Friday, December 19, 2014

A Brief History of My Wargaming Experience

     Lately I've been utilizing eBay to clear out some of my old armies to make some space and generate funds for new projects. While I've been going through this process, I've been looking through a lot of pictures of my old armies and fondly remembering each one and its significance to me. In the spirit of that, I thought it would be interesting to go over a brief history of the armies I've collected and painted over the years.
    First of all, I'll just clarify that the first models I painted are not on here simply because I have no pictures of them. If I did, I would love to share them. I started in miniature wargaming with Warhammer 40,000 during 4th edition when I was in junior high school. I built small (barely playable) Ultramarines force with some... shall we say "interesting" painting techniques. The entire force was painted with gloss enamel model paints. Like many young gamers, I drifted in and out of the hobby as time went on. I tried out other games such as Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 Edition, Axis and Allies Miniatures, Warmachine, Hordes, Battletech, and Blood Bowl in this time as well.
     It wasn't until I was in high school that I made a real foray into army scale games with a properly sized force. I got into Warhammer Fantasy with a humble High Elf army.

I would print Warhammer banners off of Google Images and then paint over them to make them look more authentic. The concept behind the colour scheme for this army was "Space Wolf colours on High Elves". I also chose the dark basing scheme to represent a High Elf expeditionary force attacking Naggaroth. 

Caradryan was my first ever Finecast figure. Thankfully, you couldn't really see any of the air bubbles once I finished painting it. 

     One of the difficulties of gaming for me during this time was that I lived out in the country, outside of Winnipeg and as such there were very few miniature wargamers. To be more specific, there were none. I order to allow non-gamer friends to play Warhammer with me, I traded away some of my old Hordes models for a beaten up Warriors of Chaos army which I have repainted. They were supposed to be a tribe of Nurgle worshippers, which instead of disease were stricken by near constant famine. As such, they were constantly pushing into other races' territories to gather what meagre resources they could to survive before the Nurgle's famine would follow them to their new location. I experimented with P3 paints for the colour of the armour, which was painted using the Cryx paint set. This army also contained my first attempts at rudimentary freehand for the banners with their checkered pattern. I would highly recommend painters who want to practice basic freehand to try it with Warhammer Fantasy Orcs or Chaos as it doesn't have to look perfect to look good. I also threw in some Space Wolf heads to add some variety and character to the warriors. 

The Nurgle Lord I painted to be the army's general. 

     The next major projects I did unfortunately lack any significant photograph documentation, but coinciding with the release of Dark Vengeance for Warhammer 40,000 I started a Chaos Space Marine army and a Dark Angels force. I built both off of the contents of the starter set. This period saw my first attempts at magnetizing vehicle accessories as well as the further developing of my freehand skills, particularly with the Dark Angels as the new banner that gave them Salvo 2/4 on their bolters was a personal favourite of mine. 

One of the few pictures I have of the models I painted during this period. This was one of my first models that I tried painting OSL on. 

     My Necrons were probably my favourite army that I've worked on. This army was a real adventure in hobbying as I tried many new techniques such as weathering powders, weathering metallics with a graphite pencil, and the further development of my OSL skills. This was the first army that I added Forge World models too and it without a doubt has gotten the most time on the tabletop of any of my armies. I loved running large twenty-man Necron squads with a Lord carrying a Res Orb supported by a Ghost Ark or two. It was a very fun way to play the game. 

My Necron Cryptek was my first submission into a painting contest, and took gold in the 40k Single Model category in a local competition. 

I also painted my first Super-Heavy Vehicle for the Necron army. 

     With the Necrons, I really focused on efficiency in painting. I wanted to be able to paint as many figures as quickly as possible while still having the figures look as good as I possibly could make them. I enjoyed painting like this, but I still wanted to go all out on some models and make them as detailed as I knew I could with more time. For this reason, I then started a small Grey Knight Draigo-Wing force. I used Secret Weapon Miniatures resin bases for these models and I took the time to magnetize all of their special weapons. It was a neat army and one that was particularly challenging for me as it was the first army that I used the an airbrush to paint. 

     After the Grey Knights, I moved into an overly expensive passion project, which was building a company worth of Rogue Trader era Ultramarines. I don't really have much to say about this project, but if you're thinking about doing something like this, don't. Seriously. If I could go back and give my self on piece of advice in my hobby career, it would be to resist the urge to undertake this project. To this day, I still can't tolerate the smell of Simple Green anymore. You'll likely be paying Forge World-comparable prices for old beater models. Steer clear and spend that money on some Horus Heresy stuff. Don't say I didn't warn you. 

I don't remember this project fondly like I do with the Necrons. 

     I painted some Orks up just for a fun painting project after that. This was my first attempt at using glazes, a technique which has been extremely useful for the development of my colour scheme for the Mars Attacks! Martians you see on the blog these days. That pretty much wraps up the brief history. I've skipped over some sections that there were no pictures for, as describing a colour scheme generally doesn't make for ideal reading material. I hope that the progression of my painting has been apparent through these pictures and explanations, and I especially hope that some of the newer painters reading this find some kind of motivation to keep pushing their boundaries. The only way to do it is to put brush to model, so get painting.

I hope you've enjoyed this post. If you'd like to see more content from Nothing But Sixes, follow me on Twitter (Nothing But Sixes @nothingbutsixes). If you would like to help others discover this blog, hit the G+1 button to recommend it. Thanks for reading and happy gaming.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Star Wars Ramble

     If you've been reading my previous blog posts or if you follow Nothing But Sixes on Twitter (@nothingbutsixes), you'll notice that the Star Wars Miniatures Game has appearing more and more. This is a strange foray for me to embark on, so I wanted to elaborate on it a little and explain what I plan on doing and why. First of all, I've never liked the collectible aspect of SWM, and the models are subpar at best. I'm making an exception and building a collection because for my uses, the only considerations that matter are that the figures are affordable, consistent, and fit the setting I'm trying to recreate.
     I've always been a hobbyist first, and a gamer second. My passion in miniature wargaming is the painting aspect. Lately I've wanted to expand my palette by increasing my presence in the gaming community. One of the main ways I want to achieve this goal is by running demo games. I've been making arrangements to start running Mars Attacks! demos locally, but I wanted to do something on a larger scale for events. My objective with what I've started calling The Hoth Project is to build large Rebel and Imperial armies consisting of Wizards of the Coast Star Wars figures, with a complete set of Hoth-themed terrain. Then using a blend of the WOTC rules with some home-brew modifications, I intend to use the collection to run huge games at local events. I want to generate interest in playin games outside of the usual few that local groups play (Warhammer Fantasy, Warhammer 40k, Warmahordes, and Infinity). One possibility that has occurred to me in the past week was finding a way to have a simultaneous game of X-Wing running, which will somehow be able to influence the ground-based game. I'm not sure yet as to how this might work, but it would be a neat addition.
     I've chosen the Battle of Hoth as the focus of this project as it is one of my favourite movie scenes that I've wanted to play out on the tabletop. It also seems to be an iconic scene in the minds of many gamers and non-gamers alike, which I hope will generate more participation when the time comes to actually run the games. I want to create as much enthusiasm as possible for both those playing and those watching.
     There are some challenges that I anticipate coming up as I continue working on the project. One of these challenges will be the creation of visually appealing, yet transportable terrain. Another will be modifying the rules in such a way that allows for mass combat in a reasonable amount of time without becoming to complicated, and without creating any blatant imbalances between the forces. Finally, it might be difficult to find players interested in play-testing modified rules and help organize the actual gameplay when the time comes. 
     This project will be a large undertaking, and will have more elements to coordinate than any other project that I've worked on. For this reason, I'm thankful that the miniatures are at least pre-painted and I can save some time there. The ideal outcomes are optimistic, but I like the idea of challenging myself and diversifying my enjoyment of miniature wargaming.

The Ralph McQuarrie concept art for Hoth.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Nothing But Motivation: Staying Motivated When Painting

    One's motivation to participate in the hobby element of miniature wargaming is often a topic of discussion in online gamer communities. It seems more and more people are concerned with fighting hobby burnout to keep churning out painted figures. Being entirely honest, I rarely experience hobby burnout in the way a lot of people describe it. Generally, the complaint seems to be that when one has done too much hobby work, they loose the motivation to continue hobbying at that pace. For myself, I find I lose motivation when I go for long periods without significant progress. Momentum is important for me to maintain a decent pace when painting. This isn't to say I'm entirely immune to burnout, but acknowledges that different people work in different ways. These tips won't work for everyone, but I've found them to be particularly effective for myself. Hopefully you'll be able to pick out some methods that will help keep you excited about this hobby.

1. Alternate the types of figures you're painting. 

     This first point is one of my favourites. When working on a large project like a full sized army I like to switch things up between each unit and paint a different kind of model. For example, if you were to paint a Space Marine Tactical Squad, and then paint a vehicle or character before you tackle the next Tactical Squad. Most painters will use a different method for their character models and vehicles than they use for the basic infantry. It's easier to go back and forth between these techniques rather than trying to tackle one hundred Space Marines, and then having to paint a whole vehicle fleet after that. Similarly, one can alternate different scales of miniatures or miniature lines to go a step further and paint a different colour scheme altogether. 

2. Constant process management and improvement.

     Once you're in the groove of painting an army, the colour scheme becomes second nature to you. You won't have to put the same amount of thought into the fifty-fourth Clanrat as the first one. One of my favourite things to consider during painting is how I can streamline my painting process. Between daydreaming sessions, I'm analyzing my colour scheme and trying to figure out how I can make it more efficient. Some ways to streamline you techniques include: 
  • Identifying and eliminating redundant steps. These are extra steps in painting a model that you don't actually notice when the you've finished your figure. Excess highlighting and drybrushing layers are a frequent example of this. 
  • Optimizing the order in which you complete steps in your painting process. For example, if you know that you'll be using a Nuln Oil wash on your Guardsman's weapon and on his boots, it would make the most sense to have both the weapon and the boots painted and wash them at the same time. This way you'll only be opening the pot and using the wash once. It seems like a minor time saver, but it adds up especially when painting in batches of five or more miniatures. 
  • Synchronize the completion of a painting project with the completion of the assembly/priming of your next project. If you know that you're almost done painting one project, it's helpful if you have another one on deck. This way you won't lose your momentum by having to switch gears to focus exclusively on assembly. Doing this will require that you get a feeling for how long it takes you to assemble a miniature and how long it will take you to paint them. Once you get an accurate sense of how long it takes, you'll be able to more effectively implement this process. 

3. Find a dedicated hobby space. 

     This step can be hard for some people, particularly for those living in apartments. If you can find a way to set up your hobby area and keep it set up, you'll get a lot more done. You won't have to take everything out each time you want to paint and it will become more of an impulse activity rather than something you have to plan for. Five or ten minutes a day is better than nothing. One neat idea I came across recently was a hobbyist who had set up their painting desk inside of a closet, complete with desk lamp.

4. Find new inspiration. 

      Looking a miniatures in magazines and online can be motivating to keep you painting, but after a while it becomes dull if you're looking at the same sources and the same models. Recently, I've started looking for hobby inspiration not just in the miniature wargaming hobby, but also drawing from other scale modelling websites, and even looking at the methods of professional prop/model makers from the movies. Doing so can provide a fresh perspective on tired techniques and give you ideas for new ones. Additionally I've found many scale modellers are making figures much nicer than what is usually seen in miniature wargaming, and I for one could learn a thing or two from their techniques. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Editorial: Out of the Grim Dark and Into the Light

     I've been a miniature wargamer for nearly a decade. Throughout this time, I spent almost all of it playing exclusively Warhammer 40,000. I had my first encounter with little plastic men in a Games Workshop, and for a long time it was the only game (excluding other GW games) that I had access to. Recently, I've been selling some of my armies to pick up some other games and give them a try. I'm not selling them because I think there's anything wrong with 40k, or because I don't like GW. I think 40k is a great game with an awesome community, and I've never really had an issue with GW. I recently got into Mars Attacks! (which I'm sure you already know from previous posts), and it was a breath of fresh air. Not only was it a new game with different rules, but it was a new setting and a different aesthetic. After ten years in the grim darkness of the far future, I loved the change. I had never really appreciated how stale 40k had become for me until I tried a new game out. Now, I want to try Warzone Resurrection, and I'm looking at some of the Star Wars miniatures that are out there. It's the excitement of a new collection and a new universe. It's the whole reason I fell in love with Warhammer 40,000 in the first place.
     My aim isn't to perpetuate the anti-Warhammer sentiment that has spread across the web. I instead would like to encourage all of you who are on the fence about a new game to take that first step. Give it a shot. The game doesn't have to be your new favourite game, and it certainly doesn't have to replace your old favourites. A new game might be exactly what you need to refresh your interest in the hobby. Come on in, the water's great.

A work-in-progress shot of some figs for the lastest game I'm trying out, Warzone Resurrection. While still a tad "Grimdark", Warzone still differentiates itself by toning down some of the gothic elements in favour of a more traditional military aesthetic with pseudo-national factions. Plus, I've had a great time making the Venusian Jungle bases. 

I'm also starting a foray into the defunct WotC Star Wars Miniatures Game to fufill my long time dream of playing out a Battle of Hoth mass combat game on the tabletop. The figures aren't by any stretch great miniatures, but they'll work for the size of game I want to run. My understanding is that the rules won't work very well at a large scale, so I've also been investigating some rulesets to use. FUBAR has one in particular that I want to look into. 

While the miniatures are prepainted, this project will still require some considerable hobby time to build a Hoth table complete with trenches and a shield generator. I haven't decided if I want to also work on some interior Echo Base terrain yet, but that's definitely a possibility. Look for more to follow as I continue working on collecting figures, building terrain, and playtesting rulesets. Furthermore there will be AT-ATs in the near future. 

Mars Attacks! Hobby Update: Humanity Resists

     Unfortunately I missed last week's blog post due to a busy work schedule overlapping with exams and end of semester projects. This break however did allow me to take some time off of hobbying and reinvigorated my motivation to paint. If you recall from last time, I was almost done the figures from the Mars Attacks! Starter Set. This past week, I finished up the heroes and started on the figures from the Humanity Resists expansion set. The expansion figures actually look a lot better than those from the base game. I'm not sure if they're just better designed or the early runs of the starter set had some room for improvement. Regardless, they were a joy to paint up. The flatbed trucks in particular didn't even require instructions. I assembled both of them in about ten minutes and they minimal mold lines. I also magnetized the machineguns on the. I haven't painted the light bars yet, but I'll post some pictures when I finish those up as well.

Buddy is definitely my favourite of the hero scuplts I've painted so far. There's a lot of character to the figure. 

That being said, I love the pose they used for Eva. It looks like an image right out of one of the IDW comics.

I used the Vallejo Air Primer, Skeleton Bone as the base colour of the trucks. They were weathered used various shades of darker greys lightly applied with a soft sponge. Be careful not to over-do the sponging technique, but if you do, you can used the same technique to sponge the Skeleton Bone over the excess grey. 

I base coated the windows with the Vallejo Air Ultramarine Blue Primer, and then gradually blended it with Electric Blue from the same line. It looks good and it's a quick way to paint the windows. I'll be applying this same technique to the windows on the ruins later on. Also make sure the white for the reflection lines isn't too bright. I'd recommend using a diluted white paint for this detail.

I haven't decided what to do with the plates yet. I'm thinking about applying some of the Flames of War German decals to them. The numbers for the sides of vehicles at the 15mm scale would fit nicely on the plates. 

The Martian Marines have much crisper details than the grunts did. These were great figs to paint and I look forward to painting more of them this week. 

I don't know much of the story behind this Blaine character, but he's a pretty cool looking miniature. It's like Tom Hardy's Bane plus Predator outfitted with Mass Effect gear.