Friday, December 30, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Redone shaman

Teeny-tiny update today; I redid the shaman on foot. Saying "redid" is actually an overstatement: I've just added some clump foliage to the base and reinforced some joints on this mini. Nothing serious, but still I brought him to the army's overall level methinks.

Here are some detail shots...

...and I will see you Friday!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Savage orcs - Big Stabba WIP

Hello after the holidays. Usually at this time of year my level of nausea reaches heights unimaginable; this year has been much different, but that's another story.

Hobby-wise, I managed to start the Big Stabba team for the savage orcs. Like so:
The chariot thriller (yep, that's the word for it!) was a bitch to align, in retrospect I'd be much better off having the orcs carry it over their heads.
As of now the green stuff on the other two arms is curing and I will be done with this project come Wednesday. Enjoy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Happy holidays!

Let it be known that for the week starting today I will be enjoying my vacation, with as little elctronics as possible.

Updates shall resume next Monday. Happy holidays everybody!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Savage orcs - legs done

Here they are. Twenty in the photos, but there are three more pairs I left out. So glad to be done with them, such a boring job. Now on to the torsos.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Hobby Holiday list, part two

Good evening to my fellow hobbyists. Tonight I'd like to present to you the second part of my holiday wish list. In part one, I focused solely on Games Workshop, so today let's look at other companies and the fans ourselves. After all, we make the hobby just as much a GW does, in my understanding, and having said that we are not without faults.

I received nice feedback on my previous list and I'm glad more people share my views. Sometimes I really think I'm the only one who thinks this and that. Thanks for the support.

So, here it is, Drazhar's Hobby Holiday List, part two.

I would like:

  • Fanboyism to stop. I think this is the number one reason why the hobby scene sometimes looks like 4chan. If you like GW products, that's great. If you prefer, say, Privateer Press, that's also great. But would you kindly stop that mantra-like chant of "PP is SO MUCH COOLER than GW!!!!oneone"? It's nice if you like it, but don't look down on people who still prefer The Company. Or the other way around. I, for one, have never managed to get to like Rackham products and their aesthetics simply eluded me as far as awesomeness goes. But I've never called these minis "gay" or even "faggy". How can you actually say that about a piece of metal?! This goes for forums and fansites too. Do you prefer BoLS over Warseer? TWF over BoLS? Perfectly fine, but openly declaring the other site's users as inferior is just immature. Nobody likes a fanboy.
  • Elitism to stop.

    Whew. I had to do this.

    Now listen very carefully: your hobby is essentially painting and moving toy soldiers on a pretend battlefield, playing a make-believe battle. It does not make it, or you, in any way better than people who prefer to spend their time and money on pimping out their cars. Or skateboarding. Or fencing. Or chess. Or knitting. Or anything else they find enjoyable, fulfilling and relaxing. You are not a member of a "subculture", and in no way a member of the elite. You just have a pretty "closed" hobby.

    Do you understand? Great! Now practice it.
  • Tournaments and their organizers - please make the painting and modeling go hand in hand with actual gameplay when it comes to awarding points to the participants! I realize I might be wrong in assuming they don't, I haven't played in a lot of tournaments, but I have seen many as a spectator and I don't think painting should award like 20% of the overall points. Please promote a holistic, encompassing approach to the hobby. It's not only about winning!
  • GW bashers - give The Company a chance! Granted, there are better producers out there - Vallejo make better paints, Army Painter makes better primers, GF9 makes better basing products. But don't assume that if it's GW, it has to be bad right away. Sometimes The Company actually does make something that is genuinely good. Don't be so close-minded.
  • Tournament gamers, and please excuse my French - don't be as big a douchebags as some of you are. I'll refer you to point two of this very list. It's really good that you are able to play well and play to win. Clearly you are a competent gamer. But that does not make you the king of all that is gaming. This in fact applies to the masters of any facet of our hobby. I know winning something at the Golden Demon is extremely prestigious and you should be very proud. That, however, does not give you the right to talk down to anyone. Most of us will never reach your level, do you honestly get off on contempt you give out to people who will probably never achieve your standard? Really?

There we go. I hope at least some of you can agree on at least some of my points.

Let's get back to these savage orcs, shall we?

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Hobby Holiday list, part one

Hello on a surprisingly warm December morning. Seeing as the holidays are nearly upon us and for some reason it has become customary to celebrate them by giving gifts, I'd like some gifts myself. But mine are not material. I don't like to receive major stuff I haven't worked for and furthermore, the ones on my list would make me much, much more happy than another worthless trinket.

My list comes in two parts, one aimed specifically at Games Workshop (and generally the producers of our hobby materials) and the other, well, you will see.

So here it is, Drazhar's Hobby Holiday Wish List.

I would like:

  • Games Workshop to start a sensible, honest marketing schemes. We don't want to wait gods know how long for miniatures that have rules published in your army books and codices. I understand the in and out of marketing, raising the demand and whatnot, but what you are doing now is just wrong. I like the 'wave' system you employ in releasing your products, just make these waves come sooner. About every two months seem fine to me - in half a year, we would have the entire army published in miniatures. And by "entire" I mean just that - every single unit in the army list having its miniature available over the course of six months at the very most. What you folks did with the Jabberslythe recently is just rude to your clients.
  • John Blanche to stop being called an artist. Seriously. And for the love of all that is decent, comparing him to Hieronymus Bosch is... ugh, I can't even find a word for such travesty.
  • The Company to make more conversion parts. You did great job with, for instance, the Knights of the Blazing Sun packs. You can do it again. Personalizing an army is a great thing ans as the producer I think you should pay more attention to such things. It also has great marketing potential.
  • GW writers to stop using the phrase "Games Workshop hobby". It's not your property. You have not invented it. You are the potentate of it, that's undeniable, but did you ever hear Bill Gates calling computing "the Microsoft hobby"? Unless, to keep to the digital world, you want to follow the footsteps of Apple and Steve Jobs... please don't.
  • GW designers to stop with the nonsense in their projects - is the Old World really made of skulls and skulls alone? Does every terrain bit have a winged skull or a hammer chiseled into it? The architecture you come up with is already wacky, over-the-top and the unrealism should stop at that. Going further is just making your buildings look silly. Just look at the Skullvane Manse.
  • Games Workshop - start talking to your fanbase! And start listening to it! They are the money in your pockets, it's not just nice to talk to them, it's your damn obligation. Don't take any leaves out of the Vatican's book, being closed to 'the people' and doing only what you think is right gets you only mistrust and eventually you will suffer, in one way or another. If your fans agree that, for example, your paints are worse than XYZ, maybe you should look into it. Benchmark, take every opinion into view, be open, attentive and respond to what we, your customers, actually want from you. Stop trying to make us want what you put on sale, start making us a vital part in your decision-making process.

There we go. Part two is upcoming!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Savage orcs - legs, first batch

Surpised, aren't you? Don't worry, I'm not trolling you in any way, these are actually for my savage orc unit. Just a very... let's say "unorthodox" one.

I went for the 40k ork legs for very simple reasons - they are better cast than the fantasy ones and I got about ten pairs for free. Plus, they will make for a nice contrast with the torsos I have planned.

I have ten pairs finished at the moment. Thirteen to go. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Savage orcs - bases complete

...almost. I will add the clump foliage after the miniatures, I find it much better looking in the end.

And a shot from the back:

Expect a varied, mish-mash unit. Definitely don't expect "proper" savage orcs! :)

See you folks Friday, thanks for looking!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Product review - Blood in the Badlands

Welcome to another week. Holidays are nearly upon us and this release by Games Workshop could not, in a manner of speaking, be coming at a better time. Read on...

What is it?
Blood in the Badlands is a campaign that has been, apparently, played by the GW staff over the course of the current year. It is not a rules expansion the size of, for example, Storm of Magic. That said, it does have notable rules sections, but if you are looking purely for the rules you will be disappointed.

Scenarios and rules aside, it is essentially a very big piece of narrative that could easily appear in several issues of White Dwarf.

How does it look like?
The book is a hardback, a hundred or so full color pages. It's the same format as the new army books, the rulebook or the Storm of Magic book, making for a great look on the shelf. It doesn't have anything in the line of SoM's magic spinner or the like.

What's inside?
After a brief introduction to the publication we get to the description of the Badlands as a region of the Old World. Fable-wise, BitB is a very decent, solid source of information about the region and its places of interest. What is even better, some locations (like the Iron Rock) actually get their own rules in the campaign. A nice touch.

Then come the guidelines for playing the campaign yourselves. The plural here is well justified, as the optimal number of players oscillates in the region of seven to ten. To play the campaign you will need the Mighty Empires expansion (they recommend getting two copies in the book) or some other means of making a modular campaign map.

Sounds more and more like an elaborate commercial, hm? That was my impression as well...

The main body of the book is a report on how the campaign progressed. While nice to read on the toilet or in the bus, I don't think it warrantied such a big section to be devoted to it. I'm not really interested how some other people play. But for those of you who enjoy such things it's a brilliant read. Moreover, it's intermingled here and there with pieces of fiction and bits of background, making the reports quite enjoyable to peruse.

Before the report starts the armies are presented and I must say they don't look half bad. Throughout the book the miniatures painted by the Eavy Metal team are almost nonexistent - all you get are the armies of the involved players. Some color schemes are quite interesting and it's always enjoyable to see miniatures painted by someone other than the "masters".

As for the rules, to start with we get some for playing the campaign as a whole. These are really decent and play quite easily from the looks of it. The only thing that's actually bad is that everything rests on that last battle and the winner takes all - whoever wins that last scenario (and it's batshit crazy!) wins the campaign, which kinda defeats the point of playing for me...

The campaign rules have all kinds of little tasters like changing seasons (each with its own rules), pre-battle events, units gaining experience and so on. All these deepen the campaign play by a fair amount and look pretty darn enjoyable to play with.

We also get quite a few specific scenarios and some of them are very strange. I'm not really in a position to say they are great or terrible, they are just odd. Aside from the last one, which is insane (a seven person game played on two tables simultaneously). You will need the Storm of Magic ruleset to use some of them, however.

The two rules expansions are underground battles and sieges. Both sets are well-written, play very straightforward and clearly were quite thoroughly playtested. The scenarios provided for underground fighting, for instance, use H- or plus sign-shaped battlefields. I'm really curious about how they actually play, but from the looks alone they seem pretty fun.

Siege rules are much more straightforward and, to be honest, much easier to grasp than their previous incarnations. Along the lines set by SoM, you get an extra points allowance for siege equipment (some pieces of which are great, very characterful bits like sallies and undermines). They are designed to play fast and brutal, a trend established by the eighth rules edition and I'm glad GW sticks to it. And siege towers and rams are back - yay!

Who is it for?
Definitely gaming clubs and organized groups of players. The campaign rules are pretty open and there is nothing stopping anybody from adapting them to your own settings. If you can make the hexes for the map (this one is pretty important, the hex shape actually has a point in the rules) you are free to go without purchasing the Mighty Empires kit and I think GW purposefully made it so. The seasons can easily be stretched or condensed (in BitB each season lasts three campaign turns, making for a twelve turn campaign), some scenarios are actually designed to influence others.

Plus, the price tag is bearable as far as GW products go.

As I said before, if you are looking purely for rules, this product actually offers little of them. Siege rules could have easily been published in White Dwarf. But Blood in the Badlands is a clear-cut novelty product, made by fans and for fans. It is purely meant as a curio, a gem for your hobby shelf and a perfect gift for a Warhammer enthusiast, something they would probably not buy themselves.

Because of the above, it is hard for me to give Blood in the Badlands a star score. I can recommend this product as a gift, something to put on your holiday list and to hint to your gift-givers. Otherwise, your money could probably be spent on miniatures.

Unless you are a fan. Then there is no argument. If you are looking purely for anything Warhammer-flavored, you will be satisfied.

Thanks for reading. See you on Wednesday!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Savage orcs - bases WIP

Hello and welcome to my newest project. Not much to show today, just WIP shots of the bases for my savage orcs. Not all are done, obviously, and the tray is barely assembled. Still lots of work to be done.

 Here's a closeup of the strip bases. First time I've used these.

Some resin scenic bases are added. These are from Back to Base-ix, an Australian company. Yes, I have bases from literally the other side of the world.

Big stabba base. I know big stabbas are considered not worth the points, but since I don't plan on playing in any tournaments, this is not an issue. And they are just so characterful.

There you go. Have a great weekend folks!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mangler Squigs - done!

 They are finished at last. I really like how all the different colors play along on this piece. I was unsure to the last minute about the blue, but in the end it worked out pretty well.

I know there are manglers being released just days from now, but I must say I like mine better.
From the start I wanted to do something with leftover bits from other projects, and here is the result.
Not bad for leftovers, hm? I'm glad to be done with them nevertheless. On to the savage orcs, finally some proper muscle for this army!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Product review - Kromlech orc parts

Hello. Before we begin, I'd like to stress that the use of Kromlech-owned images is done without authorization and no challenge to their status or rights is intended.

My camera is simply broken and I was unable to take pictures myself, but I'm really anxious to drop my opinion on these kits by you.

A while ago I picked up some conversion bits from Kromlech, a Polish company specializing in such. Namely, I went after the orc parts. Here's a brief review of what I received.

Bare Orc Torsos

You get six per pack, two of each design. These are suitable for use with both, fantasy and SF miniatures. Don't be fooled by the bullet on the middle one, it can be very easily cut out or even painted as a tooth.

The sculpts are very decent, despite being just bare torsos, there is very convincing musculature. They fit the existing GW orc kits perfectly. As far as fabrication goes, there is one word I can use to make it justice - superb. On the six torsos I received there is literally not a single miscast - no air bubbles, no shrinkage, nothing of the sort. In fact, these are so well-cast there is barely any flash or mold line. Five out of five stars.

Kneeling Orc Legs
 Again, intended to use in both settings. You get three pieces in the pack.

The detail on these is incredible. You can see patches, some rough stitching, pockets, cloth creases and the like. Booths are iron-shod, with ankle straps and all manner of great detail. Every belt and boots design is different.

However, on the bits I received there are some miscasts. The "back" ankle (i.e. the lower one, on the kneeling leg) has some minor casting error. While easy to hide, it's still an error, I have to drop a star. Four out of five.

Running Orc Legs
Similarly, fitting fantasy and SF alike, There are no distinguishing details. Three pieces per pack.

And again, I was in awe of the amount of detail on these. Three different poses with boot treads sculpted, pants with flies, pockets, stitches... great, great stuff. They fit both the GW torsos and the Kromlech naked ones like a glove.

As far as casting is concerned, there's nothing special either way - no errors or bubbles, some typical flash. Nothing difficult to remove. Really, not a fault is to be found. Five out of five stars.


There is nothing more to say than how great these products are. Quality of the sculpts and the casting is very high, but even more importantly, these bits fill a void that desperately needed attention. No other company I know of, including of course The Company, makes such bits for orcs. With these, you can finally break the boredom that orc poses are as GW makes them.

The price is also very decent. Look at Kromlech's Ebay stroe and see for yourselves. Delivery is swift (but I also live in Poland, mind you), packaging is top notch.

And I saved the best for last.

I only purchased the six torsos. One pair of kneeling legs, one pair of running legs and a human head in some sort of samurai-style gas mask were all sent to me free. I shit you not.

There can be no other verdict - Kromlech gets five out of five stars from me. I will be returning to them often.

Thanks for reading, have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mangler squigs - the 'squigs'

...or rather spiders. Since before the start of this project it has been my intention to use spiders instead of squigs, to reinforce the forest theme and to use the miniatures I already have and not have to buy anything.

I painted the abdomens in a color not to be used anywhere else in the army to make them stand out as a different species of spider. They are supposed to be mangler squigs after all.
I also made the rest of their bodies as understated as possible to make the blue really pop. Once they are put together on the base along the shaman, I think they will look decent.

Now just to base them and the project is done. Time for some rank and file orcs!

Monday, November 21, 2011

On the reasons why I prefer plastics

Hello and welcome to another week! My camera has hiccups severe enough to warrant a trip to the service, so it's a perfect opportunity to make a rant (like I need one...). Today I want to share with you the reasons why I came to prefer the "new" over the "old".

I'm talking of course about the shift many companies made towards plastic and resin miniatures and accessories, driving more or less away from metal ones. Normally I'm a fan of the old ways and the tried and true, but in this case I found myself drawn more and more away from white metal and embrace the ever more familiar sprues of plastic goodness.

It all began when Games Workshop released their first ever plastic multi-part regiment sets. I was immediately interested (like, I suppose, the most of us) and picked up the Night Goblins and the Orc Warriors sets. These were the times before the Internet became as major a source of communication as it is today, and I've never been a follower of technology, so I had no way of checking upon the quality of these products beforehand.

What I saw gripped me right from the start. There were, for these times, so many options, so many parts, so many possibilities to assemble the miniatures I didn't know where to start. Of course, compared to what we see today these sculpts are quite low quality (and I'm still dying to see new plastic orc boyz...), but back then... Whew.

Moving on.

Why was it such a breakthrough? Because before these products hit, we had blisters containing three or four metal models, normally quite similar to one another. I did not like it at all, not to mention the huge price decrease for a full unit at that time. Twenty orcs in metal would set me back three or four times as much as twenty orcs in plastic. It was a time before I started working full time and such costs would make it simply impossible to enjoy my hobby. All in all, plastics won immediately.

It was also the time I still played games quite often. One of my worst pains were chipped paint, broken off parts and the similar. Plastics provided an immediate solution. They were so light that they would never damage under their own weight and due to their chemical make-up they actually absorb paint, making chips impossible and with good varnish they would stand any rough-and-tumble.

Years passed, more and more plastic kits began to surface. Not all were better: if you remember, for example, skaven Night Runners or the previous dwarf warriors kits you'll see what I mean. Some kits, like the gnoblars, are to this day a huge waste of material and a perfect example of how not to design a sprue. But all things considered, the plastic was becoming a medium of choice.

And I came to notice quality was going on par with quantity. The days of metals being more detailed and better sculpted than the plastics were gradually becoming history. If you managed to observe new waves of plastic kits you'd clearly see the company was in the process of learning the plastic how-to. They even fiddled with the composition of the material itself. But I was still unsure. I still hunted auctions and other second-hand means of acquiring old metal models.

Then the seventh edition hit, and along with it the Battle for Skull Pass set.

This was the final argument in favor of plastic models. What I saw in this kit was a wholly new quality of models, even for plastic ones. I've never suspected that one-piece miniatures could be so detailed. The mass production of this kit also made the models very cheap on the second-hand market.

When it comes to true, multi-part sets, the amount of parts and the way they are assembled takes converting and kitbashing to a whole new level. As a strong supporter of personalized armies these are the things I probably love most about the hobby. You simply cannot achieve this level of possibility with metal models.

As my last point, there's something else. Metal can be stripped and repainted over and over, which is good for learning. You cannot do the same with plastics, not to mention resin. This, in my opinion, makes plastic models actually more demanding: by not being so able to redo my work, I strive to make my models as good as I can on the first go. I can see how such approach can make me a better painter and ultimately a better hobbyist. This is the mindset with which I sat to my orc army and it is my hope I manage to pull it off.

There you have it, I hope you enjoyed. See you on Wednesday when, hopefully, I can show you some actual models.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mangler squigs - the shaman

While working on the arachnarok I remembered I'd left the shaman aside and decided to use him on this project. Having spiders instead of squigs gave a green light to adding someone to act as a guide or summoner. A spider whisperer if you will.
While I'm still under the impression of how much detail has been squeezed on such a tiny fellow, I'm not sold on his six eyes and eight limbs. Seeing him in the pictures I was sure the spider legs and the webs are artificially fastened to his back and that would be great. However...
...that's just not the case. You can see the legs literally grow out of the goblin's sides. I don't like this idea, it reeks of John Blanche and his "aesthetics". I was on the verge of cutting these straight out, but then I'd be stuck with the six-eyed head, which alone would look even worse. And I didn't want to lose the great headdress too.

That's it for today. The spiders are halfway done and once they are the whole gang is going to get comfy cozy on their base.

See you folks on Monday, have a great weekend!

Tutorial - brass etch fern

Hello there. Today I decided to have a look on how brass etch plants work and how you can use them on your bases, terrain and even the miniatures themselves.

What you need
  • The brass etch, obviously. I'll be discussing fern here.
  • Floral wire
  • Superglue
  • A pin vise or a similar means of holding your fern while you are working on it.
  • Clippers, pliers and paint.
Step one

Cut lengths of floral wire a bit longer than your plant leaves. You can use any wire you have around, but floral wire or plastic-coated paperclips work best - superglue has much better adhesion to plastic. Leave some wire as a means of holding the whole thing in a pin vise.

While mounted in the pin vise, bend the wire as the leaves tend to bend naturally.  The wire is of course your armature. To get it to bend more smoothly, use a round object as a jack, like a bottle, or even a big brush. It all depends on how big your plants are.

Step two

Cut the plants from the frame. Take your time and use a new blade. You want sharpness and no repetition while working with such delicate bits. Use various sizes of the fronds, don't stick to the same on a single bush, it will just look unnatural.

I actually primed the whole frame black before I did any work on it, but this is entirely optional, as you'll be priming the whole frond anyway.

Step three
Glue your fronds to the armature. Take your time and be patient. This is delicate work and it needs to be treated with care.

Don't glue the whole thing at once. Start with the base, let it properly set and see how far your frond goes. Clip your armature just a bit short. This goes a long way in hiding the wire.

If you have a CA glue activator, use it. It works wonders when a strong bond is needed fast.

Step four

Prime and paint! If you have an airbrush, you will never be more grateful to own it than on such projects. If you don't, by the time you get here you'll already know how gentle a thing you're working with, so again, take your time. Use the best varnish you can find!

Step five

Get your fronds out of the pin vise and use the bit you were holding them with as a mounting support. In the following picture, I actually drilled holes in the tree bit and glued the fronds in; the mounting is parallel to the base:

As a final word, don't try to save on quality of your brass etch. This stuff is pricey, but it is pricey for a reason. Get as much bang for your buck as is possible. I can't name any brands for you, but a trip to your local model store will solve your problems if you are unsure.

And look who came to visit while I was shooting these pictures for you:

Thanks for reading, we'll see each other on Friday!

Rebasing the arachnarok, part four - complete

Welcome to a new week. I know how everyone likes Mondays, so what's better to start a week with a completed project? Something you don't have to work on anymore?
Like so. Here is the finished spider, or rather its base. It's the same spider as before, I've only got one. It's the base that I have been working on I must say I'm happier with this one than the one I've originally made.
I love the Arachnarok Spider kit so much I can't put it into words. Besides being a very nice model, it is a clear statement by GW on how they are going to be making monsters from now on. And I like what I see.
With this version of the base I went for simplicity and natural looks. Hence the fern, the tree bits, lots of flock and of course the water pool. Projects as big as this one benefit immensely from bits and pieces not commonly seen and in my mind water is just that.
I also got hold on Gale Force Nine autumn clump foliage and I must say it works nice, breaking up the coloration of the base with its red and oranges. I know there are GF9 haters out there, but this product is really, really good.
I will also be adding this clump foliage to my other bases to further tie the army together by basing, something I feel has to be done on an army that is by definition as rag-tag and completely lacking organization as the orcs.
So here it is. On to the mangler squigs.

Thanks for looking and leaving feedback. See you on Wednesday!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mangler Squigs - the base

Hello again.

Today I want to show you my newest project, the mangler squigs. I know the models proper come out in December, but I started this before I knew they were actually making models for these. Moreover, I figured that I can easily make my own 'count-as' for something so random with the models I already have... the extra trees from the arachnarok kit. For anybody making any kind of forest
project - I sincerely recommend you pick these up from you favorite bits supplier. If you're not a fan of spider webs these can be easily cut away and I can't help thinking they made them like that on purpose. Mine of course still need work.

The tree is airbrushed and glazed. I think I finally managed to find a glaze formula that works. I really need somebody to show me how a glaze is supposed to look like; I'm the kind of person who learns by imitation and observation, much less from instruction.
The base is done with my usual basing scheme for the orcs. And I've just realized there is not a single orc in my army yet...
I also tried some highlighting on the ferns. It was actually more like shading - there is just one color I used here, namely Dark Angels Green. The center of each frond has simply more layers of paint. I find this effect very much to my liking.

That's a wrap for today. My country is actually celebrating Independence Day today and I'm off to celebrating as well. See you on Monday!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

On armies and themes

Welcome. I know it's late, but my day was so terribly idle and discomposed I only brought myself to updating now. I hope you can forgive me.

What I wanted to talk about today were armies and specifically themed armies; and let's face it, who does not do a themed army? Is it even possible to make an army that is a haphazard collection of miniatures from the same army list and still call it a playable force?

To me, theme is put in an army just by the sole fact of using a limited palette of colors throughout the force. It doesn't of course have to end here and it usually does not, but sometimes it's just that: an army is 'themed' by being painted by the same person, using the same techniques and the same style of basing, even if it's just sand and static grass glued to the bases. And this is fine.

Some of us go more or less further. Be it basing (the abundance of resin bases and basing products has made it very tempting to try), or unified color scheme (with armies like the Empire, the high elves, Bretonnia or even the vampire counts it is not only possible, but strongly suggested to make your force coherently dressed), or both, as is most often the case, very many gamers really sit down and think how their force is going to look like and what colors, techniques and materials they're going to need. And this is fine.

Still others really go nuts over their themes. I'm talking about naming their commanders, actually writing pieces of fiction about them or their armies and going insane over the conversions. If such people have the skills to match their plans, what you get in the end are forces that stick in any viewer's mind forever. And this is also fine.

However (you knew something was coming), there are some hobbyists who just can't stick with one fictional world at a time. Who mix Dungeons & Dragons with Warcraft, Middle-Earth with Westeros and the Imperium of Man with Narnia. And that is not at all fine.

Don't you catch my drift? Haven't you ever heard something like
I really wanted to style my dark elf force as the drow from the Underdark!
This is not OK. Warhammer is not a D&D setting nor does it have drow as you know them from Baldur's Gate or whatever. The races in our beloved game are, despite what haters will have you believe, quite well-established as far as fable is concerned and the world really offers plenty of scope to experiment and come up with a them that is purely your own. For the first time since a long time Games Workshop has not only acknowledged the existence of such old gems as Araby, the Kingdoms of Ind, Cathay or Nippon but actually seems to be giving the unexplored parts of the world a nod of approval. There is simply no explanation for such mixing of settings.

Or another gem:
Why don't I make my necron force steampunk-themed? With top hats! And whirlygigs for guns!
 Because  it's Warhammer 40.000 and it is not a steampunk setting. Nothing in my mind makes an effort less worthy than such things. Want to play steampunk (and with it being SO fashionable and 'in' right now, why wouldn't you? It's not that you by definition engage in escapist hobbies that tend to drift away from concepts of "fashion"... oh wait, you do!)? Then there are so many possibilities! SMOG 1808 is one, with miniatures that regularly put me into gorgeousness-induced coma. Or Dystopian Wars. Just not Warhammer. Warhammer is dark fantasy - and 40k is too by the way, given the literary definition of 'dark fantasy'. It has nothing to do with any other fantasy setting.

"But wait" - I hear the screams. - "Such things only prove how creative some people are"! And I can just answer "no". This is not creativity. This is striving to be "original" at any cost and has nothing to do with creativity. Being creative is being able to make something original and unique, but without breaking certain constraints and guidelines - in our case, the system's setting. Putting top hats on ancient, sinister synthetic life forms does not make for a creative effort. It just makes for a wasted effort. I'm sorry, but that's the harsh truth.

There. I know it was not a pleasant read but at least it has the benefit of being true to what I think. And I suppose I'm entitled to an opinion after being in the hobby for at least fifteen years.

See you on Friday!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rebasing the arachnarok, part three - water pool and more details


The rebasing project is going more smoothly than I'd imagined and this is the penultimate update on it. Remember the details I posted last week? Here they are 'applied':

They of course needed to blend into the base more smoothly, but that was minor work in comparison with the whole project. In addition, I was happy to see the pool apparently didn't need more than one or two layers of Still Water to look decent.

I'm thinking about adding some orange clump foliage to the base in very small pieces, to represent fallen leaves and dry scatter.If I manage to get some that is cheap I'll definitely give it a go.

In the meantime, thanks for looking and see you on Wednesday.