryan, but I’m more familiar with AllTop due to being something of a Guy Kawasaki fan. There is an AllTop for board games and RPGs but not for wargaming or miniature painting.

Maybe my efforts will be all for not, but given the increasing emphasis on curation and all the time and effort I’ve invested into the hobby over the years and finding quality hobby content online I don’t think it is the easiest problem to solve, there isn’t one site right now that has all the coolest miniature painting stuff in one place, I guess I’m that is what I’m building.

I tend to write long rambling posts with lots of information and links. However I am capable of writing high quality content that performs well in search engines or in social media. I started this blog so I could join the FtW blog network or just to de-complicate my original blog. Musk’s Miniatures definitely isn’t perfect or the best example of a high quality blog, however given that some people try to earn a living or augment their income from the hobby, I just know I’m going to get whiny emails someday asking why their blog isn’t included or featured, the short answer is “your blog sucks” or perhaps more eloquently your content just isn’t unique or interesting to me. Since I’m building and curating the website it definitely reflects my preferences but it is also incorporates algorithms and social media so other people’s preferences have influence. How Alltop works, is how my miniature painting news aggregator works.

I’ve written a lot of blog postings trying to pass on my experience and knowledge, here is advice on how to improve your hobby blog:

Others have written often conflicting advice to mine, but the goal is the same, if you want people to read what you write, whether it is about a hobby or some other interest, you have to work at it and you have to make a commitment to Quality. There are too many blogs and websites competing for our time and attention. Too many of them do not maintain a respectable wheat to chaff ratio. I’d rather read one awesome post a month, than 3 or 4 crappy posts a week. If you adopt the latter publishing strategy, I’m unlikely to subscribe to your RSS feed, I’m definitely not including your blog in my blog roll or the miniature painting news aggregator I just built, you won’t see many comments or hits, and long term your inferior content will not perform well in search engines or in social media. 100s of people a day still read hobby content I put online ten plus years ago, but I’ve also written content that no one reads, probably less than one person in a hundred days. Which do you think was a better investment of my time, which do you think was of higher quality as judged by search engines, my peers, and random websurfers?

Although I clearly should be studying or doing something else more productive, I spent a lot of the last week building a miniature painting news aggregator. I didn’t want to build a miniature painting news aggregator. When I want to look at painted miniatures I have a few sites I go to. I subscribe to quite a few blog feeds. I frequent the odd forum. But one site I used to waste time on was From the Warp, particularly the From the Warp sidebars which contained the From the Warp Blogger Group. Miniature Painting News

It was a good way to waste time. It was also a good way to find other blogs to follow. There are other blogging networks targeting gamers or miniature painters, but I thought this one was the best. It certainly was the best curated. It was the one I chose to join when I split my miniature painting exploits off from Muskblog. With no progress seeming to be happening I inquired with Ron what was up. I did some research. I looked at Yahoo Pipes, but the tool I thought could do the job was SimplePie.

I’d previously suggested to Ron to move From the Warp to WordPress even WordPress.com as Blogger/blogspot seems to be limiting what he wants to do with his blog. I still don’t know when the From the Warp Blog Network will be up and functioning. I tried to help. In the mean time I think I’ll pay more attention to the TGN Blog Network and I decided to see what I could build with SimplePie using the feeds I personally follow plus a few more.

Not all feeds are created equal. There are technical problems even bugs in SimplePie. Ideally they’ll get fixed and new release will solve all my problems. In the mean time I decided to let other people poke around and see if they have any suggestions, maybe they are PHP wizards.

As I knew someone would ask, I took a screen shot to try and explain how it works. Most everything is pulled from RSS feeds. Flickr, TGN, even Dakka have working RSS feeds that SimplePie can work with. The rest of the information is pulled from two text files containing a list of feeds. If the From the Warp Network comes back online I’ll try to work it in, but given all the trouble I had with feeds from blogspot, I have my doubts that software will handle 1000 plus feeds effectively and gracefully.

The data in the red boxes to the left comes from one text file. The data on the lower right comes from another text file. The text file that controls the data on the left is going to be smaller and much more exclusive. There is no policy. I didn’t want to create yet another blog network, I just wanted a place to go to look at cool stuff. The most recent post appears at the top and one random feed is featured in the bottom box. I create a thumbnail from the first image in the post. This is perhaps the most intensive and problematic feature of my news aggregator. I’d prefer people just uploaded their finished miniatures to Flickr or a distant second Dakka Dakka. Cool Mini Or Not has no feeds for their gallery and has become more and more of an online store, although there are a lot of nice minis their site doesn’t appeal that much to me. I’m interested in knowing how something was done. Ditto Bell of Lost Souls which has too many writers and just a way too busy site design now. I just want to look at the minis not fight with their web design or told to go fuck myself.

If people want to know how to get their blog included, I suggest they join the TGN Blog Network. If they want to know how they get their website added to one of the two text files I created I suggest they create awesome content. If you consistently create awesome content I or someone else will notice and then I may add your feed assuming you have one that functions. The text file that controls the content on the left I intend to be more exclusive, difficult to get on to, easy to get taken off of. The other text file I’m more willing to just throw a website on, but I’m big on quality content. I can handle the odd picture of your new baby, but if you go on too many tirades or post too much stuff that should end up Facebook or more likely in a private message I’ll be unsubscribing from your feed, removing you from my sidebar and definitely deleting you from the text file that controls the miniature painting news aggregator.

I hope the news aggregator is useful to someone other than me, it took a long time to make. I also hope it isn’t too expensive to maintain so I can keep it lean and mean. Some people would like it to run faster and there are some optimizations that may be possible, but cutting the content in half may make it run twice as fast but is that really desirable? Finding the right balance and the coolest content is the key. If you know of an RSS (or Atom) feed I should include let me know via email or in a comment. Remember I’m a quality over quantity guy and I want painted miniatures or painting advice primarily not your opinion of why Swooping Hawks suck.