Monthly Archives: January 2011

I’ve got several friends who are in various stages of getting to the hobby.  This is wonderful.  It also means that they’ve got a lot of questions about what they need to buy and how they do stuff… that sort of thing.  Although I could harumph about how often I’ve had to repeat myself, just writing up everything in a single place I can easily point folks to would be both more sincere (because I love talking about this stuff, so the most I could manage is good-natured harumphing) and useful (to them, when I’m not around).

I expect I’ll add to this article as things occur to me, rather than supplement it with existing articles.  I’ve structured things based on the lifecycle of a model, from sprue to finished dude.

Preparation & Assembly


  • X-acto Knife – Go ahead and buy the blades in bulk.  Dull blades suck and are a little dangerous.
  • Hobby Files – Look at the GW ones.  You can go with whatever brand you want, but these are types of files you need.  Round, triangle, flat.
  • Hobby Clippers – Hobby clippers are not the same as small wire cutters.  They have a completely flat edge on one side.  Having a decent set of these is key.
  • Small Wire Cutters – Because you’ll eventually want to clip things that will wreck your hobby clippers (wire, brass rod, paper clips).  That’s what these are for.
  • Seam Scraper / Burr Remover – This is a relatively new tool for me; people started talking about these just within the past year or so.  It’s also somewhat optional.  It’s unbelievably useful, and will save you a billion X-acto blades.  I’d absolutely recommend picking one up.  I got mine (a “seam scraper“) from Micromark.
  • Superglue – This comes in a billion forms.  I prefer Krazy Glue with a brush, because I think it’s easier to apply and less messy to maintain… but that’s just preference. You’ll use this for metal pieces and to glue basing stuff down.
  • Plastic Glue – I recommend this brand; it lasts forever, has a great hold and has a fantastic applicator.  Styrene cement is very different from superglue: it doesn’t so much glue as fuse two pieces of styrene plastic together.  This is what you’ll actually use to glue your plastic models together.  

The actual process of assembly’s not hard, it just takes a lot of patience.

Use the clippers to snip the bits off the sprue (plastic models) and flash off the model (metal models).  Eyeball the model and try to find the seam: the line of extra material that indicates where the two pieces of the mold met.  Using the seam scraper, files and hobby knife, do your best to smooth that line away as well as to smooth out where clipped stuff off the sprue.  It’s easy to miss this stuff (especially with metal models), but is important: the better your paint job, the worse these will look.

If you’re working with a metal model, you’ll probably want to consider pinning it together.  I hate pinning, but I hate my models falling apart even more.  There’s a great step-by-step on how to do this on Dakka.  It might seem like a lot of hassle (it is), but it’s worth it.


Before you paint yours stuff you need to prime it to give the paint something to adhere to.  I’ve been told that priming is optional with plastic minis, but I just go ahead and prime everything.

Color’s significant: using white primer will result in brighter, more vibrant colors.  Black primer will be more forgiving when it comes to missed spots (it happens).  I use grey because it’s a nice middle ground.

The blu-tack is if you’re priming and painting sub-assemblies: cover any contact points with blu-tack.  That’ll ensure that, when you’re done and putting everything together you’re gluing part to part and not paint to paint.

Actual technique is something I find difficult to articulate.  Aim for quick passes and short bursts of spray.  Distance depends on the brand of primer, but farther away is better than up close: so start farther away and work your way in as you get a feel for how the primer behaves.

Some people like to use a spray stick (a broomstick or somesuch that they blu-tack minis onto), but I prefer to put on a dishwashing glove and just hold the mini while spraying it.  The key is being able to get all angles, just just the top of the mini.




Painting Progress – 20110120

This is my DOOM stick!

I wasn’t nearly as productive over the weekend as I expected to be, but that’s okay.  I chalk it up to needing to remember how to paint Clanrats again.  Last time I worked on these guys, I did 5 fairly slowly, then churned through 45 more in quick time before getting burned out.  Let’s hope that’s how it plays out this time: I only need another 5 Clanrats and 20 Skavenslaves before I can move on.

I did paint up the Warlock Engineer I threw together back in September.  After putting him on some cork and adding a bit of chain: I’m not afraid to say that he looks bad ass.

He’s painted the same way I paint all of my Skaven (recipes can be found here).

Anyway, I painted 5 Clanrats, including a champion and a musician.  We’ve all seen what these guys look like, so I won’t dwell on them.

Maybe I’ll take more thorough pictures of them when I’ve got the unit finished.

Thinking about Lists

It’s been a while since I posted any lists here.  I don’t think that’s any great loss: lists, in my opinion, make for poor content… at least without accompanying text describing how they actually performed on the table.

But, I’ve been dicking around with some different lists, and they’re on my mind.  (Also, I’ve got a pile of naked mole rat images burning a hole in my Downloads folder.)

So, the big news of last week was that they updated the Dark Angels FAQ.  This makes me extremely happy.  I’ve got about 7,000 points of painted Dark Angels and have, thus far, resisted the urge to run them as “Green Marines.”  (Running them as “Green Blood Angels,” is a bridge too far and “Green Space Wolves” is heresy that cannot be countenanced.)  That temptation’s gone.

Casey threw some ideas at me that sounded pretty solid, so I’ve spun them into a list.

Belial – TH/SS
Interrogator Chaplain – Terminator Armor

Deathwing Command Squad – Apothecary, Standard Bearer, TH/SS x5, CML
Deathwing Terminator Squad – TH/SS x2, CML
Deathwing Terminator Squad – TH/SS x2, CML
Deathwing Terminator Squad – TH/SS x2, CML

Fast Attack
Land Speeder – Multi-melta, Heavy Flamer
Land Speeder – Multi-melta, Heavy Flamer
Land Speeder – Multi-melta, Heavy Flamer

Heavy Support

In many ways, I don’t like taking lists like this: a single unit, a billion times… but it’s inarguably more reliable, thanks to redundancy, and it’s a lot easier for me to get my head around just sitting down and spitting things together.

Delightfully, I have to do very little to put this on the table.  Paint a few more terminators (the ones with the TH/SS, of course), do another two Speeders (I have three: a dakka speeder, a Sammael speeder, and one of the above), and dig up a few Whirlwind turrets (Heavy Support’s a bit light with my first legion troops).

Anyway, if you’re a Dark Angels player like me: I’m sure you’re delighted with this development.  If you’re a Space Wolf player: keep those power blue terminators Loganwing.  I don’t think I’ll be able to restrain myself from mercilessly judging you and your troops for their fickle defection from the Wolf to the Lion.

A naked mole rat and then a Dark Angels list?  What the heck is wrong with me!?!  Some Skaven lists will, hopefully, make things right.

This is the list that I ran last week, and will likely continue to run with a few changes.

Warlord (General) – War-Litter, Sword of Swift Slaying, Enchanted Shield, Poisoned Attacks
Grey Seer – Warp-Energy Condenser, Talisman of Preservation

Chieftain (BSB) – Shield, Armor of Destiny
Plague Priest – Lvl 2, Plague Furnace, Flail, Dispel Scroll
Warlock Engineer – Doomrocket

Clanrats x30 – Full Command, Shield
– Poisoned Wind Mortar
Skavenslaves x 48 – Champion, Musician, Shield
Stormvermin x20 – Full Command, Stormbanner
– Poisoned Wind Mortar

Plague Monks x34 – Full Command, Plague Banner
Gutter Runners x5 – Poisoned Attacks, Slings
Gutter Runners x5 – Poisoned Attacks, Slings

Hellpit Abomination
Warp-Lightning Cannon

I’ve really started to love the Plague Furnace. It dies horribly to Skinks, sure, but everything’s going to go down to something. People don’t pack in Chaos Knights because Jezzails make them sad, you know?  It’s done really well for me: it helps me bulk out to a horde of Plague Monks easily and draws a great deal of attention.  In terms of killing the life out of things… it’s surprisingly quiet.  The Monks make enough of a ruckus that the accomplishments of the Furnace are easy to miss.  (That means I should probably try running without the Furnace to see what happens.)  A horde of Monks pukes up five attacks per file… and the Plague Banner really makes that sting.

The Warlord’s relatively cheap, has a great armor save (2+/6+) and spits out a lot of attacks: 4 Poison with likely rerolls (not many things have I7) and 4 Poison maybe with rerolls (I5).

The Seer’s about what he always looks like.  If I could find the points, I’d like to give him a Power Scroll: it can be a real drag getting Dreaded 13th off, sometimes.

The BSB gets magic armor: keeping him alive is more important than fitting in the Stormbanner.  Fortunately, the Stormvermin can take it, so I’m not losing out.

I like the horde of Slaves, but I find I play too conservatively with them.  Part of me would like to double-down on it… but I’m still working on getting the one horde fully painted.

For those following at home: this is the list I’m trying to get to 100% this year.  If I go past this, great, but this is the baseline goal.

Here’s the other list I’ve got:

Warlord (General) – Sword of Might, Enchanted Shield
Grey Seer – Power Scroll, Talisman of Preservation

Chieftain (BSB) – Shield, Armor of Destiny
Plague Priest – Lvl 2, Flail, Plague Furnace, Dispel Scroll
Warlock Engineer – Doomrocket
Warlock Engineer – Brass Orb

Stormvermin x10 – Banner, Musician, Stormbanner
– Ratling Gun
Stormvermin x10 – Musician
– Ratling Gun
Stormvermin x10 – Musician
– Ratling Gun
Stormvermin x10 – Musician
– Poisoned Wind Mortar
Stormvermin x10 – Musician
– Poisoned Wind Mortar

Gutter Runners x5 – Poisoned Attacks, Slings
Plague Monks x32 – Full Command, Plague Banner

Hellpit Abomination
Warp-Lightning Cannon
Warp-Lightning Cannon

Just in typing it up, I can’t help but feel like the Furnace, if not the Monks themselves, are a mistake.  Also, it’s important to note that I don’t actually see this being all that great of a list.  It’s just different.  That could be why I want to run it: I’ve heard so much about this vaunted SAD thing, I’d like to see it for myself.

I’ve also never run the Brass Orb: it seems terrible.  As likely to scatter back onto your head as it is to land where you want it.  But, hey, it’s just an Engineer, right?

The idea here, roughly, is to shoot at you until you engage.  And, when you do that, you’ve got to deal with the Plague Monks.

I expect this will do badly, but it’s just so different from what a Skaven army should be, I’m very, very curious.

Bitz Suggestion?

Looking for some bitz advice.

What I need: a 28mm-scaled big-ass sword.  Bloodletter Hellblades are the perfect size, but this’ll be going on space marine (Belial, to be specific*), so they’re far too chaotic looking.  I’d been looking at using a sword from the Greatsword kit, but I don’t think that’s going to be heavy-duty enough.

Anyone have any ideas?

* Yes, I’m building a third Belial.  I’m okay with that.

Dreadstone Blight

Months back, I built my cavern table, and it’s held up really well.  With the addition of some of my 40K terrain, it’s seen a lot of use in the 41st Millennium.  It’s lacked a watchtower for the watchtower scenario, though.

Now, I’ve had a lot of very clever ideas for building a defiled dwarven outpost… and not a blessed one of them has really panned out.  Efforts have ranged from “not very good” to “that looks like a very uncomfortable foam dildo.”  So, I gave up and decided to just use a Dreadstone Blight: not perfect, but close enough.

I asked for, and received one for Christmas.  Earlier this week, I threw it together and painted it up.  I’ve got some thoughts about the kit and then some pictures of the finished product.

For starters: test fit everything.  The pieces curve, right, and lock together in a way that is both ingenious and fairly unforgiving.  In my box, one of the pieces (the one with the skulls on the outside) was warped: not badly, but enough that the entire kit won’t go together.

When assembling it: do not glue the levels together.  Just don’t do it.  If you do, details that are fairly easily seen from outside of the piece will be nearly unreachable.  Glue the walls to their respective floors… but do not glue the floors together until you’re done painting.  I recommend using blu-tack to cover the areas where the pieces will glue together while priming: it’ll keep paint from getting where you need to put glue.

The floors themselves are not sturdy.  The second floor comes in two pieces with something like two contact points between the two.  I ended up gluing some thing plasticard between the two to hold them together better.

While the second floor has enough contact with the wall to hold itself up, the third floor… not as much.    There’s maybe four inches of wall that it touches, on one side.  I ended up using some greenstuff to try to reinforce where the floor contacts the wall…. and I’ve already broken and re-glued it.

It’s a great looking kit, but: be careful, remember you’re going to have to paint it, and do whatever you can to help hold the damn thing together.  You’re going to need it.

Anyway, here’s the finished product.

The stone is my  usual recipe for terrain-quality stone: Ceramcoat Charcoal Grey basecoat followed by a heavy, heavy overbrush of Ceramcoat Hippo Grey and a light drybrush of Ceramcoat Quaker Grey.  It’s stupidly easy and looks beautiful.

The wood is my new go-to recipe for awesome looking wood: GW Khemri Brown with P3 Hammerfall Khaki drybrushed over it, then washed with GW Devlan Mud.

I’m pleased with how the brass came out.  I did what I’ve been doing with brass all this time: GW Bestial Brown basecoat, totally covered with GW Shining Gold, extreme highlighted with GW Burnished Gold and washed with GW Devlan Mud.

Then I weathered it.  I started out working with what I came up with for my Honored Imperium: the same colors as before, but with a bit more GW Hawk Turquoise and GW Ice Blue in it.  Overbrushed around, from top-down.  Then, I added a ton of water, a little matte medium and some rubbing alcohol and washed it in.  Again, trying to get it to work from top-down.  In several places, I’d just wash it heavily and then wipe over it with a tissue.  I’m happy with how it came out.

I didn’t put much effort into the skulls.  P3 Menoth White Base, a drybrush of P3 Morrow White (my preferred white) and a wash: 2:2:2:1 of GW Devlan Mud, matte medium, water and GW Ogryn Flesh applied heavily.

The bloodstain, I’m not sure about, in terms of either execution or color.  It’s a first attempt at something like that, though.  It’s a mix of Tamiya Smoke and GW Baal Red: something like 2:1 brushed on.  I think I’d have liked something thicker… it looks sufficiently like dried blood, but it looks like it’s soaked into the wood and someone’s wiped up what they could.  Maybe that’s okay.  The splattering is… not good, but I guess it’ll have to do.

The  metal here is GW Tin Bitz, followed by GW Boltgun Metal and then GW Mithril Silver highlights.  The whole thing is then messily washed with a mix of P3 Armor Wash, matte medium, rubbing alcohol and GW Blazing Orange.  No clue on the proportions here: just fiddled with until it looked right.  I was untidy with the wash’s application.  Clearly, though, I have a lot to learn about weathering.

Overall, I’m quite happy with the piece.  I’m looking forward to putting it on the table.

Uniforms & Heraldry of the Skaven – Followup

So, on Thursday, I flipped through the new Skaven fluff book, and found it wanting.  Now that I’ve had the chance to read the whole thing, I’m considerably more positive about it.

My biggest complaint was the number of “filler” clans: clans that were, basically, one of the four great clans, but weren’t.  It’s not quite as bad as I initially thought:  Pestilens has 3, yes, as does Skyre… but Moulder’s only got 2 and Eshin’s only got 1.  There are 2 clans that are aligned with Grey Seers as well.

That puts Thrall Clans at 11 and non-Thrall Clans at 7.  (I’m not counting the one-off clans that back of the book: they fit 10 kind of neat clans onto the last page, two of which are Thralls.)   Not quite as bad as my initial flip-through indicated.

The art’s solid.  It’s what you’d expect from this sort of book, but no two rats look alike.  Each spread, for example, has a Warlord: and all of them look different, in very cool ways.

The fluff for some of the clans is interesting, some rather dull.  For every Clan Scruten (a Clan kept secret by the Grey Seers to use in case of uprising), there’s a Clan Volkn (they, uh, like volcanoes?).

There’s a great deal of Giant Pox Rat art in the book: four pieces.  Two of them are in the style of the book, but there are cover-quality pieces at the beginning and the end that are amazing.  This book really makes me want 1) for Pox Rats to be worth taking and 2) for GW to make a Pox Rat model (besides Nurglitch’s).

I’d mentioned Clan Skurvy last time.  They’re what really made me turn around on the book.  Their fluff is neat enough, I guess, and they’ve got a color scheme that’d be striking on the table (think lots of Iyanden Darksun).  But their Warlord (“Sealord”) art is brilliant.

What’s that on his shoulder? Is that some sort of bizarre rat-parrot hybrid?  A Par-rat?

You’re damn right it is!

Little details like that are all over this book.  There’s a lot more variety in here than meets the eye.  And I would buy the heck out of a Skrapp Warlord model.

If you’re a Skaven nut like I am: this is probably worth it.  If you think verminous pirates should have equally verminous parrots, you’re set.  If you’re running Skaven because they’re supposed to be a strong army: you can probably take a pass.

Uniforms & Heraldry of the Skaven

My ratty order from GW just showed up.  Didn’t order much: a Doom-Flayer ($20!?), the Magic Cards (very key) and the Skaven Uniforms & Heraldry book (which I’ve been unreasonably excited about).

Gave it a quick flip through and, I’ve got to say, I’m not entirely impressed.

The art’s about what you’d expect, which is fine.

The fluff is tragic, though.  Nearly all of the clans are: “Clan Morbidus, pledged to Clan Pestilens.  Clan Krizzor, pledged to Clan Moulder.  Clan Septik, pledged to Clan Pestilens.  Clan Ektrik, pledged to Clan Skyre.”  and so on.

There are unaligned clans in there, sure, but it feels like the bulk of them are along the lines, “So you want to run a Pestilens-themed army but also want to use other stuff.”  And that’s okay.  I just question the need for three (for Pestilens, at least) such clans.  The first is totally reasonable.  The second is pushing it.  The third really feels like filler.

There are some interesting clans in here: Clan Skurvy is totally cool, for example.  They feel outnumbered by the filler clans, though.

Interested parties should check out Children of the Horned Rat, for WHFRP 3E, which doesn’t have nearly as many new clans, but all of them are interesting (I thought, until checking, that Clan Skurvy was Clan Sleekit).  (There’s also a random Clan generator, I’m seriously considering wrapping a webapp around.)