Thursday, 25 July 2013

Honoured Imperium

Today I finished some scenery that I've had sitting around for a while - the Honoured Imperium set....

This is a nice boxed set from GW, priced at £18, which includes three separate themed scenery pieces for use in Warhammer 40,000.

I went with a muted scheme, using weathering powders and drybrushing to paint up these pieces rapidly.

The shattered Imperial eagle piece will make for some nice difficult terrain. It'll easily hold a whole tactical squad!

The main event of this set is the Space Marine statue, which now has it's own rules in the big rulebook (as an Imperial Statuary). This was painted with standard GW metallics, again lots of drybrushing, then finished with a Hawk Turqoise glaze to achieve a verdigris effect.

The verdigris is most obvious on the fur cape; I actually went back of some spots with the drybrushing to tone down the verdigris, as after the first wash it looked a bit too bright.

The third scenery piece is the smallest, and probably won;t do much in your games. It's nice to have as an extra, and was very quick to paint up.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Review: Codex Farsight Enclaves

This weekend saw the release of Games Workshop's newest supplement book - Codex: Farsight Enclaves. This is a variant army for Codex: Tau Empire, and the second release in a proposed line of supplementary army books (the first being Codex: Iyanden).

Price and availability
Firstly, the book is available only in electronic format at the present time. It can be ordered in epub or mob format from Black Library (at £19.99), or in iBook format from the iBook or iTunes stores (at £24.99). The print copy will be released in October. This review will focus solely on the iPad version.

So what do you get for the extra cost? The iPad version is, in my view, worth an extra cost. It includes clickable images which can be expanded to full screen, great for showing off 'Eavy Metal paintjobs. It includes fully rotatable imagery. Most importantly, it also allows you to click links which then include summaries of the actual rules (for example, you can click a character's name and it will link to the full stats, and include summaries of any special rules that the character also has). I understand that the Android versions don't do this, and are basically scanned copies of the book.

I won't go into a lot of detail here, but suffice to say the book includes the usual sections on fluff (history of Farsight, major battles, etc). Nicely written but standard GW fare: the sort of writing I would only read from GW. I still wonder why they don't draft in some Black Library authors for some of this stuff?

There are, of course, some lovely miniatures photographed at war. A variety of "Farsight-type" armies are featured, showing lots of colour schemes. I liked this over the fairly-neutral Tau photos (in which virtually every figure has the Tau ochre scheme).

There is a new wargear section and some rules for running Farsight armies (more on this below), then some (completely out of place) Cities of Death stratagems (which apparently Iyanden also had), and finally some Altar of War missions (recreating key battles in Farsight's history).

But I didn't buy this book for fluff, did I? I bought it for battlesuits...

Rules, army list and wargear
This is what people really want this book for: the Farsight variant army list.

And yes, it does deliver: you can take crisis battlesuits as troops. This was predicted as soon as the book was revealed, and this is what makes a Farsight Enclave different to a normal Tau army. The dream of having a super elite, super shooty army capable of fitting into a single Kaiser Rushforth storage case could be a reality!

But this section also disappoints. That is pretty much the extent of the special rules. True, there are a handful of extras: you must take bonding knives on all units where there is the option to do so (which, to me at least, seems to deter you from taking Fire Warriors and Pathfinders - they start to become prohibitively expensive if you're taking max strength units), you get some custom wargear, and you get  a (weird) HQ choice called "The Eight". But this is all minor tinkering really, and doesn't change significantly how you'd play your army.

The wargear section has a couple of interesting choices, but they are ridiculously expensive pointswise. Some of these are very unreliable - such as the Seismic Defibrillator Node, which looks like a lot of fun until you realise that when used you have to roll a dice (on a 1 it doesn't work), and it's oneshot only. The signature gear replaces the usual signature systems from the standard Codex: Tau Empire. Therefore, you have to make an important choice in deciding to go with this army over the standard Tau list - access to juicy wargear like Iridium armour is lost...

The Eight (special characters) are interesting, but weird weapon combinations and high costs will again see them fielded rarely. I was most interested in the Riptide independent character! However, the rules on the use of these guys are very woolly - it isn't clear whether you can use them instead of Farsight's bodyguard, or you can use them without Farsight. I would prefer the latter interpretation, but I think that the former is probably correct. The rule is very badly written.

Finally, the army has some minor restrictions: you can't take Shadowsun or Aun'Va. This is an example if the list being "unimaginatively permissive" in my view.  GW seems desperate to allow you to take everything in every army these days, whilst simultaneously describing how you should be telling a story with every game that you play. This extends to allowing you to take Ethereals in your Farsight army, which is explicitly discussed as being a representation of a historic Farsight army.

All of this might make it sound like I didn't like this book, which would be wrong. It's a nice addition to the Tau codex, and I will likely be building a Farsight Enclave army in the coming months. However, it always comes back to value: the book is simply not worth £24.99 for a page of additional rules and some nice pictures.

I don't play Eldar, but I've seen people commenting on the cost of Codex: Iyanden and the same arguments go for Codex: Farsight Enclaves. There is not enough variation on the core army, especially when the trademark character for this army is included in the main codex, to justify a separate book. Really, adding a box below Farsight's entry in the main codex which read "A primary detachment which includes Commander Farsight can take Crisis Suit Teams as Troops instead of Elites", would've more or less achieved the same goal of having an all-suit army...

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Some more Ravenwing bikers

Well, after finishing the Tyranid project I had so much real-life work to do that I actually took a little break from painting. This is nice to do occasionally when you have a high-volume paintload, and when you get back to painting it is far more enjoyable.

Today I finished off a few more Ravenwing bikers. These are for my own personal project, and are painted to a strictly tabletop standard (I'm going to be keeping these as a playable army).

First up is an attack bike with multimelta - one of three bikes to provide medium-range heavy support...

(As ever, I've noticed a couple of things to correct on this picture - why do I never noticed these things until after I've taken the photo!?!)

Second, I finished off the remaining three regular bikers. These Marines are all armed with plasma guns - I'd like to have taken the glowing coils a bit further, but chose to go with this basic approach.

I only have another attack bike, two more speeders and then Sammael to go before the whole army is finished.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

A blast from the past: Leading Edge Aliens

I was recently cleaning out my painting room, when I uncovered some very rare and nostalgic miniatures...

"I got multiple signals, closing!"

"They're coming out of the goddamned walls!"

I should add that these guys were painted many, many years ago, and hence don't demonstrate my current painting level. I still love them! These are the best alien sculpts ever made, and really reflect the feel of the Aliens movie.

Some favourites...

These were sculpted by Leading Edge Games - an 80s gaming and miniatures outfit who picked up lots of movie licences and produced some reasonable RPGs as well. These were the days when "boxed set" meant something more than a cardboard sleeve - the alien figures came in plastic cases with a full foam inlay!

I have a couple of sets - the attacking aliens set, and also the "Colonists' Last Stand". In that box, I also found a couple of other figures I must've had some plan to use in an aliens game...

The astronaut definitely didn't come with the set, and neither did the svelte-looking predator...

I think that these are Denizen miniatures, but don't know for sure. they fit nicely scale-wise anyway.

I also had a sizeable Colonial Marine collection, again collected over the years, and perhaps I'll dig that out for oldtimes sake as well!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Tau: Se'cea sept Fire Warrior team

After finishing the Tyranid project, I decided that I wanted to make something for myself. I'm still battling away on a small Ravenwing army, but the recent release of Codex: Tau invigorated my interest in all things hoofed...

I decided to go with the Se'cea sept, as I've only had limited experience of grey-blues and wanted to try painting a different colour. I used the awesome Wolf Grey from the Army Painter range; they have a very smooth spray can range, which I intend to use on the bigger suits and Devilfish.

As always happens, taking these shots has highlighted a few painting errors - definitely need to go back over these guys and correct some mistakes! I've only ever painted a single Fire Warrior before - in Tau sept colours, many years ago - so this is a new direction for me.

The last shot also shows the detailed backpacks and the shoulder guards - I actually inverted the colours for the Tau symbol. When I eventually do the second Fire Warrior squad (which will be accompanied by a Fire Blade), I'll do the symbol the correct way - this will just act as a differentiation between the squads which is noticeable at tabletop distance.

These were nice figures to paint, as with most of GW's plastic range, but they are really showing their age. Some of the sculpting is very shallow and a bit "blobby". In particular, the feet are a bit indistinct. You might have noticed that in the last Tau codex, the painters seem to have interpreted the feet as boots. In the most recent incarnation of the Tau, part of the boot has become the foot. This is probably what the sculptor intended, I think, but goes to show how even GW painters can be a bit lost with bad sculpts...!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Monster Mash: Finished Tyranid Army

It's taken a few months, but I've finally finished the Tyranid commission. There have bee a few projects running alongside the 'Nids, but this has been my main painting focus since January. 

It was a lot of fun to build and paint, although I'm quite sure I never want to glue another gant together again! It highlights a competitive but also fun army to play, relying on lots of monstrous creatures but also many gants. Those tervigons are capable of laying down a literal carpet of critters, hopefully enough to tie up enemy infantry whilst the bigger beasts move on key targets...

Weighing it at 2000 points, the army includes 8 monstrous creatures (9 if you include the Mycetic Spore).

The highlight for me was probably the Flyrant, but the Tervigons were also an interesting painting challenge. I would finally recommend the Secret Weapon bases - they also tie in well with the spore pod from Chapterhouse Studios.

Now, on to my next project - a small Tau army!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Finished second carnifex

It's been a long time coming, but here's the second finished carnifex for the Tyranid project...

The reason for his delay was the second set of flesh devourers! Bizarrely, GW has decided to only have this bit available in the Carnifex kit. Despite this being a popular weapon choice, it isn't available in the Tyrant box, and the equivalent part in the Tyranid Warrior and Gant box is simply too small. Again, due to popularity of this part it's a nightmare to obtain on Ebay or bits sites...

This last model marks the end of the project: other then a couple of models requiring touch ups, it's now all done. I'm aiming to get some group shots up tomorrow!