From the Painting Desk #4 – Gorillas, Elves, Zombies and Scenery

So with the paint enthusiasm seemingly on the go right now – for another couple of days at least – here’s the stuff I’m working on right now. You’ll notice that those bloody Mantic Ogre Shooters have been temporarily put to the side. The lack of pleasure I was getting from painting them certainly affected my enthusiasm, so I figure a short break from them should help me come back to them somewhat refreshed in a little while. Once those six are finished, I’ll be able to start on the FUN Ogre stuff! Or the Chariots. Those are less fun.

Axis Gorillaz (feat. Damon Albarn)

Anyway, finishing the DUST Zombies recently got the next few boxes of DUST stuff opened – Axis Gorillas! That’s another three boxes disposed of (cleaned up!)

Swordmasters of Hoeth WIP on a temporary regiment base.

My recent games of Kings of War (BetRep to follow sometime in the next week, hopefully-maybe, caused me to start on a unit of Swordmasters of Hoeth, which I guess would be Palace Guard in the KoW Elf army, but is standing in for Twilight Kin Darksome Guard right now. Whatever. They’re Elves! The best part of these (so far) is that they were completely unpainted just a week ago. At the glacial pace I paint, getting to this point is pretty amazing. The basing has set me back 2 or 3 days, since it’s slow, unfun and tedious. (Hi, Cash!)

Basing almost complete. Then crests and boots!

I’m painting them up a little different to other High Elf armies I’ve seen. I’ve had a small collection of unpainted WFB High Elves for 15-18 years, but never had the enthusiasm or a reason to paint them. Ever since The Burning Crusade was released for World of Warcraft, I knew how I wanted to (eventually) paint my High Elves – as Blood Elves rather then the typical White/Blue/Silver with Gold & Red accents most HE armies are painted in. So I’m going Red/Yellow/Gold with Silver and Green accents. It’s giving them a nice autumnal feel, as well as regal & rich – though obviously the colours are highly saturated.

Zombies!

Next up we have some zombies from WarZone, circa the early 1990’s. These would have been purchased during the file sale phase after WarZone 2nd Ed managed to kill our local enthusiasm for the game, and Heartbreaker started to crash and burn. I never actually played Dark Legion, but regardless was willing to pick up a couple of blisters (I’m guessing 2 or 3, since I have 10 figures here?) on closeout. I basecoated the flesh on these about 8(?) months ago when I started assembling my Studion Miniatures IGG KS figures, but like so many projects over the years, (Ogre Shooters!) they got shoved to the side. The initial plan was to use Army Painted dip on them (and the others) but since the DUST Zombies went together just fine and quick using the AP washes, I’m going in that direction with these instead. They have more details and individuality than the DUST figures – and lots more exposed skin, bone and viscera, but I’m still hoping to have them finished in a couple of days. Again, these are more likely to see the tabletop in 40k working alongside Typhus then a WarZone game, but painted is painted, and they can work across several games.

Some DUST Campaigns

Also inspired by wanting to clean stuff up, I decided to unbox these two of my DUST campaign box expansions. Seelowe because of the Character-model Gorilla inside (who you can see above in the background of the Gorilla pic), and Icarus for the Quonset huts, which I figured I could paint reasonably quickly. All of the rest of the contents got shovelled into the DUST Core box set.

Quonset Huts from DUST.

Considering that these have only been out of their box for about 14 hours, (including my sleep overnight) they’re not doing too badly. Hoping to finish them today, and varnish overnight/tomorrow. I might even buy some more, since they’re good looking, cheap and effective!

And that’s it for this quick WIP post. I’ll update again when some of it is finished!

DUST Tactics – Axis Zombies – Speedpaint results.

So as part of the big cleanup resulting from the games room project, I rediscovered my large stash of unopened DUST Tactics unit boxes. I ‘ve also been reading through Sho3box’s blog recently, and the man has a nice collection of Zombies going there. This helped to inspire/motivate me to see if I could paint up the boxes of Nazi Axis Zombies. At first I thought I had four boxes, but then found another two(!)

Many unpainted Zombies.

I elected to use the default DUST grey undercoat as the base coat for the models, mostly due to there being 30 of them, and wanting to get them done quickly. I initially tried a few experiments trying to wash some feldgrau or feldblau into them from my Coat’d’Arms paints, but simply put, they just didn’t work.
Given that these guys were
a) Zombies, so low on the scale of painting importance.
b) There’s 30 of them.
I simply gave up in the end, rather than completely repainting their jumpsuits with a different base coat.

The production line.

I did use these figures as a bit of a testbed for a couple of new mediums I’d found on the net and mixed up – I always find low-priority figures to be good for that  sort of thing.

While I’m aware that the paint on these is very much tabletop quality, and nothing anyone is going to be excited to emulate, I’m noting down the colours anyway – for my own future reference if nothing else.

I drybrushed several layers of grey onto them, starting with VMC Basalt Grey through a mixture to pure Army Painter Ash Grey, then washed down with a 1:1:1 mix of Les’ Soft Body Black, AP Dark Tone (formerly Badab Black, apparently) and my new custom paint thinning mix (found on the net, might have been on WAU) 50% Distilled Water, 30% Liquitex Flow Aid, 10% Drying Retarder, 10% Matte Medium (and 90% love!)

Hordes of the Things.

Boots are VMC Black Grey with AP Dark Tone (again, I considered brown ankle boots but went with the equally if not more common black).

Bases were painted in VMC Oily steel, washed with a couple of drops of VGC Orange Fire thinned with “Dr Faust’s Magic Wash” – which is 1pt Future Floor Polish/5pts Distilled Water. Then drybrushed with VMA Steel. This was to give a mildly rusted effect, though it didn’t turn out quite as well as I had hoped – though still good enough.

Panzergloves and, erm, Mace Hands (Keulehands?) were VMC Oily Steel, then drybrushed with VMA Steel, then washed with AP Dark Tone (I considered using blue, green or brown as well, but when I asked Marouda we went with Black.) Finally, I painted the little nodules with VMA Rust then VMA brass. I considered a cool glowing green, but I’m just not willing OSL-ing 90-odd little nodules across 60 arms. Especially on speed-paint Zombies. Finished them off after that with AP Soft Tone.

Grouped into their “Squads”.

I also needed some way to distinguish them in game terms for DUST (where they come in units of 5). I considered painting the bolts on the bases different colours (gold, silver, brass, copper, etc) then thought of painting runes and symbols used by WWII Germany on the backs of their bases. In the end I decided to paint each group of five with different (rotting) flesh tones. I figure this way the zombies can all be mixed up together if they’re running down halls in Incursion, spreading plague for the Dark Legion in WarZone or doing Typhus’ bidding in 40k – but can still be split up into 5-a-side teams for DUST.

Based on that, I just started the skin tones with a mix of Old-GW Rotting Flesh and AP Army Green, then for each subsequent 5 I mixed in other colours. Blended some purple into one set while it was still mostly-wet. Later on, I washed the flesh on the others with purple, brown, green, red and blue AP wash. Eyes and teeth were done with a fine brush and an old VMC off-white paint (the heat label has worn off, so I’m not sure what the paint is anymore!)

Harsh shading, unhealthy complexions.

As you can see, the figures are harshly shaded by the drybrushing and washes, and far from my best pieces or works of art. No argument, there are much better-painted examples of these out there on the net, and if I’d had one box of five, I’d have taken much more individual care. But – they’re zombies, so I think harsh and dirty works for them (I doubt they have a lot of laundry done). They’re a horde, so fast and effective is what I was after, and, well, they took 6 days from unboxing to varnishing – and that’s 6 days of doing a little painting and a lot of other stuff. While I wouldn’t use this method for many other figures, I think it worked here and I now have a bunch of figures that can work pretty well across several settings, as well as – obviously – for the boardgame they’re made for.

Finally, there’s the issue of blood and gore. I do own a pot of Tamiya Clear Red. I recently bought the embarassingly-named GW Blood for the Blood God and Nurgle’s Rot, and look forward to an opportunity to test them out. While I enjoy a bit of splatter from time to time, and as I mentioned earlier, I don’t see these guys getting their uniforms/jumpsuits cleaned very often – they’re clearly also not feral zombies, as we have in most zombie media. These guys are pretty obviously product, tools, “assets” of their controllers, so they’re not getting out there into the streets and just tearing the shit out of people. About a third of them also lack hands, having two Keulehands, which I imagine makes the whole “tearing gibbets of flesh off a victim to consume them” thing a little more tricky anyway. These guys also seem more mummified by ways of preservation, rather than decaying – which again makes some sense if you view them as a created commodity, rather than a freak of nature. (And yes, I’ve seen the awful looking 1:6 scale figure, but these look quite different from that as sculpts). So given all of this, the fact that they’re not obviously decaying, and that their heads are the only fleshy bits of them visible (no rents in their jumpsuits!) I’ve left them clean of blood, gore and pus – Just as World Eaters don’t need to always be covered in fresh or dried blood spatter, neither do all zombies.

The completed Horde.

The Games Room – An Unexpected (that it’s finally happening) Journey

Aside from the big spring cleaning in summer project we’ve been doing here, the other thing that we’ve been working hard on was to turn the shed from a junk room filled with boxes and random shit into a games room – which was a long-term aim of the space from when we moved in. In the last two weeks, and with a bit of help from a friend, we’ve done an awful lot towards that goal. (Including putting that trellis up outside!) Regular readers might recall this pic from a couple of posts ago:

The Room, she is filled with the junk!

So rather than rattle on with talking about, I’ll just show off the efforts of the last couple of weeks (the heatwave set us back about a week through lost daytime worktime, exhaustion and lost sleep)

Still lots of Junk…

See what I mean?

See that board on the left?

Too bloody right! That’s shelving, me lad!

Yep, that’s the games table (top)!

A dry run – to see how it looks.

The Lord and Master – Leonard approves.

Moved some furniture around. Gamer’s Fridge FTW!

An almost cosy space…

There were a couple of transformative steps in the process so far. The first and most obvious one was when we got the shelving up on the right side of the room, which just sucked up a bunch of the large boxes that need to be kept off the floor (as well as a ton of stuff from inside the house). The second was after clearing much of the floor when I laid down the medium-sized rugs. Really warmed the room and made it almost cosy. We’ve since bought a large pile of cheap carpet tiles, which is going to require a fun full day of laying them while playing furniture Tetris. We also got some 6′ bookshelves to replace the shitty falling-apart MDF one we’ve had for about 20 years and a blank space. After that, one more shelf to go up to long-term store the detolf boxes (those long, 6′-odd cardboard boxes you can see on the left) and a couple of bike hooks on the wall to get them out of the way. Later there’ll be two more of the shelving units you can see in the above picture to replace a couple of cheap & nasty metal ones that want to slice open your hands.

Other than that, the desk at the window still needs to be cleared off and out so it can be used as a workbench for drilling and large terrain-type projects.

At that point it becomes about creature comforts. Maybe an old TV? A decent fan (or heater, once the weather turns), some speakers. Maybe some plants since I quite like the way they looked when we brought them in to shelter them from the direct heat(wave) when I took those pics. If there’s any space left after gaming junk storageland finishes, we might even be able to put a couple of nice things on display. Star Wars Kotos perhaps?

I’ve only done the smallest bit of painting. Started a few DUST Zombies, and did a little bit of work on some Dark Elves as well as painted some Secret Weapon scenery pieces. I even got to play a game in there! More to come on all that shortly.

 

 

Review – Medal of Honor Warfighter – PC

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a videogame review, so here’s one. I’ve always enjoyed military shooters, though my enjoyment of campaigns in these games has been steadily declining since CoD4: Modern Warfare (which I enjoyed a great deal) as Infinity Ward and all of their competitors went further and further down the “cinematic experience” rabbit hole at the expense of gameplay and player freedom. Even with this, I managed to enjoy both Battlefield Bad Company 1 and 2’s SP-offerings as well as Black Ops 1. I even played through the reboot of Medal of Honor and thought it was decent if not outstanding in any way. Which brings us to the point of this post.

Medal of Honor: Warfighter has copped a lot of flak for being terrible and a huge disappointment to EA and the public. With this knowledge I picked up the PC version of the game for about 5 bucks from an online UK retailer’s sale. A couple of weeks after it arrived, I decided to install it to my Origin Library and then decided to play it – given the usual 4? 6? 8? hour campaign length these things have, it shouldn’t take too long to zip through it, surely? Then I can play with the MP for a couple of days before getting bored and shelving it to go back to Battlefield 3 or 4 (which is a whole different set of bugs). Despite the advertisements showing that the MP allows me to play as the SASR, I held out quite easily from buying it at launch, given the huge backlog of games I have to play.

The game does *look* good.

Story-wise, the game tries to tell the story of both shooting people in the face as well as a bit of a reflection of the human costs of this sort of thing on the lives and families of the operators who live it. Unfortunately, the story (what I’ve seen of it) is told with all of the subtlety and interest of a painfully contrived soap opera. Though, I admittedly didn’t get all that far in.

Gameplay-wise, the graphics look really nice with highly detailed player and NPC models. Good looking scenery and reasonably atmospheric locales.

Unfortunately, the game crashes like a motherfucker. Right after installing it, I went to tweak the graphical settings, and the game died on me. It took about 45 minutes of poking around the web to discover that the high graphics settings appear to actually kill the game. That’s right. The game can’t handle it’s own graphical settings. Mind you, this isn’t at launch, when we’re now expected to sit through buggy software in anticipation of the miracle patch – but 15 months after release. Despite the game’s crash and burn status once it hit retail, you’d imagine that huge, gamebreaking issues like this would have been fixed, but apparently not. So after fixing that, I got to play through.

So far, so Modern FPS.

The “how to play” tutorial puts you into the shoes of a Taliban/Al-Qaeda recruit, who runs through a mock-up aircraft as the training segment as an Imam of some description yells at you in Arabic . This was a little bit interesting, and I guess makes sense as you don’t expect that veteran DEVGRU operators would need to go through any of that stuff with instructions.

There seems to be an excited emphasis on door breaching, with each breach getting overly-excited about you getting four headshots to unlock the next exciting door breach animation. So far I’ve gone from boots, to tomahawk to crowbar. Next, I unlock the shotgun. I’m so excited!

I’m using this image of a man with a gun to break up my wall of text.

I quickly found that unlike in other FPS games, including the previous instalment in this series, you can’t scroll through picked-up weapons. Obviously another bug rather than design, but I tried to swap out my pistol for an AK, and later, a PKM, and it refused to let me scroll though my weapons – only allowing (firstly) the AK and my pistol (which I had tried to replace) and later on, my LaRue OBR and pistol, without allowing me to use the PKM that I was carrying around.

So anyway, after a cinematic bit involving a train station in Madrid, the game shit itself again, then sort-of recovered, and resumed with the next cutscene, except that when it “recovered”, the game was now running in 480×720 (as opposed to 1920×1080) and attempts to reset the graphic settings from ingame didn’t work – necessitating a quit out which turned into yet another crash. Rebooting and reloading left it again at 720, though without the crash..

After three or four tries, I got around this by manually editing one of the game’s profiles. Credit to swagrhino on the EA answer forums for the temporary fix.

editing MyDocuments\MOHW\settings PROF_SAVE_profile

Change the values of the following keys

GstRender.MotionBlurEnabled 1
GstRender.OverallGraphicsQuality 3
GstRender.ResolutionScale 5
GstRender.ShaderQuality 2.0000

Still, this continued to result in the same repeated crash/graphic reset to 480p for the car chase scene, which I eventually got around by playing it in a 480p-sized window in the middle of my monitor. When I got to the next walking-around-and-shooting mission, in the Philippines, I set the graphics back to 1080 and went with lower-level arthoscopic filtering (2x instead of 3x, which is how I ran the game initially) and a lower refresh rate 27.9fps instead of the 60fps I used earlier – in the hope that it would run with more stability. The result? Gameplay of about 3fps with massive stuttering. So I turned it off.

Since trying the above yet again to reset the graphics, followed by manually setting them to realistic levels (that I used for this game initially, and use for BF3 et al), the game once again shit itself and crashed out. At this point, I give up.

Despite impressive visuals, this is a BAD game. DO NOT purchase it. Even for a fiver.

So my review ends thus:

Shooting seemed okay, story bland but I’m sure you could sleepwalk through it. Super-linear non-interactive set-piece-oriented FPS gameplay, which I don’t especially enjoy. The changes in locale looked promising but I never got to play them because the game is so unstable. Given my experience with the game (I’ve spent more time trying to get it to work than actually playing it – quite literally!)

Verdict – avoid at all costs. This game deserved to fail, and fail hard. Which is what it did. If EA had given the devs the opportunity to finish the game, it might well have been fun. Instead it serves as yet another example of how Electronic Arts continually pushes unfinished and/or broken games out the door (along with BF3, BF4, SimCity, et al) which may never be fixed or patched to a properly working state. Like this one.

New Year’s Hobby Resolutions 2014

So I guess it’s that time again, the year is done, the party is over  – Time to reflect on the year that was and blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda.

Pictured: Leonard doing what I *still* feel like doing.

I had a kind-of painting goal for 2013. Even when I set it, I knew it was unrealistic. It was to finish 365 “things“. So that included finishing half-painted figures, individual pieces of terrain, rebasing, renovating and touching up old models, and, oh yeah! – and painting stuff from start to finish. A modest goal, compared to the many people out there who seem to manage to paint entire armies in a couple of months, but a laudable one, nonetheless.

Pictured: Some stuff that got painted or renovated in 2013. Except for 2 of the dwarves.

Unfortunately, I came up with it in March, after more than three solid months of partying playing World of Warcraft – so I was 3 months down to begin with. By day 226 I had 124 completed, and by the end of the year I had 142 models painted. Not too bad, and my best year in many, if not ever – though it does include a lot of “updated’ models and doesn’t even touch the amount I bought this year… 

Pictured: Some of the backlog. A lot of this stuff arrived this year.

I’ve had my 2014 goal planned since I came up with the 2013 one, though – Finish painting more figures than I did in the preceding year. Which I’ll continue on with, probably till I drop dead. The “stretch goal” will once again be to try and finish 365 figures.

More specifically this coming year, I want to get a few projects done, across a few genres:

Fantasy:
Finish the 2k pts Ogre Army for KoW
Paint a 2k pts Dark Elf/Twilight Kin Army for KoW
Paint a 300?600? pt Allied Detatchment for KoW to ally with others (Giant, Trebuchet, Wolves)
Paint an Undead Army for KoW using GW, Mantic and LotR Undead (also doubles as an Army of the Dead for LotR SBG and WotR!)
Finish a ton of Men of Gondor for SBG/WotR and KoW armies of Man

Pictured: Not yet 2k points of KoW Ogres, with some older stuff and a Contemptor from Damo.

40k:

Resurrect/update my previously-finished old Dark Angels Combat Patrol into a 6th Edition 600-pt Combat Patrol
Paint 600-odd points of Deathwing as a CP
Paint 600-odd points of Ravenwing as a CP
Add some extra DA stuff back in – like the almost-finished Dreadnought, Asmodai, etc and Bingo! 2k+ point DA army!

Pictured: Finished 2E and 3E-style Dark Angels models with some WIP Ogres. Proper gallery to come later when the updated force starts getting put together…

Resurrect/finish/update my old 3.5-edition Iron Warriors CP force into a 2013-edition 600-pt Combat Patrol, then expand into 2k points or so.
Resurrect/update my 3rd-edition Mentor Legion Marine army into a 2013-edition army (including a Combat Patrol force)
When the IG codex comes out, resurrect/update my 2nd/3rd-edition IG army into a 2014-edition army (including several Combat Patrol forces)
When the IG codex comes out, resurrect/finish/update my 3rd-edition Deathworld/Jungle Fighters/Ogryn/Sentinel Maori-themed IG CP into a 2014-edition Combat Patrol force.
When the Tyranid codex comes out, resurrect/update my old Tyranid CP force into a 2014-edition 600-pt Combat Patrol.

Pictured: Formerly-complete Tyranid Combat Patrol (with Aliens as CC-warriors) now needing to be updated to 6E. Also some unfinished large models.

Resurrect/finish/update my old 2005-edition Ork CP force into a 2014-edition 600-pt Combat Patrol. Despite previously being close to finished, this is one of the harder ones, since in the interim they’ve changed the way Ork units buy and allocate special/heavy weapons pretty substantially, and also halved their point values – so it will need a lot of shuffling and a busload of additional Orks to bring back up to 600pts…

So as you can see, there are a couple of themes running through there… hopefully I can make some or most of it a reality, since much of it shouldn’t involve painting too many additional models… for all but the Orks, anyway.

“Stretch Goals” for the 40k-2k/600pt-Combat Patrol project are Grey Knights and Blood Angels.

Pictured: A huge pile of junk/future wargaming room.

Also – Convert the shed into a games room, and actually play a bunch of games! The major part of the clean-up and carpeting is planned hoped to happen over the next few weeks since I have annual leave. This will allow a lot of the mess being stored in the “painting studio” to be moved out.

Pictured: A bloody mess.

This will allow me to move my “long-term” painting projects onto the actual, proper painting desk that I have, while I’ll still be able to move individual models into the living room to work on when I want to paint while being less isolated. It’ll also allow indoor/late night gaming & boardgaming to take place on the table in the living room, rather than being covered by my crap.

Pictured: Where I *should* be painting. Note how covered in crap it all is.

Pictured: Folding table in the Living Room. AKA Where I *actually* paint.

A lot of this is due to finally purchasing our own place, after renting for years and having things in storage and then living in a short-term rental for 18 months with most of our stuff in boxes. In the last year, there’s been much unpacking and lots of culling, but that stuff happens sporadically since work seems to become more demanding each year. Every so often buying some more Bookshelves or Detolf cabinets (AU$150 for a Detolf compared to US$60? Talk about regional price fixing that would make GW blush!) As well as that, I appreciate a good videogame, so I like to chill out with some Battlefield4 or GTA5 or what have you as well as working on hobby and home.

One thing it was really nice to finally get finished only a week and a half ago was turning the small “second lounge” room or whatever the hell real estate agents call them into a display space for cool crap. This room had been half-filled with boxes (literally, not figuatively) for pretty much a full year, so it really brings a smile to my face whenever I walk through it now. I’m even able to stop and look at these things now! I’ll do a proper update on the stuff in here a bit later, but here’s the room, about 90% done as it is today (move the miniature cases out, put some more stuff in the cabinets, sort out under the desk a little). Here are a couple of pics.

Pictured: Display Room, Left Side.

Pictured: Display Room, Right Side.

And yes, I’m clearly a very lucky man in that Marouda shares my enjoyment of this sort of stuff on display, and is even willing to play games and do a tiny bit of painting with me. I should point out that the consoles are all her fault, since it was at her urging that we bought our first SNES and Mega Drive, all those years ago. That’s about it for this post. I haven’t done any painting since just before Christmas, but I hope to start again in the next couple of days. So last of all, I’ll just wish…

~ A Happy 2014 to you all! ~