Lots of gaming lately!

Someday, if my social situation changes, or if I move from the Chicago-land area, I may experience a period of gaming drought. In this period I will think back to the present time, and realize how great it is to have gaming opportunities and options!  I should appreciate it more, I know. Its easy to underrate the great things in your life if they are relatively common. Looking at my gaming & hobby activities from the last several months makes me realize that it has been pretty great.

Recently we started a work gaming group.  We usually play a game or two every other week after hours.  Last week we played a board game called Cave Evil which was pretty sweet in atmosphere and game-play. It has a heavy random factor, but that mostly helps people stay in the game, even when another player seems to have a lead.

Last weekend was Blood in the Sun IV tournament.  I jumped on the paint judging team again, looked at some sweet armies, and judged them. Most of that weekend was spent kvetching about gaming and hobby.  It was an excellent time, and it was great to catch up with the Garagehammer folks again!

This week my Flames of War group kicked off our modified Italy campaign!  I am very excited about this. I played my first game running the ‘Hoch Und Deutchmeister’ Grenadier Company with some tanks in support.  My opponent was JP, one of the owners of the Dice Dojo here in Chicago, which is also hosting our campaign. He brought his dismounted US cav recon company.  This is the force I would seriously consider running were I playing allies in this event. I was able to take the game 6-1 largely thanks to the static face off (each side had minefields and barbwire galore!) nature of the game, and JP’s lousy dice.

Tomorrow I am rolling out to John’s (of Plastic Legion fame) for a game of Bolt Action.  It will be good to get my revised German list on the table again. We are going to try to get some more folks over for BA, and going to talk shop about the upcoming Operation Sting tournament.

SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY… Descent with my buddies Mike & Adam.  Dungeon Crawl action.

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Dark Star GT

This past weekend I attended the Dark Star GT in Minneapolis, had a fantastic time, and want to tell you all about it!

I’d been working towards being able to bring 1850 points of Eldar to the table for this event for the last several months.  Part of my experience with this event was that accomplishment.  So much time was put into modeling, sculpting, and painting that I had not had much time to practice with the build… or the army.  To be frank, game one was the first game I had played with the Eldar since 2nd edition!

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Another huge plus to the event is that it was hosted at the Fantasy Flight Games Game Center.  This place is great, essentially a decent sized game store that has a great play space, awesome staff, food, and most importantly beer!  The surroundings gave the event a great feel.  It was a strength upon the event’s natural strengths… more on that in a sec.

I was a bit apprehensive about going to this event.  I have a great opinion of the people organizing the event, and I had faith that they would put on a good show, but I wasn’t sure what the player base would be like.  Turns out I had some fantastic opponents, all of whom I would gladly play again.

Game 1 – Knights of iron

My first opponent was Tim Flanders with his excellent ‘Knights Vigilant’ Space Marines base off of the Iron Hands chapter tactics.  It took me a sec to get my head into the game, but Tim was very relaxed and happy to have a relatively chill game, which eventually escalated into an exciting and close matchup.

Tim Flander's great looking Space Marine army

Tim Flander’s great looking Space Marine army

Much of the game was made up of isolated skirmishes on the flanks until the last several turns when a Terminator teleport assault forced my Guardian squads protecting objectives into the fight.

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The right flank was a tarpit fight between the wraithknight and some Thunderhammer/Stormshield Terminators lead by the Warlord of the army, Abbot-Marshal Tancred (Terminator Chaplain).  Eventually the Wraithknight crushed the knightly terminator hero, ‘Slay the Warlord’ point for Xenite!  Unfortunately in the center of the table…

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another giant mass of terminators teleports right in front of my line!  These guys were great examples of a common theme with Tim’s dice rolling for our game: Roll several 1’s for saving throws when hit by a fusillade of Shuriken fire, only to nail the 6’s needed to make the Iron Warrior Feel No Pain save!  Tim managed to do this a pile of times throughout the game.   The real problem was that these terminators were lead by Magus-Incantor Herod, the Knight’s librarian.

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Eventually he was able to charge my Farseer’s unit and call him out in a challenge.  I am not sure why I didn’t have him slink back to the edge of the unit (the farseer and I both knew what was going to happen), I think I was hoping he would tank enough wounds to keep the guardians on the nearby objective.  I guess this worked, but we each achieved the Slay The Warlord objective in this game.

My MVPs of this game, the Wraithguard managed to grab an objective in the enemy deployment zone which put me one point ahead at the end of the game!

Game 2 – Ryan Carlson’s award winning Necrons

Ryan Carlson did an amazing job with his Necron force!  So much so that he won best painted for the event!  Well don Ryan!!

Ryan Carlson did an amazing job with his Necron force! So much so that he won best painted for the event! Well don Ryan!!

We received a nice complement that our game was the best looking matchup of the weekend!  It was very cool to see our armies facing each other.  It was one of those great moments where I was pulled out of the ‘game’ aspect of things, and totally caught up in the story that our game was representing.

The game was set up lengthwise on the table.  The necrons who weren’t embarked in their space stations, waiting to be beamed down to the planet’s surface via his flyers, crept across the table towards my line of guardians who were hidden amongst some rock spires.

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Things became interesting when my vypers came in from reserve mid game, triggering a teleport attack from a Necron lord and his Necron Wraith friends in the back-field of my line!  This became a tarpit for some guardians who decided to lock them up in combat before they could do the same to them.  The Farseer and the Necron lord tried to kill one another in challenges.  I had hopes as I had gotten the lord down to 1 wound with a singing spear, but he caught up to me and doubled out the farseer’s t0ughness killing him outright.

"Target acquired."

“Target acquired.”

I made a dumb mistake which took the game from a draw to a loss.  I had it in my head to keep one of the guardian squads back to mind an objective, but with a lapse of judgement advanced them to put pressure on some recently arrived Necron reserves.  This gave Ryan the opening he needed, dropping off small scoring Necron warrior squads onto the objectives on my side of the board.  It ended up being a 1 point loss to me but again, a fantastic and very fun game.

Ryan’s army was gorgeous and he has a ton of talent, especially with an airbrush.  I drew a lot of inspiration from his work.

Game 3 – Battle Wagon Rush!  Chris Edstrom’s Orks

Chris had a lot of very sweet scratch built elements to his army.  This defense line is a great example of what he brought to the table.

Chris had a lot of very sweet scratch built elements to his army. This defense line is a great example of what he brought to the table.

Chris had an Ork army with a ton of character.  In deployment he dropped down 5 scratchbuilt battlewagons which were part of what gave his army so much character.  These came storming across the table at my line.

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As the mounted orks stormed forward in their claptrap vehicles the Eldar fell back in good order but displaying abysmal accuracy with their bright lance platforms, even with psychic support from the Farseer.  I kept most of my army in reserve, this and the desperate defense of the Eldar in the face of advancing massed armor made this game feel very Flames of War.  Once my reserves came in I was able to bring some hurt to the advancing Orks.  A serpent strike of Wraithguard ended a mega-armored nob unit only to have them reappear at the opponents edge of the table!  The scenario had a ‘endless swarm’ like rule for infantry and monstrous creatures.  Later in the game the theme of the Wraithknight tying up expensive HQ units in combat and giving me Slay the Warlord points (WK gave me StW in my first 3 games!) continued as he dispatched the Ork Warboss.

I felt confident I had this game until disaster struck!

In case you were wondering, this is what disaster looks like.

In case you were wondering, this is what disaster looks like.

There was a 3 point objective on a landing pad in the middle of the board.  After knocking one ork unit off this piece of terrain, my guardians in a wave serpent landed on the objective, popped off ‘conceal’ and hunkered down to wait out the end of the game.  Unfortunately a battlewagon sitting next to the landing pad which I thought had a token group of meks in it barfed out a full Ork mob onto the objective, pushing the guardians off of it and destroying their sweet grav-tank whip!

By this point I had accumulated max bonus points from killing recycled units coming in from reserve which made the game a draw!

Game 4 – “I hear Hive Crones are good, what do they do?” Joe Krier’s Tyranids

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Joe’s list was the hardest most competitively oriented of all of them that I faced over the weekend.  He knew how to use it as well.  Joe described his recent history with 40k as being somewhat flier-centric.  His mass of tyranid horrors crept across the length of the table towards me while 2 Hive Crones and 2 flying Hive Tyrants swept out of the sky upon my poor space elves!  This game’s scenario had a large amount of tournament points tied around killing a specific model, chosen by each opposing player after deployment.  Joe and I both knew what to choose, and how to do the deed.  I chose one of his Crones (tons of shurikens vs MCs looked good in my theory hammer sessions) while he chose my Wraithknight which made me suspicious.

As the nid flyers screamed towards me I formulated a battle plan: spray each MC in turn with volume of fire, and then let more potent units finish the job, in this case the Wraithknight and the Wraithguard.  Joe obliged by parking both of his flyrants in front of the serpent with the wraithguard in it!  I had a chance here.  I could bag both of them with my distort template weapons if I could only ground one or both.  I unleashed every possible shot available (with the exception of the vypers who were busy failing to ground the target Crone) at the flying beasts, scored a respectable amount of hits, did several wounds across the two tyrants, and then Joe passed each and every grounding check.  Crap.  What happened next was obvious.  The nids landed and proceeded to eat each of my units in turn.  One of the tyrants had some freaky close combat weapon with the ‘instant death’ rule which chopped the Wraithknight down, the only time I lost him all weekend.  I was able to kill the target crone which made getting tabled by Joe a little more palatable.

We had a fantastic, very challenging game, and the two of us hung out to chat over lunch, talking hobby, tactics, and randomness.  He was a very good player and I’d like to take him on again.

Game 6 - More nids!  More Ryans!  Ryan Blackcloud’s Tyranid horde!

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This time the entire nid horde came at me en masse!  Two Tervigons spawned large units of gants while a crone and a flyrant flew over to hassle my line.  The flyers first as a distraction worked again as Ryan managed to nail every grounding check he made.  The tyrant which was perched on top of a tall ruined building in my deployment zone was one of my primary targets as the most VPs was to come from eliminating all the enemy HQs while not losing all of your own.  Eventually the flyrant assaulted guardians which were in the building.  The unit’s Warlock put up a great fight doing several wounds to the beast in addition to one done by a guardian!  Naturally the unit was wiped out in time, but revenge would be the Eldars as the flyrant was brought down by some scatterlaser fire.

This game was another nail-biter which I felt I had until a tardy Mawlock was able to pop up in my deployment zone gaining ‘linebreaker’ point, and contesting a table quarter which gave Ryan points to offset my HQ assassination by 1!!!!  Ryan was a super chill guy, and we had a super fun game.

I want to say thanks to Joe, Chris, Tim, and the Ryans for 5 great games that left me with the desire to play more!  I also want to say thanks to the Dark Star staff who did an amazing job with that event!  It was the tightest tournament I have ever experienced but also was relaxed and very inclusive!  Random people who came by to chat between games, introduced to me by my various opponents who were locals, were very cool and friendly.

My last comment on The Dark Star 2014 is to thanks the painting judges who gave me a ‘bronze’ in army appearance!  It was nice to get some props on the army which I have put so much time into.  I am excited to refine the paint work some more, finish up some weathering, and to eventually add some new units!

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Project Eldar – 1 week prior to tournament!

I spent much of the weekend grinding away at Eldar vehicles.  I made some very good progress on these, but was surprised how much more effort they took than I had expected.  I suppose this is par for the course… things require more effort and time than planned for.

Wave Serpent work in progress

I am quite happy with what I was able to accomplish over the weekend.  None of these vehicles are ‘done’, but they are at a point where I can move on.  As time goes on I will revisit these to smooth paint transitions, pull up highlights, and fix wash blobs which occured in some of the shaded areas.

Night Weaver WIP

The vypers are the latest addition to my force.  The design for these conversions was inspired by the fantastic Hornet models that Forgeworld put out.  These are the models which will require the most attention when I have an opportunity to go into a polish phase.  I think that some of the weapon mount points will need some additional sculpting work to cover up some ugliness which was a byproduct of my lack of a complete vision when I attacked this conversion.

Vyper WIP

 

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Eldar Wraithknight Work In Progress

Eldar Wraithknight

 

This may be the largest model I have ever worked on.  Its great to get it nearly done.  I’d like to eventually go back and refine some of the highlights and details some more, but for now this guy is in good shape.  I have to move on to other things!

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Twitter Tutorial: #runicdetails

Ive posted a tutorial about sculpting runes on model surfaces. Check out the hashtag on Twitter #runicdetails. Follow me at @the_xenite on twitter for more tutorials like this. The runic tutorial will eventually show up here in long form as well.

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Eldar update!

I’ve been making some progress on the Eldar! I am participating in the Dark Star GT in several months and I have some work to do! Here is what I have been up to…

Eldar Guardians

Eldar Guardian

Warlock WIP

Warlock WIP

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Escalation Projects

I have a impulsive and spontaneous nature. It is very easy for me to drop one thing to start another. My work-space is covered with projects in limbo because of this aspect of my personality. Recently I’ve broken down several of my projects into an escalation style build up of completed minis. I’ve also jumped on the Kanban board bandwagon for organizing these projects.

This is a screen-grab of the Kanban Flow screen of my rebooted Warriors of Chaos project.

This is a screen-grab of the Kanban Flow screen of my rebooted Warriors of Chaos project.

I am using this method to chip away at my Eldar project for WH40k and will eventually use it to reboot my Warriors of Chaos for WHFB. I’ve got a Kanban board for Flames of War stuff as well, but that is more of a simple Kanban implementation, not an escalation project.

The uses of a Kanban board are pretty new to me, so I am still learning the best way to implement one for my projects. I have learned that it is good to not overload the things with too many items. That can make the overview a bit too much to handle and stifle the feeling that anything is getting accomplished. This small bite approach seems to work best for me, and having the separate columns which show what phase a miniature or unit is in meshes well with my workflow.

I am approaching each of these projects in 250-500 point chunks. The objective is to not start anything new until the present chunk is complete.

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