Archive for the ‘Gaming’ Category

Another Black Templar

Posted: October 19, 2014 in Gaming
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Initiate number 2. These are taking me about four hours each to paint, so don’t expect to see them on a tabletop any time soon.


Mars Attacks, Uruk-hai and Black Templars.

Mars Attacks (Benny did those, not bad for a six year-old), Uruk-hai and Black Templars. And a random dice I found in a bag pocket, dropped on the floor and then kept painfully treading on. I should just put it in the tin with the others. Lazy.


Here’s the Black Templar I’ve painted this week. I’m quite pleased with this one. My edge highlighting is getting better.

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For this first “normal” (is there such a thing?) Space Marine, I thought I’d go right back to the roots of the hobby, and paint a chap in Mark VI armour.

I used the upgrade frame in building my Black Templars.  The parts on it are very cool. I’m especially looking forward to painting my next Space Marine, which has a helmet and chestpiece from the upgrade set. I intend to follow examples from the Forgeworld books, which show a great deal of variation of colour scheme and equipment within each faction, and paintings of Black Templars, which show a lot of personalisation to Initiates’ battleplate. Expect a fair degree of individuality .

As Black Templars have such a contrasting colour scheme I have been undercoating them in pieces. I sprayed the robed torso fronts and shoulder pads white, the rest black. Painting white over black is frankly horrible. Different undercoats give a much smoother finish. To do this I drilled holes in my undercoating “man stick” (a piece of 1×2″ wood I stick my models to for undercoating) and blu-tacked the pieces to cocktail sticks stuck into the holes.

I have also been only partially assembling the models before painting, gluing on shoulder pads and – where appropriate – weapons later in the painting process. Doing rank and file troopers as sub-assemblies might seem like an enormous faff, but I can paint all areas properly and the results are better. Plus it means I only ever play with painted models.


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Hooray! We’re finally finished.

As promised, here is my first unit of Black Templars – a castellan and his command squad. I haven’t decided which castellan he is yet, nor what the overall theme of the army will be. I’ve been toying with a boarding party, but have painted their bases to look earthy and become distracted by landspeeders. My last few games of Warhammer 40,000 were in spring against the Tau (I moved, remember? I only started gaming again about six weeks ago). I hate playing the Tau, and am racking my brains for ways to get rid of them. Landspeeders feature in my plans somewhat, but mostly I just like the models.

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The anonymous castellan.

I’ve two crusader squads, a dreadnought and a centurion squad to paint. This will take me up to 1000 points. I’m going to add a bunch of fanatical human priest types, cyber cherubs and cyborg monks to this command squad because, you know, they’re Black Templars. Game wise I’ll probably use the priest rules from Astra Militarum for these additional zealots. I may, one day, add some Tempestus Scion models painted up as human Black Templar men-at-arms. There are only a few Black Templars after all, and they’ve got a big job to do.

I’ve got so many painted models these days that I no longer feel compelled to paint things in order to field a particular army. I just do it because I like painting. Often this means I have some extra bodies to add to an existing army. I might paint a model because I like the look of it, or to surprise my regular opponents with something new. Or both. In this case of a new force where I’ve got to paint an entire army, I’ve no idea when I’ll finish all this off. But I’ll post up pictures as and when.

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Behold! The true sons of the Emperor. Mr Pointy on the far left’s base isn’t finished. Sorry about that. And I know Space Marine command squads can no longer take special weapons. But it’s my hobby, so there.

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The banner bearer is the only Sword Brother in the squad. He’s wearing terminator honours, so he has to be. The winged Dark Angel sword around his neck is obviously a Sword Brethren badge. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

My edge highlighting leaves a lot to be desired. It’s not a technique I’ve had much call to use in the past what with ORCS! ORKS! ORCS!, but I am getting better. Plus I painted the majority of these chaps just before we moved, in a house full of boxes, in really bad light. My new office is much better lit, and consequently the models I have finished here look better. Why am I saying this? Because I wish I had left my warlord and his buddies until last. He seemed liked the obvious place to start, and I was excited, who can blame me?  My advice is, when starting a new project, begin with a nobody who can stand at the back of a unit. He can safely be removed as the first casualty, sparing your blushes at his horrendous paint job. As it is, the badly highlighted mug of this castellan will be staring at me the whole game through.

The models you see here were originally going to be the command group for the Relictors army I started on White Dwarf. I didn’t get anywhere with it as I wasn’t happy with the finish. (I subsequently sold the few Space Marines I had painted). So this lot of Relictors have become Black Templars, even though they were sculpted to be Dark Angels. It’s a funny old 41st Millennium.


I’m probably not going to be on here as much as I have this last six weeks, as I’m reaching the “Panic! Must write every available second!” halfway point of my next book. But I will be posting more regularly than I did last time I was in the thick of the narrative storm, meaning more than not at all.

Here are a few models from Mantic’s Mars Attacks game that I’ve painted over the last few days. They’re a quite realistically proportioned 28mm(ish). At least the humans are realistically proportioned. Who knows how true the aliens are to the real thing?

They’re made in soft plastic. Although they hold paint better than your old Airfix 1/72, the weapons can be a touch bendy. This is only really an issue on those with swords and staffs. I’ll be replacing the staff of the Martian General Tor with wire, for example. Some of them have mouldlines, and these can be hard to remove as the models are so fine, and come preassembled. Otherwise, I think they’re nifty. The sculpts are good and the Martians in particular are characterful.

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Ak! Ak-ak-ak-ak! Ak!

I painted them using a bit of a cheaty technique. After years of painting over black (and by that I really mean decades), I’ve been using a white undercoat for some models. I started doing this with my Second Age The Lord of the Rings Elves, mainly because the colours are much brighter than those I usually work with. But I’m sad to say that my eyes aren’t what they were, and I found white makes it easier to see the detail.

Sheesh. Age.

For these Martians, I followed the colours of the painted models in the rulebook. The Martians in the paintings have green or turquoise armour, but I prefer the blue. There were only two stages. The first is a thin basecoat; thin enough to allow the white undercoat to show through on the raised parts. Almost a wash. After that, I tidied them up and gave them an ink wash of the appropriate colour. Job done.

I allowed the green wash of the face to bleed into the red wash on the brains to mimic the pictures. I applied a second wash of brown ink to pick out the features on the faces too. I noticed that the very finely painted models in the rulebook have a tiny white highlight dotted off centre on the Martians’ pupils. I think it really brings the faces alive. The helmets were very carefully stuck on with PVA.

After a couple of disasters with spray varnish, I’ve taken to varnishing my plastics with Windsor and Newton Galeria Matt Varnish. You can get this from art shops. You paint it on, and one bottle will last for ages. I’ve been using it for ten years, and am on my second bottle. This protects them, and takes the shine off the inks. Until recently I was using it to remove the shine of gloss and satin varnishes, but with plastics now I omit the initial spray.

My little boy Benny loves this game (okay so the original trading cards caused controversy for gore and implicit sexual content but, you know, alien invasion!), and so yesterday he had a go at painting. He didn’t do too badly, and he’s eager to finish his Martian off. He’s got no chance of not being a terrible nerd in this house. I am thankful that it is now socially acceptable.

Next week I promise I’ll finish my Black Templars command squad and post it up here. Honest. I’ve just been distracted by Uruk-hai, Saxons, Martians… Too many toy soldiers to paint!

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The one on the left is straight out of the box. Just in case you need telling.

Two new games

Posted: October 1, 2014 in Gaming, Journalism, Mantic
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I started my writing career as a staffer on SFX magazine. I don’t do much journalistic work any more, but I still review books, games and films for SFX pretty much every month. These are provided for me for free, and that can outweigh the modest (but still very welcome) fee I get for writing the actual piece. Sometimes, I get a freebie bonanza.

In September, I was lucky enough to receive for review both Mantic’s Mars Attacks Miniatures Game – based on the Topps trading cards – and Golem Arcana by HBS, which has its own original, proprietory background.3753.1.368.368.FFFFFF.0 I won’t reveal what I thought here, because otherwise what is SFX paying me for? You’ll have to read SFX #254 and SFX #255. But I thought I’d bring them to your attention. Go and check them out by clicking on their names above.

Both were funded through Kickstarter, and that’s very interesting. I see a lot of games drumming up support through that site. Some succeed, some fail. Some get made and aren’t all that great, but at least they all get a chance. We’re living in a golden age of model gaming, and Kickstarter is part of the reason why.