Sunday, 8 November 2015

Age of Sigmar: Stormcast Lord Celestant on Dracoth

Today I finished the last model of the Stormcast army from the Age of Sigmar starter set. This was the best model by a long way, and I'd been looking forward to painting it up!

This is a really nice miniature, literally dripping with detail! The Dracoth itself is a formidable mount, with lots of character, and the Lord Celestant is an awesome focal point for the army.

I made the very bad decision to build the model before painting it... This is something that I always try to avoid doing, but found myself doing with the Sigmar set. That made some areas of the model difficult to reach with my brush. I'd recommend you leave the rider off to avoid making the same error!

The cape is nicely sculpted and takes highlighting and layering really well.

The barding and other armour is simple to highlight with the new gold range. Overall, a great model that I'd definitely recommend.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Happy Halloween: Stormcast Lord Relictor

Halloween greetings to all, and in-keeping with the season I've today finished up a scary-faced Lord Relictor for the Stormcasts...

As with the other Stormcast sculpts, the Lord Relictor is nicely detailed. More than perhaps any other Sigmar starter miniature, this guy really resembles a Space Marine - and specifically a Chaplain! If you have even moderate conversion abilities he's a prime choice for a conversion; just replace that hammer with a crozius and off you go!

The other thing about this figure is that, once more, GW has gone nuts with spiky bits that will struggle to survive a few trips in the figure case, let alone a game... The icon and helmet are just covered in thin, spiky plastic components.

I should also note that this figure has tons of scrollwork on him - see below. I really don't like this; the scrolls carry lots of surface detail, iconography etc, which is a real pain to paint. You end up highlighting round characters and picking out tiny symbols. I much prefer the Space Marine-style scrolls and oath papers, which you can highlight as a component and then add your own fine detail.

I'm nearing the end of the Age of Sigmar Stormcasts now, and really burning out on these guys. When I'm done, I doubt I will be able to paint another gold figure for several months! (Which is fine, because I don't have a plan to paint any more gold armies anyway!)

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Age of Sigmar: Stormcast Prosecutors

Painting of the Age of Sigmar starter set continues, and I most recently completed the 3-man Prosecutor unit...

While I'm pleased, overall, with how this unit came out, they were actually very hard to paint! The basic armour configuration is the same as for the other Stormcast Eternal models, but the wings were an absolute pest to paint!

I am following the Age of Sigmar painting guide (as well as Duncan Rhodes' Youtube videos) but in hindsight I could have done a better job on these wings. I made extensive use of the Ceramite White undercoat to achieve a solid white coat, but that is still a difficult objective when the actual wing spines as so delicate.

My recommendation? Paint the wings a solid white with Ceramite White. Put down a gloss varnish and let it dry. Then use Lahmian Medium with a blue glaze (or just a thinned blue wash) and line the wings in: the gloss with encourage the paint to flow into the recesses. Go back and paint a matte varnish over the wings, and you're done.

Instead, I painted a mid grey over the wings; then went with Administratum Grey, then lined the wings in with a blue glaze, then built the colours up with Ceramite White... It was a slog!

These models also demonstrate the sheer impracticality of some of the Age of Sigmar miniatures. The wing spines are extremely thin and delicate: I dropped them a couple of times during painting and winced - expecting to see some damage... Being plastic, they have a springy flexibility but I can see these parts being damaged going in and out of storage cases, let alone played with!

So that's the Prosecutors done, which took a little longer than I expected. That leaves me with the (amazing) Lord-Celestant and the Lord-Relictor...

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Age of Sigmar: Stormcast Retributors

Some more Age of Sigmar today - I finished off the three Retributors in the box. Each is armed with a big hammer, and they look and feel an awful lot like Space Marine Terminators...

These miniatures have lots of nice surface detail, and painting the gold was a real pleasure. They do, unfortunately, have really delicate spiky bits around the head pieces. Even using KR foam cases and being really careful while playing with them, I can't see those pieces lasting very long.

This shot shows the much-maligned backpack pieces, which demonstrate the relationship between the Retributors and Space Marines. This is pretty weird: there's really no reason for these parts!

Still, nice models altogether and I enjoyed painting them.

Gold burn-out is now fast approaching, but I'm pushing on through to get these models done in one go. I've started undercoating the Prosecutors and the final characters models, so the end is in sight...

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Knight Models: Nite Owl

A slight digression from painting up Age of Sigmar today, mainly caused by the exasperation I'm experiencing on the Prosecutors - but that'll be a story for another post...

Today I took some time to photograph Nite Owl, of the Watchmen, for the Batman Miniatures Game, and here are the results:

I found him particularly difficult to photograph, so please excuse the crappy pictures. The model is sufficiently dark to cause problems with the white balance.

Regardless of that, Nite Owl is a superb model to paint! He has an amazing level of detail (especially on the "scaled" bodysuit) and the cape is really dynamic. The sculpt is also sufficiently different to Batman. I always felt that would be difficult, because Nite Owl really reminds me of the Dark Knight.

This shot gives a nice view of the body armour. I really liked painting the variety of browns on this miniature; a colour that I don't use that often.

That means I'm actually building up a pretty decent Watchmen team: having painted up Silk Spectre (II), Nite Owl and Rorschach. Based on currently released models, that leaves Ozymandias and the Comedian. I'm still hoping for Dr Manhattan... 

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Age of Sigmar: Finished Stormcast Eternals & some thoughts on the new game...

I recently managed it finish the Liberators from the Age of Sigmar boxed set, and was very pleased with how they turned out. 

These were some very fun models to paint. The new golds from GW are a pleasure to work with; the Retributor-Auric-Liberator triumvirate is awesome for layering bright golds. I didn't go as far as using Runefang highlights, because that as a technique has never worked for me, but these golds really scream.

But enough about the Stormcast Liberators. What about the game?

I'll make clear that I've never been a WFB player, and so the "transition" to Age of Sigmar hasn't been as jarring as it otherwise might've been. I don't have boxes of painted models for a system that is no longer (officially) supported and so came to Sigmar with an open mind. I was impressed by the models, fancied painting up those gold dudes, and wanted something easier than 40k. I actually wanted a game system that I could play with my children, who are always interested in painting and my hobbies. The 4 page rules system seemed a great start to get them onboard...

I don't dislike Age of Sigmar. Actually, I want to like it. But it doesn't really achieve what GW wants it to, unfortunately, and the starter set is a missed opportunity. 

Here's the rundown on Age of Sigmar...
  • Although the rules are short and brutal, the game is actually quite fun. It's a nice tabletop skirmish game. The rules are straightforward, and my son picked them up every quickly (he's only 7!). The core interactions are easy to master, although don't have the depth of any earlier system;
  • Some rules just don't make sense to me. Why, oh why, do we measure from the model not base? This is confusing and pointless. "Combat range" - rather than being base-to-base contact, which is surely the easiest method of measurement - is 3".... Again, why? To new players, this will appear strange and cause arguments.
  • The rules are only 4 pages, but the special rules on the other hand... To say that AoS has a 4 page rulebook is completely misleading. It has a 4 page core rule set, yes, but that means most other rules have been ported over onto the new "Warscrolls". This, very quickly, leads to a plethora of rules being found on the unit entries: as with 40k, you end up flipping back and forth between unit entries to check rules... This is disappointing: we're almost immediately back to a situation where constant special rules and unit enhancements overrule or supplement the streamlined rules system...
  • You say like re-rolls...? This is a general bugbear of mine, but GW loves re-rolls... For new players, this is really frustrating and hard to remember. "Yes, kid, you can re-roll your to hits of 1, but not your to wounds, got it?" Again, it's the reliance on special rules which slows the game down...
  • No points values just doesn't work when your only objective is to annihilate the other side. This is the biggest shift in the rules system, and something almost everyone with an interest in AoS already knows: there is no points system. That is an alien concept to me, but hey, I'll roll with it. That might work if there was, for example, a reliance on objective-based missions: meaning the skilful player could get "under the radar" to achieve mission success. However, the basic game includes no missions other than total annihilation. 
  • Why did GW include terrain rules in the basic rules set? This is a weird one! GW included some basic "mystery terrain" rules in the main rules card, but no missions? I find that a strange choice, given that almost all Citadel terrain now has specific rules sheets...
  • There aren't any Warscrolls sheets (or cards) in the set. For a beginner having unit stats on cards or separate sheets would be really helpful. Instead, the unit stats are included in the 96-page background book. I know that this keeps costs down, and I know that I can print most of these off via the GW website, but considering the avalanche of special rules across all units - wouldn't it have been easier to just put everything on unit cards?
  • The models are beautiful, but they are not for beginners. I know I said I'd concentrate on the rules, but I can't help mentioning the models again. They really are nice miniatures; the Lord Celestant on Dracoth is fantastic. But as starter miniatures? They just don't work. Perhaps I'm being unfair on this point, but so many small and delicate pieces are attached to the sprue that to even get everything clipped off the frame can risk damaging bits! I had a couple of mistakes myself, and ended up doing repairs with greenstuff. I can't imagine how tough it would be for a younger, inexperienced hobbyist to build these guys... Whilst it's great to see GW move away from basic snap-fit pieces, I can't help but wonder whether it might've been a better decision to go with some more basic models in this set.

Those are my views; I hope I don't sound to negative, because I really do like the game - but I think it could've been a lot better. I'm just not really sure who or what AoS is for.

Still, the models are great, and I'm committing the next few weeks to get through this starter set: next up will be the Retributors...   

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Age of Sigmar: Work in progress Stormcast Eternals

I've never been a Warhammer Fantasy Battle player, and to be honest I'm not a huge fan of the fantasy genre in general. I have a fairly limited amount of painting and playing time, and there doesn't seem to be enough to really satisfy my 40k urge: the result being WFB has never been my focus.

But when WFB was shelved by GW, and the new Age of Sigmar set came out, I was tempted to try it out.

The models in this set are really amazing...

There's been a lot of on-line buzz that the Stormcast are basically fantasy Space Marines ("Sigmarines" is the new label), and I can definitely see this. These dudes have that chunky aesthetic in common Marines, which isn't a bad thing but does perhaps reflect the 40k-isation of the new fantasy game. GW now has two very narrow products: 40k, and 40k fantasy!

I wanted to try painting these guys out because I've never been good with gold. So I went with the GW painting method (even going so far as to buy the painting guide!), and I think that the new gold paints really work. I used the Retributor Armour spray as a base, then washed with Reikland Fleshshade, then layer Auric Gold and Liberator Gold on top. Liberator and Retributor are extremely nice paints, and they really shine when applied carefully.

These guys aren't varnished yet, but I will likely go with a satin varnish rather than the usual Dullcote, to preserve the armour shine.

I have four more of these guys in progress, and hoping to get them painted up quite soon. The other models in the set are spectacular: the Lord-Celestant on Dracoth is a really nice piece in particular.

As for the set being a "starter set"? It really isn't. These models are not snap-fit, and some of them require quite advanced skill to remove from the sprue and put together. There are so many small, delicate details... I wonder whether GW should've gone with something a bit more basic for the starter set; perhaps with less spikes and the like. The Prosecutor models are again amazing, but I just cannot see them lasting more than a couple of games. The wing spikes are just too delicate...

And the game itself? I'll do a post on that shortly....