Sunday, June 26, 2011

Creating a Portable Display Base: Planning

One of my favorite parts of the miniature hobby is creating display bases.  They tell a story and set the tone for the army.  Just like basing a miniature, it really pulls the painting together.  I've created dozens of display boards over the years and every time I learn a new trick on how to improve on them.

Usually I create a large board that is 24" by 30".  Why you ask?  Well I created a rolling beer cart (out of 2x2's with a privacy curtain) so I can wheel my board around at conventions.  Plus it hides a cooler for liquid refreshments.  The size is big, but it accommodates multiple armies that way.  I just create a topper that goes over the top.  Here's an example of a couple of boards that I've done this route.

Now these are great for rolling around but are too big to place on top of a gaming table, and are not able to make a road trip, let alone on a plane.  Plus for a weekend tournament at a local store, they're a lot of work to get out.  So I need to have something more then a sanded board, but not too elaborate.

First things first, it's important to sketch out the size.  For the Nova Open, I will be flying out to DC, so it'll need to be able to be checked on a piece of luggage.  Well my last big 29" bag broke on my trip to Italy so I picked up a new one.  I can comfortably fit a 24" by 18" board without any issues, as long as it isn't too high. 

The "New Bag" with both wheels working!
I also want to keep it light (for travel and moving between tables at the convention) so using light materials is key.  1/8" MDF is sufficient strength to act as a base as long as I glue 3/4" to an inch of foam on the top.  That willact as my base.  I then sat down and sketched out a rough idea on what I'd like to create.  You can see how I created the first board at this post: Imperial Suns Display Board.  The board can't be too high so I still have room to pack clothes, but I need some change in height otherwise it ends up being too boring.  I love the space marine statues, they make great guards.  I also found a roll of cobblestone rubber matting on sale at a craft store after the Christmas holiday (for the holiday miniature villages) that would make a great path.  I'm a huge fan of water effects, so a little river with a bridge might do the trick.

Things I try to take into account while making a portable display board:
- Weight.  Lightweight materials are key.  I've created projects before out of plaster, and it's no fun hauling from table to table or transporting
- Durability.  Protecting the edges of the board is big since it will get dinged up.
- Backdrop. I need to have the board increase in height as it goes to the back to create a visual backdrop
- Versatility. For this board, the marine statues will be removable so I can use it with other winter themed boards for either 40k, fantasy, or even a different gaming system.

Yes, I'm not a great sketch artist!
I set out to the local crafts store and hardware store to pick up my supplies.  While shopping for more hot glue sticks, I found some wooden trim that will make a great edging to the foam.  I'm probably the only adult male in the hobby store - I can only wonder what they think I'm working on when I show up with a odd dried flower arrangement (for basing). 

everything but the cobblestone
Now that I have my supplies assembled I can begin the fun part of the project... creation!  I'm traveling to
the east coast Monday through Thursday so I'll need to put the project on hold.  It's going to be a whirlwind tour of Baltimore, Long Island, Jersey & Manhattan.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Nova: Booked ticket, but changing armies

It has been an interesting 48 hours.  I frantically spent the last two days trying to assemble everything for a 2k dark eldar list to get a game in today.  Well, about 1:30 in the morning last night, while trying to stay awake I managed to step on a ravager.  Yes, crushed the sucker.  It's salvageable, but I'll need an entire new sail assembly since it smashed beyond being able to hold the side gunners.  After that I threw in the towel and came to the game today with a pseudo assembled army. 

I loaned a friend of mine my imperial guard list, full of chimeras and he proxied hydras and vendettas.  Needless to say, it was an uphill battle for the dark eldar.  I made a good showing, but in the end I was wiped off the board.  The 3 man trueborn squads were MVP's, they got a ton of downrange shots and had to be ignored in the threat priority.

In earlier news, I did book my ticket to Nova, the 40k tournament and was finally able to use some frequent flier miles to get the flights taken care of!  So I'm officially in.

So back to getting my butt kicked... it made me realize something.  In 2 months with a hectic work travel schedule, there is no way I could realistically get 2k Dark Eldar painted while getting quality practice games in.  I just would end up being frustrated all weekend long at the convention as I make a lot of learning mistakes.  Plus as seen by my crushing of the Ravager, dark eldar don't seem like they travel well with all the spiky bits.

Which leads me to, what army should I take?  I have Tau & Templar, which are pretty rough around the edges.  I also have three of the more popular armies: Blood Angels, Space Wolves, and Imperial Guard.  Now that I think about it, I have a pretty decent ork army from pulling together the gladiator list for Adepticon.  In the end I think I'll go with old faithful, my Imperial Suns (vanilla space marines).  I'm sure everyone is tired of seeing all the popular armies and I honestly haven't had the chance to get this army out very often. 

To make a decent 2k list, it'll mean a little list tweaking and adding a couple of units.  I think in the end I'll have a much more enjoyable experience playing the tournament and I can spend the next few months painting the Dark Eldar at a nice pace rather then rushing things.

Here's the list I'm thinking about bringing.

HQ: Librarian in terminator armor with storm shield, powers: null zone & vortex of doom

Elite: 5 Assault Terminators in Land Raider Crusader with Multimelta and heavy armor
Elite: Ironclad Terminator with heavy flamer and hunter-killer missile
Elite: Ironclad Terminator with heavy flamer and hunter-killer missile

Troop: 10 tactical marines with lascannon & meltagun, sergent with combi-melta in rhino
Troop: 10 tactical marines wiht lascannon & meltagun in a razorback with twin lascannon
Troop: 7 scouts with sniper rifles and missile launcher, all with camo cloaks

Fast: 3 Attack Bikes with multimeltas

Heavy: Vindicator with siege shield
Heavy: Thunderfire cannon
Heavy: Predator with autocannon and sponsoon heavy bolters

It's a fairly balanced list.  Perhaps a little light on the troops, but lots of threats.  I love the two ironclads working in tandem.  I have a lot of armor 13 & 14 against down range shots.  The land raider works as a great screen for the vindicator, attack bikes and ironclads. 

Here's what I'll need to do to prepare this for the tournament:
- Assemble and paint the vindicator.  I especially want to have fun with some freehand scene painted on the siege shield
- Assemble and paint the predator
- Fix one of the assault terminators, the old metal banner broke off.  Time for a super heroic banner to replace it!
- Repair the tech marine (fell between games and got smashed up)
- I would also like to make nice craters for my vehicles for the 6 result on the damage table.
- Some sort of travel display board.

I'll be sure to post progress and take lots of photographs.  I'll mix in the dark eldar, so no worries on that!  I almost got shiny object syndrome and picked up some tomb kings over the weekend... but that'll have to wait!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

2k Dark Eldar List for Nova

I'm leaning towards playing in the Nova.  Just need to make sure my buddy Jeff is a go, and I think I'll book my ticket.  Here's my first stab at the 2k list I'm going to bring.  Yeah, it's spamtastic, but it brings a ton of firepower.

HQ: Haemonculus with hexrifle (he gives a pain token to the bike squad then sits back in an empty venom)

Elite: 3 Trueborn with 2 Dark Lances in a Venom with 2 Splinter Cannons (trueborn deploy outside the vehicle)
Elite: 3 Trueborn with 2 Dark Lances in a Venom with 2 Splinter Cannons
Elite: 3 Trueborn with 2 Dark Lances in a Venom with 2 Splinter Cannons

Troop: 8 Wyches with shardnet and Hektrix with agonizer.  All with haywire grenades.  In a Raider with Aethersails
Troop: 8 Wyches with shardnet and Hektrix with agonizer.  All with haywire grenades.  In a Raider.
Troop: 5 Kabalite warriors with blaster in Venom with 2 Splinter Cannons
Troop: 5 Kabalite warriors with blaster in Venom with 2 Splinter Cannons
Troop: 5 Kabalite warriors with blaster in Venom with 2 Splinter Cannons
Troop: 5 Kabalite warriors with blaster in Raider with flickerfield (used as a screen)

Fast: 9 Reaver Jetbikes with arena champion with agoniser.  3 Heat lances.

Heavy: Ravager with three dark lances
Heavy: Ravager with three dark lances
Heavy: Ravager with three dark lances

That's 12 Splinter Cannons, 18 dark lances, 4 Blasters, 3 Heat lances, and a bunch of splinter rifles.

My Wyches are more of a clean up crew then anything.  They should help finish off stragglers and do a little tie up of a unit.

Here are my big questions on the list:

- Will the jebikes in a big blob be worth it?  With feel no pain they should have some more survivability
- What does the Haemonculus do after handing off the pain token to the bikes?
- Do I need more of a close combat punch, or get rid of the wyches altogether and go strictly firepower
- What do I do if I go second?
- Kill points... just laugh and say I'm going to lose that mission?
- I basically haven't upgraded my vehicles, does it merit dropping something to get some additional protection?
- How do the minimum trueborn squads work, is the 3 man squad silly?  I have a feeling I'm just going with target saturation here.  I figure if they're in cover they have about as good of a shot surviving as a direct hit to a vehicle.

Things to think about!  Now the big question is if I can get all this assembled and painted in 2 months :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thinking of Going to Nova? 2k painted in 2 months?

I always am a fan of a challenge, there is nothing like painting with a goal in mind to get things done  How crazy is it for me to try playing in the NOVA Open on August 27th?  I would need to get 2,000 points of Dark Eldar painted in time, and it would be nice to actually get some practice games in beforehand as well.

If I had the core of my army painted by then, it'll give me some experience to try it in a competitive event and see what I like and what I don't before Adepticon.  Plus with the ability to field a 2k list, I essentially could bring two Adepticon legal 1k lists.  The other added benefit is that I'll be done painting by the end of August and then can focus on the display board as well as tweaking and practicing the list.

The downside is I won't have a display board that would be able to fly with me to the event in time (outside of a sand/flock board).  Plus I'm figuring this will be about a $600 trip with all expenses included.... decisions, decisions.

Either way, the prospect of 8 competitive games and a deadline to get my project mostly competed is compelling.  Something to think about!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Proxy DE Beasts & Lots 'O Assembly

I had a productive weekend of hobbying, and did a ton of assembly.  Between Friday and last night, I assembled:

- Three Ravagers
- Raider
- 10 hellions
- Razorwing Jetfighter
- 4 "Beasts"

I also finished painting the venom pictured in the previous post.  While painting the three ravagers I struggled with how I'd like to go about doing the beast packs.  Problems I have with the current DE beasts are they cost a ton, I can't stand the razor flocks, and being metal they're a pain in the ass.  I thought of a great substitute in the mean time for beasts.  For the Clawed Fiend, why not a not-so-freaky Spawn, and for the Khymera, I'll use the undead fantasy dire wolves.  They looked like they are fresh from someone's nightmare and plastic! 

As for the razorwing flocks, I really struggled.  The bats are pretty lame in the GW line, so I scoured the Chicago Battle Bunker for ideas.  I settled on the flying ripper swarms from forgeworld.  You get 9 of those nasties for $28.  It's not cheap, but by putting about 3 to a base, it's still cheaper then the metal one pose birds, plus they look way cooler.  I just need to figure out how to modify them a little bit to look less tyranid.

I also started up on the three ravagers.  I'm going to go with the hull and sail first, then do all the gunners and crew at once.  Sunday I was able to get the exhausts and chain done, and the first coat of the base metal color for the plating.  I'm not sure if doing three at once is such a smart idea, I might go insane with how tedious it'll get.  It's funny how the hobby turns into a job at times.

Finally I got to the Razorwing Jet.  What a cool model.  It ended up being a little smaller then I expected, but went together smooth (for the most part).  The only trouble I had was that the two hull pieces had to be held for awhile to keep flush and not pop a part.  I think the engine exhausts put a little pressure on the plates.  It was pretty cool how they gave the option for all three missile types.  I decided to just go with the mono missiles since I like the look.  You could probably magnatize them but I don't think many people will really care.  More then likely they'll all get fired at the same time so I don't think I'll need to keep track of them like I do with the hunter killer missiles on my loyalst armies.

This will be a realtively light travel week for me, just Atlanta Monday/Tuesday.  Should be another good week of hobby.  I'd love to get the hulls and sails done on the ravagers.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Finished Venom Painted

Just finished up my first Venom.  I have to say this kit was a joy to paint.  Since my future venoms will probably be carrying either trueborn or warrior squads, I'm going to swap future crews with the raider kit.  This week I'll work on the two kits and provide feedback with how the swap goes.  I think the main gunner should be able to be interchanged.

The rest of the week I will work towards at least assembling a starter 1850 force.  I just finished up assembling three dark lance ravagers.  I'll try to paint them all at once.  I'm really looking forward to picking up the razorwing kit.  It really struggles against the pure awesomeness of ravagers, but I think it could prove to be an interesting distraction.  We'll see!

I'm trying to also think about how I'll make some beast packs.  The Khymara kit is pretty sweet but I really don't like the razorwing.  Any ideas on models to substitute?  I need to keep to the GW line to be legal in our tournaments.  Otherwise I may just end up green stuffing them.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Inspirational Dark Eldar: Rant in E Minor

I recently stumbled upon another blog that just blew me away in how he paints his Dark Eldar.  It's really making me rethink my choice of going with this army as a "fast paint" rather then taking my time like I do on armies like my Imperial Suns.  I digress...

Please check out Rant in E Minor.  His Trueborn are absolutely stunning.  If this doesn't make you want to get into Dark Eldar strictly for the models, you have a problem.

Needless to say, I'll be following this blog on a regular basis. 

This Saturday I've decided to scrap the whole crazy idea of taking foot Templar and go a little easier on myself and do a balanced Vanilla Marine force.  1,500 just works so much better with that.  Hopefully by the next AWC tournament I'll have the Dark Eldar ready to at least make a decent showing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Black Templar List: All Infantry?

I'm playing in a local tournament this weekend at 1,500 points (so used to 1,750 and 1,850) and I figured I would try something and dust off an old army.  Now that the Templar have gotten a little boost with the FAQ, my assault terminators are even more nasty.  Only if I had more storm shields painted up!  I thought it might be fun to do an all infantry list.  I'm going to get a practice game in tonight, we'll see how it goes.

Here's the crazy list I'm thinking about bringing at 1,500 points.

HQ: Emperor's Champion with the all-so-fun preffered enemy vow
HQ: Chaplain with bolt pistol & melta-bombs with 3 cenobite servitors
HQ: Chaplain with bolt pistol & melta-bombs with 3 cenobite servitors

Elite: 10 assault terminators with 7 twin claws, 3 TH/SS.  All with furious charge (wish I had more TH/SS)

Troop: 10 initiates with BP/CCW, one melta, one powerfist.  10 neophytes with BP/CCW
Troop: 6 initiates with BP/CCW, one melta, one powerfist. 4 neophytes with BP/CCW, drop pod.
Troop: 5 initiates with bolters, one lascannon
Troop: 5 initiates with bolters, one lascannon

This could be a huge disaster, but it should be fun.  The two giant infantry blobs put my opponent in a situation, the minute they take one casualty the chaplain with the servitors allow a d6" with reroll +3" move towards any unit (chaplain allows unit to go towards any enemy, not just the closest).  With the addition of the run rule, they should be able to zip accross the board pretty fast. 

I'm not seeing a ton of long range infantry firepower outside of guard and venom dark eldar, and we surprisingly don't have a ton of that in our area. 

The infantry blob and the terminator squad straight up murder hordes - orks and tyranids don't stand a chance.  I'd get killed against an extreme mobile list like SM bikes and will be extremely frustrated against the eldar air-cav.  Unfortunately the two lascannons are hamstrung with the "shoot the closest" rule, and since I'm not bringing a commander, I'll need a roll of a 7 or less to shoot things far out. 

I need to figure out on the drop pod rule for Templars.  I think they still start coming in on turn 2, and not automatic on turn 1 like normal marines.  I thought it might help out a little to get an additional squad out at hard to reach parts of the table. 

My big choice may be to say screw the two lascannon squads and put another infantry blob on the table.  I could probably field an additional 20 man squad by tweaking some things and have the emperor's champion lead it.  

Either way, it'll be a good change of pace to bring this list. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Progress on Venom Painting

Yesterday I worked some on a few wyches and picked up the new venom kit at the Chicago Battle Bunker.  I have to say, that this venom kit is pretty sweet.  It went together without any problems and has been painting up easily.  To make things simple, I detached the riders and gunner from the venom for priming and ease of painting. 

The great thing about the kit is that there are multiple options to make additional vehicles unique.  The railing around the back side has two different options, and I like the fact there are two different canopies.  My only downside is that I'll more then likely be running warriors or trueborn in my venoms.  I'll have to use the raider crew on the next venom I make and swap out these wyches for the raider.  I think they're almost a perfect swap.

I decided to tackle the venom first and that was how far I got tonight.  I finished up the hull and underside, and have yet to do the banner poles, guns, and the driver.  I put a clear coat on the hull to keep from smudging and giving it that extra gloss for the armor.  The whole time I was painting it I kept thinking of the spaceship from Naboo on the Star Wars movies!  I'm really looking forward to painting the dark eldar flyer!

Tomorrow I should be able to knock out the crew and the finishing touches on the venom.  Very nice model, I love it.

Next Saturday I'm playing in a 1,500 point tournament.  I'm thinking of going a little old school and either bringing out my Black Templar or Tau.  I'd be great to be able to get some practice games in with the Dark Eldar, but there is no way I'll be even close to getting anything ready, even if I crammed every night to get a three color minimum.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Back in the Hobby Saddle!

It's almost like I've been a drug addict, getting the itch to paint some miniatures and play some games!  Today after doing some work around the house, I'm going to head on down the Chicago Battle Bunker and get my paint on!
It's crazy how addicting this stuff is and how taking almost a month off has been torture.  I've fooled around with the Dark Eldar skin tone some and I've come to the conclusion I've put way too much contrast in the muscle tones so I'm going to strip out the purple wash step.  Additionally, I want to seperate the skin from the purple armor so I'll use exclusively blue washes and keep them mild.  Pictures to be posted tonight as I finish up some infantry

For once, I won't be traveling for work this week, so it's time to break out the brushes.  I have a 1,500 point tournament next weekend that I'd love to bring my dark eldar to, but there is no way I'll even be close.  I think the orks need some non-gladiator games under the collective belts. 
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