Thursday, 29 September 2016

Rise up you dead, slain of the hydra

I reckon it was Jason and the Argonauts that first made me realise skeletons were cool.  When I first saw it as a six year old boy I was deeply impressed. The 'teeth of the hydra' scene kept me awake well into the night.  That brazen soundtrack and the way they burst up out of the earth, utterly implacable and death incarnate still gives me a thrill now.

If you haven't seen the skeleton scene, you should definitely give it a go:

In my second batch of Mantic skeletons, I steered well clear of the Revenant armour and cut all the shields off.  I had a ton of Tomb Kings shields left over from building a skeleton archer horde, but they were 'wall' shields and I didn't much like them either.

So I cut those up too and made some large bucklers out of them instead, mixing in some Dwarven shields and a couple of Elf ones I think.  I wanted a spearmen regiment so naturally they are equipped with spears only except the standard bearer who is wielding a Witch Elf banner.  They look much more like Ray Harryhausen's now (I am not worthy to compare my stuff to his but took inspiration from it).

However, I'm still not sure if I like GW skeletons more.  Mantic skeletons are more in proportion but less posable.  They seem more realistic to me but the heroic scale of GW has a charm of it's own and has better defined detail.  They probably stand out more on the tabletop but they look cartoonish whereas the Mantic versions are definitely more sinister.  Oh well, I'll just have to keep buying both versions.  You can't mix them in the same unit though, they are too different (imho).

When I paint the archers I'll do a side by side comparison.  Not very original but I think Mantic gets a fairly bad press and a lot of their stuff isn't terrible.  Yes, GW generally makes better models but I've found a couple of exceptions (Mantic zombies take the piss out of GW ones as far as I'm concerned and Ghouls are arguably better too.  That kit needs updating GW) but Mantic models are significantly cheaper.  The entry price into rank and file fantasy armies was so high that it put me off for years.  The Mega Army bundles from Mantic (and the Start Collecting boxes from GW to be fair) make it much more palatable.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

KoW Billy's Super Sounds of the seventies

Just got back from the Warlords: Kings of War Super Series 'Spring' Tournament which was a good day out. 1 day event. 4 timed games of KoW. 2 wins 2 losses.  I think I placed 8th which was down to my losses being very heavy and my wins being fairly unconvincing.

Round 1 : vs Undead.  Scenario : Invade.

First up was my old nemesis Ryan Lister.  Ok, thats more or less a complete fabrication.  I've only played him a couple of times before in 40k tournaments and there is no enmity at all between us. He utterly destroyed me using my own weapons last year at Maelstrom VIII but that was just memorable and kind of funny.  Ryan was playing a pretty speedy Undead army with a horde plus 3 regiments of Ghouls.  They aren't that fast however and the 'Invade' scenario totally suits my play style.  I rushed him with Bloodworms and he hadn't spotted that they were toting the Brew of Strength and therefore completely cheesy.  They wreaked havoc and I was able to fly and assault my way across the board very early on.  Since I (kind of) play Undead too I knew that a lot of his army was very brittle.  I don't think I've ever beaten Ryan before but I didn't take any pictures of this historic event, so apologies Ryan, I put it down to opening night nerves.

Result: 15-5 Win

Tane's Defence 6 Wall.  Actually these are the crossbowmen.  Doh.

Round 2 : vs Dwarves.  Scenario : Dominate

Second game was against Tane Woodley and his Dwarven stalwarts.  I really must learn some tactics when playing Dwarves.  Running pell-mell at a wall of Defence 6 is not a tactic.  The stunty fellas just stand there and take it.  Come at me bro.  Its not even like he was unit spamming or power listing.  His force was entirely in keeping with the Dwarf persona: obstinate and sheathed head to foot in plate armour.  The scenario suited him too. He slowly advanced his wall of steel (and crystal. He was using elementals too) towards the centre whilst peppering me with crossbowmen.  He only broke formation to send his flying King and Brock Riders in to block and smash my left flank.  My main assault just bounced off him. The second wave were hemmed in by the reeling first wave and just stood there milling about in confusion.  Note to self: Full frontal assault vs. Dwarves = bad.

Result: 20-0 Defeat

I loved these re-purposed Talos Pain Engines as Darkscythe Chariots

Round 3 : vs Varangur & Kin

I need to learn to be patient and wait for an opportune moment with my cavalry/flyers.   Fortunately thats exactly what I did in my next game against Sam Whitt.  We were playing loot and I resisted the urge to grab the loot counters right off the bat, ghosting my flyers up the exposed left flank.  They didn't get their assaults off until turn 2 and 3 but were far more effective.  I also stayed well away from his ranged artillery where possible and actually utilised cover.  He had some pretty nasty shooting but initially chose to focus fire my Terror which survived the onslaught and then regenerated 10 wounds the next turn. Pretty lucky for me and Sam also underestimated my Bloodworms (they are not a tarpit unit, despite appearances) who managed to take out his Bloodsworn horde.  This left him with no real anvil units and low nerve values in the rest of his force meant that I did well by playing aggressively, picking up the loot counters on the way.

Result: 17-3 Win

Night-Stalker on Night-Stalker action

Round 4 : vs Nightstalkers. Scenario : Pillage

I was feeling pretty good going into my last game against Rex Foote.  I had beaten him in our last encounter and this was a mirror match, Stalkers vs. Stalkers so I thought I knew exactly what I was facing.  The objectives were evenly distributed.  Patience and cagey play were my new watchwords.  Rex however could give lessons in cagey play and he had one good advantage over me:  3 units of Screamers with Lightning Bolt (5).  You can be as cagey as you like when you have the firepower to delete one unit of Reapers/Nightmares per turn.  If you don't have any ranged firepower at all on the other hand (as with yours truly) then your options are much more limited.  So I lost my cool early on thinking that I could not sit back and bide my time.  I reverted to form and ran at him.  He got to pick and choose his charges as a result and gave me a good pummelling.  He also demonstrated how to play Doppelgangers properly.  One unit of my Reapers survived by running away.

Result: 17-3 Defeat

Pirate Goblins and.. and.. something deeply disturbing.

The best general was Jayden Howell with his ingenious new Goblin army.  A nice comeback.  Last time I saw him he had just dropped and smashed every single Samurai model in his list at the KoW 'Autumn' event.  It was so badly damaged that the army was unplayable (except as a bunch of movement trays).  Being such a catastrophic event, he didn't bother putting them back together again and just built an entirely new force.

I won Best Presented Army playing my Stealth Mawloc as a Terror. I tarted up my Fiends a bit and used Swarmy as my Void Lurker this time round.  Putting boneswords on a Flyrant is more appropriate in a fantasy setting and looks cool.  I've never won Best Army in a fantasy tournament before so this was a bit of a milestone for me.  I'm still a dirty cheater for taking Tyranids however and I will endeavour to finish painting a fully playable Undead army for the next KoW .

So there you have it.  I'll try a balanced army next.  A bit of fast cavalry, some damage soaking infantry, ranged firepower and the odd flyer for emergencies.  It will probably end up being mediocre and ineffective in all those areas but I'll give it a go.  I can't rely on cheesy Bloodworms forever.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

I used to be a werewolf but I'm alright noooooow!

The trouble with this hobby is that sometimes, its just work. Yeah I know that anything worth doing is never easy but I just wasn't feeling it with these Werewolves.

I hit a bit of a creative wall (oh, how pretentious) with them about 4 months ago and stopped painting my entire Undead army as a result.  I couldn't decide whether I wanted them to look like German Shepherds or Dobermans or fluffy kittens.  I tried a couple of colour schemes out and just came up with fail.

So this week I took the 'gritted teeth' approach and just dry brushed them as fast as possible.  Any colour is better than none at all.  Once that was done I felt a lot better about the whole thing and gave the detailed parts a bit more TLC.  They aren't the best thing I've ever painted but I like the posing and at least I can move on to other, more interesting projects.

Part of the problem is that I still haven't finished building the Undead KoW army much less painting it.  The whole thing is over facing.  I had completed 72 models out of over 300 and I was all zombied out.  I don't even want to think about building more Revenants.  Maybe I could just drop all the body parts into a pool of glue and call it a 'charnel pit' or something.  Yeah, multi-basing gone wild...

So, I've decided to break down the problem into smaller, more manageable chunks.  I've picked a 2000 point playable army and I'm aiming to take this to future KoW tournaments.  Well, apart from the tournament this weekend, that is.  I'm taking Tyranids to that one one and I've managed to fit my new Mawloc in as a Nightstalker Terror. Yay!  But I got into KoW because I wanted to build a new army, not re-purpose my old one (thats just a bonus).

Anyway, the 2000 point undead army only amounts to 143 models which includes all of my painted ones.  So I'm already half way there!  Give myself a pat on the back!

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Stealth Mawloc

Well there it is.  Stealth Mawloc is nigh on invulnerable because you can't see him.  He isn't even on the table.  This ultimate stealth bomber appears randomly, drops two blast templates and then mishaps off the board or back into reserves. GG.

Or something like that.  And technically he's still a Stealth Trygon, I've just given him multiple jaw options so I can run him as a Mawloc.  I am reliably informed that I've been playing the subterranean horrors incorrectly all these years because I don't spam the shit out of them.  Statistical probability indicates that if one Mawloc does something stupid one time in three then you should employ a boat load of them to greatly increase the chances of at least one performing three times better than you thought.

So I'm going to run three in my list from now on.  I think the current trend is to use six but I've only got one real Mawloc in addition to this conversion and one Tervigon which is technically made from the Mawloc kit so that will have to do.  If anyone complains about WYSIWYG I'm going to call the Tervigon a 'Trapdoor Spider Mawloc' and enthuse about it to my opponent endlessly, telling him that I've written ten thousand words of backstory, a full technical profile and experimental rules for it.  It is possible to bore people into submission.  I know, I've been on the receiving end enough times.

Well, I say all that but I haven't played a game of 40k this year.  I often find that thinking about playing a game of 40k is more enjoyable than actually playing a game of 40k.  For one thing, it doesn't make your feet hurt.  You can also pretend that you're good at it without the sordid business of getting your arse handed to you by some Imperial Knight fanboy who is super-numerate and filled with the confidence and zeal of youth.

But I'm going to have to put it to the test at some point.  I've signed up for Warpstorm IX which is apparently a qualifying tournament for the 'NZ Masters'.  Not entirely sure what the NZ Masters is but I don't think it bodes well.

Well, at least I'll go down in style.  My proposed army list is completely customised or converted in some way apart from the Rippers and the Spore Mines which are small enough to go unnoticed.  It will, of course, include Lord Commissar Cheese and his flyrant circus.  I'm such a scrub.

Quite pleased with this conversion though.  I bought this model five years ago and even half painted it before losing interest, so its about time.  I don't have any standard Trygon/Mawloc models in my army now, they're all customised.  Maybe that's why I never got round to finishing this one.  It needed to wait for the new Zoanthrope to be released by GW and for me to realise that the carapace on the Zoey would look really good on a Trygon model.  The rest of it just seemed to naturally follow.