Sunday, December 6, 2009

Am I Reading This Right?

Since I've begun my Eldar army, I've been poking around the relevant sections of the GW site a lot more. The Eldar kits themselves are beginning to show their age (more on this in the future) and its pretty obious that the Eldar range in general is missing some things. Notably a decent jetbike pricing option. Oh, and mounted warlocks.

Few things are more iconic for the Eldar than their jetbikes. Unfortunately, the model is fairly expensive for its size and age. 15 bucks a pop is a bit rough when you need a ton of them. On top of that, the cannon version costs $2o. No matter which way you slice it, 3 bikes with no options costs you $45 MSRP. Plus, there's no convienient box set that gives you a price break or ANY of the unit options.

At least with the Space Marine bike box, you get options for special weapons and options for command even if you don't get a price break. Hell, then there's always the Dark Angels bike box - fuck, for the cost of the 6 regular bikes, they throw in a free speeder and free attack bike. Oh, and did I mention that you get the parts you need to make the Master of the Ravenwing's super speeder? Even if you don't play Dark Angels, this is the way to get bikes.

HOWEVER, there is a way to save some scratch on your Eldar Jetbikers. For $41.25 MSRP, you get 3 bikes in the often overlooked Shining Spear box. A savings of $3.75 on three bikes may not be much, but its a start. Plus you get a ton of metal bits - enough to make a warlock on a bike. As an added bonus, the Shining Spear box is also still available through your favorite 3rd party retailer. Often at the standard 20% discount.

This is all possible through some oversight on GW's part and the fact that this is the jet bike sprue (image shamelessly grabbed from Way of Saim-Hann):


There is no way for GW to sell you a riderless version of this sprue. So for less than the cost of three regular jetbikes, you get 3 jetbikes + a bunch of metal parts that can be used for all kinds of stuff. Pretty sweet deal. Keep that in mind next time you're filling out your jetbike squads.

Now, if only GW would hurry up and release this new version of the jetbike:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sorry for the lack of updates.

Its been a hell of a fortnight.

My lady-friend had the twin titans of mono and a bladder infection to deal with and their was a healthy does of fear over some layoffs at work.

Stress related loss of sleep and a lack of blog posts as a result.

Thankfully, Angie's on the road to health and I still have a job. Let the good times role.

Dragon Age: Origins isn't helping either. And since I haven't run into any Mass Effect "oh, captain, my captain" moments (yet - this IS a bioware game) I'm likely to finish it.

I'll try to get some posting done in the next week or so.

If there's any topic people want me to cover, just drop me a line

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Games Workshop, Copyright, IP and Bullshit (PT.2)

[Disclaimer]: Again, I am no lawyer, so don't consider any of this legal advice. All copyright laws discussion is based on the US laws.

Before I get started, I just had a Eureka moment. The three sites being handed C&D letters all have one more thing in common - the products they primarily deal with are all licensed by to other companies by GW in some fashion. A direct port of blood bowl to the PC came out not too long ago (published by Focus Home Entertainment) and the Rogue Trader RPG is licensed to Fantasy Flight games. Is this a reason? I dunno. Food for thought.

How I feel
In part one of this discussion I touched on a copyright owner's rights and talked about GW's rights specifically. I may have come off as this insensitive jerk or maybe even a staunch supporter of GW's actions. In actuality, I'm far from either of those things. I simply understand why GW pursues its copyrights. I don't, however, have to like it.

GW has a pretty long history of being dicks about their IP - and usually only when it gets them some gain and usually under a bullshit cover about IP theft. Internet orders policy anyone? The Dark Reign and TalkBloodBowl* examples are just the latest in a long series of GW's consistent 'fuck you' approach to existence in my view.

I could go on and expound upon my feelings at great length. However, my opinions (and yours) only matter as far as we're willing to defend them. Which means, as Raptor Pointed out, that our particular views of fair use and copyright are valid right up until the point we aren't prepared to defend them. Which brings us to...

The Cease and Desist Letter
The ol' C&D letter is a common first step for people who are trying to stop some form of copyright infringement. Remember how I said that the C&D letter IS the polite way to tell someone to stop infringing? It is. However, its also a bunch of other stuff - primarily its a very cheap compromise.

Taking someone to court for copyright infringement is, potentially, an expensive (legal/court fees mount up) and long process that may not actually net any gain in the long run. Hell, even getting people to pay up can require another suit. Then there's always the issue of people's opinion of you - very important for larger, say... corporate entities. In the GW case, it'd probably be bad for publicity when people find out that you're suing your fan base over what amounts to some server fees.

The C&D letter is often an attempt to side step alla that. No lengthy court case, less bad publicity and a much shorter time frame for resolution (assuming all goes well). The letter senders get what they want and nobody has to go to court.

However, the C&D letter can also be used as (and often is) a bluff or a weapon. For all the compromise that a C&D letter represents for the parties involved, it is often abused by people who just simply don't like what you're doing with your fair use rights. It may be that the sender may have no intention of suing you and is trying to scare you. It may also be that someone disagrees with you and is just being a bully to protect their bullshit.

In any case a C&D letter or even a lawsuit is where your opinions of fair use and copyright come into question. Whether you simply convinced you're right or you're actually right, it doesn't matter until someone calls you on it. Which is nice - until someone does something about it, you can carry on your merry way. Once you get a C&D letter or some lawsuit paperwork, you have to make a serious choice about how far you're willing to stand by your position. Ultimately, if you go all the way, you'll end up with a judge making this decision for you. However, this is a long and expensive road.

The Problem With Copyright in the US
Before I get into my gripes with the state of things, I think I need to talk about why copyright is, in actuality, pretty great. Downright necessary, truth be told. Simply put, it protects EVERYONE'S right as a creator, thus encouraging people to create. As an extremely beneficial side effect, this means people can make money off of their ideas. And, if you're the government, people making money is good for a lot of reasons. So you protect a creator's rights.

Copyright is also not the inviolable domain of the super rich and powerful entities that exist in our world. Copyright applies to the little guy as well. You see all these words on this page? These are mine. People can't use them without my permission. If someone does steal my work, then I also have the right to do something about it

But having the right to do something and being capable of doing something are two different things. And that's the problem with copyright (and IP in general**) in the US. It's not really the laws themselves (although they can be awful), but the way these laws are enforced - specifically the US civil justice system. The old cliche of 'pay to play' legal system is pretty true here. Copyright law is civil law - which means the people involved are responsible for protecting their own rights. You have to pay your own way since very little is provided for you save a judge and jury.

On the surface this is fine, but getting your own lawyer for an extended period of time is outside many people's ability to absorb financially. This is where people with more money than you come out ahead - they can afford to pay the copyright lawyer and you can't. Further, even if you can, the big corporation with the lawyers on retainer can drag the case out and make you spend a whole hell of a lot of money to press on. Then there's the small matter of what happens if you lose. Can you afford the damages? Pretty risky (financially speaking) if your opponent can afford better lawyers and more time than you.

Even if you're the one being infringed or complying with fair use, not being able to afford to prove that really puts a damper on your opinion. And I'm not even talking about the extreme circumstances of the copyright lawsuit as a weapon - right or wrong, a corporate entity with money is more than capable of running regular broke people into the ground in court.

Hence, your opinion matters only as far as you are willing to pursue it.

Tort Reform
In my mind, the biggest challenge to making copyright work as intended is not the copyright laws themselves, but tort reform. You can change the laws all you want - but as long as the current civil justice system is where the rubber hits the road, you aren't doing anything except making lawyers find new loopholes and stripping protections from the little guys

The US Pirate Party wants to bust copyright terms back to 14 years, for example. They raise some good points and concerns, overall, but nowhere do they mention tort reform. Without tort reform, the only thing that a 14 year copyright term is gonna do is destroy businesses and fuck the little guy out of chances to actually have enough time to make money of his idea. On top of all this, 14 year limits aren't gonna stop people from filing lawsuits and generally being a dick.

Conclusion
I've written all of this because we live in a world were intellectual property is everywhere and is an incredibly important concept that touches virtually every thing we do. Yet few people have much more than the tiniest sliver of a clue about the realities of intellectual property. Oh, but they're prepared to write reams and reams of text laying out their opinoin, though. There's a lot chest thumping and nerd rage poured into anonymous forum posts with little real knowledge of whats going on. Most of it carries with it this weird sense of entitlement that's usually borne out of ignorance.

To be honest, I can't stand ignorance. Thus, I have attempted to educate.

Bottom line: GW may be shit heads for the zest and verve with which the pursue their IP rights and corporate dick headery, but its their right and you also have to considered the possibility that the people on the receiving end of this may also be shit heads. Its good to know and its good to know why.

Further Reading
Below are some resources I've used in my professional life to gather info on the various kinds of intellectual property and related laws.

Standford Copyright and Fair Use Center - This is my personal favorite. Its maintained by qualified people and covers a ton of plain language info on copyright. The section on fair use is particularly amazing. There are also some relevant court cases mentioned.

The Chilling Effects Clearinghouse - This is another site maintained by qualified people with an aim to elp you with your 1st amendment rights. As bonuses, this site has a slant towards online topics of copyright as well as a pretty neat cease and desist letter database.

United States Copyright Office - Home page of the US copyright office. Duh. Has a ton of info about various protections, how-tos, some useful basic info as well as links to an online version of the relevant US laws.

Games Workshop Legal - This is burried in tiny text on the bottom of their site. However, it does explicitly tell you what you can and can't do with GW IP. Good to know.

There's more stuff out there, but these three are the ones I'm willing to vouch for as I've spent the most time on them. The Copyright Website seems pretty interesting, but I've spent next to no time perusig it.

[Foot Notes]----------------------------------
*I've excluded FUMBBL as I feel that attempting to publish a full version of Blood Bowl AND expediting to be allowed to do it is as close to 'retarded' as you can get without needing to wear a helmet.

**It's important to note that while patent, trademark and copyright all get lumped under the term 'intellectual property', there is no single unified IP law. Patent, trademark and copyright are all dealt with by separate parts of the law with their own rules.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Games Workshop, Copyright, IP and Bullshit (PT.1)

[Disclaimer]: I am no lawyer, so don't consider any of this legal advice. All copyright laws discussion is based on the US laws.

RARGH! Fighting through... writer's block... must save... Rylos IV... must get back to... Enterprise...

I'm gonna mine my buddies over at the Chamber Militant for content again. My favorite Alec Guinness quoting, limey expatriate, Hoagy has been busy digging up news on GW's recent legal activities. Actually, I'm not sure if Hoagy is really an expatriate. He IS a fine English lad from Coventry, but he may actually be a US citizen.

Moving on to the point: At least three fan sites have all received cease and desist letters from GW legal regarding some part of their content. I've also heard reports that Warseer has recently been a bit 'quashy' in regards to leaked GW info - possibly related.

The sites in question:
- TalkBloodBowl.com (now renamed)
- FUMBBL
- Dark Reign

I'm sure there are others out there as well - I know a few other sites have claimed to receive a C&D notice in various comments threads related to these. I just couldn't find enough details to support including them in the discussion. However, these three examples are all I need. In each case most of the relevant details are present in the posts I've linked to.

Essentially, each site has been ordered to change its infringing ways and/or stop existing or risk being sued. The fan outcry has been the pretty standard knee jerk reactions of "booooo, GW", "kill the lawyers" and "Not one more penny to GW". A lot of people out there are having a hard time understanding why GW would seemingly attack their fan base like this.

In Defense of GW's Offense
Things are actually quite simple. This post from my buddy Colin sums it up nicely:

there is a theme running with the blogs that are being shut down...namely retardation. While I don't necessarily agree with GW throwing their corporate bulk around at the little guy (kind of like when record companies used to sue 12 year old girls over mp3 downloads), they have a right to do so since they have stolen GW's intellectual property. moreover, these sites have done it pretty stupidly and blatantly. One of the GW legal letters essentially states that one site has a list or chart of all of the bloodbowl character stats posted. 'why am I being sued' they now whine. well no shit sherlock, you've posting copyrighted material that isn't yours on your site w/o any type of legal disclaimer.

AND they're generating money off of GW's IP. All those add revenues and donation buttons meant to defray the cost of running a website? That would be what GW calls profiting off of their IP. Seriously. Even if your 'profit' margin is in the red, money is still being generated from a site using someone else's intellectual property. This is primarily why TalkBloodBowl and Dark Reign got letters. Unfortunately, these are the least of the infractions that FUMBBL is guilty of. Last time I checked, distributing a java-based web-version of someone else's game WITHOUT PERMISSION was a pretty serious copyright infringement.

Which brings me to my next point. A lot of people have written that they feel GW's C&D letters were insincere and too harsh a way to deal with their fans... who were stealing their IP (yes, stealing). You know what's even harsher than a firm letter? A fucking lawsuit. I'm looking at you, FUMBBL. What people need to realize is that the C&D letters ARE the freindly reminder.
Its well within GW's rights to file suit against people who misuse their IP - and many companies have sued for less.

GW has a right to protect the use of their IP. In fact, they pretty much have to since the protections granted by copyright and trademark aren't automatically guarded by the cops or somesuch. It's civil law. - violating copyright is illegal, but unless the wounded party does something about it, nothing is gonna happen. Its called policing your mark'. If the copyright holders don't protect their own interests nobody will.

Fun Fact: Zipper, celophane, dry ice and yo-yo were all trademakrs at one point. Now they're not. This is what happens when a company fails to protect its IP.

Now, beyond all of the above is one simple fact: GW owns their own IP. Not you. You bought a rulebook and maybe some models. You did not suddenly become a development partner or form some kind of liscensing deal. Its GW's property and they can administer it however they want within the confines of the law. Your sense of entitlement is irrelevant.

No Shit, Sherlock
This isn't the wild west days of the internet anymore and ignorance isn't a valid defense. We live in an increasingly litigious society and things like increased awareness of the internet, the DMCA and a general increase in copyright protections don't help this. You can't just put up your shingle and do whatever - despite opinions to the contrary.

And this is really the tough part about operating a website. It's your responsibility to figure out what you can and cannot do with other's IP. Its not just a simple matter of some html, an anglefire page, a little luck and an underused series of tubes to be anonymous in. Being a fan or well-meaning aren't automatic protections, either. You fuck up bad enough in someone's eyes, they WILL come to kick over your sand castle.

I'll get part 2 up in the next few days.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Games Day 2010

Looks like there's only gonna be one Games Day next year. FOR THE ENTIRE NORTH AMERICAN CONTINENT.

Actually, I couldn't give half a fuck about games day for the most part.

Neither do most people it seems. According to many of the first hand accounts I've hard, the US games days have gone from pretty neat to utter shit in the past years. It's down to one day, there's no tournament with it. What little is left seems more like going to Legoland than an event actually aimed at gamers. I had some friends who went to GD Chicago last year and felt a little ripped off that they 25 bucks to do little more than pick up their forgeworld orders and stare at some new releases (and a chick dressed as a witch elf).

Many people will see this move (complete with slightly horse-shitt sounding announcement) in this light:

GW to America: 'Fuck You'.


I've already seen some of that in the few comments I bothered to read on BoLS.

But here's the deal keeds, Games Day doesn't even sound fun and many, many people regret going to one in the last few years. Maybe the event IS killing them in some way or another. The cost of renting out 3 convention halls a year plus the expense of manning them and then transporting all the crap that goes with it does add up. The buddies of mine who went said the event was like a ghost town. Then there's the collateral costs of the event hurting the company's sales because it sucks so hard people stop caring about GW in general.

So if it costs all this money to host a shitty event that no-one goes to AND it harms their consumer base in some way, why wouldn't they try and revamp it?

Maybe its NOT more evidence that GW is in the financial crapper and hates America. Maybe GW actually does understand what the problem is (in this case).

I dunno. I really don't. I'm just thinking out loud here.

But then again, I don't have too much of a take in this. Except...

...for the fact that fewer games days means fewer Golden Daemons. Which is actually kind of a bummer. Fewer Golden Daemons means fewer awesomely painted models to look at once the winners are posted. It also means that many of the people who regularly compete in the event are a bit SoL.

On the other hand, if the ace painters end up traveling from all over, it means that the competition just got ratcheted up a notch* and even more amazing stuff will be produced.

I'm not really taking a side here, except that Games Day sounds and smells like abject failure.

What are other people's thoughts? Is the Games Day announcement a gloomy portent of GW's stability, is it a dick move or is their something really positive going on here?

--Foot Notes--------------

* In the past, it had been suggested that one particularly devious tactic for winning a Golden Daemon was to enter into the contest that had the least competition. There's always going to be a regional difference and some unscrupulous painters may have figured out which area was easier to win in. Now, that's not an option (whether it was actually happening in the first place).

Dinosaurs Are Super Fucking Rad

Project Future Boys is coming along nicely (the end is in sight AND the time line is short) and a bunch of my distant friends are planning and building Warhammer Fantasy Armies. Due to my random reading of a YTTH post on Lizardmen, an idea clicked into place:

Build a Stegadon heavy army once the Eldar are done!

I thought about it and then asked for and got some more sagely advice from Stelek et al. Looked solid. So was the cost analysis. Hell, the septuple stegadon list shares are lot of the same units as the Razordon list that first spawned this crazy train of thought.

Overall, I'm really pumped about dinosaurs.

I had a ton of fun posting this on a forum one of my buds is starting up, so I thought I'd post it here as well. Enjoy!

Oh, and all the complaints about game abuses stem from the 5th edition rules. Herohammer can kiss my white ass.

------------====------------
I know some of you are building up fantasy armies in your secret caves, waiting for the right time to leave your hidey holes and march upon the fields of the old world.

Thought I might do some of the same.

I should have the Eldar done around X-mas or there abouts. By about that time, I'll be needin' a project to work on. Space Marines will probably be put back in the rotation, but I know I'll need something else to break it up to keep it from becoming drudgery again. And starting ANOTHER 40k army seems silly.

But first:

Sit down keeds, eets story time.

I haven't played fantasy since you could take beastmen, chaos warriors and blood letters all in the same army. Twas good times.

Kind of.

Unfortunately, the people I played with were rules lawyers and often wrong and a bit cheaty. Except Colin (also Paul), he was (and is) always fun to play against. I'm sure he has some fun horror stories about the fucked-up cat-shit some of our other buddies would pull.

My two favorite were one of our buddies pulling a dragon out and generally tailoring to beat me in a 1500 point game when I was testing some undead BEFORE I HAD EVEN BOUGHT THE ARMY. There was also the guy who managed to convince us that if the unit you were charging chose to flee as a charge reaction you didn't get to move your complete charge distance to try and catch them. He owns a game store now. Fun times.

These guys are on of the reasons I have a tendency to be a bit rules crazy in terms of accuracy and following them.

On top of that, I was playing Chaos and, as I found out, the rules for the Warriors of Chaos were (and still are) kind of sucky. Something to do with rank bonuses being very important and Chaos warriors costing so very much. Oh, and a complete lack of meaningful shooting.

Fast forward to today. The main rules are better and magic item abuse isn't as rampant as it once was.

50% of your army on characters with no limit to the number you could take or how much you could tool them up. Bah!

Vlad von Carstien (and his damn ring) with a hydra blade, the stupid amulet of reflect wounds and possibly some str increasing bullshit was the worst. Not too much fun to run into a hero (over and over again.) who can deliver 6 x D6 high strength hits a turn and is basically unkillable.

Oh and 25% of your force as allies, don't get me started. Hmm, the undead don't have any shooting worht a damn, so I'll just take nothing but dark elf crossbowmen as allies. FUCK. YOU.

BRB, gotta pop some prozac with a beer back.

Moving on, the other problem I've had with fantasy is the sheer size of your army. 100ish dudes is a lot of dudes to paint. ...and then move around and keep in perfect formations.


With the general improvement of the fantasy rules & models and a little luck, I think I've found the army I'm going to try my hand at.

I've decided to build some lizardmans.* But not in the traditional block-hammer way. I've already run this by Colin, so some of the fun has already been had.

Here goes:

Skink Priest Riding an Ancient Stegadon

3x units of 10 Skinks

4x Regular Stegadons

2x Ancient Stegadons


YES! That's 7 freaking Stegadons in a 2000 point list. In your face, world!

This little gem was burried in some throwaway lizardmen post on YTTH. No surprise that I got a list from Stelek, I guess.

I'm totally stoked about 7 damn dinosaurs. It almost totally solves my problem of having to paint a ton of dudes - though there still are like 60 plus skinks including crew. But who cares, skinks are small! It does completely solve the problem of having to move a bunch of large blocks of troops around. One triceratops is way easier to move than 20 dudes with spears. Again, in you face, world!

Stubborn, terror causing toughness 6 monsters is sweeeeeeeet! Throw in d6+1 impact hits, skink palanquins, ranged weapons and a rockin' model and the icing on the cake just got jizzed on. BAM!

I cannot be more pumped about this than I already am. Wait! Okay NOW I'm the most pumped. It's CRAZY!

As a super duper double secret bonus, this army can be built for dirt cheap. With 20 percent discounts and including the army book its just about 300 wing-wangs to buy it. Ungh! With X-mas coming up, I can load up on Stegadons FOR FREE thanks to Jesus. He does indeed save.

OK, you know when I said things we're crazy before? I was wrong. NOW its crazy.

This is me RIGHT NOW, if I was a cartoon Dinosaur, and a girl:

user posted image

I had also considered Skaven at one point. But the only thing I would have wanted to build was a Skaven SAD army. But lets face it, Skaven = lots of dudes and SAD (shooty army of death) isn't too fun to play against. So, paying a lot of money to be a dick to people was out. For the time being.

7 Stegadons is too awesome to pass up anyway.

Now, I'm sure there are some flaws here. I imagine that once people get wise to my dino-herd ways, list tailoring can be a problem. Being outmaneuvered by fast armies is probably also something to worry about... IF YOU WEREN'T RIDING A DINOSAUR!** Well, are you!?

I'm sure there are other things too. Here's a pre-emptive 'fuck you' to cannons:

FUCK YOU CANNONS!

Also, can Dinosaurs fight Steam tanks and win? What about lots of shooting? What about movement denial spells? What about the Stegadons changing gender because of frog DNA and reproducing out of control and trying to kill Jeff Goldblum?! What about Nagash, LORD OF THE FREAKING UNDEAD!!?

I DON'T KNOW! STOP ASKING ME! JEEZ!!!!

Confession time, I was lying when I said things were crazy that second time. Its really, really the craziest its been....

NOW.

Anyway, that's the plan. Lets share and compare here.


-Foot Notes-------------------------------------

*Not to be confused with Lizardmen. Or Eddie Izzard. [not to self]:, name a Skink Hero Eddie.
**I don't know if that's actually true. Its probably just the dino-buzz talking

Monday, November 2, 2009

Article Retirement - Project Planning

I thought writing about my thought process would be fun and interesting. I like the idea, but the execution is leaving a little to be desired.

I keep writing my self into corners with the framework I've adopted and the whole thing feels a little contrived. These are definitely the way things happen, but I feel like I'm conveying a much more mechanical and carefully considered approach than what really happens.

What I should have done was write all the parts up and then publish them so I have a bit more freedom of editing.

I might re-open this series later, but for now parts 1 and 2 are going to be banished back in time.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Primer and U2

Had I known that I would been writing a followup to the primer article I would have named the first one Optimus Primer and this one Rodimus Primer. Instead of that pretty bad joke, you get an even crappier one about aging British rock sensations.

Distancing myself quickly from the above puns:

I got a reader comment from AoM which I will respond to in two (duex) parts:

GW doesn't actually sell a primer anymore. Ever notice that they switched the name of the product from "Primer" to "Chaos Black/Skull White Spray"? Primer is primer. spray paint is not. Right about the time they switched to the cheaper product (spray paint) is when they also switched to the $15+ per can. When you're "priming" plastic models, it doesn't matter nearly as much, but for metal and resin, a true primer is pretty important.

I dunno, ye olde online store still shows a can clearly labeled as 'white primer'. To be completely fair, I haven't looked at GW spray paints in an actual store for quite a white. I might have to check that out to see if I can get some confirmation. If I had 15 bux to burn, I'd order it direct and see what came in the mail. If it IS still that same white primer I have from a while ago, then it IS primer. It's just not all that great.

In any case, you're dead on about the Chaos Black spray. It doesn't say primer, so I can't honestly claim that it is. You, the astute reade, have created a need for an article edit so I can prevent bad informtion.

I'll agree with you on duplicolor. It's the best. And another thing about it that you didn't mention is that is dries very quickly, and will shrink slightly as it dries if you're prone to heavy priming. Depending on the model, I'll over-prime a bit because I know that the duplicolor will not fill in my details.

Yes and yes. These are further excellent reasons to use Duplicolor. I'm a bit ashamed to admit that I was aware of the drying time but forgot to mention it. As to the shrinkage, I hadn;t even thought about it until you mentioned it. Agian, thanks.

In keeping with my 'knowledge base' aprroach to this site, I've edited the article in question to reflect better data.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hard to Paint Colors and What to Do About Them (Besides Avoidance) - Yellow

Do you smell that? Its the smell of actual painting advice. Mmmmmmm.... breath it in, its AP certified non-toxic.

Moving along. I covered the qualities of various paint types and brands in pretty good detail a while ago (see the On Paint series). Now its time to do something similar for another category of paints - colors. Not all pigments are created equal and there's a world of difference between how one approaches painting dark grays and bright reds.

The 'Eavy Metal team may make painting look easy, but there are a fairly large number of colors that cause difficulties for painters who are just starting out (often times vets can get caught up with them as well). For whatever reasons, these colors have some characteristic that makes things more difficult to work with. Unfortunately, there very common colors that people want to paint.

Over the last few years, I've learned a thing or two about how paint these problem colors AND make them look good. Time to share my knowledge in a new series with an overlong title. Underlying all of these suggestions is my continuing insistence that thin coats of paint are best. Obviously, its not worth the time to do this in every situation, but please keep it in mind.

I'll include pictures when I can (all of which are the copyright of the owners unless otherwise stated).

First up is a color that is fairly situationally difficult.

Bright Yellows
For clarity, I'm talking about pure, bright yellows. Lemon yellow and so on. I'm talking less about ocher/ochre type colors and other such yellow browns. Even pastel yellows (ones with some amount of white in them) are much easier to paint. Its primarily just those really striking yellows that grab everyone's attention. Like our Imperial Fist friend over there.

The Problem:
Yellow pigment has lousy coverage. Especially when it has to go over dark colors. Its thin and its often streaky. This is a problem for people who like to prime their models with black. This is also a problem for mistakes that get painted on to yellow. It can be very difficult to fix an errant streak of paint on your yellow areas.

Some Solutions:
Lucky for you, there are few tricks to making yellows work for you AND to make them pretty easy. First, if the majority of your model is going to be yellow, its probably a really good idea to prime with white. And by 'probably a really good idea', I mean 'prime your damn models white if you want yellow as a major color'.

A white primer will do wonders for alleviating your coverage problems. This goes for painting yellow details as well. Another alternative solution to 100 thin coats of yellow paint over a dark color is to hit the area in question with a quick layer or two of white. As white has it's own coverage issues, I often find that an ivory color works much better. Go figure. More on this at a later date.

Speaking of layering, most yellow goes lousy over black, but much better over other darker yellow/yellowish shades. However, this will affect the final color of your yellow as yellow is so prone to translucence. Lemon Yellow wont look too good over an ochre or light brown.

So this option works best for dirty yellows like P3's Sulfuric Yellow. I'd also like to point out the Citadel Foundation color, Iyanden Darksun, as a readily available example of what I mean by a yellow ochre. It's the color that the above Lamentor is almost assuredly painted in. Iyanden Darksun also has pretty good coverage too.

Its at about this point, when the yellow starts being pushed towards brown, that the yellow paint gets markedly better coverage. The further towards brown, the better the coverage. Making brown/ochre yellows a viable option over a black base coat.

Though not as strong a pigment, yellows on the pastel side (like VMC Ice Yellow) also have better coverage than regular bright yellow. However, the coverage can still be spotty depending on the exact color and paint formulation. Again, a white base coat is the best option for bright yellows.

Conclusions:
Yellow isn't actually all that hard of a color to deal with as long as you're aware of its shortfalls and aren't married to black primer. Layering can be your friend here as well. As to what to do about mistakes on yellow, try to be careful. If the worst happens, remember that layering and thin layers are your friend.

Finaly, make sure you pay attention to the color differences between various yellows to make sure the shades your using are complementary.


[Edit]: Personal anecdote: the futility of trying to airbrush yellow over black is especially severe. I might as well have been pissing on the model for all the coverage I was getting out of my Vallejo Model Air yellow over black primer.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Quick Hits - Volume IV

My schedule has been a little weird lately and not at all conducive to writing about a visual medium. I normally work the night shift, but I've been pushed back to working til midnight for the duration of midterms in order to keep the place open a few extra hours.

I've got a lot of stuff I want to write about, but most of it needs pictures I haven't taken yet. As it stands, my schedule is arranged as such that pictures are taking a back seat to painting. With that in mind...

Some Quick Hits:
1) Project Future Boys is coming along nicely, though not at all as fast as I had hoped. Still speedy compared to my Iron Warriors. As it stands now, most of the purchasing is done and what I'm calling 'wave one' is complete. Wave two is coming along at a steady pace. I hope to do a few articles on the whole shebang once I get off my ass and take pictures.

Probably over-optimistic time line projection: can I get my army done by mid December? I hope so.

2) There's always a pretty constant stream of hate leveled at GW. Most of this is because GW is fairly consistent in implementing their "fuck you" model of customer service. Price hikes in a recession, 9 dollar an issue White dwarf and refusing to sell metal miniatures anywhere but the online store (at least shipping is free). In any case, there are two things that miraculously made it past the ghosts of the railroad robber barons who obviously make up the board of directors: The White Dwarf archives and the What's New Today column.

The White Dwarf articles are nothing new (announced some time ago). However, the What's New Today feature is something I'd like to give special mention to. Probably concieved of as a marketing ploy, there's actually a lot of really cool stuff that gets showcased in the 'column'. There are just a ton of neat conversion ideas, and pet projects from around the world in the various updates. Some of them are just fan-fucking-tastic. I can't recommend enough a thorough look at these articles.

3) Been playing a bit of Blood Bowl (the video game) lately. The more I play, the less convinced I am that I'm actually having fun. Dunno if I just don't 'get it' yet,if its the league structure, I just need to cool out or what, but things are often a lot more frustrating than fun. I'm halfway through the league with my pals, so we'll see how it goes and whether or not I can recover from losing a Chaos Warrior when I can't win more than 20-30k a game. In any case, I am getting to interact with my geographically distant friends more. This, if nothing else, is worth it.

That's all for now. Hopefully next week I can get some perty pictures taken.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Take Your Hobbies to Work Day

Recently, I've begun experimenting with painting at work during my lunch hour.

So far, its been GREAT!!1!! Blagrhwwertght! Flrppt.

No, seriously, its been a really good experience. Not only does it help with my stress levels, but it also has helped speed up Project Future Boys. I recommend it for anyone who has a lunch hour and works at a place where this will fly. Here are my reasons:

Stress Relief
My job is often rather more stressful than it needs to be. This is mostly due to the actions of a few of my insane coworkers and the constant last minute approach that the director takes with everything. At the beginning of the semester, things were pretty bad with all of the increased student activity on top of everything else.

My stress level was very high and, short of going home, I had no way to keep on an even keel. Later on, as things began to settle back down, I started looking for things I could do to mellow the rough spots out in the future. I eventually hit upon doing what I would do at home when I was stressed out - paint.

If you've got stress at work, then try taking your hobby with you. Its a great release. Just the 30 minutes a day I manage to sneak in on my lunch is more than enough to relax me when I need it. Its a great release to focus on something I really enjoy. Totally takes my concentration elsewhere for a few precious minutes.

Speed Up Your Time Line
The other really neat advantage of painting at work is the decent sized boost it can give to a project's time line. Over the course of my week, adding that half hour per work day gives me a net of 2.5 hours. Without using up any more time than I normally would at work, I manage to squeeze in a little extra juice on whatever project I'm working on. Truth be told, there are many days where all I get is about 2.5 hours of painting. Its like finding a free day. Pretty sweet deal.

Just based on the amount of writing I've done for both points, its pretty clear which aspect of the whole endeavor I value most.

Getting Started
I've covered the 'why', lets talk about the 'how'. First things first, the idea is to paint during your lunch hour. Which means painting is in direct competition for time with eating. This raises the issue of time management. I usually eat first. Since I normally make my own lunch, I don't have to waste much time picking up food or doing much more than reheating it in terms of preparation. I can usually eat my lunch at a healthy pace (not wolfing it down) and then get about 30-40 minutes of painting in.

What this means for you is that you need to figure out your own balance between eating and painting. Two pieces of advise: don't forgo your lunch to paint and don't eat while you paint.

The next major obstacle is get your workspace, supplies and equipment ready. Make sure you have enough room on your desk (or wherever) to work. You will also probably need some additional lighting. The lights in my office are nowhere near strong enough for my purposes. Luckily, I have a easily portable fluorescent lamp I leave in my filing cabinet. I also recommend some kind of anti-mess technology. Your work bench at home is something you can get paint on and so forth. Your desk at work is not. I use an old file folder. Its all I really need.

Everything else is just basic supplies. I get paper towels from the bathroom and I have an old Gladware container that does double duty as a water container and as a travel box for my paints and models. I leave the light and a spare pallet (or spare fantasy bases) at work and transport the brushes, paint, models and water container back and forth as needed.

The whole deal is pretty quick and easy to set up and take down and is extremely portable. Below are some pictures of what my desk typically looks like. Please ignore the lack of water in the container, the 30 year old carpet, the aging and beat up blinds and the mess of cables.


The last few things I can suggest are to double check the paints you're bringing with you before you leave home. There isn't too much you can do about it and it can totally shut down your plans. I'd also recommend saving the little protective tubes that better paintbrushes come with. Traveling can be hard on a brush. Unless you have a brush box,* you'll need some way of protecting the bristles. I'd also advise against planning to do any painting that's overly time consuming, messy and/or complicated. 30 minutes can leave you in a time crunch - though it may teach you to paint a bit faster.

As I'm wrapping this up now, I'd like to reiterate how positive an experience painting at work has been. Give it a try yourself.

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* First link I came to for an example rather than a product plug.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Helpful Handy Hint #2 Buying Light Bulbs

Most people who paint their little toy soldiers are well aware of the benefits of a well lit area. Even more important is having the proper lighting, not just a lot of it. As the Brushthralls have noted, there are a ton of good reasons to get some bright white light sources. Eye strain relief and color correctness and alla that.

The notion of the color of light you use as an important concept is touched on, but they don't really go into enough info for my tastes. The reason a low temperature color of light can be problematic for painting is because the lower the temperature of the light, the more yellow it tends to be. It's kinda hard to tell what your colors actually look like when everything has a yellow hue about it due to the light.

I fully support the 5000 kelvin industry standard (though I use 5500 kelvin).

I also fully support using those low-wattage, energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs. Not only do they look super cool, but they last a lot longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. Saving money over time on power bills and light bulb replacements is a good thing. Additionally, they also generate a lot less heat. I tend to paint with my light sources at head level. One false move and I just burned my face/head on my metal desk lamp.

The last little bit of advice I have for selecting your light sources is on how to know exactly what color the light is. I ran into a lot of trouble a few months ago because I forgot to check the bulbs to see what the light temperature was. I kept trying to use the arbitrary descriptors the manufacturers had put on the packages.

DON'T DO THIS!

OR THIS:
Over 4 trips to the store, I ended up with a ton of extra light bulbs well below the 5000-5500 k range that I wanted. What constitutes 'day light', 'natural light' or 'bright white' is up to interpretation and will be different from company to company and even over time within the same company. Always, always try and check the temperature of the light. It's usually printed on the base of the bulb (in the case of the energy-saver curly-cue kind) and is pretty viable through the kind of clear packaging that these things come in. Sometimes its also printed on the package itself.

Now, go participate in some commerce.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Partial Post Purge

Ah, sweet alliteration. Om nom nom. Moving along...

I've had this blog for about 4 years now. Over time (and especially since I've stepped up content creation), I've gathered a few draft posts that just didn't make the cut.

I'm pulling back the curtain a bit today to show you guys what kinds of 'other' stuff I think about and attempt to write about. Most of these article stubs were actually quite long, but just not interesting enough. Here are the condensed versions of four of them.

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1) My Top 10 Sneaky Painting Tricks
It turns out that I don't have 10. At least not ones that haven't already been discovered and shared by other sites. My draft had exactly zero things listed. It also turns out that I hate top 10 lists. Good to know.

2) Loud and Proud Scrubs and the WAAC attitude.
One of many abortive forays into game play theory. I had intended this particular post to be a bit of a rant, but for a rant to be good, you have to be pretty pumped to do it. I was not that angry, as it turned out.

Summary: there exists a subset of gamers in any popular game that are extremely proud of being scrubby. Often this means they're too broke or short sighted to do anything about it. Other times they simply have a different idea of what fun and success in the game look like. A complete lack of skill is also common.

What unites the loud and proud scrubs is their shared hatred for anybody doing anything that they perceive as 'competitive' and being very vocal about their way being the 'right' way. Basically, if you follow proven methods of success and demand that the rules be followed, you are a bad person.

Very frustrating. Plus, I'm not entirely sure how fair or true this is.

3) Pet Peeves - Realism in Wargaming.

Another rant that just wasn't 'ranty' enough. A major factor was the fact that I had already ranted about this in the past. I had also since stopped going to forums for game advice and stopped running into the phenomenon. Ran out of anger.

Summary: There are always people who feel the need to justify a rules complaint with an example of how things work in real life. Often times they have no idea how things work in real life. Even more often, their example has nothing to do with magical ogres or hover tanks since these things don't exist. Its a game, so there are a ton of abstractions that have to be made to keep things fun, interesting, moving and (hopefully) fair.


4) Apocalypse Tactica
I've had a lot of fun with the Apocalypse games I've played. At one point I felt that I needed to to a detailed analysis of the rules. I binned it. It was getting extremely long, was extremely tedious to write (and read) and ultimately didn't offer enough insight to make it worth the time.
Plus, I'm sure somebody would have tear me a new asshole on my perspectives.

Summary: there are four relevant things you need to know about 'power-gaming' the Apocalypse rules. Here they are:

1) Str D weapons are awesome. You should probably try to include some in your army. Anything that automatically kills anything and auto-penetrates tanks is a bit overpowered. Apocalypse doesn't seem to care. Get as many as you can.

2) Large templates are awesome. There's a lot of shit on the table in Apocalypse. Big templates hit lots of stuff. 10 inch templates kill a lot of infantry dead. Get as many as you can. For extra fun, try and get weapons that combine 'large template' with 'str D'.

3) Anti-tank weaponry is even more important in Apocalypse. Super heavy vehicles are extremely hard to kill. be prepared to pump a lot of fire into one to destroy it. You're also more likely to run into scads of regular tanks as well.

4) Assets are important as fuck. Almost every one of them can be game breaking in some way. But choose carefully, because many of them probably wont work. My preference is for things that will work ALL the time rather than things that might work. I also prefer assets that affect the most number of models possible. This is because that the things that might work are actually pretty unlikely of doing anything relevant. And things that affect one unit are a drop in the bucket in a 10,000 point game.

Flank march is the most busted of all. it always works, you get to pick when, what and where things come on and there's nothing anyone can do to stop it. Not much you can do when an entire Emperor's fist tank company comes on from behind you. People tend to forget about the 'can come on from any table edge' part. You can stick a lot of fire power in someone's ass.

You should also be on the look out for formations that give free assets. If one asset is game breaking, 2+ assets is ridiculous. You space marine players should be taking the dreadnought formation that gives you free outflank.

Anybody who takes 'jammers' is a fucking prick (forbids the generals on the opposing team from talking to each other). Worst rule GW has ever written.

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There you have it. 4 articles condensed down into one. Hope you enjoyed my rejects.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Primer and You

[Blast From the Past]: I was totally going to post this article about 2 months ago. Never got around to polishing it off. I think I had initially wanted to add in a picture and the computer I was using just didn't ave the photo manipulation tools I needed. Here's the article without the picture but has some new info since the original writing.

I wasn't felling to creative when I titled this one, but not so much that I'd use the old "primer on primer" joke. Blech.

Initially I had planned on writing a series of articles in a kind of "one model: start to finish" pattern. I think I'll abandon that and just write about stuff that strikes my fancy while still writing for the beginners

Today Its Primer.

For you new guys, primer is one of the most important steps of your model preparation. Ultimately, it brings out detail, gives the regular paint something to grab on to and makes the paint job tougher (more durable, not difficult) in the long run.

If you aren't priming, then you should start. Now.

The basic technique and information is covered in these two Brushthralls articles.
- Priming
- Basics of White Primer

I'll be focusing this post on the two things that the Brushthralls don't spend a lot of time on: color and paint brand. Mostly on spray primers. Basically, this post is just some info to get the new guys started, hate on Armory and maybe hit some of the vets with new info.

Primer Color
The two options most people pay attention to are black and white. Some people will swear by a particular color and use only that. I tend to be more utilitarian and will use either depending on the job at hand.

I take a look at the paint job I want to do and take note of the colors I want to use. Lots of metals and dark colors get black and lots of yellows, whites and other such bright/light colors get white. The particular reason for this is that the color of primer you use will have an effect on the colors you paint over it. Black primer will tend to darken the paint and white will brighten it back up. Additionally, certain colors of paints have a much harder time covering certain colors of primer.

Metalics don't do very well over white - the white can make it hard to tell if you have complete coverage. On the other hand, yellow and white (in particular), as colors that often have coverage problems, make for an extremely hard time over black primer. Again, take a look at the job at hand and use the best color for the job.

Other colors of primer exist, notably gray and red. Gray tends to split the difference between white and black, but I dislike attempts at one size-fits-all problem solving. I find that for most things, gray is good, but still gives me too much trouble with metalics and not enough help with the thinner pigmented colors. Red is one of those odd-ball specialist things that people who are doing a lot with red will use. Same rule here as well, take a look at the job at hand and select the appropriate tool.

As usual, multiple thin coats as needed for best results. Remember, thick paint obscures details. Don't rush the priming stage because you think it wont be visible on the miniature. Often times it is. Especially with airbrushing.

Primer Brand
Right after you determine the color of primer you need, its time to select a brand and then buy it. First things first: generally speaking, if the can doesn't say primer, then its not a primer. Gw's Chaos Black being a notable exception. Please note that primers often have specific qualities that make them very different from regular paint.

There are four brands that I feel are the most common:

Games Workshop's Citadel Sprays: GW's spray paints are a bit complicated. I mention them first since they're the thing that most GW hobbyists see in the store. The two colors they sell have their merits and their flaws.

What GW is simply calling black spray is often promoted as a black primer. I honestly can't tell if it is actually a primer or not. The can just does not have the word primer on it, but it did at one point in the distant past. If it IS primer, than the GW black primer is actually pretty good. According to the GW online store, the white spray is still labeled as primer.

Now I know that it might seem a bit weird to say that the black paint is only a good primer if its actually a primer, but there IS a reason for that. Chemically speaking, there is enough of a difference between primer and regular paint to cause potentional problems. On some applications, regular black paint will work, on others its not so great as a primer.

In any case, you should stay away from the GW paints for two reasons: It may not be primer (especially important for metal and resin models) and its 15 fucking dollars a can. At best, its another example of GW being a bunch of price gouging sons of bitches. At worst, they actually need to sell the primer at this price to make a profit - which makes them idiots.

[EDITING NOTE]: This GW section has changed a bit due to some good and important observations from a reader going by AoM. Thanks!

Krylon Primers: Another good quality paint. I haven't used it in years, but its held in high regard and extremely easy to find. Hardware stores and art stores carry this stuff. Both are easier to find than a gaming store. Not to mention a damn sight cheaper than the GW spray.

Duplicolor Sandable Primer: My personal favorite. Pretty much the same level of quality as the GW stuff at a third the cost. Also pretty easy to find. Most car parts stores carry it. It dries evenly, sprays smoothly and costs less than 5 bux a can.

As added bonuses: Duplicolor dries extremely fast and you can paint over it in about 30 minutes if all goes well. This is a humongous help in not wasting time and especially if your in a time crunch. Duplicolor also has a tendency to shrink as it dries. This means that its less likely to obscure detail. You can overspray quite a bit AND get away with it.

I can't recommend this enough - especially with the price factored in. Its readily available, easy to use and just overall super great. If Duplicolor sandable primer was a person, I would take it to a nice dinner.

Armory Primer: Is garbage! Do not waste your money on these cans of crap. I, personally, have had it ruin miniatures with it's tendency to 'fuzz' (leave a distinct texture on my models). So have my friends. So have a lot of people. I've even heard stories of Armory primers melting plastic miniatures.

Anyone who says that they have never had Armory fuck up on them is lucky. This is a crap product that costs more than very superior Krylon and Duplicolor options AND is much harder to get. Sometimes you run into apologists who make some claim about needing to be extra careful with weather conditions, making sure you shake it well and so on. These are the flaws of an inferior product no matter what anyone tells you. Don't waste your money on something that isn't even very good when all of the conditions are perfect.*

Other Stuff: The above four are really just the tip of the iceberg. Various military model paint manufactures have their own brand as well. Even, Privateer Press has there own in-house brand. I have nearly zero experience with things like Tamiya surface primer, Mr. Surfacer or even the more common Testors sprays. My only advice here is that you should check out a modeling book and see what the author uses. Remember, military modelers are sticklers for detail and smooth paint. If the primer is good enough for them, its good enough for you.

Important Note: Remember, "keep it thin to win".** Every primer will dry weird if it's sprayed on too thick. Cracking wrinkling, runs and obscured detail are all indications that you put too much paint on.

Another Important Note: If the can of paint you're thinking about using doesn't say 'primer' on the can, then it probably isn't. You should consider a different option. The chemical natures of primers are different enough from regular ol' spray paint to make a significant difference in terms of things like detail lose, paint sticking to the primer and durability.

Another options
There are other options for priming as well. But they just aren't as economical and/or quick as the spray options.

Gesso: Gesso is an art material that is used to prime canvasses prior to painting. It's also pretty handy on miniatures as well. The same primer color guidelines apply here as well.

Note: I had intended to link to an actual Wee Toy Soldiers page, but the account appears to be suspended. I found this re-post on the Screaming Alpha. Looks to be complete and from a pretty decent painting site.

You could also get a regular brush on primer and do that as well. I find that this takes to long and is really dependent on how smooth a coat you're capable of getting on the miniature. My guess is that its not as smooth as a spray can.

Beyond even all this, there's even more ways to prime your miniatures if you look around.

Further Reading:
- Here's a brief article I found on a larger-scale primer test. Some interesting results. Notably, that Armory sucks camel dick.

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*Armory is such a shit brand that I have a hard time fathoming why people would recommend it. Yet, here are the BoLS crew implicitly shilling for Armory.

Which leads me to a mini-rant. Normally, I don't feel that the Bell of Lost Souls needs to be ripped apart. They have their own mission and idea about the hobby that fits in with a lot of other peoples preferences. They are also a great rumor aggregating source - they read the forums so you don't have to.

Despite their fervor for the hobby, they often do more harm than good. As to the competitive play and strategy aspects, I can't and won't speak on them. Not my mission. But on their painting articles? They are often absolute shit. I understand the desire to cater to all aspects of the hobby and I think its laudable. However, I can not stand the painting articles.

They always seem to be some dumb-downed version of something the Brushthralls posted years ago. Always written by someone who either has problems grasping the concepts or is trying to cram 6 pages of info into 4 paragraphs. In the end, its just bad advice that seems aimed at mediocrity.

So, as a new painter: Never go to the Bell of Lost Souls for painting advice unless someone competent starts writing for them. However, their archives on other peoples finished models or WIP stuff is definetly worth a read.

**I cribbed this little gem from a poster that was hanging in the prep room when I used to work in a produce department. Stupid, but memorable.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Web-Resource Review: Spite for the Dice Gods and Mind War, FTW

In light of Project Future Boys, I think its time to do some site more reviews. This time I'll be focusing on the blogs I've been poking around on in search of Eldar advice/info. Unlike my last review, these two site are tactics oriented. Since I focus on painting a lot, I'm always happy when I find good articles on tactics that ease the learning curve. I'll periodically call out sites like these for all you other 'artistes' out there as well as the guys who just don't know where to go for advice (hint #1: its never a forum. Hint #2: EVER!).

I happen to like both of these sites, so prepare for a bit of a love fest.

Spite for the Dice Gods
Every once in a while I start poking around the other blogs that people link to on their own site. I found Spite for the Dice Gods on YTTH. I didn't actually know about the type of content there or Raptor1313's own mechdar experiments. Sometimes you get lucky. Raptor is a regular on YTTH and was kind enough to link to me on his own site. Thanks! The fact that Stelek links to him should be enough of a clue that he knows what's what.

The Good
The content is pretty focused - its mostly unit analysis and testing reports. All of which is extremely useful for us lowly noobs. There's a lot of information to process and it's solid advice to boot. All well though out, detailed and clearly worded. The best part about Raptor's analysis is that he doesn't ever give out the generic "do this and win" advice common to so many other writers.

The important thing, for me at least, is the gap he helps fill between my knowledge and the advanced advice that I get from other sources. Provides a nice continuity of information and keeps the number of retarded comments that never get published on YTTH down.

For my own personal information needs, this blog fills a large void with the pretty expansive Eldar coverage it contains. Most of which is conveniently linked on its own side bar. This is all super useful for my current maniacal plans.

I'd like to mention a few stylistic things about this blog. First of all, many of the analysis articles are treated as 'living' documents - much like my 'on paint' series. That means that as new information or experience is accrued, it gets added to the original instead of being presented as a separate piece. This makes it incredibly easy to find info. Much less wading through multiple posts or having to piece things together from a series of contradictory posts. There is also a distinct lack of ranting and raving and, thusly, a lack of internet drama. A nice change of pace from the frequent knock-down, drag-outs that Stelek seems to get in all the time.

Finally, the selection of links is quite expansive and has pointed me in the direction of a ton more resources to check in on.

The Bad
Not too much wrong with this blog except that some of the posts can be so looooong. Add in the same white on black color scheme that I use and then eye strain can be a problem. Of course I realize that my pot has left an accusatory message for his kettle after the beep. As soon as I find an easy to read color scheme, I'll switch.

And one final non-complaint would be that Raptor1313's site leaves me hungry for more info than he has posted at the moment.

Final Thoughts
A great resource for beginner and intermediate gamers as the content within goes a long way to explain things that may be obvious to the experts (who often don't bother to explain the same concepts themselves). A great place to go for some very solid analysis.

Mind War, FTW
Another blog I found courtesy of YTTH. The_King_Elessar (henceforth referred to as 'Elessar') is another regular commenter over there as well as being another guy with a head for tactics. Another Eldar player willing to share his thoughts so that I can mine them for useful nuggets of sweet, delicious information. I'd have to say in, all honesty, that Elessar's blog was a large component of my decision to start up an Eldar army. Again, the fact that Stelek links to him is in his favor (in my opinion).

The Good
Elessar does a lot of the same stuff that Stelek does - critiques army lists, provides commentary on the goings on of 40k and shares tactics. Always nice to have more of the same with a different viewpoint and writing style. Specifically, I find the writing on this site engaging because it is also pretty clearly laid out and lconcise.

Again, Eldar coverage is one of the things that drew me in and keeps me coming back for more. The write up on the Fire Dragons was particularly useful for me. I also hope that his hinted at "complete guide to the Eldar" is something that is actually forthcoming. Could be very useful for me and to new Eldar players in general. Especially if its of a quality consistent with the Fire Dragon write up. Looking forward to it.

Mind War also has a solid links list. Yet more stuff for me to dig through.

I think the really unique feature of Mind War is the fact that Elessar himself is from the UK. Now, being a foreigner (or in Foreigner) isn't particularly interesting in and of itself but Elessar brings an interesting perspective to us yanks. You see, Elessar is firmly in the competitive gamer camp (unless I've misread him). Now while he seems to have a healthy respect for the hobby aspects, he isn't the sunshine and Skittles kind of twat we've come to accept as the stereotype for UK 40k players.

Elessar doesn't defend crappy codicies, poor design choices and bad army lists. Generally speaking, he doesn't pull his punches. Nice to see living proof that GW's cup o' tea with scones, gentleman's game, mutual admiration society conception of 40k isn't as pervasive as Jervis Johnson likes to think.

Also, a brief note that Mind War has multiple contributers, so if I gave credit to the wrong person at any point, its a tribute to the overall quality of all others that I didn't notice the difference.

The Bad
The only real problem I have with Mind War, FTW is that it also occasionally acts as a drama magnet due to the 'no pulled punches' thing. To be fair to the Elessar and to Stelek, its not so much that their opinions are crap or wrong, its other people's reactions to them. So by no means do I wish the rants to stop, I just need to learn to avoid reading the comments.

Lastly - MORE UPDATES PLEASE!

Final Thoughts
Mind War is a great spot for some advice on army lists and a great place for information on the Eldar - the rants are pretty good too. I really dig the fact that while he does a lot of the same stuff that other people do as far as advice, he has his own view. Another great place for help with your list.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Editing Notice - On Paint Articles

I have again updated the On Paint series to reflect new information. More than any other posts, I see the On Paint series a living document. As such, I add to it when new experience is gained.

For this round of editing, I fixed some minor typos in part 4 and added a link to the appendix.

I also significantly updated the section on Reaper Master series paints to reflect new knowledge in part 3.

Project Future Boys - Another Project That People Probably Doubt I'll Finish

In my last post, I alluded to my decision to start a new army. Time to expand upon that.

I've named it 'Project Future Boys" after an Electric Six song. This is for three very important reasons:

1) Electric Six are awesome.
2) Projects sound cooler with cryptic names
3) Its an Eldar army, so a handful of the song lyrics apply to a race of space elves.

Background
As I previously mentioned, my Iron Warriors (though I love them) are taking a million years to paint. If I didn't have to work, then maybe they'd be done by now. I really need to have a full army to play with, I'd like it to be fairly soon and it ain't gonna happen with my "super paint job 3000" marines.

A new army would also be great for practice at adding a little speed to my painting. I've been wanting to try out some simpler, faster methods as an experiment, and a new army gives me a good platform for this.

Army Selection
Once I had decided on the idea of a new army, it was time to pick one out. I went straight to Yes the Truth Hurts and started poking around. Weeks ago, I had taken a serious look at his Competitive Daemon list. I have to say that it looks fun and can be EXTREMELY cheap to build (around $350). This one will be kept in the back of my mind for later.

However, I ended up settling on his Eldar Remix list. Much more expensive to build, but far fewer troop models to paint. The Eldar codex also seems to be much more diverse. I like the idea of daemons, but I'm also not thrilled about my only complete army being entirely CC and deep strike dependent and having no where to go except for more cc and crappy shooting.

In any case, I'm also a full supporter of his thoughts on mechanization and felt like the Eldar list was very strong. It also looked like a ton of fun. Plus it has Fire Dragons, which I loved as models for some reason.

Ze List
Reproduced here for people who hate following links.

1 Autarch
with Fusion Gun and some Crazy Chainsword (I had 5 extra points)

5 Fire Dragons
Dedicated Transport: Wave Serpent
Shuriken Cannon upgrade and Twin-Linked Shuriken Cannons

5 Fire Dragons
Dedicated Transport: Wave Serpent
Shuriken Cannon upgrade and Twin-Linked Shuriken Cannons

10 Storm Guardians
with 2x Flamer
Dedicated Transport: Wave Serpent
Shuriken Cannon upgrade and Twin-Linked Bright Lances

10 Storm Guardians
with 2x Flamer
Dedicated Transport: Wave Serpent
Shuriken Cannon upgrade and Twin-Linked Bright Lances

9 Dire Avengers @ 253 Pts
Dedicated Transport: Wave Serpent
Shuriken Cannon upgrade and Twin-Linked Bright Lances

9 Dire Avengers @ 253 Pts
Dedicated Transport: Wave Serpent
Shuriken Cannon upgrade and Twin-Linked Bright Lances

1 Vyper
2x Shuriken Cannon

1 Vyper
2x Shuriken Cannon

1 Vyper
2x Shuriken Cannon

1 Fire Prism
Shuriken Cannon upgrade

1 Fire Prism
Shuriken Cannon upgrade

1 Fire Prism
Shuriken Cannon upgrade

Total Roster Cost: 2000

Pretty neat, I think. Lots of shooty guys and a ton of zoomin' tanks. The energy field on the wave serpents makes me pee my pants at how awesome it is. I'd like to use regular guardians as it saves me a few bucks (storm guardians are 8 to a box, direct only - Dear GW: fuck you), but I think I'd loose too much utility without the flamers.

Painting
Back to my focus - painting. As I mentioned, I want to paint this faster than I've been in the habit of doing. That means no fancy paint techniques, few (if any) conversions, no fancy bases and very simple color schemes.

I'll rely on a lot of simple layering and line highlighting. There's also a pretty neat corroded bronze technique that I managed to dig up from dakkadakka (which was a pain in the ass) that's very easy to reproduce.

I ended up settling on Ulthwe colors as black can look very striking using only line highlights and bone is very easy to paint. The airbrush has also helped immeasurably with the base coating - it speeds up the process with colors that can be a pain to get good coverage on (orange) and I've got a solid, ready-mixed airbrush flat black.

The only down side is the shear amount of paint I've had to buy. I have almost no oranges and blues, so I've had to pick up a lot of each. On the other hand, I'm getting some great experience with the Reaper Master Series paints. They're pretty awesome for layering.

Progress
Things are good so far. I had initially hoped to be doing two tanks and 10-20 guys in 2 weeks. That was clearly fanciful and unrealistic. So far it's been 2 weeks and I've only gotten 1 tank and 6 guys done. Not as good as I hoped, but faster than the Iron Warriors by a wide margin. I also expect things to get faster as I get more accustomed with the painting techniques I'm repeating and grav-tank assembly becomes second nature (9 is a lot of practice).

Things have, thus far, played out like I hoped. The tank and the fire dragons look great and I've gotten some pretty good looking models without too much effort. I've also got some good experience painting black with a quick line highlight style (I typically avoid black as a main color)

I'll probably be behind schedule for a while - though I think my 3rd wave (3 vypers) might give me some time to catch up.

More updates as they happen.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

And We're Back - Deep Thoughts About Time Investment

Whew. Been out for a while. The flu is fun. Ran a fever for 4 days and had a weeks worth of general malaise after that. Shaky hands prevented me from getting too much painting done and I ended up having to welsh on a painting challenge some buds and I entered into. Blech.

Work proceeded to get bananas right after that.

But you guys don't come here to read about the flu and updates are always a plus.

I have a follow up on painting tanks, but my pics are unavailable right now, so I'll move onto some deep/depp thoughts that occurred to me over the last three weeks. There's almost a theme.

Paint Because You Enjoy It
Painting is a hobby. Hobbies are recreational activities. This indicates that there is some level of enjoyment that you get out of it.

If you aren't enjoyment out of a hobby, why the hell do it?

Mini (many - HA!) painters run into this all the time. Painting you little manz can get downright tedious at times. If this happens, its time to do something different. This can be anything from painting something different than your regular fair to just taking a break from painting for a period of time.

This happens to me all the time. Painting an army can get tedious - especially if you have the same kind of crazy, exacting standards that I do. Painting a ton of the same guy over and over again can break a man. Overly complicated projects can also do this.

In the past I had tried to just push past a lack of enjoyment. That leads to burnout. Which is worse.

So, if you feel like a painting project is starting to feel more like a job and less like a hobby. Stop. Take a breather. Drop what you're working on if need be. Maybe paint something unrelated to what you were working on. Take a break for a day or two. Whatever you gottta do.

Once your hobby loses its enjoyment factor, its likely you'll just stop doing it all together.

Diminishing Returns
I mentioned overcomplicated projects up there. They have a tendency to eat up your time, and can quickly kill your fun if things keep going wrong. Often times for little added value depending on your situation.

What I mean by overcomplicated is actually contextual. The guy aiming to win a slayer sword is going to have a much higher tolerance (even a demand) for a complicated process - detailed conversions, hybrid painting, scratch building, etc are all things that turn a regular miniature into a job interview for the 'eavy metal team. The same time and care that Bob pro-painter puts into his latest masterpiece may not be appropriate to the needs and time constraints of Spike Tourney gamer. Painting each one of his models to an award winning standard may actually be counterproductive to the his goal of gaming at an upcoming con. Working on master level stuff can very easily lead to 400 man hours of wok.

Scale your painting intensity to the situation at hand. While the extremely detailed and hard to do paint job can be amazing, is it worth your time to pursue it? What if it prevented you from finishing an army for a tournament? When it comes down to contesting an objective in the 5th turn of a hard fought, 3rd round game, does the vine design lovingly painted on your wave serpent help and do you care if it doesn't?

Here's my real life example (if you didn't see it coming):

While I was painting my (as of yet incomplete) Inquisitorial Rhino, I wanted to do something really cool with the color scheme. The Grey Knights vehicle schemes are pretty cool and the bare metal colors would tie in nicely with my Iron Warriors. I wanted to do the kind of gear toothed black lines surrounding a white band on the model.

When it came time to mask off the lines, I had a revelation.

Previously, I had been working on a Thunderbolt for some time and ended up shelving it due to frustration with the whole project. Largely because it was overly complicated (in hindsight).

In this instance, it was totally not worth it to spend the time making custom masks for the pattern (with regards to the features on the model's surfaces) and then constantly having to touch the design up as the model progressed (paint removal is a problem with masking that I have yet to completely conquer). By my estimations at the time, hours would be added to the project - also a lot of frustration. The fiddling around with all of the things I would need to fiddle around with was kind of daunting. All of which could be avoided by scaling things back a bit and going with just a simple line. Much easier to do, and pretty much the same effect.

Do I want the the original pattern I had envisioned? Yes. But I also want to game at some point and adding the time just didn't jive with my needs. If I had been painting this thing for a painting comp, then hell yeah I would have gone all the way. But I wasn't, and even though my standards for the Iron Warriors are high, there IS a limit.

New Direction
All of the above have contributed to a conclusion I came to while sick.

The considerations:

40k is fun to play.
I need practice to get good at it.
I do not have a full army.
The Iron Warriors are taking too long.
I will not compromise the standards of Project Iron Warriors.

The result:

Time to start a new army to be painted in a much more quick and dirty style. No fancy weathering, no insane detail level, no complicated/time consuming painting techniques. A simple style with simple colors. I can get on with the business if playing and then work on my 'masterpieces' concurrently.

More on this last thing later and maybe some thoughts on painting ADD.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lack of updates

Got some stuff in the pipeline, just need to get some sleep and give work some time to settle down.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Laubersheimer Industries: Health Watch 2009

Sorry for the lack of updates for the last two weeks. But the only thing more fun than the flu is a summer flu. Ask for it by name.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Reader Questions

I got a few questions on some of my latest posts. I'm going to take this oppurtunity to answer them. First up:

Revuk Writes:

Is there a particular manufacturer for the airbrush that folks would recommend?


I personally use a a Badger Anthem 155. I choose this one because it was rated as easy to use and easy to clean. So far I've been extremely happy with it.

My buddy Colin picked up a Paasche VL series. He just got it so he has no experience to report yet. Though he did say it had good reviews on wherever he was looking.

Now, on to some brushes some authors have used in books I've read. First up, in Imperial Armor Masterclass, the authors use a Harder and Steenbeck/Hansa airbrush. From what I've been able to tell, its of German manufacture and hard to get in the states.

On the other hand, Brett Green (an Aussie), who writes for Osprey (and is prolific), uses a Testors Aztek. Incendentally, he edits an online magazine called Hyperscale and has created a ton of youtube videos on the subject of scale models as well. All useful stuff. You really get to see the airbrush in action. The azteks are a bit pricey, but seem worth it.

I've also heard a lot of good things about Iwata Airbrushes as well.

Ultimately, I can't give you too much advice for a first purchase. I'm still pretty new at this myself. In any case, an informed consumer is a good consumer. I'd also recommend hitting the wide open internet and seeing what kind of reviews you can dig up.

Lastly, I leave you with this Brushthralls article. It helped me out a lot when I was looking at an airbrush. Heed the advice within.


next up...
Brent Writes:

Great work. I also love the servitor-skin shade. Care to share? :)

Take care - Brent

Sure thing Brent. Sharing is caring. So is swearing.

The servitor skin tone is my favorite recipe for gross zombie flesh. It's a more realistic dead flesh color (much better than green) and when pulled off well, is really gross looking.

I got the recipe from No Quarter #14. If you want picture examples, you'll have to track down your own copy, but I'll provide some text based instructions.

All colors are from the Privateer Press P3 line.
  1. base flesh color: trollblood highlight+cryx bane highlight+rynn flesh. You're aiming for a sickly gray color.
  2. Initial bruising: thin down some Sanguine highlight and blend it around wherever flesh meets metal.
  3. Shading: mix a touch of Rynn Flesh into Thornwood green. Apply this in natural shadow areas and block out the muscles.
  4. Bruise shading: mix sanguine base with exile blue. Shade the bruises
  5. Deep shading: mix Umbral Umber and Coal black (actually a blue) and apply it sparingly to the undersides of the muscles. Note: For all of the shading steps, I find it extremely useful to thin the mixes for blending and layering purposes. It helps cut down on the tendency of the shading to take over if you can apply in thin layers.
  6. Highlighting: Mix thrall flesh with trollblood highlight. then add Menoth white highlight and rynn flesh to lighten. Keep adding more of the Menoth white and rynn flesh for subsequent highlughts. Agian, thinning helps with layers and blending.
  7. Lastly, create a glaze of Skorne red and exile blue. Aplly it to the bruises until you like the way it looks.
Anyway, I use this all the time despite the fact that it's a little involved.

That's all for reader comments for today. Thanks to Revuka nd Brent for thier questions.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Inquisitor Stroheim and Retinue

I've been doing a lot of ranting, teaching and general exploring on this blog lately. There has been a distinct lack of pictures. Lets fix that.

Here is the finished Daemon Hunter Inquisitor and retinue that I've been toiling away on:



Overall, I had a pretty fun time with this little project. Not too many conversions since most of the models were exactly what I wanted. The Lord Macharius model needed a different staff head and the servitors needed some spacers, but that was it. Additionally, I took a beak from the assembly line style and worked on all of these guys individually. Since each minature is diffrent and there is this whole ad-hoc nature of the retinue in the fluff, I decided to make each guy a little special.

While I'm very please with the Inquisitor, he is just a bit off. After finishing the main body, my initial coat of sealant dried with a white, powdery effect. Rather than spend hours stripping him, re-assembling him (including some putty work) and repainting him, I just did my best to touch him up. It turned out well, but it just looks a bit 'off'.

the familiar was probably my favorite model to paint in the whole squad. Very simple model with a lot of flat areas to show off on. I really took the time to freehand on this one. You also see a little on the Inquisitor's cloak.

Most of the comments on the mystics are covered in the captions. The only thing I'd like to add is that the Cork Brown + white flesh recipe worked amazingly well.

The servitors were actually the least interesting to paint. The two bolter servitors are pretty boring and the melta servitor was an extremely busy model. They turned out well, but weren't all that enjoyable to paint.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Comment Showcase - Nazi's Fuck Off

I got this comment recently from this thread. The post it self is a ways back, so I thought I'd bring this forward.

Endre Enyedy Writes:

Sorry I'm late to the party, but I just wanted to put in my two cents. This topic of Nazi painting comes up a LOT in forums, as far as I can see, at least a couple of times a year. It drives me crazy, because the person talking about this is perfectly aware of previous drama on the subject, and even acknowledges it, but brings it up anyway for a mock "OK" from the community.

Even though it's obvious all they want is attention. Why else broadcast it? From plastering pictures all over the net to just talking about how they're going to do it.

What I hate the most though, is the "free speech" argument. How it's not offensive, it's an expression, it's done for the sake of art. Or they'll pile all this "fluff" to "justify" it.

If that was the case, why aren't people designing the "Baby Raping Space Marine Chapter", which uses baby raping as a terror tactic to break down their opponent's will to fight? I bet you half the dillweeds that defend Nazi space toys draw the line at something along those lines, leaving the true dickheads who still don't get it to push it forward.

What it all boils down to is people wanting to be Carlos Mencia. They want to say "outrageous" things for attention, then look at the audience and say "oooh, did I just say that?". They swear they're funny/clever/whatever/controversial, where all they're doing is recycling bullshit and calling it their own.

(PS: there are a bunch of other really good comments in that thread too. I recommend reading them since I wont be re-posting them or addressing their content individually here.)

Good Comment, Endre. Just wanted to make sure people saw it. I think the controversy angle definitely has a role to play in the random Nazi armies that keep popping up. The only thing I'd like to add is that the controversy angle isn't the only reason this shit keeps happening.

I think there's a fair amount of stupidity involved. I think that the "nerd" automatically equals "smart" idea that many nerds delude themselves with has a role to play. The thing to remember here is: nerds, by and large are just as dumb or as smart as the rest of the world.

From the same post, comes this little gem that Willydstyle found: More Nazi Fun. This linked thread is just a kind of showcase for this guys work on his own forums. Here is a more illustrative thread from 40k forums (also found by Willydstyle): LeeHarvey gets his dick sucked.

The second link is a bit... depressing to say the least. The mods have decided that NO ONE is allowed to comment on the subject matter beyond painting skill.* Reading through the thread, you see where a few brave souls spoke out and were censored. You also see an even more distressing number of people who have overwhelmingly positive things to say to LeeHarvey and who clearly had no problems with his concept. A ton of those include comments about how good the fluff is. You know what, it is a nicely painted army, but its still dripping with swastikas.

I don't need to much help 'remembering' that in the grim darkness of the far future there is only war. I imagine that most other people don't either. Its a fictional universe. It doesn't need to be pointed out that the things that happen in it are often times awful. For the exact same reasons no one needs reminding that Emperor Palpatine and the whole Galactic Empire were bad either. Its a work of fiction and a work of pulp entertainment at that. Its not a manifesto for human behavior. A bunch of 40k players aren't going to grow up to be genocidal because nobody was there to point out the horrors of a fictional universe.

On the flip side, if your the kind of person who has trouble reconciling a fictional universe containing 'bad things' with your participation in a game, then you should just quit playing it and go back to Milton Bradley. Maybe Monopoly is more your intellectual speed. Or would you feel that everyone needs a reminder about the greed represented in the game?

Not much anyone could say that would change this guys mod or anyone link him... so all I can suggest is that if you ever run across a Nazi themed army, refuse the game. Though I sincerely doubt, and perhaps naively so, that these types of armies see much in the way of tournaments or FLGS play.

*Life tip for the day: stay the fuck away from gaming forums. You have better things to do than hang around a place where honest to goodness criticism isn't allowed.

[Last Minute Edit]: I just realized that some of my post may be a bit confusing without the proper context. From the thread in questions:

LeeHarvey Writes:

Hello everybody, I'm LeeHarvey and welcome to the log for my Space Marine chapter, The Master Race. The first time I picked up a Warhammer 40k Rulebook (3rd ed.) and read the background for the Imperium, I was amazed at how blatantly and callously evil GW had written it. In nearly every way, the Imperium screamed "Facist/Racist/Totalitarian" to me and it still does. From the way it controls it's populace to the way it deals with it's percieved threats and demands uncompromisingly strict adherence of it's citizens to the Imperial cult, and the absolute ruthlesness with which it will murder it's own innocent civilians who are unfortunate enough to call the Imperium of Man their home.

In that vein this army is themed, somewhat controversially (although that was never my intention), on WWII Germany, specifically the Nazi party. I modelled and painted my army, wrote my fluff and created Special Characters in such a manner so as to draw people's attention to the parallels and uncanny similarity between what GW has published as the Imperium's backstory and the atrocities of the second world war.