Thursday, July 24, 2014

Why I didn't purchase Storm Claw

GW's last big seller is probably the Storm Claw box - what's not to love having a huge discount on a several kits plus a soft cover version of the rulebook? Despite how attractive this might sound, and being an avid Space Wolves collector, I finally cancelled the order I had placed in my FGLS. They didn't complain at all by the way because they knew it would be gone very fast.

The problem that I see with Storm Claw is that despite the significant price discount, I'm still a SW player and I don't need the Orks. Even when the hobbyist in me thinks it would have been fun to build the Gretchins and Nobz, it is not what I really want to do.

You see, as many people who have been in this hobby for some years, I went from having little money and a lot of time to have little time and enough money to be able to afford this box without compromising my supper. So if I want to get the Space Wolves kits and that beautiful Krom Dragongaze mini, I need to sell or trade the Orks, because I just don't have enough time to spend on them.

As most 40k guys out there, I have a pretty long list of projects both started and in my wish-list, and I know the Orks would have gone straight to the bottom of the list. First I considered buying this box and actually pre-ordered it with the intent of getting rid of the Orks, but then realized that a) I already have enough GHs and Wolf Guard and b) I don't feel like spending time trying to sell the parts that I don't want.

Think it this way - I'm getting the box for the savings and the special miniature, but in order to get those I have to spend time selling, packing and shipping what I don't need. How much do you value your time? If I need to spend a few hours in taking pictures, selling stuff on Ebay, checking the payment has been received, acquiring the packaging, packing and going to the post, I might as well pay the price difference and save myself all the hassle.

I also don't want to entice GW to keep selling limited editions in this way, because as a customer I feel forced to get stuff I don't want to get in order to get them. If it happens that you want the LE mini and the other kits, then surely it's a great deal, but I suspect this is not the primary intent of this offers. Alas no Krom Dragongaze for me unless a find a good deal in Ebay, which won't probably happen.

What do you think about StormClaw? have you purchased it?

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Storm Fang is here!

Big, ugly and ruthless. Because Fenris likes it this way

The new Space Wolves Flyer - hidden in plain sight?

We have known for some time that designers at GW like to come back to the existing books and material for inspiration when it comes to create new things for a given army. Just browse back your White Dwarf collection and there are plenty of references to previous artworks as inspiration for new projects. Case in point, Space Wolves. Their latest miniature, Krom Dragongaze, is inspired by a 3th Ed artwork. Before him, Arjac is very similar to the drawing in the SW codex, and the Thunderwolves kit allows you to build a very similar one to the illustration depicting its entry in 5th Ed. So now that the rumours on the Storm Fang are solid that are being stated as facts, let's have a look at the SW material and see if there is any hint as to what this Flyer might look like.

Let's remember the description given by Natfka in his blog:

"The Stormfang Gunship has the look of half of a Caestus Assault Ram, and is on the cover of next week's White Dwarf. The previous rumors really list out its abilities well. It comes with a Helfrost Destructor, two twin-linked heavy bolters, two stormstrike missiles and ceramite plating, with power of the machine spirit."

And through BOLS there is a comment from Warseer:
"I should really have said 'love-child of a Caestus Assault Ram and a Stormtalon'. That is a better description of the model's appearance."

Is there anything in the codex that could fit with this description?

This illustration comes I think from the 3rd Ed codex. There are some gunships to the right that look more like Thunderhawks in Star Trek that a Caestus Ram. Moving on.

The below are most certainly Thunderhawks so not our Flyer.

The below doesn't look to be a Thunderhawk, and it is too narrow for a StormRaven or variant.
It is like half a Caestus Ram (check) with small wings on the side (Heavy Bolters supports? check) and some engines towards the end. The cargo area also looks bigger than a Storm Raven (capacity 16? check). Is this the StormFang? we'll have to wait a few more days but I think it likely it looks very similar. What do you think?

Edited: this is how it really looks like!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Space Wolves statlines, rules and points cost from Stormclaw

Folks are starting to receive the StormClaw boxes and so we finally get to know the SW statlines and rules. There's a general points decrease across the board, inline with the previous SM and DA releases, and a very bad change (hint: Grey Hunters). Let's have a look:

From Manuales:

Krom Dragongaze 135p

Power armour, Bolt pistol, Frag and Krak Grenades, Belt of Russ (4++) and his axe Wyrnclaw (master crafted power awxe, +2S FP2). Comes with ATSKNF, Acute Senses, Counter-attack, Furious charge and Stubborn. He's of course an IC.
His Warlord trait makes him declare/accept challenges, with To hit re-rolls.

All of this for 135 points! in the old 5th Ed Codex, it would have been something like Wolf Lord (100 pts), Belt of Russ (25) and Frost Axe (25). This makes 150 points and doesn't account for Stubborn neither the fact that his axe doesn't seem to be unwieldly anymore. Alas Krom cannot take a Thunderwolf nor a bike which is where you usually see Wolf Lords. I might yet paint some Wolf Guard stripes in my Krom and actually get to use the mini.

5x Wolf Guard in TDA 230 p

TDA, 1x hammenator, 1x SB/CF, 1x SB/PF, 1x HF / PF, and the pack leader Beoric with SB and a glaive (+1S FP3).  As usual come with Acute Senses, ATSNF and Couter-attack.

Rules wise they keep the same. Hopefully the new codex will still allow them to be attached to other packs, which was an important difference vs. other Space Marine codexes.

If I'm not mistaken, with the old codex this would have amounted to 245 points so there is a little point decrease here. Still sounds expensive for their load-out (they don't even carry combi bolters!).

5x Grey Hunters 125p

Power armour, bolt pistol, boltgun, krak and frag grenades. They don't seem to keep the CCW, which would mean they lose 1A in CC!
The pack leader (Hengist) has a power axe. Plus 1x GH with plasma pistol and chainsword, 1x with a plasma gun. Rules wise get the standard Acute Senses, ATSNF and Couter-attack.

This configuration would have amounted to 130 points, so looks like Grey Hunters might be getting 1 point discount by losing their CCW. A terrible trade-off if you ask me, GH were so good because they were equally capable shooting or in CC.

5x Blood Claws 110p

Power armour, bolt pistol, CCW, krak and frag grenades. 
The pack leader, Egil Redfist, has a PF. Another Blood Claw replaces his bolt pistol for a plasma pistol. Acute Senses, ATSNF, Couter-attack and Rage, so Blood Claws get a generic rule now.

In the old codex this would have costed 130 points, so that's 20 points less. This doesn't make Blood Claws any better though, they are still overcosted and there is no reason to take them over Grey Hunters... with what we know today.

Aside from the GH losing their CCW there's nothing new here. Some cost decreases to bring them inline with the other codices and that's about it. At this point, even Counter-attack doesn't seem to stay its ground when compared to the other Chapter Tactics. We'll have to wait some more weeks to find out! Until then, thanks for reading!

Monday, July 14, 2014

New Space Wolf Formation: Fierce-eye's Finest

Included in the StormClaw box set there is a Space Wolf formation datasheet. What is exciting is that not only it is a fairly interesting one, but one more hint that the Space Wolves codex is about to drop! Without further ado this is the formation:

From WDW 24:
"Fierce-eye’s Finest hunt as a pack, and once one unit in the formation has shot at or
charged an enemy, successive units in the formation who choose the same target reroll
failed attempts."

From the description, the formation seems to be composed of 5 Wolf Guard in Terminator Armour, 5 Blood Claws and 5 Grey Hunters. In a week we'll know if those units can be expanded, and if it's possible then it's a formation we might actually be seeing on the tables. Grey Hunters are the bread and butter of all Space Wolf armies, and Wolf Guard are easily found, if only for how cool the minis are (side note: hopefully GW will make all those hammers and shields in the kit usable by giving them a decent price). Blood Claws I've never seen on a table, as who would pay a Grey Hunter cost for less stats and wargear? hopefully the new codex will see them drop in price.

I'm looking forward to get the full details on this. Assuming this formation works with more numbers of Grey Hunters and Blood Claws, and if you can still stick a Wolf Guard to them (to tank shots), Drop-podded SW might be a thing! drop T1, shoot the 2 specials per pack / combi-bolters from the Wolf Guard / massed bolter fire with re-rolls to the second and third packs shooting the same unit, T2 charge with re-rolls again.

Are those re-rolls to hit, to wound? Only one more week - can't wait to see!

Friday, June 27, 2014

4 great ways to improve your painting skills

Painting is a key part of our hobby, after all, it is the look of the models and armies what got us here in the first place. It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or have been here for a while, if you like or despise painting, these simple tips will help you get consistently better results.

Where do these come from? well with work, house moving, a pneumonia and a small kid at home, my gaming time suffered a drastic reduction (read: was terminated) and I was limited to painting and collecting. I found this can also be a social activity, with plenty of forums and groups you can share your progress with, and events that can drive your motivation to learn, like painting courses or competitions. This is the summary of the most important things I've learned in the last 6 months and that I feel have really made me progress:

1-Use a wet palette
If there was a secret tool ever to improve painting, that has to be wet palettes. Essentially it keeps your paint humid and makes blending a lot more easier. You can add some paints and mix them as you want - the more mixes, the smoother transitions will be. Even if you don't want to spend too much time in a given miniature, making a small color graduation is going to make that coat or fatigues look so much better. The improvement will be much more noticeable if you are still painting straight from the paint pot, as the wet palette will naturally water down your paints.

The wet palette is going to make the paint last much longer before drying, and by that I mean you can add some colours there and keep using them for some days. As long as there is water below, the paints won't dry.

The other great thing about wet palettes is how simple and cheap they are - all you need is an adequate surface, like an old dish or box cover, a sponge and baking paper. Check an online tutorial, like this one from Massive Voodoo.

2-Get a high quality brush
As most people out there, I've been using Citadel brushes for years and always been happy with them; they aren't that expensive, can last a while and generally get the work done. Nothing wrong with that eh? Well, I recently attended a painting course with master painter Volomir and if there was one thing he stressed all day long, was that it was imperative to use quality brushes! the best out there are the infamous Winsor and Newton series 7. Granted one of those costs like 3 Citadels but they are well worth the price. These brushes are very good at keeping a sharp edge and are extremely helpful for blending colors. I was hesitant at the beginning but after trying them, I know I'm not using anything else.

3-Study some color theory
Color theory is again something that most of us have a sense for but probably have never gotten too much thought about why some colors look good together (turquoise + orange on the example below ) or why that army is so catchy on the eye. At the end of the day, when we are painting miniatures what we are actually doing is trying to make a small scale look like it was much bigger, and because the light and color properties are much different in a 1/1 or 1/50 scales, we do things like edge highlightning or shadows. And the secret to great looking miniatures is creating contrast. Contrast can simply be shadow vs. light. lack and white, but can also be done in subtler ways like using complementary colors (wonder why Orks have red accents?), warm/cool and more. So my advice is read something on the subject and start playing with color combinations based in the theory: for example, use a complementary color for the shadows instead of a black (or even better, mix black with that complementary and a bit of the base color); choose color accents keeping in mind their relation with other colors (see the army above, the blue accent contrasts with the orange weathering), etc.

4-Attend painting competitions and courses
This mini really caught my eye on the Games Day 2012
Painting competitions can be a double edge sword - comparing your stuff to incredible pieces of art produced by professionals who have invested 150 hours in that piece alone can be hard, but also a great motivation. I think having the chance to see all that inspiration more than compensates the possible deception, and can be a powerful motivator in the future. Sure you don't need to paint all that well, all that you need is catch some ideas or concepts and try to apply them on your own. For example, I was blown away by the 'Eavy metal painted Sanguinor I saw on the Games Day 2012 but that is something I will not even attempt at the moment; instead I realized most faces were painted in a different way than the usual White Dwarf tutorial of base flesh color + brown wash, and have been making progress since in replicating those. Now I'm quite happy with the way I paint faces and while they will not win me a prize, I can look at those in my cabinet with some pride. So be prepared to be blown away and be positive - use it as inspiration not to demotivate you!

I was there... the day after this session
As for the courses, having someone show you how blendings and glazes are done will save you countless hours of trying on your own. My own experience was not so much of being a better painter after the course, but of having the tools now to become one. Sure my first attemps at blending like I was taught weren't great but even the first attemps already were better than anything I'd done before. Now I know it's down to me putting enough hours to get there. And let's not forget on the social side of things, it is a great way to get to know other people with similar interests and have a great time painting together. This can help you find a painting group, who said painting was not a social activity?

Hope this was useful, it really reflects my thoughts after doing those points myself, and I think this is the biggest leap I have ever made in painting. Have you had similar experiences or other tips to share?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Rocco the massive Orc finally arrived

Nearly after 7 months after Rocco's Indiegogo campaign finished, I have finally received my copy of Rocco, a giant bad-ass Orc boss and his monster ride. I have seen plenty of unboxings and comments about this campaign and many were negative, so I wanted to chime in and show you what it is so you can form your own opinon.

First things first, the sculpt by the talented Allan Carrasco is nothing short of amazing, with a very detailed Rocco head and body. The star of the show however is the beast itself, with a level of detail I had not seen before. Just look at those claws or face, make the Fantasy plastic dragons cry (and let me clarify I love those, I own a metal Wood Elf Dragon, a plastic Mercenary Elves and a plastic High Elves so I know them well).

One of the perks of the campaign was the banner, which is a nice boon and bane all in one. At least it is a boon for those of us not very gifted at freehand but hey, I'm sure we can all produce something half decent if we put enough thought to it. This painted example by JBT himself is a good example; the banner looks good but it is simple enough than most of us can do something similar. Allright enough digression, let's get to the unboxing:

This is what you got with the campaign: Rocco + monster ride, a banner for Rocco and 3 additional miniatures: Tahar Ama the barbarian, Carmina an Elf-woman with a banner, and Helmut that is a nice little cyber punk miniature. In addition comes printed version of the artwork , which unfortunately is not signed by the authors as promised. The paper is also bent due to the packaging but this is not something that matters a lot to me...

This is Rocco with shield, lance and horns. The bits at the top right are the 2 halves of the rock in which the beast is sitting on, and below the 2 main parts of the monster's body. There are no mold lines at all, and the level of crispness of the details are superlative. Absolutely top-notch.

These are the beasts' head, arms, legs, horns and mount. Again compare to your standard plastic dragon, which is not much more expensive by the way.

This is the banner perk, a nice detailed banner with some hanging skulls as decoration! you could really use this one in a Fantasy army.

And now onto the extra miniatures! Helmut here is a little man/robot, reminds me of some robots you encounter in Final Fantasy XIII. It could be used as a Mechanicum conversion too.
Carmina wears an armor alike to Elrond's Elves host at the very begginning of in the Lord of the Rings, and has another banner.

And finally Tahar Ama, a barbarian girl with an axe. All the 3 perks are nice miniatures and whilst I wouldn't have bought those on their own, I'm happy to have them around.

All in all this campaign has taken 7 months to deliver the stuff, which is unusual for crowdfunding campaings. 75€ for all of this including shipping is I think a more than fair price, especially considering how great the main sculpt is. Whether you want something different to paint, or are looking for alternate Fantasy models, these will not let you down. Look forward to see my progress in some weeks time... thanks for reading!
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