Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pit Bulls in the 41st Millenium?

Rather than talking about my Angels of Absolution I want to take a moment to discuss pets and gaming.

Nerd Night takes place every Monday at my cozy 2 bedroom apartment. I am set up to accommodate three 4'x6' tables in my living and dining room by pushing the couch out of the way. I'm sure if we ever had an increase in turnout I could fit a fourth table in the living room and there's always room for a game in the kitchen! If you haven't guessed, I take gaming seriously and love hosting. One of the hurdles I've had to conquer in the last year and a half was the addition of a stray American Pit Bull Terrier to my home - and then a second one a year later.

My first addition was Ian. Ian is a lovable scamp who had an obsession with hand nibbling and jumping up. He's also the nosiest little guy you'd ever meet. He will root through your bags, he'll sniff at your miniatures, and he'll steal the gloves out of your pockets. If he can get at it or stick his nose in it - he will. So the first challenge was dealing with this behavior. When I got him he was only 7 months and I was living in a 1 bedroom apartment so he was non-stop energy. I followed the recommendations of getting him toys that would keep him busy like putting peanut butter in a Kong, but he'd finish the peanut butter in seconds, rampage through people's stuff some more, and then proceed to eat large chunks out of the Kong toy that he wasn't supposed to be able to destroy. Putting him in the bedroom he'd scratch at the door which isn't a great option in any circumstances but its even worse when one of your gamers is also your landlord! I'd put him in the crate sometimes but he'd whine, cry, bark, and rattle the cage. They say that if you ignore a dog they will learn that their behaviour is failing to get the desired result and they'll stop but Pit Bulls are known for their tenacity, and Ian just wouldn't quit. Eventually we learned that if we put everything up out of his reach and we concentrated on each other, he'd usually curl up on the couch with a Nylabone and alternate between chewing and sleeping. Success!

In June of this year though, I found another stray Pit. He had no tags, no collar, and no chip and I live in the kind of neighborhood where a Pit Bull is a status symbol and a bargaining chip that is used for protection, for fighting, or for a quick $300. In Chicago there is a no adoption policy on Pits that go to animal control so my options were to take him to a rescue, find a home for him myself, or take him in. After a month of trying to find him a home I decided it was wrong to uproot him again and I kept him. Now Harley isn't well adjusted like Ian. Harley seems to have had a rough life so far and he's afraid of everything - strangers, animals, loud noises, everything. When the Nerd Night Crew first came over his tail would go between his legs and sometimes he'd just look at people and give a low growl. A couple of people asked me to lock him up while we were gaming. I went out and bought two gates so I could make a fence to my kitchen 5' high, as these guys can easily clear a single gate.
Unfortunately, there were several problems to this approach. To keep Harley company and to keep Ian out of people's crap I put him behind the gate too. This, of course, drove Ian crazy. He's a very social dog and he loves being around people. He'd whine and cry. He'd shove his feet and nose as far under the gate as possible so he'd look as pitiful as possible while getting as close as he could to the action. When he'd get bored of this he'd bark, howl, push on the gates, and on 1 or 2 occasions he even knocked the lower gate down. He just wanted to be where everyone was that badly. On the other hand, I found that my troubled new Pit Bull was only having his anti-social behaviour reinforced. He'd bark at everyone from behind the gate - whether he knew and trusted them or they were a stranger. He'd be territorial. He was angry and unhappy so he'd reach a point where he'd just bark - without stopping. The Apocalypse game day we had in November was the turning point. After being behind bars for 6 hours (not including the mid game walk) he just started barking as loud as he could, and he did it for the full remaining hour and half we played for. At the next Nerd Night after that, he started with the mega-barking as soon as the gate went up and I walked away. I decided the gate wasn't working.

The anguish here comes from balancing the comfort of my guests and the comfort of my family - who just happen to be two American Pit Bull Terriers. Exacerbating Harley's anti-social tendencies is the last thing I wanted to do and that's exactly what I felt like I was doing. Over the last 6 months I found that once Harley became comfortable around someone the tail went up, the growling stopped, and he's just happy to be around "the pack" and hang out. That isn't to say that my guests shouldn't exercise caution, and if Scott ever brought his son over, Harley would go straight into my bedroom, but otherwise I feel that the best place for the dogs to be is by me and part of the crew. Harley needs to be socialized and he can't be socialized from behind a fence.

Last Nerd Night I found we had a distinct lack of hooks for coats etc so the dogs were back rummaging through people's stuff, so my first order of business was adding another 4 hooks. I'm also clearing shelf space so people have an easier time putting their stuff up high. Expect more renovations in the future to make our gaming as comfortable as possible - for man and beast.

Our pets are part of our families and they feel just the same as we do. The key is finding the best compromise so that we can all co-exist and be happy while we game. Thanks to the Nerd Night Crew for their patience and understanding while I've fumbled my way through trying to find that balance and coming back week after week regardless. It is most appreciated.

Monday, December 15, 2008

This is Embarrassing...

Back in September of 2005 I participated in a tournament put together by GW Canada. The coverage from that tournament is still accessible and I stumbled across it yesterday. I remember being mortified when they put these pictures up. I had so many completely finished models and they didn't look before they grabbed - they shot photos of anything regardless of how well painted. Here are those pics and some commentary:

We'll start off with this atrocity. This is supposed to be representative of my work? Ouch. It was originally base coated with Bubonic Brown Spray when that was available. I started to paint Bleached Bone leaving Bubonic in the recesses and then came to the conclusion that I preferred Brown Ink in the recesses and started inking it. Nothing was completed on this tank in 2005, and sadly, in 2008 its in pretty close to the same state. I was so upset that they posted this pic and it is still available on the GW CA website for all to see. Terrible.
Okay, this one isn't so bad. Chaplain Vitus and Veteran Sergeant Diceus are looking sharp and complete. The two Assault Marines are at least fully base coated. in the last 3 years only 1 of those 2 models has been completed. Wow, I suck at completing projects.

Okay, here are some models I can be proud of. There is only one incomplete model in the bunch. The far right model is still sitting in my figure case in the exact same state of completion more than 3 years later. He's actually supposed to be part of a Devastator Squad and not this Tactical Squad.

Wow, this Dread is so close to completion. Once again, he's received no additional work in the last 3 years. I really need to finish this model. I was really proud of that Plasma Cannon conversion when I did it. This model was assembled before the plastic dread was available.

So we finish this trip down memory lane with a rather beautiful photo of my completed Whirlwind. One day I might go back and add some more vehicle markings but I'm really proud of this model overall. I think its pretty striking. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Week in Review

We started the week with completing the jump pack on that Assault Marine I pictured a short while ago.

Then I repaired the Rhino that got dropped on Monday. I actually took 3 pictures of this Rhino which has been in service since 1995 or 1996 and which has gotten multiple upgrades. In this latest round of repair and upgrade I painted the right hand door in the 6th Company colors. This was also done on the front of the Rhino in a small circle on the far left track guard. I also added a small Tactical marking below the angel. That particular angel had to be re-glued and some of the paint got scratched up, so the Tactical symbol was in part to cover the variance in tone between the different era's of Bleached Bone. One of the "Storm Bolter" halves also had to be re-glued along with the whole left flank.

One thing you might notice is that not all the recesses are Brown Inked. This is because when the Rhino was originally painted it started at Bubonic Brown and was worked up to Skull White. I later went back and added Brown Ink and then added battle damage. I apparently didn't compete the job, but it's cool.

Another interesting detail about this Rhino is that I added scratch built reinforced armour after Epic came out in the mid-late 90's. Those metal Rhino models had cool little details and one of them was the reinforced rear armour that I emulated here. Back then I didn't know about buying Plastrux Plastic Rod so the rivets are actually inserted paper clips that were clipped and filed, haha. What a pain in the ass...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Dramatic Re-Enactment - Rhino Explosion!

On Monday's Nerd Night there was a minor setback to my Angel of Absolution plans - I had a Rhino explode. This is my display case. The door was closed just like in this picture. I, however, thought it was open. The moments that passed as my hand holding the Rhino hit the glass went something like this:

The distortion on the picture of me screaming isn't from re-sizing the image, its from the power of my head exploding.

Needless to say, a week ago I said I only needed to finish 3 models to get my army to 1500 points fully painted. I have not met that goal. I actually just finished repairing the Rhino and demoting it to the 6th Company (you'll get pics on the next sunny day.) Additionally, though I worked on the 2 Devastators I need to complete I put more focus into finishing the Assault Marine pictured in the step by step and working on tanks. Oh well.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Angel of Absolution: Stage by Stage - Armour

By request - here is a stage by stage account of how I paint the armour on my Angels of Absolution. My apologies for not being an ace photographer.

Stage 1 - Cleaned assembled and primed. As you may have seen in previous articles it is very rare that I fully assemble a model before painting. This model has actually been sitting in my case for a couple of years waiting to get in on the action.

Stage 2 - Prime White and Cover in Brown Ink.

As you can see I left the areas that were quite clearly going to be painted black their original white primer. You can also tell I didn't much care if I got ink on those areas. The point of the brown ink is to establish the tone in the recesses of the armour. If you want to save yourself some time, leave the large flat areas white so that you don't have to coat them as many times in the later stages. I just started doing this. Once again, this model has been lounging in the figure case unpainted for years.

Stage 3 - Bleach Bone

This is the hardest part - and the most tedious. Section by section I work over the model putting down as many as 5 coats of thinned down Bleach Bone over an area of armour, carefully working around the recesses. This process takes a very long time and is part of the reason I usually work with just a set of legs or a shoulder pad at a time. I get sick of looking at the model and I don't feel like I'm making progress until a stage is complete. By breaking down a model into their components I create "easy victories" or "attainable goals".

Note: If at any point you get Bleached Bone into a recess you can "erase" your mistake by quickly dipping your brush in water, wipe it clean, dip it in water again, and then drag it through the recess. Repeat the process rapidly until all of the paint that ran into the recess is gone.

Stage 3.5 - Bleached Bone continued

Here is another figure case shut in brought out for stage by stage purposes. As you can see I got frustrated with this guy and started cannibalizing parts off of him rather than trying to paint him as a completed model. Please note that I've kept the recesses tight and clean. Additionally, I strive for maximum opacity with my Bleached Bone for a very solid consistent finish.

Here's where I'm going to deviate to my true micromanagement painting style. Here is just a shoulder pad painted Bleached Bone with the very crisp Brown Ink lines left in the recesses. In fact I can see the slightest deviation in the rim on the lower left hand corner and its irritating me just looking at it. I can't see it in the other pics so I must have fixed it, haha.

Stage 4 - Bleached Bone Mixed with White Highlight

I wish this picture came out better. I have a paint pot that has Bleached Bone and Skull White mixed together to create a mid tone. I prefer this to mixing every time I paint a model because I may go for months between working on the same model and it preserves a level of consistency with the tone.

In this stage I highlighted the full width of the rim with my mix and also followed the Brown Ink lines tightly with a bold line of the mix. Once again, because I thin down my paints, this will often take two coats.

The keys to keeping tight lines are:

1) Work with a fine detail brush.

2) Choke up on your brush like you are holding a pencil.

3) Brace your painting hand against something to keep it steady - I rest my elbow on my knee but when I worked for GW we taught kids to put both elbows on the table and then use one wrist to steady the other.

4) Maintain consistent pressure to maintain consistent line width - the harder you press the further the bristles spread, and the wider your lines become. Brush control is all about pressure.

Stage 5 - Skull White Highlights

Hit all of the sharpest edges with Skull White. Thin down your Skull White. Make sure you don't have too much on your brush - work only with the tip. Follow your "Mix" lines, making sure that you leave some of the Mix showing. That's it. Easy stuff! ;)

Stage 6 - Finishing Touches
The transition from Brown Ink all the way up to Skull White makes the models "pop" on the battlefield. Its the strong contrast that makes them defined and vibrant. However, models all blend together no matter how cool if you don't add details like tactical, company, and honor markings, script, or other unique details. This shoulder pad was the last thing I need to complete on an Assault Marine in order to get his Jump Pack on. The X was applied in Mechanite Red and the "8" was painted with Chaos Black. Each stage of painting the markings required that I went back with Bone or Red to neaten up the previous stage. Working with thinned paints requires these fixes to take multiple layers but it also reduces the likelihood of ugly thick paint build up. And no, I don't use decals. I don't like them.

Here's the Assault Marine showcasing his brand new pad. Later tonight he'll get that Jump Pack and he'll be put in the display case, making the 8th Squad of the 5th Company a squad of 7. Three more to go at about 12 hours a pop, haha.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Small Steps = Big Accomplishments

Image created with Space Marine Painter V5.0
Yesterday I finished another Angel of Absolution. I still need to consult my master roster, paint a name under his base, and give him some static grass. For all intents and purposes he's a completed model. Here he is:
This model actually was used to replace one of my oldest models, Barrak (no relation to the President Elect), who was painted in 1994 and was ready to be demoted to the 6th Company (Reserve Company). The first image is Barrak after the demotion, and the second image is what his banner looked like a week ago. You might notice that Barrak is an Rogue Trader marine body with 2nd Edition marine arms, pads, and backpack. He was originally completed 14 years ago. That's kind of mind blowing:

That's actually Sergeant Kilomitus' head. He's also on the demotion list.

Anyway, the title of the thread implies that these little steps are leading up to something much bigger for me to announce, and that is true. You see, I have a ton of unfinished models and I started looking things over and I realized that I've reached a threshold of sorts. When I complete these next 3 models I will have a fully painted 1500 point army. This is huge. Its not quite the standard tournament size. Nor would it hold up under tournament play. Hell, it doesn't even take advantage of any of the unique Dark Angel unit types. Still, its an accomplishment. For the first time in 14 years of playing Warhammer 40K I will have what most would term a completed army. So what's left to be done to get these models in the case? Well, the two marines will complete a 5 man devastator squad. They have a ways to go but will likely be completed this week. As for the dread, you will notice it only needs tactical markings. Easy stuff!

But there is more exciting news! You see, as I am talking about being on this big threshold - this army has yet to reach a plateau. I have multiple other vehicles and squads that are on the cusp of completion. Once I hit that 1500 mark then the 1750, 1850, and 2000 marks should fall in rapid succession. Well, maybe not 2000. That might be getting ahead of myself.

The only sour note as I sing my own praises is that in a tournament setting it still won't be a competitive army. I really need to go the multiwing route if I want to be tournament viable. Still, I only play in tournaments 2-3 times a year, whereas I'll be able to see them in the display case every day and know how long I've work on this army and what a huge accomplishment it will have been for me. Hopefully you'll see me here, tooting my own horn some more, in another week.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Finish What You Started!

I've talked a lot about trying to maintain impetus to get things done. Any little edge or incentive I can give myself to keep me on task I try to exploit. I'm very big into visual goals. I paint my models piecemeal in part so that I have the visual validation that I've completed something - even if its just a set of legs or a flamer.

I've also mentioned in the past that I use the visual recognition that comes from filling my display cases:

I actually just added these 2 models to the case. The first one is Balor from the 5th Squad of the 5th Company. He actually was in White Dwarf like 2 years ago in a Grand Tournament spread but in my head he wasn't finished. He was still awaiting his chapter symbol and script on the skeleton's parchment. The second is Heletiv, who just replaced one of my most outdated models from the 1st Squad of the 5th Company (which was painted over 10 years ago and really isn't up to my current standards.) Don't ask me where I pulled that name from but that's what was written under his base:

My latest painting strategy has been the act of clearing unfinished models out of my figure case and getting them into the display case. I literally take a model or partially painted piece out of the figure case and put it on my painting table. I then physically shift all of the models down to show myself I've made progress. Its a near compulsive action. The current goal is to reduce this figure case down to only 1 tray of partially finished models and bits:
I've talked a lot about how I do things but this kind of shows the method AND the madness of how I approach painting an army - and possibly why its taken me over a decade to get this far.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Apocalypse Virgin

On November 2, 2008 the Nerd Night crew converged on my apartment on Maplewood to engage in our first Nerd Night Apocalypse bash. A few of the guys had already experienced a few Apocalypse scale games, but this was my first. To be honest, I felt ill prepared. I was so busy with other things in my life during October that 40K was seriously the furthest thing from my mind. Normally I'd be scurrying around, trying to finish this model or that model, trying to build something grand, and hurriedly completing a new terrain piece. Instead I spent an hour or two watching TV the Thursday night before throwing together a battlewagon I knew I'd never even finish converting in time and totally lacking the tunnel vision mode I need to barrel through any type of project.

The night before I was out especially late and I was up before 7am getting the furniture moved and the tables set up. Arrival time was set for 9:30am so I had to hustle to get the house organized and get the dogs walked and fed. I had great energy early on and felt excited despite feeling unprepared. Eric called just as I finished getting everything into place, letting me know he was ready to arrive early to help set-up. Whoops! I guess I wasn't the only person bent on being pro-active so things went as smoothly as possible.

Somewhere after 10:00am the players had fully arrived and we got our usual chatter out of the way and made last minute changes to army lists etc. We were using approximately 9000 points per side and we played on a 6' x 8' table. Also, we only had one small super heavy on the board which resulted in just masses of troops flooding the table. It took us 7 1/2 hours to deploy, play a couple of turns, eat lunch, and then complete a couple more turns. At about 6 hours in my head started to pound from the sleep I neglected to get, but I had felt good about how well we paced ourselves, how way stayed to task once we got settled in, and that we managed to get in 4 full turns despite the enormous amount of models and the distinct lack of any sort of templates larger than an ordnance blast save for a couple of Orbital Bombardments. A little after 5:00pm everything was cleaned up, the furniture was back in place, and the dogs were once again lords of the living room - they were getting pissed being penned up all alone in the kitchen.

I did learn a number of things from the experience. Everything Jervis had written about being organized was spot on. Having a loose plan for the food, roughly having our crap together, and getting the tables set up ahead of time were all time savers. In the future I think we could get this all streamlined even more, ensuring we got more turns in. Additionally, we needed to scale back the points slightly or make sure we all made use of Datafaxes and Super-Heavy Vehicles. Not only was our killing potential greatly reduced at the expense of our turns being lengthened, but I think we missed out on some of the grandeur that comes from dropping a 10" template on your opponents forces. We also picked our Strategic Assets randomly from a hand picked selection Eric chose out of the book. Assets like Flank March and Strategic Redeployment were left out of the mix and though part of me thinks the idea of 20 Sentinels picking up and relocating to another section of the board mid game is completely ridiculous, our huge number of models and lack of massive kill power resulted in a pretty much the center of the board being one giant fight that just largely stalemated, especially since we reached a point where we had tons of models that couldn't do anything because they were blocked by other friendly models.

I love the idea of the massive battle and it was a great excuse to gather and have a light hearted game with lots of chatter about what's going on in our lives. Nerd Nights have been scattered at best the last couple months and it was just nice having everyone in the same place for an afternoon so we could catch up. The only two things I felt the day lacked was a story to tie it together (see my last post) and a bit more fully painted models. I'm really all about aesthetics when it comes to wargaming and I think a slightly smaller fight would have resulted in a prettier fight.

Regardless, it got me jump started once again and the last couple weeks the paints and brushes were dragged out, the new Space Marine Codex and Imperial Armour Masterclass Vol 1 were bought, the blog has been added to, and a couple of models are nearing completion. I am pretty sure its done the same for some of the other guys, so not only was it a successful day in terms of fun had by all amidst quality company, but it was doubly successful because it got a few of us a bit more motivated.

Thanks to everyone for a great day. Extra special thanks to Eric for making it happen.

PS. The Orks won the day against the Space Wolves/Ecclessiarchal contingent. Waaghh!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Yearning for the Days...

When I first got into Warhammer Fantasy in the mid-90's I played most of my games against a customer at my gaming store named Christian. He'd come flying into the store, usually declaring something obscene about wife-swapping, and then he'd get down to the business of talking about his Chaos Dwarfs. Astrogoth (or whatever his name was) was constantly pushing towards Zufbar (sp) but had to march through my Undead to get there. Maps were drawn, scenarios were created on the spot, and the story line advanced.

Eventually I made the switch to 40K and started collecting the Angels of Absolution. At the time I changed systems he started collecting his first 40K love - the brand new Sisters of Battle. I started a campaign in the store revolving around a planet called Biletrus III and considering more games were played by Christian and I, the rest of the campaign players were just playing in a league more or less, while we were advancing a narrative. That narrative carried on long after the campaign died out. Commander Caligulas, Chaplain Vitus, Captain Belial, Techmarine Aries, and Genetor Evodius (I was using some Adeptus Mechanicus allies from the 2nd Edition Black Codex at the time) were all names that were thrown around. Both sides claimed we had rightful claim to the Emperor's Blessing and that the other had gone heretic, and the Ministorum held world of Biletrus III resisted our reclaimation of crucial STC technologies. A lot of the games we played even used the desert combat rules out of Citadel Journal, which I thought were great fun. Those were memorable days.

Time passed and narratives advanced. We both went on to work for Games Workshop and eventually Christian switched to Black Templars and I switched to my Redemptors of Golinar fanatical zealot IG army. We were still insisting the other side had gone rogue, but despite having armies from the Imperium we could always come up with a reason for fighting, a cool scenario, and a cool looking battlefield that looked like it made sense based upon the scenarios and narratives we came up with.

I've had some other great narrative games with other former co-workers and friends, but nothing has really compared to those games with Chris. We just clicked on what we wanted out of the hobby and out of gaming - the fusion of fantastic models, beautiful terrain, unique scenarios, and a developing story to tie it all together.

When I got to Chicago I joined an expansive group of fledgling and veteran gamers with divergent interests and armies. We've tried several campaigns. We've tried unique scenario generators. More than anything we've played a lot of tournament style games. I quickly found that whenever I was in a campaign I liked picking on my buddy Chad because he liked writing narrative style battle reports afterward that gave everything a little more depth, kind of like those early days with Christian.

As of late I've been really yearning for those days. My last two games were a giant 9000 point Apocalypse game and a nail-biter of a game against the Orks that was straight out of the book, tournament style. Both were fun games but there was no rivalry and no depth. I didn't even refer to any of my characters by their names - it all felt very detached.

On Citizen Nick Hobby Center there is a couple of posts where Scott is talking about the nature of campaigns and how we might alter the Alpheca campaign that we were playing in that he had developed all sorts of background and rules for. I read through it all and my answer was "mechanics be damned, let's strip it down to just the narrative." The more I think about it the more I miss those early days and yearn for narrative play. Tournaments and leagues are fun but I just feel like something is missing - that I need to get back to my roots. Mechanics be damned my friends. Let's strip it down and concentrate on giving our games and armies depth.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Angels of Absolution Promotions and Demotions.

Last post I mentioned buying a second DETOLF glass display case from Ikea and how I'm using it as a source of inspiration. Though I don't have any pictures today, I did want to say that the last couple of cool days I actually spent some time going through my broken Angels of Absolution and making repairs so that I could get them into the display case.

While I was at it I felt it was time for Promotions and Demotions! You see, I've been collecting my Angels of Absolution for 14 years. I have full tactical markings on all of my finished models representing squads from 2 different companies and, of course, I have a ton of unfinished models earmarked for specific squads. Additionally, some of my earliest Angels of Absolution were models from the 2nd Edition 40K box set, and quite frankly are so static and ugly, I relegated them to the hard shell figure case long ago. However, with the advent of Apocalypse (which I still haven't played!) no model need be retired.

All of this said, I went through all of those old static marines that I had finished and I changed their knee pads from 5th Company to 6th Company so that the old marines operate from the Reserve Company where, in my head, they belong. I then had a number of beautiful newer marines that had 6th company markings that I promoted by changing their knee pads and squad number. While I'm at it I finishing some of the lingering models and getting them into the case as well. I'm actually very excited.

And while everyone is crying a river over the new C:SM, I'm getting stoked about Drop Pods and Black Reach. You can't please any of these people it seems. Oh well.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Glass Display Cases and Painting Impetus

For several years, dating back to when I lived in Washington, DC, I would stare at this glass display case at IKEA and jot the number down so I could pick it up when I got down to the warehouse floor. At least a dozen times I talked myself out of actually buying it. Concerns about having to move it, a hang up I had that it didn't match my other IKEA furniture, worries that the dogs would break it (or my friends!), and whatever else I could come up with consistently prevented me from buying this glass display case. Well around this time last year I finally broke down and bought it. It met with mixed reviews, some people loved it, yet others said it was the final nail in the coffin of me ever getting laid. Truth be told, though my models don't keep me warm at night, seeing them on display and having visitors compliment them fills me with pride. As a mediocre player, my greatest joy in the hobby has always been when people stop at my table at a tournament or when I used to display them in the cabinet at the GW store I managed, and they would compliment my painting. Even I periodically walk past my own models on display and stop to look at them. I'm proud of them and I feel they are worthy of display.

One of the greatest things about owning a display case is that it reinforces the feeling of accomplishment you get when you complete a model. Instead of the finished model going straight into the hard shell figure case for storage in the closet until the next battle, it goes up on display and you get a constant visual reminder of your army growing. This often acts as a catalyst for continued progress. For someone who has trouble staying focused, its just another tool for keeping my eye on the prize.

A few months ago, as I was working on my Redemptors of Golinar Imperial Guard army I quickly discovered that I was basically out of space in my cabinet. I was storing all of my IG tanks in progress in the case so I could maintain a visual reminder of my progress and I had to pull all of my other models out of the display case to make room for them. My beautiful Orks and Angels of Absolution were shelved and put back into cold storage.

Last week I dusted my display case which had gone half empty from various models going to tournaments or getting pulled out of their cases for gaming nights and re-shelved elsewhere. Now nice and clean I started re-organizing the display case and dragging out my completed models for display. This is what actually prompted me to repair Chaplain Vitus - I wanted to get him back in the case.

In the last couple of days I've repaired a few other marines that had fallen into disrepair. I scraped off old glue to make sure the new bonds were solid, and I touched up chipped paint on the metal bits. I've actually repaired and restored 4 models - which I consider a bit of an accomplishment with how much I've been working the last 3 months.

As I've been going through and re-organizing my display case I realized that I had outgrown it. Its overcrowded and an overcrowded case doesn't create much of a demand for completing or repairing models. It was time to get another display case. I actually had 2 days off in a row for the first time this summer, so yesterday I made the 40 minute trek to IKEA up in Schaumburg and I got another DETOLF display case to match my original and not surprisingly, I'm exceedingly anxious to get to the painting table for a few hours today to help fill it. Its funny how these things work.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Games Day Chicago and the Angels of Disrepair

"Where is everyone?" was the resounding question at Games Day Chicago this past weekend. The Games Day 40K tournament - normally 120 players strong and a complete sellout - had around 36 players. Three of those players were from my gaming group, so my gaming group accounted for 1/12 of the players. What happened? One might speculate it is event "over saturation" here in Chicago. At 3 major tournaments in one year - could that be too many? I don't think so. Our centralized location makes Chicago an ideal place for Games Day and for major tournaments. Could it have been the timing of the 5th Edition release? Was it that no one wanted to go two weeks back in time for one last roll in the hay with 4th Edition? Or was it a new form of gaming snobbery? Has Adepticon gotten so big that its adherents are thumbing their noses at Games Workshop's premier event in the mid west? I'll be really curious to see how the turnout for the Chicago Grand Tournament is in October.

And most importantly, will Dung Trinh from Tennessee be there? One of the biggest disappointments of Games Day Chicago this year was that I didn't face off against Dung Trinh and his Thousand Sons. You see, by some freak occurrence (more like us both being dead average players), we have somehow been paired against each other 3 years in a row. Every year I had my Angels of Absolution and every year he has his Thousand Sons and we battle. Last year our battle was my favorite of the tournament - old rivals laughing like war buddies and just having a fun relaxed game. If you know Dung Trinh from Tennessee you make sure he knows his presence is requested at the Chicago Grand Tournament in October!

Despite the small size of the tournament I had a really good time. All of my opponents were friendly and enjoyable to play against. I got to play on Table #1 for the first time in my life due to earning 20 points on the 1st mission. There may have been a miscalculation so my place may not have been earned and I was rightly defeated by my Tyranid horde opponent in the 2nd game and was driven several tables back where I belonged. For me the highlight of the tournament was my 3rd game which was against Brian Carlson. For the last couple of years I've made it a point to always wander over and spy his models at tournaments. I've seen him walk into tournaments and the Chicago Bunker with beautifully painted Tyranids and Kroot Mercs, and it was awesome to actually talk to the him about his armies and see if his hobby spirit translated onto the gaming table as well. As it turns out he was my favorite player of the day. He was extremely pleasant and we played at a great pace, got all of our turns in, conversed about the hobby, and had a great game. His Sons of Guilliman (Ultramarines) were exceptionally painted, his army list was full color on photo paper with tons of fluff, his dice matched his army, and his army was fun to play against despite the fact it became Assault Cannon Hell once he got within 24". Hats off to Brian for being a model hobbyist, and thanks to all my opponents for a great time.

Now, I must take a moment to beat myself up. Every year I tell Dung Trinh that the Angels will be done "next year" and every year we laugh because we both know its a lie. I've been working on the Angels for 13 years now and they've made an appearance at every tournament event I've attended and they still aren't done. Not only have I done myself and my opponents a disservice by always falling short of the goal, I've allowed my army to fall into disrepair. I fielded more broken models this year than ever. Its not uncommon to have 1 or 2 models break in transport to the event, but last fall (almost a year ago now) my case flipped over and spilled models all over the hardwood floor. I repaired a bunch of them, but not even close to all of them. Since then, more models have broken and I just continue to field them. My beloved Chaplain Vitus has gone to the last 2 tournaments without his bolt pistol arm or jump pack. Several other models were missing bits. The latest casualty was a Rhino having its smoke launchers bust off.

Last night and this morning, I pulled out the one and only Chaplain Vitus and I scraped away old glue, repainted chips in his armor, and re-glued his broken bits restoring him to his former glory. All hail Chaplain Vitus!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer Kills My Progress

Summer is here and this is my first update in almost a month. What is happening in the world of Nerd Night? Are they playing? Is the campaign going on? I'm sure all 3 readers outside of our group are wondering!

First a bit about my life... I lease apartments in a high rise apartment building in downtown Chicago. Somehow I managed to convince my bosses that it was a good idea to fire and rehire me every winter. So I work for 6 months of the year and I'm off the other 6. This year, with the state of the economy, I'm having to work harder to get people to live in our expensive high rise. I'm skipping lunches, I'm coming in on my days off. Last night I was standing around after hours, already changed into my civilian garb (cut off camo shorts, studded belt, sneakers, and a Carcass t-shirt), and one of our best locators/realitors was standing outside with a client hoping to see a couple apartments. Years previous I would have ignored them, but this year I said, "I hope you don't mind I'm in a Carcass t-shirt" and we were off to look at apartments. Needless to say, finding time for hobby activity has been slim. I get home, walk the dogs, and crash - every night. Except Nerd Night of course!

My painting has suffered. My blog has suffered. But the campaign is going fine.

The campaign consists of: The Varrian 10th Imperial Guard (Chad), Thousand Sons (Scott), Space Wolves (Matt), Amethyst Shroud Sisters of Battle (Anton), Highland Lions Space Marines (Eric), Orks (Brian), and finally Waaagh Kweergit and Zaggrod (Nick).

The Space Wolves, in our 3 campaign turns, have amassed a small empire on the board, but the true menace on the planet seems to be the two Ork forces. We'll see how it all pans out.

I'll try and get more information up when I can. I want to show off the beautiful campaign map that Scott created using Mighty Empires tiles and some other stuff.

More to come!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Quiet on the Hobby Front

Not much blog worthy has been going on the last 2 weeks so I've been remarkably silent. I keep dragging out potential projects, working on them for a few minutes, and then getting distracted by something that's not hobby related. I have been following the 5th Edition reports feverishly on BoLS and Warseer but that's about it.
Two Monday's ago I pulled out my Orks and administered a sound beating. I've been playing a mostly foot slogging force with 2 Warpheads and I love the way it plays. Its a little unpredictable but it works really well with my play style I think. It also makes me think I'd really like to switch my DA army to a Multiwing format. I really want to try the Ravenwing/Deathwing combo.

Anyway, last night I tried an experimental DA tournament list that isn't Multiwing against Eric's completely vehicle-less Blood Angels force. I played a strong game despite some terrible dangerous terrain rolls for my vehicles (I had my Landraider and a Vindicator both roll Immobilized results in the same turn!). It clearly wasn't strong enough as the Blood Angels won by 600+ points.

Here are some photos from that game. The first one is my favorite. It screams photoshop me with some sort of cool background and some drifting smoke. I'm definitely going to try and get more dramatic pics like that in the future.
These two Highland Lion's (Blood Angels) more than earned their points, popping the Dreadnought and then dragging down several marines from that Rhino in the distance down with them.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Impending Campaign = New Scenery

This weekend involved a trip to Home Depot to pick up some supplies. There was a brief concern that I wasn't going to have enough gaming area if we have our possible 8 campaign participants so I decided to pop in and get some more 2'x4' sections to paint up. While I was there I became inspired by this:

My immediate thought was to make it into a monument, so I added a suitable base:

I did attempt to seal with watered down white glue to reduce the amount that the wood grain would show up but it failed to make an impact. Down the road I may go back with some spackle and then do a complete repaint of the piece. It looks good, but too obviously wood:

Inspired by the statue in Cities of Death, I added some bird shit. I think it came out fairly well:

While I was working on this, I did all off the drybrush work on the temple I made a few posts back. Here are all of the photos from today:

Thanks for reading!