Monday, November 15, 2010

Army List Ideas

The GW store here in Tacoma is doing a 3000 point tourney in January and to prepare for this onslaught not only am I painting but I have been throwing around list ideas in my head as well. The rules for the tourney are basically mini-Apocalypse games. You aren't allowed Stompas or Baneblades but instead you get 1 extra slot for each place on the force organization chart. (3 HQ's, 7 Troops, 4 Heavies..., etc.).

With the release of the Dark Eldar codex I have played a majority of my recent games versus this new threat and find that Tyranids and Mechanized armies tend to be slaughtered. I know that a large amount of players are going to be bringing Dark Eldar to the match up so I have been trying to develop a list using the Nids I have, primarily the ones I have painted, in order to combat these space pirates.

Any thoughts / ideas??? With 3000 points it is really easy to start to load up on particular units but those points tend to disappear fast.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Molding and Casting Tutorial or the Blind Leading the Blind

Step 1: Turn back now while you still can! Okay? Seriously...

Still here? Wow, alright then. Keep in mind I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing either but this is what I have learned so far through trial and error.

Step Two: PLANNING, sure it sounds like a good idea now but the reality is probably more insane than you anticipated.

You're going to need:
  1. Mat/table covering/cheap cutting board - something to keep all the chemicals from spilling onto your workspace.
  2. Plastic/rubber gloves - don't let this stuff touch your skin.
  3. Ventilated area/hazmat suit - don't breathe this stuff.
  4. Disposable strong stirrers - I use tongue depressors.
  5. Dixie/paper/see-through plastic cups - for mixing.
  6. Small measuring cups - try to find something disposable or something that will be dedicated to this process forever.
  7. Plasticard - go to a hardware store and get some 'For Sale' signs, see below.
  8. Clay/stopgap material.
  9. Rulers and pens - for measuring.
  10. Your custom model, mold and casting mixtures.
  11. A plan - what the hell are you really trying to accomplish? Why are you making multiples of this thing? Do you REALLY need to make multiples of this thing?

So let's start with something simple aka something I actually made that didn't end in disaster: custom bases.

So you made some custom bases and you'd like to make them over and over again consistently say, for your whole army or whatever.

Step three: planning the mold. This is a lot more difficult than I originally thought it would be.

A mold needs:
  • to be a stable piece that allows you to pour a casted material into it without spilling or creating unnecessary mold lines or flak lines on the model.
  • to allow easy access to the casted piece. If it is a pain in the ass to get the original piece out you can guarantee the casted piece will have the same problem.
I found that drawing out a design works best.

Step four: a box for the mold. Since you are pouring liquid around the model you'll need to be able to contain it. You need a box to contain the model and it needs to be the right dimensions so go buy yourself a ruler and a protractor, maybe even one of those fancy rulers that has a built-in right angle so you can accurately make corners.

For materials I would NOT use cardboard! The mold material sticks to it. I would use plasticard and I would buy it from a hardware store: these are perfect!
Cheap, lots of it!

Measure the dimensions of your model (the bases in this case) and then build a box to contain them. Keep in mind that you're going to want the box to be deeper (or taller, etc) so that when you pour the mold mix over it the mix will cover the model completely!

Now that you've got a solid container, make sure the edges are filled or it will make a huge mess.
But what's this!
That's going to drain straight onto something so fill it with something:
Clay works well and generally can be re-used. Coincidentally this was originally the material I was going to use to sculpt with.

Now that the box is secure arrange your models so that they don't touch each other or the walls. You can secure them to the box with clay or a little glue.

Now that everything is ready we can look at the mold material.

Step Five: the mold.
Meet Oomoo: (the website and the instructions I received say two different things) a two part, 1:1 ratio mix by volume, no heat or vacuum sealing required mold compound from Smooth-On. I recommend starting with the $25 trial size as it will last you for your first baby steps towards bigger things.

Words of caution:
  • this stuff is sticky, lay out some sort of cutting board or some sort of mat you can throw away later and wear GLOVES
  • VENTILATION, these are chemicals which are not friends with your lungs, eyes, and other vulnerable tissues
  • Part B is a blue substance that pours like thin syrup (slower than water at any rate)
  • Part A is a pink substance that comes out in GLOBS and has the consistence of molasses
  • the bottle do not lend well to pouring and tend to drip hence I started keeping them in plastic bags because the unmixed substance does not clean off easily.
Start off by taking the measurements of your box (height x length x depth) to get your volume estimation. Of course, if you're any sort of scientist you'll just measure in metric and realize 1 cm^3 = 1 mL and it's an easy day. Otherwise you can convert your measurements via Google if need be. You could try to determine the volume by merely pouring water into your box and then measuring the amount of water with the model in it. I wouldn't recommend this tactic... Unless your model is huge I wouldn't bother with this because you'll need a little extra anyways to cover your model entirely. Better to have more than you need vs. not enough!

Now take that number and halve it (one half will be part A the other B). Measure out equal potions of each. Being a little off isn't going to ruin anything as far as I can tell so far...

I haven't found a good measuring tool. This stuff is opaque, is a pain in the ass to clean, and generally clings to any surface it touches. Right now I wrap a metal measuring tool in plastic. This is not ideal but it has worked so far.

Those little cough syrup things might work too.
Now dump both into a cup:
As you can see here I used one of those disposable paper cups. I actually recommend see-through plastic cups so you can see if you've scraped the edges off enough. I haven't used them myself but the paper has worked so far now.

You've got 75 minutes before this stuff solidifies (cures) so take your time.

Stir it up. I got some tongue depressors because this is a thick mixture and lesser stirring utensils might snap. Stir until it is a solid purple and make sure to scrape the edges and the bottom to get it all together.

Place the box on a level surface and then pour the mold mix into one spot in a steady slow flow and let it fill.
Use the stirrer to scrape it all out until the top of the model is submerged and has a little substance above it. If you didn't mix enough the top of the model will show through and you'll have a hole. If you're quick you can mix some more and cover it... This may have happened to me because I didn't plan ahead.

Now set a timer and go do something else for 75 minutes or more, if you're so inclined.

Welcome back!

Step Six: recover (hopefully) the original model and mold. With the bases this is rather straight-forward: take the entire mold out of the box (this might require you to destroy said box) and flip it over. Since you had the bases face-down that is what you should be seeing: the bases facing up at you with their tops inside the mold. Pop them out and see if anything has gone amiss:
If you look closely at the top row 1st and 3rd from the left bases you can see that there is mold material stuck inside the original model. The irregular arrangement of edges or your careless hands have cause bits of the mold to break off into the model. As of yet this can not be repaired as far as I can tell. The skull base (2nd row, 2nd from the left) also has some of the mold in it.

Additionally there may be some edging or lines that aren't supposed to be there on the mold. You can clean these off this a knife but BE CAREFUL. One wrong deep cut will pierce right through the mold.

Also any problem you have getting the originals out will also happen with casting. For example I tried to make some custom skeleton parts and then cutting the mold in half to retrieve them. I was too hasty and this is the result:
Now if I try to cast it the pieces not only come out irregularly but they are a pain in the ass to get out. Keep this in mind when you plan your mold as retrieval is crucial and may make the mold effectively worthless.

Step Seven: casting!
Meet Smooth-Cast 300 white liquid plastic. 1:1 mix by volume, no vacuum sealing (degassing), etc.

Words of caution:
  • Part A and B are clear mixtures.
  • These things pour FASTER than water. This was a nasty frakking surprise after the mold mix.
  • You've got 10 MINUTES to pour this stuff after you mix it.
  • Curing is a EXOTHERMIC reaction! It gets really hot!
  • The container you use to mix this and the stirring rod will be covered and unless you intend to re-use them for this exact process, will be coated in solid hard plastic.
Preparation for this one is tricky because you're measuring the volume of the model itself. Remember the water technique I mentioned for measuring out the volume for the mold mix? That's the only way I've discovered to measure it all out without ending up with a lot of extra material.

So measure, mix, pour with a steady hand. Pour too quickly and bubbles will form or you'll overfill the mold. Pour at the lowest point of the model and let it fill to the top. You can take your mold and sort of pick it up a little and drop it down to slam some of the bubbles out, be careful though.

Wait 10 minutes (you can actually see it change from clear to solid white and it heats up, NEAT).

Take out the casted piece just like you did with the originals:
Did it work? Are there any mold lines? Did some of the mold break off into the piece? Mine did so now the next casted piece will show that deficit.

Try it again and again:
Here you've got my small bases, medium, and beetle.

Step Eight: practice. You get better over time, naturally.

Here are some resources:

Smooth-On: one of the more friendly websites for this process and one of the few that isn't so brutally technical that you can't understand it. I buy everything here for now. There are LOTS of things you can do with their products and some neat tutorials. Be sure to read up on whatever you buy first or you'll end up with products you can't use properly!

They actually have a product called Sorta Clear that acts as a semitransparent mold mix so you can cut into it and SEE what you are doing rather than cutting a mold blindly. Problem? It requires to be degassed. Degassing vacuum chambers are stupid expensive (like $500 for the pump alone) so I wouldn't bother unless you get really serious about this process or you find something cheaper.

Hirst Arts: makes scenery molds and has some good tutorials as well as BRILLIANT things to make into REALLY customizable scenery.

Sersi's DakkaDakka custom army thread: details this cool cat Sersi's production of some FINE sculpts followed by making custom molds. I haven't entirely figured out how to duplicate the process but it is one of the better pictured productions that I've seen.

Well that's that. I'm trying to sculpt some models right now with the intention to mold them. I'll let you know how it all turns out!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Hive Mind's Next Army...

So these new releases and helping B with his army design/painting has really inspired me to collect an Eldar army. However I don't just want to amass every unit in the Codex and use the models that GW provides. Instead I am going to make this army my ultimate conversion army. I will vow to make it almost entirely out of Plastic bitz and start to learn how to cast my own resin parts to convert particular units.

I found an AMAZING post that has inspired me to do this task but I won't release my sources.... haha!

So after about 90% of my Nids are painted and battle hardened, it is official that Eldar will be my next army!

So my first order of business is to write a 2000 point list and work to layout designs and bitz accordingly.

Eldar rejoice!

With the new Imperial Armor 11 book en route the UK Gamesday revealed a bunch of new units/models under construction. Besides the usual Imperial type units that are typical to be released (this time rumor mill includes a new Land Raider variant, Space Wolf Thunderwolf Calvalry models, Dreadnought variants, etc.) this time Forgeworld is focusing on some much needed Craftworld Eldar!!

The known facts that this book will reveal include new vehicles (rumored to be 3-4 new tanks, 2 confirmed), new Aspect Warriors (1 confirmed, 1 more rumored still under development), and 2 new troop choices!!!

Here is what I could find on the new releases by Forgeworld.

First up the Lynx! It appears to be a mix between the Apocalypse Scorpion tank allowing an Eldar player to field a Pulsar (Apocalypse level Brightlance) on the field. As you can see the model is slightly larger than the Falcon/Prism tanks. My only thing that I don't like about this type of tank is that it is very vulnerable to weapon destroyed results relying up Holo-fields to save them.

Next up is the Hornet. If the Vyper, Warwalker, and Falcon had a baby, this would be the result. The experimental rules are up on Forgeworld.

Hornet: Armor F 11, S 11, R 10 BS: 3 55 points FAST ATTACK

Unit Composition: 1-3 Hornets
Unit Type: Vehicle (Fast, Skimmer)
Special Rules: Scout
Wargear: Star Engines, 2 weapons from the following list

Weapons: Must be armed with 2 of the following weapons...
Shuriken Cannon @ +5 points each
Scatter Laser @ +15 points each
Eldar Missile launcher @ +20 points each
Starcannon @ +25 points each
Bright Lance @ +30 points each
Pulse Laser @ +40 points each

Options: Any Hornet may be upgraded with any of the following...
Holofield @ +35 points
Vector Engines @ +20 points
Spirit Stones @ +10 points

These beauties will in my opinion replace both Warwalkers and Vypers. They can bring the same firepower that Warwalkers bring and still can outflank, but they are more resilient (Not open-topped and higher Front and Side armor) as well as much faster (built in Star Engines). Vypers are 10 points cheaper but think about what you get with the Hornet vs. the Vyper....

+1 Front and Side Armor, NOT open-topped, built in Star Engines, can Outflank or Scout move, Pulse Lasers!!!

The good news is that these babies are Fast Attack choices and don't compete with all the Heavy slots within the Eldar army.

Now onto another awesome new unit!!!

Say hello to the Shadow Spectre!!!

The low down on these little beauties is thus.... Imagine a Jet-pack (Not Jump pack), armed Infantry with a Prism cannon. That is what you get with this beauty.
Only 1 model has been sculpted thus far but Forgeworld has confirmed that they plan to design 5 models (a full squad with Exarch), as well as a possible Pheonix Lord!!!
Rules for these guys are still in the rumor mill but what we are fairly sure is this...
They can link fire similar to Fire Prism tanks, getting stronger with each linked shot. They have Jet-Packs, so they move like Tau battlesuits and can still fire their heavy weapons. The gun is rumored to be able to provide both the focused and dispersed beams like the Prism tank. We know that the gun is a Heavy type and a Lance weapon. Everything else is speculation. The hope is that these guys will be Fast Attack but I doubt it as they have HEAVY weapons and are similar to Tau Broadsides which are Heavy choices.
The other rumor for the remaining aspect warrior is a melee jump pack infantry unit. Something like a Banshee and Swooping Hawk mixed together.
This really makes me want to start a Craftworld now!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Last few weeks work...

Found this from another Tyranid Player. Apparently his kid found it at Toys'R'Us and it had a baby Dragon in it... Kid didn't want the egg... Looks like I will be making a trip to Toys'R'Us to pick about 4 of these up to make new and improved pods...

Brian's Wave Serpent that I helped him paint this weekend to get him started on his Eldar. For my first vehicle ever, it's not too bad.

Another view...

My Nid's that I have completed painting these last few weeks....

3 4th edition Raveners (Pewter).

2 Lictor's and 1 Deathleaper (camo legs)...

8 Ymgarl Genestealers...

10 Gargoyles....

3 Pyrovores...

1 Trygon Prime...... god this thing took forever....

Next on the agenda for painting includes ... 10 more Gargs... 6 Warriors with Boneswords.... 1 Tervigon.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Walking Dead

A fantastic comic book series has come to TV. AMC is hosting 'Walking Dead' which premiered yesterday (10/31). I haven't watched it yet but I have read the comic series. It should be epic if it is anything like the comics. Even if you don't watch it, go read the series.

Go get your fix of zombie apocalypse.

Demons and Robots

The new robotanic metal band is on tour at your local dive bar!

If only...

This Saturday was supposed to be the d├ębut of my Cyrxian forces against the Protectorate of Menoth. Alas the Protectorate bailed so the battle never happened. Probably for the best as I still haven't come to an understanding of the rules.

Game 1
Instead there was a 4-way battle of 500 point teams. Demons and Necrons (team democrons) vs. Orc(k)s and eldar (team Eldorcs). At 500 points I have room for my required choices and that's it. 20 Necron warriors, 1 Lord with a rez orb.

Objectives on opposite ends of a square table, lots of random terrain between us.

Turn 1
Eldorcs elected to go second so I deployed behind a bowl of fruit next to our objective. My demon ally does not get his choice of the wave of demons and his khorne bloodletters and whatever that superbloodletter's name is show up and run for cover.

Eldorcs (2 units of jetbikes, a warwalker, a wraithlord) (big orc with lots of CC stuff, 2 trucks full of boys and a nob with a power claw, a can) have the jetbikes and trucks rush forward. The artillery (orc can, warwalker and wraithlord) open fire and wipe out a bunch of bloodletters.

Turn 2
Demon reserves don't enter, bloodletters and superletter run 2" through the cover (1" difficult terrain and 1" run). Necrons position themselves to shoot (did I ever mention how I dislike 'rapid fire'?).

Eldorcs trucks and jetbikes run forward and shoot. Artillery takes out more bloodletters.

Turn 3
Demon reserves don't show up. Bloodletters continue to run 3". Necrons open fire on the trucks but only destroy a weapon.

Eldorcs jetbikes open fire on the Necrons but to no avail. Orcs jump out of the trucks and rush the Necrons. They manage to deal no wounds (half are swinging at the lord anyways) and my Necrons don't hit anything either. Artillery takes out more bloodletters (me demon ally could not roll for crap).

Turn 4
Demon reserves (pink horrors and the Masque) come and land right next the eldar jetbikes. The Masque tries to do that puppet thing where it makes the enemy move. One group of orcs not in the truck but not in combat get moved right into rapid fire range. Pink horrors and Necrons cut them down.

My lord is take out in close combat.

Eldorcs open up into the pink horrors and Masque, wiping them out. More Necrons go down against the orcs. The superletter and remaining bloodletter are charged by the orc boss and can. No one is wounded.

Turn 5
With my demon friends deadlocked with a khan, jetbikes bearing down on my one free unit and my other unit locked into a close combat that they would eventually lose to attrition, things were looking grim for the Democrans. The orc boss went down to the superletter but was then cut down by the can. The remaining bloodletter wouldn't be able to hurt the can because of the armor value.

My Necrons in combat were wiped out by the orcs (lord did not make the WBB roll). The remaining unit of Necrons were hit by the jetbike unit but few loses. I called the game at that point.

I dislike 500 point games. Not because I lost but because Necrons are worthless in such small games.

Game 2
The eldar player had to leave, something about catching a plane to Ohio. So we played one of those 3-way battles where two people fight it out and the last person wipes up whatever is left. This time I got to be that third person, sort of.

1000 points (thank the toaster gods) Demons vs. Chaos vs. Necrons.

Same table with two objectives in one quarter and everyone else in the others.

Turn 1
Necrons go first castling up in one quarter with the monolith out front screening the warriors, a small unit of scarabs screen behind the warriors, immortals and a lord next to the monolith, one unit of warriors in reserve. We run for some cover, awaiting the inevitable badness of demons but safely out of range from the chaos warriors.

Demons go second, the chaos gods disagreeing with the wave choice (this guy has some of the worst rolling, ever he really needs to make his waves even to avoid that). So the superkhorne greater demon (where everyone re-rolls to hit and he can't fly) with 2 units of 6 fiends try to drop on the chaos warriors but scatter off the board and then are destroyed by the deep strike mishap roll. Considering half of his army was wiped out we told him to try that over again. This time he landed pretty close to the chaos warriors and then ran everything forward towards them.

Chaos warriors roll up towards the demons (3 rhinos full of 2 units of guys and then a unit of possessed with a psycher of some kind) and open fire, wiping out a unit of fiends.

Turn 2
Necrons begin to take pot shots at everyone, taking out a weapon on a rhino and killing a fiend. I continue to press close to the objectives. My reserves come in, surprisingly so I let them file out of my monolith.

Demon reserves decide to come in: a soul grinder (fully loaded) and a unit of demonettes. Grinder opens up on my Necrons with phlegm (big template) but misses entirely. The demonettes run forward.
The other half (superkhorne and fiends) rush the chaos marines opening up one rhino and devouring the gooey insides but leaving themselves exposed for the other two.

Chaos marines kill the superkhorne, psycher and possessed rush the fiends and a fierce battle ensues with the possessed coming out on top.

Turn 3

I open fire with everything I've got against the soul grinder and even get my particle whip to land right on the thing's head then fail to roll a penetrating hit (needed a 4+ damn it). My immortals manage to glance off the phlegm cannon while the other unit of warriors wipe out the demonettes until there is only one left.

Demon fiends are finished off by the possessed, the soul grinder rushes my Necrons and tear up 5 of them. Luckily they are close enough to my Lord to get the benefit of the rez orb. The lone demonette rushes the other unit and the Necrons take it down.

The lone chaos rhino still intact rolls up towards the objective and the possessed start to walk down towards it as well.

Turn 4
With the soul grinder breathing down my neck and chaos marines lumbering my way I'm in a tight spot. I luckily make all of my WBB rolls then pull that same unit away from the soul grinder. Then proceed to ram my monolith into the chaos marine rhino but I don't roll high enough to penetrate the armor. I open fire with all of my Necrons into the soul grinder and manage to whittle it down to one close combat weapon. I then rush my scarabs (remember those? They've been hiding this entire time) into the soul grinder to delay it. Meanwhile my immortals and lord teleport within firing range of the possessed and start picking them off at a distance.

The soul grinder wipes out a base. And combat resolution wipes out another base.

Chaos possessed run towards my immortals. The rhino backs up and tries to take out the monolith with a melta weapon but misses.

Turn 5
My monolith particle whips the possessed and takes most of them out. I would have whipped the rhino but I was worried it would scatter right back on my or my other units. My warriors run away from the grinder towards the objectives. My scarabs are wiped out in close combat and the grinder consolidates up.

The grinder then rushes the monolith (surprise there but considering the demon player has just this model left I think he was in the mood to goof off at that point) but he glances it.

Chaos marines again try and take out my monolith but fail.

Turn 6
My immortals take out the rest of the possessed, my monolith closes in on the objective next to the chaos marines, contesting it, fires at the grinder, misses. The rest of my forces close on the remaining objective.

Grinder tries again to take out the monolith and fails.

The chaos marines try again and fail.

Victory Necrons

On the one hand I was lucky that the fiends did not target me. On the other hand I castled up pretty well and defended my quarter pretty well. The mobility provided by the immortals and the lord is always nice but I did miss my destroyers. I don't have a lot of options to open up armor. Sure, ALL of my forces can glance something but that usually does not happen. 20 warriors with rapid fire hit on a 3+ lay down a lot of hits. But then I need 6's to glance and 5-6 to take off weapons or immobilize the target. That doesn't happen as often as you'd think. Additionally it seems like every vehicle now ignores shaken and stunned so glances statistically don't do much for me ever.

Toast for the toaster god!