Painting my Grolar, Part 3

In a previous article, we got our Grolar almost completed, putting down all the paint and getting it ready for the final few steps — weathering, basing, and a coat of varnish to protect it from grubby gamer hands.

Weathering

In general, weathering techniques are a more recent addition to my hobby repertoire.  It was only this year that I really dove into weathering. Initially, I tried to justify not doing it by saying that my warjacks were fresh out of the factory, but once I got into it, I started to really like the results.

For this model, I used four main techniques.

  1. Painted on scratches
  2. Sponge Weathering
  3. Add texture with Typhus Corrosion
  4. Dry pigments

Painted on scratches

Painting on scratches is not very complicated, however it does require a fine brush and some brush control. But before I get into how to paint it, lets imagine a plate of armour that has taken a whack from a sword or a battleaxe or something like that and consider how it will interact with the light.

In my sketch here, we have a green plate of armour with a scratch halfway up and a light source coming from the top left. Due to the geometry of the scratch, the bottom part of the scratch is going to catch the light, while the top part of the scratch is going to be shadowed.

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Left, the plate of armour with the scratch, right, the plate of armour with the top and bottom of the highlight to illustrate.

So, once we understand this, painting a cool looking scratch is going to be fairly simple, as long as you have the brush control and the right brush and paint consistency. Simply paint a dark colour for the body of the scratch, and add a thin highlight on the bottom of the scratch in a lighter version of your base colour.

This technique may not be the most accurate on a micro scale; after all, most armour plates have relatively thin green paint and relatively thick silver metal to them, and these sort of scratches will probably dig deep into the metal, the juxtaposition of the bright highlight and the dark shadow will give your scratch a three dimensional look, which is exactly what we are going for here.

Also, when it comes to scratches, random scratches are nice, but you can get some extra realism by considering what areas are going to take a beating, and in what direction these scratches are likely to form. As one example, I used to work on construction sites, and I remember once staring at the back end of an excavator. The main body of an excavator can swivel 360 degrees on its tracks, and the back end sticks out fairly far to act as a counterweight to the bucket on the front. This particular excavator had a lot of horizontal scratches on the back, which, in context, totally makes sense. As the body of the excavator swivels around on its tracks and the operator is going to be more focused on the bucket than the back end, sooner or later, that back end is going to rub up against something and the body spins around, it’s going to leave horizontal scratches on the back of the excavator.

So in our fantasy world, if you have something like a warjack that is going to do a lot of punching, you can make the weathering look a little more realistic by adding some scratches extending back from the fists in the direction of the punch. This sort of thing can add a little more realism to your scratches, and make it so that your weathering tells a story, or at least more of a story than “here are some scratches and stuff I painted on this model.”

Sponge Weathering

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Sponge weathering is another simple technique, and it uses something that any wargamer has kicking around in droves — soft foam. You can get this in packaging for Privateer Press miniatures, or from pieces that you’ve plucked from those trays for your battlefoam bag. Simply break off a piece of your pluck foam, or cut off a piece of the foam that comes in the PP blister packs, and you’ve got your applicator.

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See the scratches on areas like the shoulder and the fist, as well as the sponge weathering  and Typhus Corrosion all over.

All you have to do with this technique is take the foam, add some paint, remove the excess with a paper towel, similar to what you do when dry-brushing, and start dabbing the model in areas that you want a weathered, chipping effect. This will apply your paint in random, natural patterns that look sort of like the chipping you might expect to see on a military vehicle that has been in service for a while. I like to start with a dark silver colour, such as GW’s Leadbelcher or P3’s Pig Iron, then follow up with a dark brown like P3 Umbral Umber. By doing two colours, not only do I get a bit of a rust effect, with some of the chips looking like they’ve been exposed to the elements longer than others, but it also just adds some visual interest and confusion to trick the eye into making it look a little more real.

Typhus Corrosion

Typhus Corrosion is one of Games Workshop’s technical paints, which is a few paints in their line that have been specially formulated to make some more advanced techniques rather easy. For example, they have Blood for the Blood God, which makes basic blood effects simple, or Nihilakh Oxide which is basically just that greenish patina that you see on old statues put in a tiny bottle.

citadeltechnical.jpgTyphus Corrosion comes in their standard tiny pot, and when you open it, you can see that it is a thin paint, with a consistency somewhat closer to a wash, but with a bunch of crud floating in it. This crud creates a gritty texture when it dries, which helps create some contrast and visual confusion, as well as not doing a terrible job of replicating mud and grime.

Duncan can probably explain this better than I can, but to apply this, you simply put in on the desired area with a beater brush that you don’t really care about. For warjacks, I like to add a lot to the legs and feet, to replicate both the mud that they may have walked through. From there, you can add as much or as little as you want, playing with dabs, stippling, and streaks, to get the desired effect. For warjacks, I think it gives a particularly nice result on the pistons and other machinery that articulates the legs, to replicate buildups of grease and oil and grime. Also, feel free to add some on top of the areas that you had hit with the sponge weathering for a cool effect as well.

Dry pigment

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Some subtle soot on the back of this warjack

We’re just about done here, but there is one more thing to consider. In this steampunk universe, warjacks are fueled by giant coal boilers, which is something that you really shouldn’t think about too hard, given the sheer impracticality of managing the logistics of delivering enough coal to the battlefield to keep even a single warjack going. However, if you’re burning the entire coal production of West Virginia every couple hours, that’s going to generate a lot of soot.

This is where our friend dry pigments come in. These are simply bottles of pigment dust, with no liquid or medium in them. They can be brushed onto the model to create various effects, and I’ve found them to be particularly useful for a few things — adding a bit of colour and visual interest to rocks and brickwork, or in this case, adding soot. They can be applied in a couple of ways, either by simply getting some on your brush and dusting the model with them, or, if you want to get a little more to stick, adding a little bit of water (or saliva) to the model and then brushing them on. Again, this is a product that is very new to me, but I’ve found that brushing the smokestacks, boiler, etc., with some very dark grey or black pigment can really help make it look like it’s coated in a fine layer of soot.

That said, because this is simply dust that you are applying to the model, you will need to fix the pigment somehow to make it stick. Some companies make pigment fixers, but for gaming pieces, I feel like the varnish that I use to protect them on the tabletop (Vallejo Matte Varnish, thinned and shot through an airbrush) is good enough to seal the pigment onto the model.

Anyways, from there, it’s just a matter of adding the glow effect onto the visor, doing some basing, and adding a coat of varnish, and the Grolar is done and ready for the gaming table.

Final thoughts on weathering

Since I’m still building my weathering skills, this is just a tiny sample of some basic weathering techniques. There are many chipping techniques, such as with hairspray or salt, that I’ve yet to try. In addition, you can do a lot with oil paints to create glazes and other visual interest. Oil paints are a completely different beast because they have a lot longer work time than acrylics, which opens up a lot of techniques, however that’s something that I haven’t really gotten into yet because of cleanup and ventilation concerns. Further, there are a wealth of specialized weathering products out there from companies like Vallejo and AK, including a few I just picked up last week (oh, the dangers of having a doctor’s office a couple blocks away from a hobby store…).

One thing I would recommend to all the gamers out there, though, is to check out some of the hobby stores and scale model builder communities if you really want to take your weathering to the next level. Hobby stores tend to have a lot more products for this sort of thing than the six or so GW technical paints that your FLGS might have on its shelf, and the sort of people who spend hours getting their Panzers looking like they’ve been going through Russian mud and snow (and the occasional chunk of shrapnel) have a lot of expertise you can borrow from.

Company of Iron: 28th Iron Valkyrie Heavy Assault Korps

Lately, it seems like more and more miniatures companies are moving into the skirmish game market, that is, games that require a lot fewer models than army-scale battles. With not everyone having the time and disposable income for army-scale gaming, reducing the barrier to entry in tabletop wargaming by having fewer models makes sense. Privateer Press is no exception, having released Company of Iron several weeks ago.

CoI is basically Warmachine/Hordes scaled down to the skirmish level. With no warcasters or large based models, the game focuses on solos and units, the grunts of the Iron Kingdoms who make up the majority of the armies, even if the warcasters and warlocks get all the glory. The game uses alternating activations rather than the I Go, You Go system in Warmachine and some of the rules have been tweaked in accordance with the smaller scale and alternating activations, but people who have played Warmachine will be able to pick it up in no time.

Anyways, I haven’t played it enough yet to write a detailed review, however I did manage to get a company painted up.  So, without further ado, I will introduce the 28th Iron Valkyrie Heavy Assault Korps…

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28th Iron Valkyrie Heavy Assault Korps

 

Commander:  Kovnik Aleksandra Volkov – Man-O-War Kovnik
Upgrade:  Ironhead Scrapper

Other Models:
Koldun Kovnik Olegna Yanova – Greylord Forge Seer
Sgt. Ilena Filippova & Pvts. Antonovich, Kotov, Petrova, and Yegorov – MoW Bombardiers

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Inside the dark interrogation chamber, Aleksandra Volkov clutched her side in pain. Her injuries were still raw, and though she had gotten a few bandages to stop the bleeding, she had been quickly arrested and whisked away by armed winter guards and thrown into the brig.

“Ms. Volkov, I grow weary of your protestations,” said the kommissar responsible for interrogations. “Perhaps if you cooperate, we may show some mercy…”

“Do your worst,” replied Aleksandra, still clutching her likely cracked rib.

The impatient kommissar raised his hand to strike, but before he could, he felt a powerful grip on his arm. “You are dismissed,” said the grizzled old voice, one that made Aleksandra look up in shock. She could see little more than the silhouette, but the heavy armour, bushy beard, and powerful voice could only belong to one man: Kommander Izak Harkevich, the Iron Wolf.

As soon as Harkevich released his grip, the kommissar scampered away, knowing his place.

“Ms. Volkov, I must admit, I’m surprised to find you here so soon after your repairs to Black Ivan,” mused Harkevich. Coming closer, the Iron Wolf leaned over and offered Alex a canteen of water, one the parched woman quickly accepted. “Now, why don’t you tell me what happened out there…”

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Kovnik Alexandra Volkov, after trading her wrench for an axe

Aleksandra “Alex” Volkov grew up around warjacks and other heavy machinery.  Her father was a member of the Khadoran mechanics assembly, and Alex would often sneak into his shop after school.  From a very young age, he had her gradually progress from an assistant handing her tools to an apprentice mechanic in her own right.  Following her father into the mechanics assembly, she found herself attracted to the maintenance and repair of warjacks.  Eager to prove herself in the male-dominated world of the mechaniks assembly, she donned a steamsuit and volunteered for the heaviest and most difficult work available – that of a heavy wrecker.

 

Soon, she was assigned to Llael, the frontlines of the battles to defend Khadoran territorial integrity and protect the new Llaelese provinces.  She was sent to a maintenance and repair facility near the fron, working with other mechaniks to keep the mighty steel machines of the empire running.  It was here that she first felt a connection to the mighty warjacks that she would marshal around the repair yard.

Llael was rough.  Though she was not often in the front lines, she had seen komrades come back from the battlefield, wounded and dying. However, in spite of the grisly backdrop, she also found love during the occupation.  It was Oksana Fyodorova, a sniper with dozens of kills to her name. For months, they grew closer, becoming each other’s one point of light in the grim darkness of war.

One day, she had the opportunity to repair a unique black destroyer, equipped with a claw, some additional spikes, and a few other accoutrements, which had taken hits from Cygnaran gunfire.  As she made her repairs to its boiler and stacks, she felt a special connection to the unique warjack, and after a few days work, she had it up and walking around the yard again before it was returned to service. Through her repair of Black Ivan, her abilities soon came to the attention of Kommander Harkevich, the supreme commander of all Khadoran forces in the region.

However, a few weeks later, tragedy struck.  In a tactical retreat, Oksana was left behind and reported missing in action and presumed dead or captured in the face of an overwhelming Protectorate assault force.  In response, Aleksandra suited up and headed towards the front lines to find her, stealing some weapons from the armoury on the way out.

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Koldun Kovnik Olegna Yanova provides arcane support

 

In the dead of night, Aleksandra frantically charged through the Llaelese countryside, looking for any sign of her lost lover. Oksana had been reported missing in action when her position was overrun. Alex knew that as a Widowmaker, one who dealt death from afar to the enemies of the empire, that if Oksana was taken alive, she would have had the worst punishments the Menites could deliver inflicted upon her.

But as she rounded a small outcropping, she heard a bloodcurdling scream of pain. It was what she had feared the most; there, up ahead, was a wrack with a female figure chained to it. As she got closer, her fears were confirmed; Oksana had been captured and wracked. Panicked, Aleksandra dashed towards her, desperate to get her down.

“Oksana!” she called out, the figure attempting to look down at the source of the shouting. “It’s going to be okay, I’m here…”

All Oksana could respond with was a scream of pain and a rattling of her chains.

“I’ll get you down, I’ll…”

“Halt!” On the crest of the hill stood a Protectorate commander, along with a couple cavalry and a dozen infantry. “Lay down your arms.”

Aleksandra looked up at Oksana, writhing in pain. Knowing there was no way to get her down, she offered her lover one last gift. Pulling out a blunderbuss, she took careful aim, closed her eyes, and pulled the trigger, releasing Oksana from her pain. As she dropped the weapon, Aleksandra looked back around at the charging Protectorate warriors. With fire in her eyes, she picked up her axe, promising herself she wouldn’t let them take her alive…

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Eventually, she did find her lover, chained to a wrack. She tried to save her, but with a Protectorate ambush force closing in, she did the only thing she could to ease the pain, and ended Oksana’s life with a well-placed shot from a hand cannon. In the ensuing brawl, she tore through wave after wave of Protectorate troops, until she finally collapsed near the Khadoran front lines and was dragged back to camp.

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Sgt. Ilena Filippova.  Yes, that’s a grenade launcher with a chainsaw for a bayonet. Any questions?

For several minutes, Harkevich listened to Alexandra’s tale. Everything she said was corroborated by the few scouts and sentries who had seen parts of her rampage; the fanciful speculations of the kommissar notwithstanding.

 

“You have been charged with a number of military offenses,” stated Harkevich matter-of-factly. “Stealing military equipment, insubordination, unauthorized interactions with the enemy…” he paused for a moment. “Normally, you would be court martialled for these offenses and sentenced to hard labour, but one of my Lieutenants had witnessed you tearing through an entire unit of Protectorate troops single-handedly and nominated you for a medal. So…”

Harkevich slowly stood up from the chair across from Alex. He knew that revenge was a good motivator, and anyone who was crazy enough to take on an entire company of enemy troops single-handedly, and a skilled enough combatant to live to tell the tale, would be a good soldier. “…it’s either a court martial, or a new assignment as an officer in the Armoured Korps. Your choice.”

Alex looked up at the Kommander, surprised at the offer. “Sir, I’d like to become a Man-O-War…”

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Given the option of court martial for insubordination (among other things) or being impressed into service in a Man-O-War suit, she chose the latter. Under the watchful eye of Kommander Harkevich, she came to command the 28th Iron Valkyrie Heavy Assault Korps, a unit consisting of herself, Koldun Kovnik Olegna Yanova providing arcane support, and five Man-O-Wars equipped with Bombardier grenade launchers:  Sgt. Ilena Filippova, and Pvts. Anonovich, Kotov, Petrova, and Yegorov.

Painting my Grolar, Part 2

With the easy part done, it was time to get started on the fun part — getting out the brushes and putting paint on the model.  In part one of this series, I had laid down the base colour scheme in purple and pink, using the airbrush to get some shadows and highlights on the various armour panels that make up this warjack. From there, the next step is to touch up a couple areas that I airbrushed and didn’t get quite right on the stripes, and then picking out the various other colours on the model.

White Trim

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Note the gradient on the shoulders and collar, from a cool grey to white.

Of course, with me, it’s never as simple as a paint by numbers. I had spent a fair bit of time with the airbrush trying to get the right shadows and highlights on the model, so if I had simply painted all these trim pieces in a flat, uniform white, it would look out of place next to the gradient of dark to light purple/pink on the main body. Another issue was that trying to paint white straight over purple with acrylic paints can be a little difficult, due to the purple underneath showing through.

Fortunately, both these issues can be solved the same way. To start painting my white, I undercoated with a grey, which due to having a bit better coverage, blocked out the underlying purple much better than had I tried to simply paint white over purple. Next, instead of painting the whole thing white, I built up the colour, using wet blending techniques to go from my grey up to white where the light is directly hitting it. I also added just a touch of P3’s Frostbite to my whites and greys, which is a very light, desaturated blue, just to make the white a little on the cool side because of colour theory.

Freehand

I also wanted to practice my freehand skills with this model, so I decided to try to paint a bear paw logo on the top of this warjack.

For a lot of people, this sort freehand can be a very intimidating technique. Especially when we are starting out, most of our hobbying consists of painting inside the lines — paint this panel red, that panel brass, that hose grey, etc., so it can be a big jump from simply following the detail on the model to creating your own detail.

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If you don’t have a wet palette, make one. Now.

However, simple shapes like this aren’t too hard once you’ve developed some brush control. I’ve found there to be three tricks to freehand: a reference image to look at while you work, the right brush, and the right consistency of paint. I could go on and on about brushes and paint consistency, but that could be a whole article in itself.  Suffice it to say you want a good brush, not too big and not too small, with a decent sized body and a nice tip. And for paint, you need it thin enough that it flows nicely off the brush and onto the model. And for the love of Bob Ross, our almighty god of painting, use a wet palette.

One little secret I will let you in on, however, is the use of acrylic inks to thin your paint as opposed to water. There are certain colours, such as white and yellow, which don’t have very good coverage over a dark basecoat, and thinning them down to the proper consistency reduced the coverage even further. You can counter this by using something like Holbien or FW artist ink as a thinning medium; these inks have a very thin consistency but a very high pigment density, so by mixing them with acrylic paints, you’re getting the consistency you want without sacrificing pigment density and coverage like you would be doing if you thinned with water.

Silver & Gold

Next up was metallics. As this is a cool steampunk robot, I have plenty of iron and brass to paint.  Vallejo’s Metal Colour Gunmetal Grey makes for a great base colour, covering like a dream, however as an airbrush paint, it can be a touch thin for brush painting, so I like to use P3’s silvers for some of the details where the VMC is just too thin to effectively pick out the details, like on the rivets.  For brass, again, I went to the P3 line and used Molten Bronze as my basecoat.

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Not cheating. Just make sure you know the difference between Nuln Oil and Nuln Oil Gloss when you’re shopping.

With the base coat on the whites and metallics all blocked in, it came time for a wash to add some definition. Which means it’s time to bust out our old friend, Nuln Oil. Now, Nuln Oil and some other GW washes (they call them shades) are, sometimes unfairly, referred to as “talent in a bottle.” I can see where they are coming from; a lot of the time, simply slathering a warrior model in Nuln Oil makes the paint job instantly adds the depth to a model that makes it get to the “hey, this isn’t bad” stage. And they are one of the few products that I will dip into GW’s range to pick up, because I don’t know exactly what it is, whether it is consistency, surface tension, or pigment density, but GW’s washes just work.

However, we don’t want to simply apply it using the “slather the entire model with a big brush” method. This is for a couple reasons. First, I spend a lot of time airbrushing this model, and I liked the vibrant highlights. I didn’t want to dull them down with a layer of Nuln Oil all over. Second, there are a lot of large, smooth surfaces on this model, and slathering them with an acrylic wash will undoubtedly create some unsightly “coffee stain” type marks, especially on the whites that I had worked on blending and would end up having to repaint if they got too much wash on them.

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After the wash, but before re-highlighting the metals.  Note that the washes had done the shadows, but ended up making the metallics a little too dark and dull.  Also check out the freehand bear paw logo.

So, I chose to be a little more targeted with my wash, applying the Nuln Oil to all the metallic parts, as well as into some of the recesses and around things like rivets and spikes, in order to get that shade without ruining the big flat areas of my model. Once that dried, I pulled out GW’s Druchii Violet, the purple version of Nuln Oil, and applied that to all the brass bits. This seems a little odd, but consider the colour wheel. Purple is directly across from gold on the colour wheel, so making those shadows on the brass have a purple tint does a few cool things, increasing your contrast and making the eventual highlights pop more.

The washes take care of the shadows, but with them done, we have to highlight the metals back up.  I used P3’s Pig Iron, Cold Steel, and Quick Silver on the metals, progressively highlighting up using layering, blending (as best as I could), and a bit of careful dry-brushing on areas like the punchy fists.  For the brass, I did something similar, highlighting up through Molten Bronze, Rhulic Gold, Solid gold, and a touch of something like silver or Vallejo’s Bright Brass as the very highest highlight. With these multiple layers of highlights, you can get a real nice true metallic metal (TMM) effect that is pleasing to the eye.

Final Highlights & Touchups

With the metals highlighted back up and the freehand done, we’ve only got a couple steps left. First, I took some very thin black paint and slipped it into some of the vents and perforations on the models, and places such as the top of the smokestacks; basically anywhere there was something that was supposed to be a slit or a whole on the model.

Finally, it was time for an edge highlight.  This is little trick to give the model volume and make it easier for the eye to recognize the shape.  It’s simply a very thin highlight, brighter than the surrounding area, along the upper edges of the model, which is the final step in really making this model pop at a distance of more than a foot or two away.

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Look at how much brighter the brass bits are with the highlights, and note the edge highlights all over.

Now we have a beautiful looking Grolar, that has only one problem — it’s too beautiful. This Grolar has seen some action in the trenches of Llael; it shouldn’t look like it’s fresh out of the factory and perfectly clean.  So stay tuned next time for some weathering and finishing touches!

Painting my Grolar, Part 1

November has been a busy hobby month for me.  I started off the month with a lot of stuff on my hobby table, and have been trying to finish it off and give myself a bit of breathing room on my desk for me to scatter dozens upon dozens of little bottles of acrylic paint.

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The studio scheme.  Note: I don’t believe in studio schemes.

One of the things I’ve managed to finish was the Grolar/Kodiak multikit from Privateer Press, which I decided to magnetize to make it possible to use it as both variants in my games (even though the Grolar just looks way cooler).

As shown in the previous article, I managed to get him assembled, magnetized, and the gaps filled around the beginning of the month.  While the position of the legs was pretty much set, and without major conversions it would be difficult to do a repose, the given position is at least a dynamic one, with one foot in front of the other, unlike a number of PP’s older warjack kits.  The arms, on the other hand, had ball joints at both the shoulders and elbows, so there was some room for posability there, though one had to be careful with the Grolar that the back of the hammer wasn’t whacking himself in the shoulder.  I decided to pose him such that the left arm was slightly back and the right arm slightly forward, as though he were striding across the battlefield, and I did have to make the point of contact for the Grolar’s hammer slightly off-center to give it some clearance between the back of the hammer and the front of his shoulder.

Airbrush time!

Anyways, with the model all assembled, it was airbrush time!  Lately I’ve been experimenting with airbrush priming to good results.  I like to use an old single-action airbrush to prime, using the same logic for the airbrush that I use for my regular brushes — don’t use a nice brush for anything that isn’t paint, such as primer, varnish, etc. So I put together my airbrush setup, loaded my Badger 350 with white Stynylrez primer, and got to work.  At this point, the model was still in multiple sub-assemblies to make painting easier. I had pulled off all the magnetized bits, and I hadn’t glued the hips to the torso assembly yet.

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As an aside, Stynylrez has been my favourite primer lately.  At $10 for a 60 mL (2 oz) bottle, the price is right (compared to $4-5 for a 1/2 oz bottle of something like Vallejo or Reaper), and it’s thin enough out of the bottle to just drop in the airbrush and shoot with no thinners necessary.  It seems to stick well to all materials, and I have yet to have any problems with it not sticking to and chipping easily from metal figures like I have had with Vallejo’s primer. And, I’m lucky enough to have a hobby shop that carries it nearby.

Anyways, once I had a bunch of white primed doodads that vaguely resembled robot parts, it was time to start putting colour on the model.  I knew I wanted to do a pink striped pattern, partly because I thought it would look cool and partly because this is my second one of these and I wanted to be able to easily distinguish the two on the gaming table. So, I pulled out my good, dual-action airbrush and got to work. With a bit of thinning and the right additives (Vallejo Airbrush Thinner and Airbrush Flow Improver), Reaper MSP paints can be easily shot through an airbrush to good effect.

Anyways, I started with the pink, simply because pink is one of those colours like yellow which is far easier to lay over white than over a dark colour, and by doing the pink first, it would reduce the amount of masking I would have to do and worrying about overspray. I started out with 09268 Punk Rock Pink as a base coat on the areas that I wanted to do the stripes on, then worked up into 09262 Blush Pink and finally 09281 Brains Pink for the highest highlights.

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The moment of truth

After waiting for the pink to dry, I used Tamiya masking tape, which is available in a variety of widths from about 2mm upwards, and is perfect for doing things like hazard stripes at this scale.  After masking off the stripes, it was time to pull out the airbrush again and break out the purple.  I used my usual purple recipe, Reaper’s triad of Nightshade (9022), Imperial (9023) and Amethyst (9024) purple and got to work.  First, I loaded the brush with Nightshade Purple, the darkest shade, and covered the entire model, making sure not to miss any spots.

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With the Nightshade Purple laid down, I assembled the hip joint and stuck the model to the base. By having it more or less fully assembled, I could more easily see which angle the light source was coming from on pieces such as the arms and place my highlights appropriately. I then moved onto Imperial Purple, getting probably most of the upper surfaces, and then going to Amethyst Purple for the highest highlights.  In the picture, you can see that the highlights were placed with consideration of both what areas of the model will be hit by the sun, and also how to create some contrast between light and dark on the sharp edges on the torso.

The moment of truth came when I pulled up the tape.  There was a little bit of bleeding and whatnot (which was probably mostly my fault), particularly on the left shoulder where there were a lot of rivets interfering with getting the tape down nicely, but nothing I couldn’t touch up with a brush.

So, with that done, it was time to put away the airbrush and bust out my brushes and wet palette, because I still had a lot of traditional painting to do…

 

Hot Take: Khador theme drop

After frantically checking War Room for updates every five minutes for the past week or so, the new content that we have been waiting for has finally arrived.  New themes for every model in every faction of the game, and old themes tweaked with the addition of mercenaries.  It’s Christmas come early for Warmachine players.

In Khador, we had both of our new themes spoiled already, and I already did a hot take on the Man-O-War theme, so I’m not going into too much detail on that one.  Suffice it to say that it lets you run a brick of MoW Shocktroopers, and we won’t find out its true potential until we get our new toys sometime in 2018.

Anyways, let’s take a look here, starting with our new Greylord theme…

Wolves of Winter

wolves.pngLet’s get this out of the way first:  Unfortunately, you can’t start the game with upkeeps on your Doom Reavers.  It is a bit of a shame, and does put a damper on the dream of what a Doomie Spam list can do with an upkeep-heavy caster like Strakhov2, but there might still be some game in this theme.  Unfortanately, I’m kind of an axe to face guy, so I don’t have the experience with the Greylord side of Khador to comment with too much expertise on this, but that hasn’t stopped me before.  Let’s see if we can have some fun list-building with this…

List:  Vlad3 is good, right?
Theme:  Wolves of Winter

Vladimir Tzepesci, Great Prince of Umbrey (Vlad3)
– Drago
– Juggy

Fenris
Greylord Forge Seer (free)
Greylord Forge Seer (free)
Koldun Lord (free)

Doom Reaver Swordsmen
Doom Reaver Swordsmen
Greylord Outriders
Greylord Outriders

vlad3-pic-large.pngVlad3 isn’t usually considered a competitive caster, with the general consensus being that he’s not bad, he’s just the third-best Vlad.  Still, there may be something here, at least for a funsies list.  Since you can start with your upkeeps out, Hand of Fate is great on Greylord Outriders because of the sheer amount of extra dice you are chucking with those sprays.  Infernal machine can go on either of your warjacks.  Wind Wall can help protect a unit of Doomies on the advance from getting shot down on the way in, and between Apparition and Dash, your Doomies can threat 14 inches, which according to my math, is legit.  Murdering everything with sprayponies with Hand of Fate and sending in a bunch of Doomies to finish off whatever is left seems fun.  Vlad’s feat can affect the Outriders and Fenris, priming them to strike again after the initial alpha, or retreat off to some annoying position on the flank where they are going to be hard to deal with.  Competitive?  Not sure yet.  Fun?  Well, I’m going to be hitting the painting table…

Theme tweaks

In addition to the new themes, we’ve got a few tweaks to our existing themes.  In general, the big addition to our existing theme forces is the addition of mercenaries.  This is huge for Khador; there are a number of merc solos out there that for a few points, can patch some holes in our lists and fix some struggles we’ve been having lately with certain armies that have been challenging matchups for us (hello, Ghost Fleet and Gremlin Swarms).

There are a few things to note though. First, you can take mercs that have the Partisan (Khador) rule, which means that you can add a unit of Kayazys to your theme force of choice.  Second, Valachev is available as an attachment to a merc unit, so you can make them friendly Faction.

Most curiously, a couple of themes restrict the mercenaries you can take to non-character solos (Winter Guard Kommand) or units (Legion of Steel).  From what I can tell, Khador is the only faction that is faced with this restriction, which makes sense, because you know how all the other factions get when we get nice things.  I’m guessing there must have been some sort of completely broken combination in there, though I haven’t quite figured out what it would have been yet.

The Good

The thing that I am most excited about in this theme drop is the potential to take mercenary units in Winter Guard Kommand, particularly Lady Aiyana & Master Holt.  One of the major weaknesses with WGK which was really showing in a world of Ghost Fleet and Gremlin Swarms was a total lack of magic weapons aside from your caster and Andy, who ideally should be nowhere near combat anyways.  With Aiyana’s ability to make the weapons of a model/unit magical, incorporeal opponents like Gremlin Swarms and Blackbane’s Raiders can be easily countered.  Fortunately, we now have an answer to this…

 

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My Sorscha2 conversion — because Irusk2 wasn’t top-heavy enough of a model

List:  Suck it, Ghost Fleet
Theme:  Winter Guard Kommand

 

Forward Kommander Sorscha
– Spriggan
– Marauder

Kovnik Joe

Winter Guard Rifle Corps
– Rocketeers x3
Winter Guard Rifle Corps
– Rocketeers x3
Winter Guard Infantry
– WGI Officer & Standard (free)
– Rocketeers x3
Winter Guard Mortar Crew (free)

Aiyana & Holt
– Valachev

As you can tell, this list is designed to do one thing and one thing only:  Make Ghost Fleet players cry.  By hot-swapping shatterstorm between the two units of Rifle Corps, you can threaten to RFP from 22″ away (with Desperate Pace).  Since RFPed stuff doesn’t come back, you can shut down the Cryx recursion engine pretty quickly, and you won’t have to worry about Tough if they drop their Bane list.  Spriggan is there to threaten to drop a flare on Denny1 and take away her Stealth, and Aiyana & Holt can hand out magic weapons so you can take out the Wraith Engine and Blackbane’s Raiders.

The Meh

Jaws of the Wolf, the theme that I’ve been using most often, got a bit of a sidegrade.  In addition to the mercs now available in-theme, we are now able to take Yuri the Axe as a free model.  At six points, Yuri was kind of expensive for what he did, and a key linchpin of the Yuri/Manhunters/Kossites package.  Being able to take him for free is going to make that package a little more attractive.

Unfortunately, we lost the ability to deny Advance Deploy to our opponents, trading it instead for denying Ambush.  Right now, this feels like a downgrade because there is a lot more AD out there than Ambush.  While the stock on this may go up as more themes grant ambush to more units, units which may do a lot more damage than our ambushing units (sorry, Kossites)

The Disappointments

There was one big disappointment for me, and that is Assault Kommandos.  They got added to the Winter Guard theme, however they gain no benefits and offer no benefits to the theme, and feel like more of an afterthought than anything.  They just don’t fit in, either thematically, or from a list design perspective.

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Hope you like that shelf…

Honestly, I think they got put in the wrong theme.  Had they been placed in Jaws, you would be able to make some pretty interesting Strakhov1 lists, the sort that I was running before the rise of thememachine.  Right now, the only reason I can possibly think to use them would be if you’re playing Vlad1 and you’re really really worried about cloudwalls.  But even then…ugh…

What else is out there?

Cygnar got their trencher theme, so expect to see Haley3 making a comeback. If only we had some sort of Kommando unit that would be good at Assaulting trenchers… Cryx also got a couple new themes, so that could mix up their usual Ghost Fleet/Dark Host pairing and since they’re the one you have to tech for these days, it could pose new challenges.  Apart from that, I haven’t looked at what all the other factions have gotten and am probably not good enough at this game to understand what it means, but I’m sure the meta will settle out and find some broken-ass theme that is going to dominate for the next couple months.

Conclusions

These changes have been hyped for a while, and it was inevitable that we would find something that wouldn’t live up to the hype and be disappointed.  I will admit to being excited about Assault Kommandos finally having their place only to have them remain on my shelf until they get a theme force or UA or something.  That said, I don’t think it was a bad day for Khador.  Just from the ability to include mercs in our theme forces, we gained a lot and got a lot of difficult matchups fixed.  models like Aiyana & Holt can fill holes in many of our lists and make things that were a challenge for us to deal with previously trivially easy.

I see some salt out there on the Khador facebook group, and to my comrades, I have one thing to say.

This is Khador.  We of the north do not turn green with envy at the luxuries of others.  We are made of tougher stuff than that.  We redouble our efforts and fight harder; we don’t go around crying about things like a bunch of whiny Cygnar players.  There is still tech to be unlocked and future releases to come out, and I’m sure everything will be all right, so long as we have our axes to insert into the faces of those who oppose the motherland.

With this release, it feels like we’re finally in Warmachine Mk.III as intended.  We can use just about every model on the shelf in some way, and I’m sure we will find some fun, powerful lists in this release — as will our opponents!

Paintlog — Mortar Crew, and a year of progress

Khador is a faction blessed with a lot of interesting infantry models, from our stealthy Kayazys and redneck Kossites to our heavily-armoured Iron Fangs and Man-O-War. Many of them exude the strength of the motherland, but there is perhaps none that typifies Khador more than the humble Winter Guard Mortar Crew.

The Winter Guard are Khador’s mass conscript infantry, going into battle with little more than basic armour and mass-produced cheap weapons.  They make up for thiswith their bravery and resilience; Kovnik Jozef Grigorivich can grant them the Tough special rule, and in their theme force, they are willing to sacrifice their very lives for Khador, taking bullets meant for warcasters.  The Mortar Crew, perhaps, typifies the Khadoran attitude towards problem-solving more than any other.  While our engineers haven’t quite perfected an accurate mobile light artillery piece that can reliably score hits, they’ve decided that that doesn’t matter so long as it can deliver a lot of high explosive into the general vicinity of the enemies of the motherland.  And, of course, they have the ubiquitous handaxe, which gives them a plan B against anyone who makes it behind the lines to their position.

With that in mind, I figured it was time to get started on my second Mortar Crew.  This unit consists of two models; the mortar itself, and a second crewman with a telescope who serves as a spotter.  They are the old metal models, so a file helps for cleaning mold lines.  Also, when assembling the mortar, I’ve found that it goes together a bit better if you make a small hill out of green stuff to place the mortar itself on, such that it is elevated slightly above the guy firing it.

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Note the lump of green stuff on the base under the mortar itself

From then on, it was a matter of painting it up in my usual Winter Guard theme.  Grey coats, brass armour, and purple shoulder pads, which various straps, buckles, pouches, and other bits painted in appropriate colours.  The mortar itself was mostly brass and silver, with enough of each that they would complement each other and balance out, and a bit of wood-grain on the frame.

Since this was my second mortar crew, I decided to do a little freehand on the shoulder pad to distinguish it.  For a symbol to distinguish them from their Winter Guard brethren, I borrowed the NATO symbol for a mortar crew., and for this second unit, I freehanded on a roman numeral II and a couple of random shapes that look vaguely like Khadoran runes.

Then, we get to the basing.  I’ve gone with an autumnal theme for most of my army, because I feel like it contrasts the purple of my warjacks, and is a little different than the green grass and trees you see all the time in wargaming.  The first step is applying some texture.  You can use glue and sand for this, but lately I’ve found that I much prefer to use artist mediums with pumice aggregate mixed in with craft paint.  I find it to be easier to sculpt a little to add some variation to the base, but more importantly, it’s a lot less messy and I’m not vacuuming sand out of my apartment for a week.

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Because I put a tree on the base, this means I always have concealment, right?

Give it a wash and drybrush, add a bit of turf and flock, and a couple tufts, and we’re just about done.  The catch is, in this case, I want to go a little further and add a tree to my base.  No problem!  I have some tree armatures from Woodland scenics that just need some cleaning up, priming, and a little paint to make the branch structure of the tree. From then on, it’s just a matter of gluing on some clump foliage, and then dabbing on some washes such as a sepia or an Athonian Camoshade to take the brightness down a bit.

That said, while I like these trees on my models, I realize that that I still have some ways to go on them.  I’m not sure clump foliage quite works at the 28mm-ish scale that games like Warmachine are played at, as it doesn’t quite give the impression of actual leaves. Further, the canopy of this tree ends up being way too thick, not letting even a crack of daylight through in between the leaves.  I will be experimenting more before I do any display-quality models with trees and leaves, but I do think this is fine for now for gaming pieces and to bang out some terrain so that the 40K players don’t make fun of us as much for having tables that look like crap.

My progress…

Even if it isn’t perfect, I still think this Mortar Crew shows a lot of progress.  Here, I’ve got it next to one that I painted over a year ago, while I was still getting into the hobby.  Since then, I’ve learned a lot about basing and highlighting, and have tried to push my tabletop standard higher and higher, and I think the difference between last year’s job, with not much highlighting aside from some dry-brushing and minimal edge-highlighting speaks for itself.  The newer piece just “pops” more, which is a testament to how much difference some highlights can make, even on tabletop pieces.

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Note the blue lens on the telescope, and the more interesting base work on the new one on the left.

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You can clearly see how the highlights on the body of the mortar on the left give it a little more volume and shape to it than the flat silver on the right; I probably simply gave it a wash and maybe a quick drybrush a year ago, and now, I’m starting with a very dark silver and highlighting up to something brighter.  On the telescopes as well, you can see the difference that the TMM makes.

IMG_1994.JPG

Much better highlighting on the brass armour plated and the cloak on the newer version…

On the table…

So, now that I have two Mortar Crews, I have to think of a list to go with them.  They are available in the Winter Guard Kommand theme force along with every other Winter Guard model, so playing in theme is an obvious choice.  As for a caster, plenty of possibilities spring to mind, but there is one in particular that stands out above all others.  It has been a long time, too long in fact, since I have fielded her, but one can only resist the siren’s call that is Kommander Sorscha for so long.

sorschapic.png

Fun fact:  Khadoran wardrobe engineers have found that high heels dig into the surface of snow and ice, preventing soldiers from losing their footing.  Why they’ve only been issued to female soldiers, however, remains a mystery.

Like many Khador players, Kommander Sorscha or Sorscha1 was my first warcaster. She has a number of ways to freeze enemy models, and her Wind Rush spell, which grants her a free full advance, makes her beautifully mobile. Additionally, Fog of War can help push the DEF of your army up just enough to give them the help they need to get up the field.

Between Freezing Grip and her feat, both powerful effects that can freeze entire swaths of an enemy army, it’s no wonder that Sorscha1 gets the nickname “the ice queen.”  Of course, one of the side benefits of having your opponent frozen in a block of ice is that it drops their DEF down to 5, which means that a Mortar Crew, with its effective RAT of 1, can actually hit things! This makes it a great tool for following up on a bunch of frozen infantry, or perhaps getting those last few hit points in on an enemy caster during an assassination attempt.

So, what is in my list?

Theme: Winter Guard Kommand

Kommander Sorscha (Sorscha1)
– Victor

Kovnik Andrei Malakov
– Grolar
Kovnik Jozef Grigorovich
Winter Guard Artillery Kapitan

Winter Guard Mortar Crew x2
Winter Guard Infantry with Officer & Standard
Winter Guard Rifle Corps with 3 Rocketeers
Winter Guard Field Gun Crew

Basically, the point of this list is simple — I freeze stuff, and then stuff that normally can’t hit the broad side of a barn actually can.  Both Victor and the Mortar Crews suffer from the inaccurate special rule, which lowers their RAT to an utterly pathetic level.  Sorscha fixes that by freezing her enemies, bringing their DEF down to 5 so they can actually hit things.  With Victor, you can actually have the hilarious situation of watching your enemies get frozen in a block of ice and subsequently burn to death with an incendiary shot.  The Grolar, as well, is a warjack with a really good gun, but with a RAT of 4, it’s hard to actually hit things with it, a problem that Sorscha fixes.

Hmmmmmm… looks like I know what I’m playing on Tuesday…

Paintlog: Supreme Kommandant Irusk

khador_adr.png

Three down, one to go…

As of late, I’ve had a couple somewhat arbitrary painting goals.  First has been to paint the models that I have on the shelf which are assembled but unpainted, in an effort to clear out that shelf of shame before I start buying assembling too many other models.  Second, I’d like to paint all the warcasters on the Active Duty Roster.  One of the models that resides at the intersection of those two is Supreme Kommandant Irusk, also known as Irusk2, also known as that guy with the annoying heavy pewter flag that always tips over and breaks.

As mentioned above, I had assembled Irusk2 previously as I had tried him out for a brief stint back in Mk.II.  I liked him, but found that I was getting assassinated a lot, so I ended up shelving him in favour of some other casters.  In the meantime, he had shown himself to be quite the powerhouse in Mk.III, as one of our top-tier infantry support casters and one of the few really capable of bring a lot of melee infantry across the table and into your opponent’s face.

flag.jpg

As any owner of this model will attest, there are two serious challenges with it, both of which relate to the flag.  First, the flag itself is made of pewter, which makes the model very top-heavy and easy to accidentally knock over.  Second, the model comes in multiple pieces, and there is a joint between the upper portion of the flag and the hand which is not very large and kind of tricky to glue. These two issues combine to make the natural state of the model something like as shown on the left.

As a result, this model is just begging to be pinned, which I did, spending a lot of time carefully drilling to try to get as long of a pin as I could in between the two sections.  One of the other things I did when I assembled him the first time was that I had filled the base with lead fishing weights and PP’s brown stuff, in an effort to make him a little less top-heavy.  This was a good idea, but I had to clean it up a little, filing it down to get the bottom surface flatter so the model is a little more stable.  Had I known about them then, I probably should have just used one of PP’s metal bases, but as they say in my French classes, c’est la vie.

Fast forward about a year, and as with the previous Spriggan project, there were a few things that I had to do clean him up and bring him up to my new standard, as my hobby skills have greatly improved since then.  There was some mold line removal and re-priming that had to be done, so I pulled out some files and got to work, fixing up the worst of the results from my careless assembly.33053_SupremeKommandantIrusk_WEB.jpg

As you can see on the studio picture, Irusk2 is a relatively ornate model, with all the decorations and accoutrements befitting someone whose title is Supreme Kommandant.  This can make him an intimidating model to paint, as you sit down and try to figure out which colour everything should go, in order to end up with a model that has balanced colour choices and sufficient contrast between distinct elements of the model.

One of the themes with my army so far has been that I’ve been using purple as a base army colour, and relatively higher ranking models have had more and more pink on them.  As a result, I knew that Irusk here was going to have a lot of pink, but that I was going to keep the purple going on the flag and base rim, which meant I needed to leave a little purple on the model in order to keep it balanced.  I did so by painting his chest plate and his trench coat purple, and making all the rest of the armour plates pink, while leaving his sash and some of the exposed fabric of his uniform a neutral grey.

This model used a lot of standard techniques, and to be honest, there are a few flaws so it is solidly tabletop standard, but if there is one aspect that I would like to focus on, it is the flag.  Often times, what one will do to get a tabletop standard model banged out is to just use the standard basecoat, wash, highlight method.  There is nothing wrong with it, and I continue to use washes on most of my models, however the trick is that there are some places where washes just don’t work.  Large, fairly flat surfaces like capes and flags don’t tend to take washes too well.  Instead of going where they need to go to darken the shadows, they tend to pool in unnatural places, so that instead of a nicely shaded model, you end up with a model that just looks flat and dirty.

So, how do we approach this?  Instead of basecoating and washing, we’re going to have to take this section of the model and manually paint in the shadows and highlights. Here, working with my usual Reaper Royal Purples Triad, I started by base coating with Imperial Purple.  Then, the next step is to look at the model and figure out where the light is going to be hitting the object.  On a wavy flag like this one, it’s going to be darker inside the folds and on areas where the flag has draped over, while the highlights go on the ridges and on the places where the fabric is on such an angle that the surface is facing upwards at the sun.

From there, you can use your shadow colour (in this case, Nightshade Purple) to blend the shadows.  There are a variety of techniques that you can use here, with two-brush blending being popular, but my usual technique at the moment is to take a brush, apply paint to the model in the center of where you want that second colour, then quickly rinse the brush, apply a little saliva, and drag the edge outward.  Do the same with your highlight colour, and don’t be afraid to mix colours on your wet palette and highlight up or down in multiple steps if it becomes too difficult to get a nice smooth blend all the way from your darkest shadow to your brightest hightlight.  These blending techniques do take some practice to get a smooth blend, so if you’re having trouble, picking up a unit of men and women with capes and keeping at it is a great way to learn.

For the white logo on the flag, I used similar techniques, starting with Reaper’s HD Concrete Grey as a base colour, and blending up through Misty Grey and into a pure white on just the highest highlights.  However, I ran into a bit of an issue here.  One of the side benefits of a wash is that it can also give a blacklining effect, whereby a bit of nuln oil in a crack between two bright colours can help break it up, which helps the eye distinguish where one colour ends and the next starts, and really helps make the miniature pop.  Since I didn’t do a wash, I have to put those blacklines in manually, with some dark paint (it doesn’t have to be black — just something darker than your base colour is good enough).  You’ll need to use thin paints and a decent brush to get it done right, of course.  Personally, I have a 10/0 rigger brush that I use for this sort of thing.  It’s nothing too fancy, just something I picked up at Michael’s, but I find that this very long, thin brush allows me to load it up with a fair bit of paint, and it has the right amount of flex to get deep into these sort of tiny recesses, so it’s a handy addition to my brush collection.

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And there you have it.  Normally, I like to do a lot of custom basing on my warcaster models, but in this case, the base that came with him was pretty good, and I didn’t really want to go taking things apart on such a tricky model, so I simply used the standard base and added a tuft and a little snow, to match the ice forming on the rocks on the sculpted base that was included.  I added a little extra weathering on the beat up metal piece with the Cygnar logo on the base, and that was pretty much it.

Overall, I’m happy with this model as a tabletop piece, but not 100% satisfied.  I wouldn’t say it’s my best work, and there are some flaws in certain areas, but nothing that would stand out from more than a foot away.  At tabletop distances, the pink highlights and white edging on the armour does tend to pop, which is always good..  If I were to paint it again, I might like to do something so that his medals stand out more at tabletop distances, but that’s kind of tricky given the brightness of the pink.

As for what list to put him in?  Well, Irusk2 is a great infantry caster, and can run in any theme. His feat grants his army pathfinder for a turn, and the ability to ignore clouds and forest for the purposes of determining LOS, which means they can come out of nowhere. Additionally, enemy models suffer -3 SPD when they begin their activation within his 14″ control area.  He’s got a great list of support spells, with Artifice of Deviation, Battle Lust, Fire For Effect, and Solid Ground.  If I’m playing this season’s ADR, the other casters on the list are probably going to want to run in Legion of Steel (at least for now), so when it comes to theme, that leaves Winter Guard Kommand and Jaws of the Wolf if I don’t want to have two completely redundant lists.  As fun as it sounds to play him in Winter Guard Kommand and stack Bear’s Strength from Kovnik Joe and Battle Lust and apply axe to face, I’m going to try Jaws for my theorymachining.

Theme:  Jaws of the Wolf

Supreme Kommandant Irusk
– Behemoth

Greylord Forge Seer
– Destroyer
Widowmaker Marksman (free from theme)

Kayazy Assassins w/ Underboss
Kayazy Assassins w/ Underboss
Kayazy Eliminators
Kayazy Eliminators
Widowmaker Scouts

This list comes with a lot of stealth, because one thing more annoying than no-knockdown tough infantry with cover is no-knockdown tough infantry with cover and stealth.  If you can stack battle lust and backstab from the minifeat on the Kayazy Assassins, you’ll be throwing a lot of dice at your target.  With effective DEF 17 in melee, Eliminators tend to be a pain to remove, even moreso when they make a no-knockdown tough roll.

As for jacks, the combo of Behemoth in Irusk’s battlegroup and a Destroyer being marshalled by the Forge Seer is a good one.  Irusk can slap Fire For Effect on the Destroyer, giving it fully boosted magical attack rolls on the bombard, good for sniping out incorporeal models.  Behemoth only needs two focus to fire off two fully boosted shots, and since he gets one from power up, he can get the other from the Forge Seer. So, we’re talking three fully boosted bombard shots, one of which is magical, for the investment of just one focus per turn to upkeep Fire For Effect.  This leaves Irusk with plenty of focus remaining for his other support spells and camping.

That said, this list does have some glaring weaknesses.  First, there isn’t much to prevent Irusk2 from getting shot.  With so many stealth models, there isn’t much that can effectively screen him.  Second, sprays and mass eyeless sight could be a problem, so playing this list into Legion might be a bad idea.

Of course, I have a lot of painting to do before I can run a double Kayazy Assassin list, so…

(Note:  Apologies for not having more WIP photos; I wasn’t originally planning to do a paintlog on this model)

Hot Take: Steam and Steel

So, one of the things on the Warmachine internet that sometimes irritates me is how the moment something drops, we immediately get a whole bunch of hot takes and theorymachine, which immediately fills the echo chamber and becomes commonly accepted wisdom without any rigorous testing or any effort to really unlock what’s there. Sometimes these “hot takes” turn out to be accurate, but sometimes… well, remember how people said that Caine3 or Ghost Fleet were unplayable trash when they came out, and then all of the sudden Tim Banky won everything?

That said, now that I’m on the Warmachine internet and happen to be a loyal Khador player, I am now required by the Empress to offer you my hot take on today’s Insider, which is all about our Man-O-War, even though what I really really want to see is an Assault Kommando theme.  And a Vlad3 all the horses theme.  And Harkevich2… okay, now I’m getting greedy.

However, I will preface this by saying that I am, in fact, an idiot who is not very good at this game.  At the SOO this year, I managed to eke out a 1-4 record in whichever tournament actually required painted models.  A few weeks ago at the CCBB, I was knocked out of contention in something like 11 minutes, and more importantly, I got crushed in the painting competition by Will from Moosemachine.  Again.  Not that I’m bitter or anything…

img_1375.jpgFor a long time, Man-O-War were the unit that Khador players really wanted to love. Big burly men and women of Khador in giant steam-powered suits of armour, wielding either giant axes, giant hammers or grenade launchers with freaking chainsaws for bayonets, we all had the dream of crushing our opponents with an unstoppable tide of steam and steel, even if the models themselves bore an unfortunate resemblance to GW’s Space Marines if you squint a little too hard.  Unfortunately, throughout Mk.II, they were generally too slow to get to where they needed to be and didn’t really do what they needed to do when they got there, so you didn’t really see them all that much on the competitive circuit. While Mk.III brought the Shocktroopers up to a decent baseline with the release of the Officer, they were quickly overtaken by the rise of themes (aside from the Loud Chris Vlad2 list).

Today, with the sneak preview of the Armored Korps theme and some new models, we can see that starting to change. Armored Korps lets you take all the Man-O-War, Battle Mechaniks, our trusty War Dog, and a merc solo or unit.  The benefits are free models, better Repair on mechaniks, and Advance Move on models that don’t exist yet.

Okay, at first glance, nothing in is either unexpected or is anything to really write home about.  Free points is standard for themes and probably what we all expected, better mechaniks are good, I guess, but it just feels like between electroleaps, blast damage, and sprays, there are enough ways to trivially kill mechaniks that I can’t see this being gamebreaking.  And the final benefit is something that we aren’t going to see until 2018 when they start releasing the new models.

Speaking of new models, though, this is the real meat of the insider.  Bombardiers are going to get some CID love with a proposal to increase their range.  Further, they will be getting an officer which grants them some neat special rules, such as Clear Cut, Quick Work, and a Dual Shot minifeat.  This will hopefully make them as cool on the tabletop as “heavily armoured Russians wielding chainsaw-RPGs” sounds.  We’re getting a battle engine which kind of reminds me of the Gun Carriage and which, with Advance Move in theme, seems pretty legit.  Finally, we’re going to be getting Man-O-War Tankers, which it is safe to assume is a new name for the Heavy Man-O-War whose sculpts were spoiled at Lock and Loadtanker.jpg.

But when it comes to recent Man-O-War news, that’s not all!  In the most recent issue of No Quarter, the splash page showed off what is clearly Sorscha3 in a Man-O-War suit**, as well as a couple cool-looking MoW solos. With the hint in the insider that there is more to come, I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to say that the Demolition Corps are at some point going to get some much-needed help in the form of a Unit Attachment or Solo — perhaps they might get backswing back or something to that effect?

Sorscha3So, how do I feel about this theme overall?  I think it seems pretty good, but I’m not sensing anything at the moment that is going to light the world on fire — at least, not until we start getting a good look at the new Man-O-War releases slated for 2018.  The big thing that this has going for it is that it enables one to create a bricky Khador army that can actually score circular zones, as SR2017 and some boogeymen in the meta (Cryxian armour debuffing, POW 20-something Skin and Moans that chew through anything they get into) seem to be taking the shine off some of our jackspams.  A couple units of Man-O-War and a couple jacks in the battlegroup can score in some scenarios a lot better than an all-jack army whose only scoring piece for some zones is the caster.

As for what casters to take it with, I think Vlad2 is an obvious candidate because between Hand of Fate and his feat, he can turn a unit of MoW up to 11.  Will Pagani offered up a Butcher1 list in the Insider which seems solid.  Strakhov2 will surely be hilarious when you tell your opponent that your shocktroopers are ARM 26 with no-knockdown tough on feat turn, though casting Last Stand on a unit with relatively expensive models seems to be an iffy proposition.  The Irusks are always good at running infantry, and with Irusk2, it could be fun to throw Fire For Effect onto a Bombardier and drop a fully-boosted arcing fire 6-man CRA onto someone (and of course, managing to triple-snake the attack roll because you have somehow angered the dice gods). Of course, Sorscha3 is undoubtedly going to be badass when she comes out.  And even Lord Kozlov, our much-maligned battlebox caster, may get a new lease on life with a mob of Shocktroopers.

So, how am I going to Man-O-War?

Lady Kozlov, Viscountess of Scarsgrad (28 WJP)

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It’s totally not weird that I put in the effort to make a gender-bent conversion of Kozlov, out of Nicia and a random Iron Fang cape, right?


— Spriggan (19)
— Juggernaut (12)

 

Greylord Forge Seer (Free)
Greylord Forge Seer (4)
Man-O-War Drakhun (9)
Man-O-War Drakhun (9)
Man-O-War Kovnik (Free)
Man-O-War Kovnik (Free)
Saxon Orrik (4)

Man-O-War Shocktroopers (16)
— Man-O-War Shocktrooper Officer (4)
Man-O-War Shocktroopers (16)
— Man-O-War Shocktrooper Officer (4)
Battle Mechaniks (3)
— Battle Mechanik Officer (3)

Kozlov gets a lot of hate online for being kind of boring and not being number one at anything in particular, but I chose her because she’s got two solid upkeep spells for Man-O-War, and her feat synergizes quite nicely with Shocktroopers.  +2 SPD brings them up to a whopping 13″ threat range with the Kovnik, and Unyielding is not too shabby on a no-knockdown ARM-skewy unit with 2″ reach.  Forge Seers can help fuel the jacks when Kozlov is spending all her focus on her upkeeps, as well as take care of any pesky Gremlin Swarms.  Saxon Orrik is an obvious choice for a mercenary solo because he grants pathfinder, and the last thing MoW want is to be slowed down even more by rough terrain.

As for the battlegroup, if journeyman league games have taught me anything, it is that casting Fury on a Juggernaut is fun.  And the Spriggan is there because I just finished painting it, and despite being kind of expensive in terms of point cost, it at least has some synergy with Kozlov’s feat for the same reasons as the Shocktroopers.

So, final verdict?  It’s really too early to tell, given that the theme force includes a lot of unreleased models, but let’s just say that I’m probably going to be taking out the airbrush next weekend…

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**Sorscha3 in a Man-O-War suit is the most awesome thing that has happened in Khador in a long time, and anyone who has a problem with it is an idiot.

Black Dragon Spriggan Paintlog

So, in my efforts to bash out the backlog on my shelf of shame, I managed to finish off my Spriggan that had been sitting there since, well, since Spriggans were considered to be one of Khador’s best warjacks.

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For me, this model was a study in freehand and weathering.  I stuck to my usual purple and pink colour scheme with the autumnal colours in the basing.  To be honest, when I started, I didn’t think it would end up looking this good.

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I bought this model used, and had to strip some paint off, and of course, broke the spindly little arms off in the process and had to reconstruct them.  Then I primed it white and hit it with the purple base coat using an old Badger single-action airbrush.  My purple recipe is simply the Reaper Royal Purples triad of Nightshade (9022), Imperial (9023) and Amethyst (9014) purple, which with the right mixture of Vallejo airbrush thinner and flow improver, shoots through the brush pretty well.  Start with the darkest colour and work your way up, occasionally using a business card or a bit of silly putty for masking and to prevent overspray, and you’re in business.

Then it sat on the shelf for a year.

Of course, when I picked it back up, I noticed that there were a lot of issues with the model, as I had gotten a little better at painting in the meantime.  I had missed a lot of mold lines the first time around, and my first attempt at recreating the arms was not great.  There was some cleanup involved, but I didn’t want to have to respray the model, so I kept my cleaning to places where I was going to paint over anyways, or where I could easily conceal my scratching at it.

I also ripped off the arms to make it easier to paint and to redo the arms.  With a couple plasticard tubes, I managed to create a couple piston-looking things that could go over the brass rod underneath and which were a little beefier looking than the original arms that come in the box.

And then it was on to base coating.  I used mostly P3 and Vallejo Model Colour metallics to do the metal bits, and for the whites, I worked my up, with an undercoat of a medium gray, to Reaper’s Misty Grey (9090), which I find to be one of the most useful colours in my repertoire.  The pink on the lance and shield is also from Reaper; I used their HD Rosy Pink (29853) as an undercoat, Punk Rock Pink (09286) as a base, and Blush Pink (09262) for the highlight.  These are some very vibrant pinks, and have a home in many models in my army.

And then we have the freehand.img_1903.jpg

This is, in my opinion, the most impressive part of this model.  It catches the eye and, along with the weathering, is one component which goes beyond “here’s a model I painted” and really tells a story.  I’m not sure what to say about it; just having nice brushes, the right consistency of paint, and some reference material close by (in this case, a picture of the Black Dragons logo), and a single-colour freehand like this turns out to be less difficult than it looks.  I also freehanded the spiral on the lance, which wasn’t too hard, again, with the right brushes, right consistency, and a steady hand.

Washes add some depth to the model; I used Nuln Oil from GW for most of the wash, and added a little Druchii Violet for the brass bits.  It sounds funny, but I’ve found that a purple shade works really well on brass and gold because colour theory.  Being across the colour wheel from gold, purple shadows make the golden highlights really pop, or something like that.  I don’t know, I’ve never been to art school.  Highlight the metals back up, do a bit of edge highlighting, and we’re ready for weathering!

There were a few techniques I used for this weathering.  For the scratches, what I did was a line of dark colour in the scratch, with a line of highlight below, kind of like this Duncan video.  I also used the sponge technique, applying some dark silver like GW Leadbelcher or P3 Pig Iron using a leftover bit of some pluck foam.  Then I followed up with some P3 Umbral Umber overtop using the same technique.  Both GW’s Typhus Corrosion and Agrax Earthshade can create rust streaks, and Typhus Corrosion is also good for adding dirt and mud effects around the feet and legs of the jack and bottom of the shield, as well as sooty crud on the smokestacks.

When it comes to weathering, placement is key.  Remember how I mentioned earlier that last year’s me kind of slacked off on the mold lines?  Well, here is a nice way to cover that up without worrying about exactly matching the colour at that point on the smooth blend.  That scratch is supposed to be there; it’s weathering…

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Also, weathering tells a story.  I put a lot of weathering on the shield, for example, because it’s a shield.  Blocking blows is what it does, so it’s going to get beaten up.  Also, the lance is going to get scratched up as it penetrates the armour of a Cygnaran warjack, destroying its boiler and wrecking it.  A jack with a punchy fist is going to have scratches on the fist and on the forearm from punching.  Ideally, Khador jacks will have more damage on the front as they face down their foes rather than running away like cowards.  And so on.  I took a while to get into weathering because I like a “clean” look, but even a few scratches can really help the model go tell a story.

I have to admit though, it took a lot of courage to take this freehand that I spent a couple hours working on and which looks great and start randomly stippling crap on.  But in this case, once I got over the fear that I would ruin my wonderful freehand, I came up with something that is so much better and more visually interesting than it was before.  So, my one piece of advice would be to not fear the weathering.  Doing it well can really take things to the next level, and the worst that can happen is you end up repainting something, which in the grand scheme of things is no big deal.

And so, we get the final product.  It turned out a lot better than I anticipated when I started, and while there are some imperfections here and there, I’m very happy with it.  Now, to figure out who to take it with on the table.  Hmmmmmmm, perhaps Vlad1 for the anti-stealth in a rocket list, or maybe Kozlov once the Man-O-War theme comes out?