Thursday, June 25, 2009

Review of MiniWarGaming’s Guide to Painting Miniatures came out with a new e-book on Miniature Painting. I love the hobby side of the game as much as the game itself, and I could still use a lot to learn when it comes to painting. When I read that MWG had a nice new e-book on the subject, I figured I’d give it a shot and see what it was all about.

At under $20, it was cheap compared to other miniature painting books. Sure, it was only a PDF, but you also get two $15 gift certificates and one month free membership to the site included, it pays for itself. Couple that a money back guarantee, and you have a damn good deal. So I decided to give it a shot.

Layout and Design

Let me start with a big gripe I have with the layout. The font chosen for the header is horrible. Yes, it’s a fun font, it looks cool, but for reading the book on the computer, it makes it difficult to scan. I find that I can quickly scan the headers of the different sections. It was the first glaring problem I had, and I noticed it rather quickly.

The other thing to consider is the layout for a PDF. Wizards of the Coast is superb with their PDF offerings of Dragon and Dungeon magazines. Rather than a normal portrait style layout, the magazines are formatted for a landscape layout. The benefit is for reading on computer screens. I imagine I’m not alone in how I will use the e-book. I open the e-book on my computer to the appropriate section I want to reference. My monitor is positioned on the same desk I paint on. This means I can read and review while painting. From here, I can both paint and reference at the same time. In a landscape format, I can see the entire page on my widescreen monitor. As it is now, I can’t do that.

On the plus side, the page numbering of the PDF matches the page numbering used in the table of contents!

The e-book is filled with lots of pictures. Not so many that they use it as filler. Rather, every picture makes itself an important part of the e-book. The pictures are high quality, and really do a good job at helping to get a certain point across.

Disregarding the orientation of the layout, the layout and font choice for normal text is appropriate for the subject matter. It’s easy to follow along.


This is the real strong suit of the e-book. This e-book is packed full with so many topics it’s kind of mind boggling. They managed to fit so much into a book only 59 pages long. Each topic is covered fairly well. It would be easy to write a lot more on many topics, but frankly, they’ve found a good balance between providing you with what you need to know, and providing you with lots of fluff. For me, that was important. This guide isn’t going to turn you into an ‘Eavy Metal painter over night. No guide can. What this guide does do well, though, is give you a lot of practical advice as well as direction.

How does it do this? It covers topics such as setting up a painting area, basic color theory, what to do when you make mistakes, dealing with shaky hands, paint brushes (and going beyond the miniature company brushes), and advice with paints. It talks about dry brushing, washing, highlighting, green stuff, and working with metal miniatures (with a non-pinning method discussed for assembly).

As you can see, even before we get into the painting part, there are lots of articles that discuss things that many of us might have wished someone would have told us when we began (or even after we began).

This book doesn’t get into the basics too much, though. Most of the coverage is on applying specific techniques to specific areas, but does a good enough job of showing how this could be applied to other areas as well. For example, the layers section focuses on painting a cloak, but the details are good for how to apply that technique anywhere and aren’t too specific on just using it on cloaks. I like this method best, as it demonstrates the technique in a specific application rather than an abstract one.

The e-book also has a good section on air brushing. I found this to be pretty awesome. Not only does it cover painting with an air brush, but also gives advice along the way in dealing with air brushing. The section covers several techniques, as well as covers how to apply camouflage to armor that looks good and seems easy to apply.

Another part I enjoyed was on weather vehicles. It covers more than just weathering; this section also covers wear and tear on a vehicle.

The book covers special effects as well. Armorcast puts out Cinematic Effects like smoke coming out a barrel, a rocket flying out, and other cool effects that can be attached to models and painted. The book covers not only how to apply them and paint them, but also how that muzzle flash will affect the lighting on the model itself (called Object Source Lighting).

Finally, the book covers painting a gnoll with a lot of fur and a space marine. Because, you know, what would a mini painting book be without a space marine?

I should note that all the articles are written in an easy to read manner. The book takes you through with the understanding that you aren’t a complete dolt, but doesn’t assume you are a master painter already. I found it to be enjoyable to read, and enjoyed the overall tone.


The e-book was well worth it, especially when considering all the bonuses you get along with it. If you enjoy the hobby and want to learn more painting techniques, this book is one you should consider. The book doesn’t cover advanced techniques like non-metal metal or blending or numerous other techniques, but it doesn’t need to. It covers how to paint models to a good standard so you can play war games with those models. Yeah, I know. That doesn’t sound so impressive. But the reality is, it really does a good job at showing you how easy it is to move beyond the “base coasted chaos black with a mix of grey plastic” army to the “hey, it actually looks nice” army.

The MiniWarGaming’s Guide to Painting Miniatures, volume 1, does an excellent job of getting your unfinished models painted up to a high table standard. The book provides easy to employ techniques that allow you to say good bye to the plastic color scheme you are using now. Now you can field your army without shame.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

'Ard Boyz Tourney List

2500 Pts - Chaos Marines Roster - Team Super Awesome 'Arder Boyz

The Daemon Formerly Known as Prince (1#, 175 Pts)
  • 1 Daemon Prince @ 175 Pts, Wings; Mark of Nurgle; Warptime (x1)
Hangs out behind the Squad Claws' Land Raider and assaults with them.

Lord Drol (1#, 155 Pts)
  • 1 Chaos Terminator Lord @ 155 Pts, Personal Icon; Mark of Nurgle; Lightning Claws (pair);
Go go Squad Claws!

Squad Tree (3#, 225 Pts)
  • 3 Obliterators @ 225 Pts
My initial Obliterators on the field. Provide initial support.

Squad Too (2#, 150 Pts)
  • 2 Obliterators @ 150 Pts
In reserve to Deep Strike where needed. I have several squads with Icons should they need to move up front.

Squad Fire (9#, 274 Pts)
  • 7 Plague Marines @ 274 Pts, Personal Icon; Flamer (x2);
  • 1 Plague Champion @ [63] Pts, Power Fist
  • 1 Rhino @ [35] Pts
The second half of the assault squads. While only in a Rhino, they are supposed to support Squad Claws. Claws assaults, and Fire comes out and lays down fire as needed, and will assault the next turn. They are also there to provide flanking cover.

Squad Wind (8#, 216 Pts)
  • 7 Plague Marines @ 216 Pts; Meltagun (x2);
  • 1 Rhino @ [35] Pts
Long range objective holder. Their goal is to get to an objective and hold it. Marines meltas to combat armor. Can also serve as Armor hunting, and generally being good Nurgles.

Squad Earth (8#, 216 Pts)
  • 7 Plague Marines @ 216 Pts; Meltagun (x2);
  • 1 Rhino @ [35] Pts
Same role as Wind.

Squad Water (8#, 216 Pts)
  • 7 Plague Marines @ 216 Pts; Meltagun (x2);
  • 1 Rhino @ [35] Pts
Same role as Wind.

Squad Heart (8#, 196 Pts)
  • 7 Plague Marines @ 216 Pts
  • 1 Rhino @ [35] Pts
With your powers combined, I form Cpt. Pla.....

Squad Claws (5#, 460 Pts)
  • 4 Terminator Champion @ [200] Pts
  • Mark of Nurgle; Land Raider; Lightning Claws (pair) (x4);
  • 1 Land Raider @ [220] Pts
Go go Assault! Kill things. Try not to die.
Squad Deep Penetration (5#, 215 Pts)
  • 5 Terminators @ 215 Pts
  • Power Weapon (x5); Twin Linked Bolter (x4); Reaper Autocannon (x1); Mark of Nurgle
Deep Strike Unit. Comes in where needed. Is a ranged Terminator squad, so it has a large range to come in on and still be effective. Hopefully can come in to support Claws and clear a large whole.

Total Roster Cost: 2498

Anyways, the idea here is pretty simple. This army list plays to my play style. I'm a defensive player, and I prefer playing a defensive game. Planetstrike is appealing because I can play the defense! But that's neither here nor there. Anyways, the idea is a strong surgical strike force or two in the form of Squad Fire and Squad Claws, along with both HQs. Basically, the Claws go in with the Raider and the Lord with Fire as a support unit. Squad DP is there to help shore up incoming units after Claw and Fire and pushed into the line. Earth, Water, Air, and Heart are focused on holding the flank. They are strong enough that killing them isn't that easy, and even with a concentrated push, a force will get tied up long enough that Squad DP can come in and support should they need to. The Daemon is there to support Claw, and assault with them. The Squad Tree is out on the field from the get go. They are primarily there to support the other plague marine squads and giving them a bit of support as needed. Finally, Squad Too is out on Deep Strike with the ability to come in and support whoever needs it. Squad Too is primarily for heavy and high armory vehicles, and Squad DP is primarily anti-horde/infantry.

A lot of emphasis is put on getting Claws into combat fast and keeping them there. Once they disembark, the Land Raider's job is to sit behind them and support them and be prepared to haul them off to another location if need be. However, this emphasis means if they go down, and large chunk of the army goes with them. But I'm confident that even then, the reinforcements coming down will help. Both reinforcements are ranged oriented. This means they work whether they are deep striking into the enemy side, or farther back.

The Heildan Freeholders

The Heiladanites of Araya are a group I've always found interesting, yet were positioned out of the way of the central conflict (between Rinland and Cordrair). As a group, they are known as the Heildan Freeholders, or the 70 States. The name 70 States isn't accurate. Their are only 68 remaining states. Originally their were 70, but the missing two states were both absorbed into existing states after marriages. Still, the name 70 States is what the nation is commonly known by.

Each state is owned by a noble. Each noble runs the state as he or she sees fit. Laws are often different from one nation to the next, but most uphold certain core tenants. The Freeholders despise slavery. Every man works his own land, but pays tribute to his noble. Freedom to pass between states is assured. Trade between states remain open. Despite all this, some states adhere to these tenants to certain degrees. Trade is required to remain open, but taxes can be applied. Often times merchants plan different routes around certain states depending on the cargo they carry. Magic is also an issue in many states, though the majority do not care. Some states have restrictions, and a few outright ban it on pain of death. Religion is controlled in some areas, open in other areas, and unknown in others. While some lands are free with their distribution of land to commoners, other states control much of the land after commoners gave over their rights long ago for other benefits.

There are 3 general types of states. The Inner States, the Coastal States, and the Outer States. The Inner States are the smallest of the states, but usually the most wealthy. They surround the inner sea. This provides them with safe harbors, each trading, as well as access to the outer seas. The Inner States are by and far the wealthiest in terms of trade and political power. The Coastal States are generally slightly larger than the Inner States and rest along the shores to the oceans. They aren't directly linked to the inner sea, and for that, they don't have as easy access to the Inner States, but still do fairly well with access to foreign goods from across the oceans. The Coastal States are wealthy, do well in trade, but because of the supposed influence of foreign powers, do not do well politically. They make up for this with lots of information that they use to obtain what they need. Finally, the Outer States are those states that don't have any ports along the sea or ocean. They are often the border states. They have the largest armies and generally also are the largest nations in terms of size. They aren't as wealthy as the other nations, but are politically strong because of their military might.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Starting a New Campaign

Since the launch of 4E, I've been a player. I've wanted to DM. 4E has made a number of adjustments that make it very easy for a DM to create balanced encounters without all the additional work. At the same time, the large number of published adventures provide me with even more material to draw from. In some way, waiting until not to start fleshing out the campaign is a major boon. I have a lot of material to draw from in building this new campaign.

I want my campaign to exist in a world of my creation. I've run campaigns in published worlds in the past as well as other worlds of my own creation, and I've always found that my own worlds were more fun for me. Published worlds require a lot of knowledge. Sure, you can make up your own stuff, but then why bother using a published world? However, my old campaign world really needed to be updated. I wanted to incorporate the new races in 4E into my world. I wanted to blend my pantheon of gods to the gods listed in the handbooks. I also wanted to update my world in terms of history. I've run other campaigns in Araya, and I wanted to add in some of those campaigns stories into my campaign as new tales and history.

I also needed to update the bad guys. Orcs have long been my staple. I love running orcs as bad guys. In my world, orcs have a rich history, a lot of interesting things involving orcs. Mostly it involves their creation, their coming into being. Being what it is, my world can easily adjust to fitting in new races where I want them. Changing history is easy in a home made world. Not like anyone but myself is really going to know I changed things.

Of course, this leads in to how I want my campaign to run. I've always been an epic campaign type of guy. I prefer long story arcs with a far reaching goal, lots of travel, and lots of adventure in far off places. I like it when characters have a central hub, something that draws them back to square one, but I like the idea of questing far and wide with an epic quest to keep your attention. The problem is, it can get tiresome. Epic quests really do usually have a lot of different plot lines that are so interwoven, it can get confusing if you don't pay attention. While this can be fun, I've done it more than I'd like. This leads me to the goal of building up smaller adventure series. The players starts in one location, and adventure there. Over the course of several adventures, they build up to the fight with the main villain. Plot lines won't be as long as they could get over 30 levels, but they can still be twisted. The players also get a chance to fight a big bad sooner, rather than building up the tension over 30 levels. Of course, their is something to be said about that final confrontation with big bad a level 30, but do we need to know for 30 levels who that bid evil guy is?

This leads into how everything will connect. Sure, Vecna is evil. We know that. I'm sure our characters know that. Vecna as the big bad evil dude sure would be fun, but does knowing that at level 1 really help us appreciate anything more at the final battle? I think not. Rather, going 20+ levels fighting big bad guys and more evil plots to finally come to the realization of who the big guy at the top really is would make it far more interesting. After all, Vecna being evil is a given, but that's not why the players should want to face him in battle. Suddenly, all the trouble they've faced for 20+ levels has a face behind it. Of course, this really doesn't provide how everything could connect without putting up a sign saying "you are fighting worshippers of Vecna!". Actually, it's rather simple. Not everything needs to be done by worshippers of Vecna.

I should point out now that I don't intend to use Vecna. It's just eaiser to use Vecna as the name of the big bad evil guy. Everyone know who Vecna is, and if you don't, well, I don't imagine you'd have read this far.

Anyways, as I was saying, the low levels, first to fifth, let's say, is involved with clearing out the local area of bandits. But these aren't normal bandits, but Black Coats from Cordrair. And they aren't just bandits. Some upstart young officers decided to take this opportunity to steal from merchants passing through the area. What are the Black Coats doing here? Hey! They've re-opened a mine in the mountains. Of course, once they know they've been discovered, they have to follow through with their orders: to prevent anyone from knowing. So they attack the town. Of course, the players are involved with each of these steps. The attack on the town is thwarted by the characters, but not before damage is done to towns folk. Finally, the players confront the Black Coat leaders, and kill them. This is the setup. Okay, it might not last till level 5, but it's a good start. But why would the Black Coats be stealing from a mine in Rinland? This leads the players to ask questions, and holds several different ways for them to go. Of course, the easy answer is that maybe the mine was reopened because a Cordrarian lord across the border needed the metal for the weapons and armor he's been paid to have his blacksmiths make. Who would pay him? Why? Or maybe it isn't a mine, maybe it's an ancient burial chamber. What were they looking for? Why?

Of course, the goal here is to provide them with several different directions they can take, each with a clear path to new adventure. I really want to provide my players with choice in deciding which way to go. I also want them to feel as if they are choosing an adventure, rather than me placing one in their lap or simply saying "Fetch."

The other thing I need to prepare is the equipment. Back in the good ole' days, I could bring along the handbooks, some papers, pens and pencils, and some dice, and it was fine. Combat was done by description, and sometimes a crude map. These days, I'm spoiled with numerous other options: miniatures, maps, and even 3D paper print-outs of dungeons and houses. But I'm not complaining. I love using that stuff. I love looking at a clean adventure, I love seeing the miniatures out on the table with little paper houses and the players seeing exactly where everything is. Sure, description is still important, but this way I can focus on the exciting bits rather than remind people once again that their are yes, indeed, thirty kobolds, and not thirteen, and that they are positioned in a certain way. And no, you can't attack that guy you just wanted because I didn't imagine him being there. Well, you get the picture.

I should include some pictures of everything I have. But my son is awake, and I need to attend to him.


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