Thursday, 31 December 2015

The Eternal Wargamer's New Year Message

Greetings Wargamers and Hobbyists. Here we are at the brink of a whole new year; but what has the old year taught me, as it limps wounded into the night?


I think that this year has been one of great change in our hobby, and much of that change at least in my neck of the woods has been a result of the metamorphosis of the Warhammer game into Age of Sigmar, which although it retains much of the branding and model range of Warhammer (The Game of Fantasy Battles), the game rules and the setting are almost unrecognisable. This wasn’t a revamp or new edition of the established game, it was an fundamental re-imagining, like a wriggling Nurgle blessed maggot into a bloated Plague Drone.


I won’t say too much about the change over from WFB to AoS, because it has already been said, and at great length, by a great many people. We have talked about the few core rules, the boat loads of Warscrolls, the endless re-basing and the various pros and cons of the new game. What the change did do for me was open the door to new gaming experiences. In the past year I have ventured beyond the once adamant borders of the Games Workshop realms into the wider gaming world beyond.


I have taken an interest in Mantic’s Kings of War game, and played it using the free rules, with plans to pick up the rulebook proper, especially now that they have released army lists to support those collections escaping the Old World. I have also backed a Kickstarter for Dropfleet Commander, which is something else that is new to me, but I am a sucker for cool space ship games. Also, there now resides on my shelf a copy of the Frostgrave rulebook, for which I intend to gather a Warband at the start of the new year – once I can lay my smoking paint brush to one side and take a break from painting for some assembly.

More than that, I have spent time reinvigorating older games and models in my collection, which I thought at various points may never see the light of day or the thrill of battle again. I have played Man O’ War (!), I have re-gathered my Warhammer Quest set, now ready to venture into the darkness below with my son, and there are rumours of unrest in the Underhive of Necromunda. Another spaceship game, Battlefleet Gothic, is one I intend to get playing again very soon. As I said in my post only last week, I have organised my models, gathered the accoutrements of gaming and generated ship damage record cards for every vessel in my collection.


So what else have I done in the hobby this year? Well I did get back to gaming, after getting in only a couple of games until about October, when my wife’s Thursday night dance class moved to Wednesdays and allowed me to get back to the club and play, which was a joy indeed! I also managed to get a fair bit of painting done.


My goal (for those who remember to this time last year and my 2015 Hobby Resolution), was to get 250 miniatures painted to a tabletop standard (and I know this means different things to different people), and if I hadn’t been able to return to club gaming in the latter part of the year, I would have beaten that goal comfortably, however as hobby time began to once more be taken up with list building and rules refreshers, my total at the end of the year stands at 219 completed miniatures, with another 15 only a few hours away from being done. I may have fallen short of my target, but having painted 377% of what I managed in 2014, I think I can live with that. I think next year the target will be a more modest 200.


The other thing I have done this year is to blog more, on this site, guesting over on Creative Twilight, and also taking part in a revived Sprue Cutter’s Union, which is going great guns, although we have taken a break for the festive season. Long may it continue.


I have done a great many things in the hobby this year, and expanded my gaming horizons, but what did I learn? I think I learned that the hobby is what we make it. Even when presented with what seems like too great a challenge to overcome, and our gaming world is turned upside and inside out, with a little time and effort we can achieve anything, make any game work, make any event fun.


There is a whole world of games out there my friends. Go forth and forge your own narrative. May I wish you all a fun, peaceful and prosperous New Year. Let’s make 2016 a good year. #EnjoyAllTheGames


Happy New Year, and thanks for reading.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

War Among the Stars - A return to Battlefleet Gothic

Howdy fellow wargamers and hobbyists, and welcome to another quick intro to an article guesting over on Creative Twilight about a game that is close to my heart, and one I have always enjoyed: Battlefleet Gothic.

Whether it is the fluff on the Gothic War itself, or Abbadon's 13th Black Crusade, or even the naval encounters around Armageddon during Ghazghkhull's third invasion of that benighted world, the thrill of major space battles in the 40K universe has always grabbed my attention, and it is my wish to get some of the guys at my local club interested in playing this fantastic game, especially now that Games Workshop is in some way going to reinstate and hopefully support their specialist games range again.

May I present, 'War Among the Stars'.

Thanks for reading.

P.S. - as an aid to finding the ship cards I am generating, I will post Dropbox links to them all here - if you check back from time to time you will find I am adding PDFs for more fleets. Let me know if you have any preferences for which fleet you want next.

Also, I will slowly be expanding the documents here, like the Imperial Rulebook cards to eventually include all Imperial Navy ships. No knowing how long this will take at the moment though, because time flows strangely in the warp...

Main Rulebook Imperial
Main Rulebook Chaos
Adeptus Astartes
Main Rulebook Eldar
Dark Eldar

Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Miniature Modellers - SCU November

Greetings Wargamers and Hobbyists, to what in our neck of the woods is a rather gusty morning in the East Midlands. I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date...

Oh the irony. The November topic for the Sprue Cutters Union is a question about planning projects within our hobby, and as I probably consider this hobby blog an extension of my wider modelling and gaming hobby, the lateness of this post going up should speak for itself!

Do you plan and prepare for every step of your
build’s process or do you wing it as you go?”

Well now, here we are on December 5th. The cut off for the topic submission should really have been the last day of November, so why am I bothering to write this at all after I have missed the date? There are a couple of reasons really. First, I want to support what I believe is a great project and community endeavour in the Sprue Cutters Union, and secondly, I am determined not to miss any posts since the return of the group project. It is a great driver for thinking about the hobby, and for making sure my blog doesn't go too long without some kind of offering to the hobby world. I am also hoping that Jon hasn't already typed up the November SCU roll call yet...

And what is the answer to this month's topic question? Here is the irony. I plan every project in some detail. I have to, because I am a wargamer. Let me explain. Anyone not versed in the world of miniature wargaming may well not be aware of how things work, but at least for the games I play, list building is an integral part of the hobby.

List Building 

This is the bit where we decide which units we will include in a force for a game we are going to play, and this includes deciding what equipment a unit will go into battle with. This decision making process begins not at the point where we agree to fight a battle against our opponent, but way back before that, when our group of models are still on the sprue, or even still on the store web page.


Although it is not always strictly applied (it pays to be accommodating in what is primarily a social hobby), it is a generally held standard to try and adhere to the rule of WYSIWYG in the world of miniature wargaming, which stands for 'What You See Is What You Get'. This simply means that the model you put on the table is equipped with the weapons and wargear that you have included in your 'army list'. This is because many units in many different games include options for different weapons, which determine what the capabilities of that unit are on the battlefield.

We want the model our opponent sees from across the table to represent the model in our list as accurately as possible, because this can affect their decision making process when they are planning how to tackle that unit. It is entirely likely that there are instances on gaming tables across the globe where a discussion has to be had at some stage in a game to clarify what a model is and what it is equipped with, because a different decision would have been taken by an opposing player had the model been 'WYSIWYG'.

In practice, this means that we have to read and understand what the model can do in game terms, and the role we want it to fill in the army before we even cut the first sprue, so in this respect there is certainly planning required for every build, apart from the odd one here and there were a unit doesn't have a diverse array of weapons options and only has the one set up. Special or Unique units are an example of this, as they tend to represent a well know model or character in the game setting, and their equipment is pre-determined and does not vary. Other than that pretty much every model has options.

Autobots, transform!

Now that we have laid out the planning that is required just to be able to build a unit, there is a further and slightly more advanced stage of planning that I have come to include in my model building as widely as I can, and it is something that tackles the question of what to when you need a model that you have built to perform a different role in a game.

You don't want to put a model on the table that doesn't represent the weapons you need the model to use in the game, but at the same time, the weapons you have built the model with are not suitable for dealing with the opponent in your planned game. Perhaps you need that tank that is set up for anti-armour duties to take on a close support role, providing a greater volume of fire to take on a horde of infantry models. 

A powerful shot from a weapon like a Lascannon may vaporise one Ork Boy per turn, and you have three Lascannons on your Predator Annihilator, but that won't help when the enemy unit has thirty models, including a leader with a Power Klaw (a giant hydraulic can opener), and Rokkit Launchers that can punch through your armour. You really need Heavy Bolters or perhaps even Heavy Flamers to really spread out the anti-personnel goodness.

There are two options for using different weapons on a model. Number one is that you simply let you opponent know before the game begins that the model is armed with different weapons to those depicted, and generally this won't be frowned on too much, but the option I have come to prefer is option two: magnetise the kit.

Magnetising a model involves building magnets into some of the components (typically weapons), so that they are held in place by the magnets while playing, but can be swapped out for alternative parts for the next game.

When it works, this is a cool and beneficial technique, but if it is one you have never tried before, then it pays to do a little research before you try it. There are a few different kinds of magnets, but generally the the size and shape are more important than the type, and you also need to consider carefully where the magnets need to be placed, and how. Sometimes there isn't anywhere to fit the magnets on one part of the model - there is a big space where we wish the manufacturer had included a nice magnet shaped recess - and so we have to improvise and build in our own support for the magnet.

I won't go too deeply into the process for magnetising kits, because I have posted a 'beginners guide' based on my own experiences on this very blog. Suffice to say that Magnetising requires a fair amount of planning before you start the build, so you can be clear on which parts need magnets, what size and how many you need to use, how you will fit them, and which parts of the model can be assembled and glued. Click below to read more.

I could go on and talk about how sometimes we need to plan whether to paint certain parts of a model before we assemble it, because there are some places you just can't get a brush to once the model is glued together, and a half dozen other things as well, but I think that is quite enough to be going on with for this month.

There won't be another Sprue Cutters Union topic now until January, as we all take a break for Christmas, but I will surely be posting something else before the closing of the year, because I need to give you all an update on how far I got with my painting challenge for the year...

Until then, thanks for reading.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Gaming Renaissance!

Howdy there fellow Wargamers and Hobbyists, and welcome once more to the Eternal Wargamer blog. Today I bring you a further article guesting over on Creative Twilight all about my recent gaming activity which has resulted from the months of upheaval we have all experienced after the loss of Warhammer Fantasy and the arrival of Age of Sigmar...

Follow the yellow brick road, follow the yellow brick road...

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Sprue Cutters Union October Topic

Greetings Wargamers and Hobbyists, and welcome to the October post for the Sprue Cutters Union topic, which perhaps should be entitled 'Working to close deadlines and only getting the post finished at the last moment', but in actual fact is about which aspects of miniature modelling projects are the most important to us...

This months hobby topic put to the Union is:

We all get lazy at times but let’s face it, there are areas of this hobby that modellers cannot get skimpy. Whether it’s a part of the assembly process, a finishing technique, or a particular tool, what do you think are the essential aspects you cannot afford to cut corners on during a build? What are your imperatives?

Though, as I know you are probably aware by now, I am a miniature wargamer as well as modeller, I do like the occasional post that I can answer from a purely modelling perspective, and this may be one of those topics. Maybe. Perhaps. Not sure if I can take that big a step away from wargaming to be honest. 

Corners, and the cutting of them. Let's start there. I imagine the same applies to scale modellers as it does to miniature wargamers, but when we get into this hobby, whatever age we are when we pop our first shrink wrap on a box of metal or plastic (or resin - for those that way inclined), we all have to start somewhere, and that place is invariably 'at the beginning'. The beginning can be a daunting place, because on one hand we have an internet full of amazing finished builds and armies, and what look like complex and very technical skills and processes being demonstrated, and on the other we have us, and our complete lack of the experience necessary to make much sense out of what we are seeing at anything more than a rudimentary level, at least at first. 

Imagine then (and I am sure many of you don't have to imagine, because you were there) what starting out in this hobby was like before the internet and before access to all those tutorial videos and blog articles. Unless you had Yoda, or Mr Miagi to coach you to greatness, you would have had to do the same as most of us, and work a lot of things out as you went along. You clip, you unintentionally break things, you glue (sometimes your fingers - and I know some of you still manage this feat of chemical engineering. You know who you are), you paint, you play with your toy soldiers - transported to war in a shoe box. We learn.

Fast forward twenty odd years, (I am not old, I am not old) and I have learned a great many things. I have learned to paint to an acceptable standard (in my opinion), I am able to assemble complex kits, using pins and magnets and modelling putty, and I am able to use a variety of basing techniques. And the most important thing I have learned that allows me to achieve a fair standard of finished product? The thing I think is worth spending that extra time on, despite the piece of my soul that is consumed every time I do it? Preparation...

When we are young and inexperienced, without even knowing we are doing it, we cut corners on modelling projects. We cut components off sprues, we glue them together. When we look at those same models years later when we have achieved a greater level of proficiency, we think 'crikey, I wish I had scraped off all those mould lines'. 'Why are there all these gaps?' 'Why does he hold that gun at such a strange angle?'

As we gain more experience and get better at what we do, we cut fewer corners. In a way, I think that is what it is to be a decent modeller, and the best modellers cut no corners at all. It is only in the last couple of years or so I have come to understand the value of taking the time to make sure that every piece I clip from a sprue is neatly filed and cleaned where it needs to be, and has all the mould lines scraped away. 

Not only does this make a big visual and psychological difference when it comes to painting the assembled model, because we have nice smooth surfaces to paint which are free of unwanted protrusions, but because we file all the joint faces there are no unsightly gaps either. We have a better quality of model to work on, which in turn may make us want to make an even better job of the paintwork than we may otherwise have done if we felt like the model didn't warrant that extra attention. It will also avoid the oft read comments from well meaning fellow hobbyists when we post photos of our work on the internet for feedback - 'Great paint job mate, but it would look much better without the mould lines'.

The result, despite the extra effort required in the preparation, is a better standard of finished product. It may add a week to a project when I am working on a unit of twenty models, because I spend the first four or five days filing and scraping every piece before I even think about reaching for the glue, but in the end I think it is worth it. I want to achieve the best standard I can, and that starts with good preparation.

As always, thanks for reading...

Monday, 12 October 2015

Into the Maelstrom: First Taste of Maelstrom Missions

Howdy Wargamers and Hobbyists.

Another article for you which is guesting on the Creative Twilight blog, my initial 'hot out of the hot zone' impressions and thoughts about my first game using the Maelstrom Missions and Objective Cards.

I hope it makes for interesting reading. Here is 'Into the Maelstrom'.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Sprue Cutters Union - Heroic Scale!

Greetings Wargamers and Hobbyists, and welcome to September's Sprue Cutters Union post.

This month we have been asked for our thoughts on a subject that certainly means something rather different for us miniature wargamers than it will for my scale model building compatriots:

What is your favourite scale to work in and why?

I am working on the assumption that when a scale model builder is considering this question, it will nudge them to consider which of the various standardised kit scales they prefer to build, and I also suspect that this relates generally to vehicle kits of one sort or another, whether they are WWII armour or 21st Century fighter aircraft and super advanced naval vessels. I imagine there will be questions raised about the relative complications of working at various scales, or perhaps the availability of favoured kits or lack thereof in certain scales.

As a wargamer, for me this means the same, but at the same time something different, because a different scale of model means more than just the size of the finished build, and the intricacies of the project depending on the level of detail involved. To a wargamer, a different scale often means an entirely different game system, if not also a different genre as well.

So, when wargaming, what does it mean to model an army at a particular scale? Well in wargaming circles there a plethora of game systems to choose from, covering every period in history and even the future, science fiction and fantasy, steam punk and alternate realities. And that barely scratches the surface.

So why would different games use different sized miniatures in the first place? Typically it affects one thing in particular: The size of the conflict. If you want to fight a small skirmish, perhaps between a half dozen or so elite models, then collecting, assembling and painting 54mm models or larger is a fulfilling project. If you want to fight out the Battle of Waterloo at the same scale however, with one model representing one soldier, then you would probably need a battlefield the size of a football pitch to play out the engagement at 54mm.

From the Waterloo Diorama Facebook Page - #makesmewannaplay

Battle size. That's the name of the game then. If you want to be able to play a game with less than 10 models per side, you can be happy working at anywhere from 28mm up to 90mm. If you want to play out your average battle game at around 50-100 models per side, then 25-28mm is about right, and seems to be the most commonly occurring and popular scale. If you want to be able to play out truly epoch shattering battles, then the size to go for if you a). want to be able to conclude the game in this lifetime and b). don't want to have to barricade yourself inside the local town hall to have a big enough space to play it out is probably 6mm or less. I only found out this year that there is such a thing as 2mm model soldiers! 

Our game of choice affects both which scale we are likely to be working at, and also how likely we are to come into contact with other scales. If you are a hardcore 40K player for example, playing at 28mm 'Heroic' scale, then all your models will be at that scale, whether they are infantry models, tanks or mighty bipedal war engines and aircraft, however if the game setting is as much a draw to you as the gaming, and you want to be able to play out other types of game set in the Grim Darkness of the Far Future, then you could be drawn into playing Epic - a large scale battle game with 6mm models - for really big battles, or Battlefleet Gothic for the battles in space before the land battles even begin.

A game of Battlefleet Gothic, in which Imperial Torpedoes are 200ft long!

A very old shot of the precursor to Epic - where entire companies of tanks and infantry engage in battle

Fellow modellers, we have our choices, our options, our world of hobby goodness to cherry pick what we like from and bend the resin, metal and plastic to our will. But which scale do I prefer? Well the games I play most are Warhammer 40,000 and Age of Sigmar (until recently Warhammer: The game of Fantasy Battles), and the vast bulk of my collection is at 28mm Heroic Scale. 

This is a malleable scale that offers great modelling and painting opportunities, and isn't as daunting as a larger model may perhaps be. It is also a very popular scale in the industry, which means that even if we play predominantly one game, we can sometimes find suitable models for that game from outside the system. For example, it is becoming more and more common to find models from Mantic Games or Mierce Miniatures in Fantasy armies, or Kromlech and Wargamma models in 40K armies. 

But...the problem with models collected for armies is that there tends to be rather a lot of them, and sometimes, it is a welcome change to be able to work on something not only from a different genre of game, but also an entirely different scale. This is part of the reason I have recently been adding to my collection of Battlefleet Gothic ships, and have just started the task of refurbishing my entire collection of Man O' War ships. 

Models such as Battlefleet Gothic and Man O' War ships, and miniatures for games like Epic are of course much smaller and the level of detail is, well, not necessarily less fine, but certainly less 'specific', and this means that they are in some ways easier to paint. BFG ships for example can easily be made table-ready with a spray base coat, followed by some dry-brushing to bring out the detail, and finished with some carefully applied spot colours to 'bring out their eyes', and all in double quick time, and this is a far cry from a large unit of 28mm models that all require upwards of five or six colours, details like weapons, armour, pouches and belts, teeth and eyes etc. 

This doesn't mean that you can't spend far more time on the smaller scale miniatures as well, and produce some mind boggling results on a much smaller miniature, but this isn't always necessary, as the desired effect is the look of the model, army, fleet or warmachine on the tabletop, in amongst other miniatures, scenery and the accoutrements of a typical wargame. If you are a gaming hobbyist it is more about the overall impact of the game, and less about the individual model.

The answer to the question then, of which scale of miniature I prefer to work on, can only be this. It depends on which call to war I hear blowing on the wind on any given day, and I will prepare my chosen weapons of war accordingly.

As always my friends, thanks for reading.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

What do we want?

Welcome wargamers and hobbyists to another post guesting on Creative Twilight.

After reading so much recently from gamers wanting to be provided with some guidance by Games Workshop for structuring their games of Age of Sigmar, I decided to give my thoughts about what I feel is something of s crossroads in our hobby.

I hope this sparks some creativity and reassessment of where we are going in the hobby. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Sprue Cutters Union - Invisible Detail

Greetings Wargamers and Hobbyists, and welcome to the workshop. I am here this time to answer the latest question to be posed to the illustrious members of the Sprue Cutters Union, and it is one that in my opinion pits the desire to achieve the highest level of attention to detail that we are capable of against the practicalities of time constraint and the preservation of our very sanity...

Do you bother with details that will not be seen in the finished product or do you pour your heart and soul into each nook and cranny of the build?

I guess this is a question that can be approached from a number of angles. Is the piece you are working on a gaming miniature, a display miniature, a competition entry or even a commission paint job for a customer? All of these questions will impact both the degree of effort you can or are prepared to put into a paint job on a miniature. A competition entry may end up being the greatest piece of art you have ever produced, and a 'basic standard' commission piece may be a 'quick and easy' entry level job at the lower end of your pricing scale.

The vast majority of the models I build and paint are gaming miniatures. In practice this means that they are primarily used to fight battles, they are handled and moved around a lot, and they often sit among a group of similar models as part of a larger unit. This also means that most of the miniatures I paint are rarely going to be looked at from less than a couple of feet away, and are even less likely to be turned upside down to see if their nether regions have seen the caress of a brush.

Most gamers are too intent on the game they are trying to avoid losing, rather than the groups of similarly painted miniatures that compose the enemy army to be overly concerned with a really close up inspection of the paint job, and when they are taken with the appearance of a given model, it will tend to be a model which is a focus point of the collection, like a character, a monster or a vehicle. These are what gamers refer to as 'Centrepiece Models'.

Typically only a smaller portion of a gamer's collection is made up of what we call 'centrepiece models', which are often large and impressive kits, and as such draw more attention than the models around them. This therefore tends to mean that they are scrutinised more closely by others. It also tends to mean that, as we know they are a focal point of the army, and this is part of the reason we bought them in the first place, that we are often likely to spend more time on painting them than we would the faceless rank and file of the army.

There are of course those who couldn't do an 'average' paint job on a model if they tried, those who paint every single model in their collection as if it were the last model they would ever paint, the model that they would be judged by forevermore. But we won't talk about those people. For myself, and I imagine for the majority of other gaming hobbyists, the amount of time and effort I put into painting a model, and the degree to which I lavish attention on the bits I know will rarely - if ever - be seen by another person, depends mainly on what the model is and it's role in my collection.

My character models and elite units are going to have much more time spent on them, including the deep recesses of cloaks, the inner folds of clothing and armour, and saddles which will be hidden when the model is assembled, than a model in the centre of the third rank of a horde of Skeleton Warriors, quite simply because with his fellows obscuring the view to him from all angles, and the fact that when not marching to war he spends most of his time stowed in a foam lined carry case, there seems little benefit in spending 'extra' time and attention on areas of the model that never likely be seen.

Equally, the command models of that same block of Skeleton Warriors will get far more brush-time, because not only do they tend to be more impressive than their rank and file brethren, they also carry interesting accoutrements like musical instruments and unit standards rather than just weapons. They are also the last models to be removed when the unit is finally destroyed by the enemy, and they are the models that form the focal point of the front rank. They are the 'face of the unit' if you will, and the rest of the unit are pretty much just filler.

In gaming circles there are a few variations of a phrase: Bases, faces, banners and shields. These are the areas if a model that draw the most attention, and whether it is a centrepiece model or a rank and file nobody, if you get these areas painted to a reasonable standard, then shortcuts elsewhere can go unnoticed. I for example am in the process of trying to paint as many models as I can to a 'battlefield standard' before the end of the year - almost at 180 infantry models, of a target of 250 - and this doesn't mean painting sloppily (not deliberately at any rate), it means painting to a more basic standard that looks fine on the table, but that I can come back to later down the line to spend more time on things like eyes, teeth, general highlighting and other smaller details which just aren't necessary when the goal is to be able to put models on the table for games without cringing.

Part of being able to get through models quickly does however involve cutting corners where I can, and on the unit of 25 Chaos Marauders I am almost finished with for now, this might mean painting a thin layer of brown onto the backs of the shields and leaving them at that, rather than bother with the metal banding and any washes or highlights that are entirely out of sight unless looking at them from behind and beneath. When you look at them from the front, they will look fine, with no obvious bits missed.

Some people take other short cuts with gaming miniatures. If the hatches on a vehicle are going to be closed the whole time, where is the benefit in painting the inside of the passenger compartments? What is the point of painting the underside of a tank or bike if no one will ever see it?

I have heard stories about some armies people have painted to a very strict deadline for a gaming tournament, and tales of weary and bleary eyed gamers painting into the small hours by candlelight the night before an event are common. In these cases it would not surprise me at all to find that corners have been cut wherever possible in an effort to get the entire army to a presentable standard for the event, especially as painting marks are on offer and contribute to the overall winner of the tournament. Though when we hear about gamers who have painted the front of a miniature to an enviable standard, yet have left the back of the model simply base coated because they didn't expect people to see it, you have to wonder when people have bitten off more than they could chew.

For my final thoughts on this topic, I have already described as a gamer which models are going to get more attention and which models less depending on their role in the army, but I think there is also an area of overlap in some cases. When a hobbyist reaches a certain level of ability, and their painting becomes noticeably better than the results of those around them, their collection is probably going to attract an ever increasing volume of attention until, regardless of whether a model is a large centrepiece creature or an inconspicuous infantry model at the back of a reserve unit, every Tom, Dick and Harry is being looked up and down and all over for the quality of his battle attire.

When every model is lavished with a greater than average level of attention to quality and detail, every model is more likely to be scrutinised even more closely than their counterparts in less eye-catching collections, and when that happens, will the painter still feel happy that they can cut the odd corner in order to hit that tournament deadline, or will they have become a victim of their own skill and success, doomed to paint every last shield rear, undergarment and horse's tackle until their eyes fail and their hands shake after decades of painting every boggling detail, just in case someone decides to have a closer look at a model from the back of a unit just to see if the quality of painting is consistent throughout the army?

A nice problem to have some would say.

As always, thanks for reading.

Monday, 10 August 2015

First Taste of Age of Sigmar

Greetings fellow Wargamers, and welcome to my second guest article for the Creative Twilight blog. I hope to be able to help Thor expand the reader base for the site by branching out from the primarily 40K content on the blog, and this is my first step in that direction.

I've played a couple of games of Age of Sigmar now, and felt it was time to give my initial impressions of the game, and also thought it might be good to write up something nice and early after the release so that in six months time I can re-visit the state of the game and see how things have changed.

So, without further ado, I give you - First Taste of Age of Sigmar.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

40K is Epic!

Hey guys and gals, and welcome to my humble blog once more.

On and off from here on I will be contributing articles to the gaming blog 'Creative Twilight', as well as posting here, and to make sure you done miss out on those articles, I'll be linking to them from my Eternal Wargamer blog page. Topics like my Sprue Cutters Union posts will continue to appear in their entirety here, but it is nice to be able to do something collaborative alongside other gamers.

So here we are with my first post as a contributor: 40K is Epic!

I hope you enjoy it, and thanks for reading...

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Sprue Cutters Union - Must Stash!

Well, well, well. Welcome back finally to...the Sprue Cutters Union!

After something of a roller coaster ride of a half year or so, the Sprue Cutters Union is back and hopefully better than ever. I will certainly be doing my utmost to post on every topic, as I have always thought that this is a great venture, and one that I am proud to be a part of.

The new format will be that each Sprue Cutter will post up their views on the topic of the month as usual, but now they will be gathered together at the end of each month and made available via the Combat Workshop Facebook Page. No more listing of links to other blog posts at the bottom of the page. And to go with a fresh new start to the Union, how about a cool new logo?!

So, without further ado, this month's post is something of a remake of the classic Sprue Cutters Union topic...Must Stash!

Why do we accumulate a stash of unbuilt and 'potentially-never-will-be-built' kits?

OK then, we may have a new logo and a new Facebook outlet for our blogs thanks to Jon over at the Combat Workshop, but some things will never change: I will always being tackling the topic of the month from a wargaming perspective. Well, that isn't entirely true, some things change, because first time around of discussing this subject, my stash consisted of a single 'Solar Powered Construction Kit', which has nothing whatsoever to do with my hobby.

What happened?!

Imperial Guard Valkyrie, Dark Eldar Talos, Ork Fighter Bomber,
Dark Eldar Void Raven and assorted Hasslefree Miniatures
in little bags - and this doesn't include my Age of Sigmar starter set
or beautiful Axe-Faction miniature my beloved wife bought for me!

Alright, since you ask, I'll tell you what happened. Really, two things happened. The first, like many of us I am sure, and a contributing factor to the absence of the Union this year, is that work went crazy. Or should I say 'more crazy', because work for me has been a challenge for about a year now. I guess that's what happens when you are in it at the pointy end, with a hundred emails a day flying at you and nowhere to run.

The other occurrence was that I made a certain 'hobby resolution' at the onset of 2015, which you may or may not recall was to finish off to a 'tabletop' standard two hundred and fifty gaming miniatures by the twelfth chime of Big Ben on December 31st 2015. 

Now then, this painting promise resulted in a flying start to the year, and up to this point I have just upped my total for 2015 to 160 miniatures done and ready to fight. Given that during the whole of 2014 I managed around a third of that number, I think that I have done rather well. The target is twenty per calendar month, and I aim to be averaging twenty five per month come the end of July. I am really aiming for the big Three Hundred by the end of the year if I can.

The unfortunate side effect of all this painting is that it is eating up the vast majority of my hobby time, and as the 'big things' like vehicles are a comparatively minor part of my collection (only about twenty or so tanks), with the vast bulk being made up of various hundreds of infantry and cavalry models, the armour and flyers have found themselves at the bottom of the 'to do' list. Opening stash means 'cutting sprues', filing and scraping components, and assembly, none of which involves a paint brush, and if I plan to hit my targets for the year, the acrylic has to flow like Income Tax out of my wages.

So there we have it. In the previous iteration of this post, I had said that as a gamer first and modeller/painter second, my focus would always be on assembly and game play and painting models would come in its own good time. Having seen just how many unpainted miniatures I own and committed to doing something about it, that focus has shifted considerably. In fact it's a wonder I have time to be typing this post. 

It's a good job really that I don't consider all my unpainted miniatures as stash, because it will take in the region of five years to get it all painted at a rate of 250-300 per year. All I need to do is avoid building up a collection of new models to add to the pile...Doh!!!

For the first time in what feels like an age, thanks for reading. 

P.S. I have signed up to write some gaming based articles for the Creative Twilight blog, and I will link those back to this page, so I invite you to keep a look out for some tabletop delving from me soon.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Tutorial: Magnetising for beginners - Harpy/Hive Crone

Greetings wargamers and hobbyists, welcome to the workbench. This is where I make furniture for the house, carry out minor DIY projects, and dissect bio-monstrosities...

This post is going to be something of a tutorial on how to use magnets to allow you to build a model kit in such a way that you can change pieces over between games to represent any of the kit options, rather than building the model as a single fixed model.

I shall state clearly from the outset that this is intended to be a guide for beginners that will help you get to grips with the tools and methods I use to complete a simple magnetising project, only magnetising the pieces you need to in order to get the kit flexibility you want, not an in depth or advanced tutorial to allow you magnetise every single part to the nth degree. I hope however that once you are comfortable with the concepts presented here, you will have the confidence to try more involved projects.

Also, before I begin, everything I show you here is what I do and the tools I use, having worked things out pretty much for myself. Other people may do things differently, and you should feel free to see what other people have done and cherry pick the best advice available and that suits you. Don't take my word as the only option out there.

So, if we all have our goggles on and brain in gear, I'll begin...

First things first:


A quick question to start, just to make the mission statement clear: why do we want to magnetise a model kit?

Answer, simply, is to allow us to take bits off the model and exchange them for other bits, so that by the time we're done changing bits, the model either has different weapon options on show, or, like the Harpy/Crone kit, can represent a different unit entirely.

Now you don't have to magnetise a kit to be able to use it as another model, all you really have to do is make it clear to your opponent what the model represents before the game starts and use it as a stand-in. As long as your opponent doesn't have an issue with this, and the proxy isn't wildly inappropriate, this is perfectly fine, but of course if you can change bits over by magnetising the kit instead, why wouldn't you?

Thankfully some kits don't need magnetising to change stuff over. Take the Shadowsword kit for example. I can use the tank as any one of half a dozen variants just by changing out the barrel configuration of the main gun, and this can be done by just push fitting the different bits. The moral of this tale is 'don't make work for yourself'. If you don't need to magnetise something to be able to change it round, don't bother.

Lastly, there is another reason to want to magnetise a kit, and that is ease of storage and transport. Some models might be far easier to pack into a box and cart around, as well as taking up less 'volume' in a storage case if you can disassemble it before packing it away.



Before we can get into the meat of how to magnetise a kit, I need to say a word about the work you need to do on the model beforehand. This involves looking at the kit you are assembling, going through the stage by stage assembly guide, and picking out the point at which the basic structure of the model is complete, and the guide splits into two or more sections which explain how to complete the build depending on which option you have elected to construct.

Below are photos of the Harpy/Crone kit assembled to the point where adding anything else takes the kit in one direction or the other. In other words, this is the point you get to where you have completed the assembly of the parts are common to all the options in the kit. The bits you are left with are specific to one build option or another.

Decisions, decisions...

Now I did say that this tutorial is meant to keep things as simple and straight forward as possible, and with that in mind, there may well be bits with some kits that are kind of discretionary when it comes to the need to magnetise them. These tend to be bits that are specific to just one kit option, but don't really affects the overall appearance of the model, and don't form any of the distinct list options, like weapons etc. 

Below are some photos of bits I decided to simply choose an option for and glue into place, rather than try and magnetise them. This really was for simplicity's sake. I could have gone all the way and magnetised these bits as well, but that would have taken extra time and also needed a different, additional size of magnet which I would need to purchase for something that doesn't give a huge amount of benefit in the long run. I've seen other tutorials for this kit that did magnetise these bits, and I applaud the dedication of those modellers, but for me, it just wasn't worth the effort.

From left to right, these are: rear talons, tail biomorph, chest bone blades. The reasons I decided to simply choose the bits I liked best and glue them on are as follows:

Rear talons - 

The joint on these is just way too small in my opinion to be able to fit magnets at all, they would have to be pinned, which needs wire and alternate drill bits etc. See my rule about not making work for yourself.

Tail biomorph -

This piece could actually be magnetised, but my preferred size of magnet is a little too deep, and the tail may not be able to accommodate it - I would need a shallower magnet. I decided however that it wasn't worth the bother, the expense or the wait to order a pack of smaller magnets just for this piece, so I just glued the tail option I liked into place.

Chest bone blades - 

This piece also could be magnetised if I really wanted to, but doing that with the magnets I already had would mean that when the piece wasn't in place, the magnets that hold it in place would be visible, which I wouldn't be happy with. This is because the alternate bits for the other kit option is a series of much smaller spikes, which fit in a different place on the chest. If you look closely you should be able to see that I decided to use both options: the blades, with a couple of the tiny spikes on either side.

So we've made some decisions about bits we are going to glue into place rather than bother to magnetise, and the result is that we have some bits we are not going to use. These are pictured below:

Here we can see the alternative tail piece, the alternative rear talons, the last of the tiny spikes that didn't get used, and the big blade-spikes that go on the top of the carapace. These last bits are the final discretionary assembly decision I made: In order to allow me to magnetise the carapace blades, I would have needed to create greenstuff beds to insert magnets into, which is possible but also time consuming, and as the ability to change these parts over doesn't affect the list options, I decided to take the easy option and glue into place the bits I preferred, pictured below, glued along the flanks of the carapace. 

I have done this before on the Nephilim, but those bits were weapon options, and it's not something I would recommend for your first project. I've included photos below so you can see the kind of thing I mean. It's one thing to drill into plastic and glue and magnet in place, and another to have to manufacture a bed to sit the magnets in because there isn't anything but a hole where the pieces go.


so, we've made a few discretionary decisions about what we're going to magnetise and what we aren't, and we've assembled the kit to the point where we're ready to start the magnetising part of the project. Here are the tools I typically use when working on a kit:

Nice and simple. a pin vice, drill bit, green stuff and of course, magnets. It's as as that really. The only other thing you need is super glue, which I assume you will most likely have access to.

Now I have already talked about the use of the green stuff when you need to create a floating bed for a magnet to sit in. I have seen some people use bits if plastic to create elaborate frames that they glue into place to support a magnet, but I thought 'hey, why bother with all the fiddling about. If you aren't going to see it anyway, why not just stuff some putty in the hole?' I like using this method because you can position the magnet while the putty is still soft to make sure you get the depth of the magnets right, which is an important part of the job, and it sticks like concrete when it's set. Like I said though, baby steps.

The most important thing to note about the tools however is this: I use magnets which are the same diameter as the drill bit I use to make the holes the magnets will sit in. On the first project I did, the drill bit I had was a little bigger, so I had to put green stuff  in every drill hole to make the magnet sit tight. For the second project I made sure I got myself a drill bit that matched the magnets, and the result was that I could drill the hole, push the magnet in, and in some cases the fit was so snug it didn't even need glue. This makes the whole process much easier and a bit quicker.

As for the magnets themselves, they are  neodymium or 'Rare-earth' magnets, and I buy them on ebay, typically in batches of 100. There are a huge variety of different sizes of these magnets, but the one I have settled on as being both small enough to be useful in magnetising most model components, but strong enough to the job, are cylindrical in shape, 2mm in diameter, and 2mm in depth:

Now before I say another word about these magnets,,,WARNING!



That bit is important. So when your packet of magnets arrives in the post, don't stuff it in your pocket alongside your expensive smart phone...

Now the only things you really need to know about the magnets apart from their ability to bring down a Titan by screwing up its main cogitator banks, is that, like most magnets I guess, they have two poles: a negative end, and positive end. This means that two magnets will attract if facing the right way round, and repel each other if one of them is the wrong way round.

The final warning that should come on the packaging of your magnets is that you should not file or try to cut the magnets, and you shouldn't need to do this anyway. 


So, we have our tools and magnets, we've assembled all the common components of the multi-option kit, and we've perhaps made a few decisions about bits we are going to glue into place rather than try and magnetise, for the reasons discussed earlier. We are ready to start installing magnets.

Below are two photos. The bits on the left are the Harpy bits which have had magnets installed, and the bits on the right are for the Hive Crone.                                                                                                

If you look closely, you can see the magnets installed in the various bits - they are the shiny metallic discs. The top pieces in each set of bits are the head and tail. below you can see the arms, and on the Crone photo you can see the Tentaclids. Each piece has a single magnet installed.

The installation of a magnet is as follows: Using your drill bit which is the same diameter as your magnets (in my case a 2mm bit for my 2mm magnets), you position the tip of the bit in the location you want the magnet to sit, and you start off very slowly to make sure the location of the hole doesn't drift. The reason for this is that the magnet in the bits above needs to match the location of the magnet on the main body of the model, otherwise the bits won't sit in the right position, either falling off altogether, or not sitting right because the magnets are misaligned and are pulling the piece to one side and out of place. 

It is important that you get this right, but it is just a case of taking your time. Once you have fitted your first few magnets, you'll be more comfortable.

Once you have your hole, it needs to be deep enough to allow the magnet to sit with the surface flush with the surface of the piece. It doesn't matter if you drill the hole too deep (unless that means it pushes right through and out of the other side of the piece, making it look like it took a hit from a Lascannon), because when you push the magnet into the hole, you will only push it until the surface sits flush, not deep into the hole. The idea is to position the magnets on each piece so that when the pieces are in place, the magnets sit in contact with each other and hold the pieces together.

In some cases the hole will be tight enough so that the magnet pushes in snugly and stays put. If the hole is not quite that tight, you will need to prime the hole with a dab of super glue to make sure the magnet stays where it is once it's in the hole. If you don't glue the magnet in when the hole isn't quite tight enough to hold it without, then when you fit the corresponding piece, the magnet in the other bit will pull the magnet back out of its hole, which of course is no good. Getting the holes, and therefore the magnets, in the right place is probably the single most important part of a magnetising project.

Now I'll show you where on the main model I positioned the corresponding magnets.

First, the head. This is where I put the magnet in the neck cavity:

You can clearly see the face of the magnet in the back of the cavity, and it sits flush with the surface of the plastic. Now when you are setting up magnets to make a part interchangeable, like the head for example, and the parts you are fitting the magnets don't give you obvious matching points, then you need to work out how to mark on the heads and the 'neck' where the magnets need to go so they line up correctly.

One way of doing this is to test fit the parts together to work out where you will have nice large contact points between the parts, before deciding where to position the magnets. There is no use in installing magnets in bits that don't meet. I worked on the idea that putting the one 'receiving' magnet in the main body of kit first would make sense, because that is the one that the magents in the two heads would need to match up to. I chose a spot in the back of the neck cavity I thought gave a good contact point, and I drilled a 2mm hole using the 2mm drill bit. Once this was done I added a touch of superglue to the hole, and pushed a magnet in until the top surface of the magnet finished up flush with the surface of the plastic of the neck cavity. If you have used a touch of superglue, then you can keep pushing until the magnet is in position, and when you stop, the glue will hold the magnet fast, so don't stop pushing till the magnet is flush.

Next comes marking where you need to drill the holes in the heads. To make sure that the magnets in the heads would both be positioned to align with the magnet in the neck cavity, I did this by putting a dab of paint on the magnet I had installed in the neck cavity, and then pushed one of the heads into the cavity. This left a spot of paint on the back of the head where it aligned with the magnet in the neck, giving me the spot I needed to drill the hole. I then of course repeated this with the other head.

Earlier I mentioned the poles of the magnets. Now is the time I had to make sure that once I had drilled the holes in the two heads, I installed the magnets the right way round so they would attract to the magnet in the neck, and not repel.

Now these magnets are very fiddly things, and the way I have worked out is the easiest for me to pick up a magnet, make sure it's the right way round, and then get it into its hole is as follows:

  • Let one of the magnets stick to the magnet you have already installed - in this case, the neck cavity. This ensures that the magnet is the right way around, and it holds the magnet in place, without needing to try and remove it from its position, which can be tricky while keeping it the right way round.
  • Put a dab of superglue in the hole that the magnet is going into - in this case in the back of the head.
  • Push the head down into the cavity so that the magnet goes into the hole, and keep pushing until the head is sitting fully into the cavity.
  • Wait a minute for the glue to fix the magnet in the hole.
  • Pull the head away from the neck cavity. 

If everything goes as it should, this should leave the magnet in the neck cavity in its hole, and the newly installed magnet in the back of the head in its hole, with both magnets the right way round and a snug fit of the parts. Now at this stage if you find that the magnet in the back of the head isn't quite flush with the surface of the plastic, either protruding a fraction or pushed in a little, don't worry, because if it's only a fraction and the two pieces were firmly pushed together, it doesn't matter. The main thing it that the magnets are firmly fixed in place, and that the two model parts fit snugly together.

Rinse and repeat with the other head. Once this stage is complete, you should now be able to put either of the two heads in place and it should stay in place, and you should be able to swap them over.

So now we have established the process for installing magnets, using dabs of paint to make sure that all the parts align together, and how to make sure the magnets go in the right way around, you simply repeat the process with the rest of the parts. 

The photos below show you where I installed the magnets on the rest of the kit:

First, the 'arm holes':

And the tail:

 And the wings - for the Tentaclids:

Now if you look at the photo that shows the Crone pieces earlier, you'll see that after much deliberation I decided to glue the Tentaclids to their 'mounting points' and then magnetise the whole thing to the underside of the wing. I did this for two reasons. First, magnetising the Tentaclids to the mounting points was not practical, and I preferred not to have the mounting points glued on the model when it was set up as the Harpy, because it would look like the Harpy had fired off a load of Tentaclids it didn't have in the first place.

I think it makes little difference to the model to remove the whole Tentaclid and its mounting point when it has been fired in game, because it's fitted under the wing. The main thing is being able to remove the Tentaclid, so that you can remove them as they are fired, and take them all off when switching to 'Harpy mode'. As luck would have it, the little holes in the back of the Tentaclid mounting points are exactly 2mm in diameter, so it was no brainer really as they came pre-drilled!

Here are the photos of the kit set up as the two options once all the magnets were in place. First, the Harpy:

And now the Crone:

 Just a couple of hints below:

  • Dry fit pieces before super gluing either pieces or magnets in place - it's not an easy thing to get a superglued magnet out a hole.

  • Avoid pushing a magnet through the hole you have drilled in a piece that has a closed cavity, like the head. Once inside, you won't get it out without cutting your model apart (so it pays to have plenty of magnets), and your model will make a nice rattling sound as it flies around the table.

  • One for the Harpy/Crone kit specifically - glue the tongue in place BEFORE you glue the two sides of the head together - it won't fit past the teeth afterwards!

I hope that this article is of use. Please feel free to ask questions or suggest any points I haven't covered which might be good to add in. I haven't gone through the fitting of every piece individually, because the principles are the same pretty much every time, and I hope the photos of all the pieces and their magnet positions will be enough, plus, the article would be three times longer.

Take your time with your first attempt. Once you have successfully installed your first couple and your brain has accepted the programming, it becomes much easier.

Good luck, and thanks for reading...

P.S. As of this morning, my painting total for this year stands at 66 painted infantry models out of a target of 40!