Thursday, 28 January 2016

Store review: Element Games

Something different today, and more of a quick update explaining some changes to the blog.

Some of you may have noticed an Element Games banner over on the left hand side of the blog, along with a number appearing on past blog posts at the bottom of the page.

Element's have recently started an affiliate scheme, whereby bloggers/ youtubers/ etc can sign up and earn rewards for advertising for the company.

I've chosen to get on board not just for the rewards, but to also show my support for a company that has offered me nothing but excellent service. 

I thought I'd do a little review of the company today to explain exactly why I think you guys should use Element Games over the dozen or so other vendors out there.

First and foremost - 10% Discount off RRP. I know that most stores offer this kind of saving which doesn't make them stand-out, but for most of us money is important and a competitive pricing is always good.

Secondly - 'Element Crystals' and the referral scheme. Do you like free money? Welcome to the Element bonus scheme. Register an account and you'll earn Element crystals with every order you place. I think it's something like 1 crystal for every full £10 you spend, and each crystal is worth 10pence. it's not a lot, but every little helps. You'll be given a referral code (mine ins MAT850, for example). Pass this on to your friends, and every time they place an order you'll be eligable to earn Element Crystals, PLUS they'll earn double Crystals on their own order. Snazzy!

Thirdly - Choice. Element games offer a staggeringly large selection.

and this list doesn't include GW product, nor hobby supplies and card games...

Fourthly - Service. I've never had a bad experience with Element games. I've been using them since August last year, and have placed about Dozen orders in that time. Of those dozen orders, only two haven't been dispatched same day and arrived the next; the first was because the model wasn't in stock (which was clearly labelled on their website, but it was during the period when shipping anything on a lorry from mainland Europe was subject to horrendous delays), and the other was because I ordered the model at 4pm... it still arrived within two days. For the most part, the stock listings on their website seem up to date and they send out weekly newsletters detailing all the new releases across the most popular games, They also seem to have a fairly up-to-date selection of new models, at least they do from GW, Infinity and Guildball (my main purchases). Where I have had to contact them their customer service team has replied quickly and politely.

Best of all.... every order comes with a bespoke Element Games sweet - I kid you not! It's like a slice of rock candy branded with the Element name and colours. A nice and delicious touch!

In summary - I'd be happy to recommend Element games to you for free; I've done it plenty of times already. I'm happy to advertise for them because, frankly, I feel that they're a store that deserves to be used. Great choice, competitive prices, up-to-date stock lists, and a quick easy delivery method.
10/10 - will buy again (payday soon, money will change hands!)

Until next time, thanks for reading - and I hope this didn't sound too mercenary!

As always, please comment with what you'd like to see next (or I'll continue to just ramble) and like/ share/ subscribe.

Thanks everyone


Infinity: Achilles v2 10th Anniversary Edition: Unboxing and assembly

Hi Everyone

Blog post is a little last this week thanks to work/ life commitments, and a general "end of the month" lethargy setting in. I've got a lot of projects in the air at the moment and I'm rotating through them to keep myself interested. Things are slowly getting finished, or started, and I might look at doing a general overview update this weekend showing off a few different things.

In the mean time... ANOTHER NEW PROJECT! YAYYYY!!!!

With Infinity turning 10 years old this year Corvus Belli released a new version of Humanities greatest champions; Achilles v2.

Achilles is a member of the Aleph's Steel Phalanx; an army made of artificial humans created to fight against the Combined Army, the greatest threat to Humanity. Achilles is supposed to be the best of the best, a monster in the guise of a man able to take down literally ANYTHING that get's in his way.
Corvus Belli have a habit of making multiple versions of characters, representing the different equipment choices that these characters could take. Achilles v2 is the same man in advanced Hoplite armor, offering increased protection at the cost of slightly reduced mobility (and I mean very slightly based on his rules).

The Achilles v2 Anniversary Edition comes with two models; the normal model (sword raised, heroic pose) and a limited edition version holding the severed head of a Combined Army Morat.

I picked up the set for £18 (+PnP) from Element Games, which is pretty good for a limited edition model (£9 per model is pretty solid).

The packaging is a little more lavish than I've come to expect from Infinity; a lush red backdrop replacing the usual tabletop scenery.

Inside the box the models are, as usual, secured between layers of foam, with the arms/ heads safely kept together in a small bag. I was also super pleased to discover a couple of extra 'freebies'; two pin badges and a set of postcards. Not much, but a nice little something to add to the pageantry of a limited edition model. 

The two badges each have a different logo; once displaying the N3 logo, celebrating 10 years of Infinity, and the other displaying Achilles v2's heraldry.

The postcards came in a small, sealed plastic pouch. Opened up reveals two postcards; one displayign Achiles v2's design artwork (with his stats), the other an actual postcard from San Giovanni, Neoterra (a lovely piece of artwork, and once I'd buy as a poster! hint hint)

Each Achilles model comes with the same torso, making starting the assembly very easy. Minimal flash on each model made cleaning up the torso super easy - something I've come to expect from Corvus Belli's miniatures.

The models were made of four pieces each - left arm, right arm, head and torso. Small guide pins/ recesses in the arms and head ensure the model goes together very easily. There wasn't a guide provided on how to assemble the models, but with only four pieces you don't really need it. 

Five minutes after starting the models were finished and sat on my desk.

Since the Torso's are the same, I imagine you could swap the arms/ heads around to create a couple of different combinations of models. You can't see in the image above, but there are some raised fins on the shoulders of the model (attached to the arms) which may prevent these arm-swaps. If you follow the normal builds, the models are great; one with sword raised and multi-rifle, and the other displaying his grizzly trophy. Since Achilles can be fielded with either a Multirifle of a Spitfire this duo-pack is perfect for anyone wanting to swap equipment (ok... you could just field the same model every time and REMEMBER what gun you're using, but if you're like me you'll forget and play WYSIWYG and feel pretty silly.)

As a parting shot, I put Achilles next to a couple of my other models (Infinity, and a random Space Marine) just to show off the size of the model. He's a head and shoulders taller than any other human model in the range (Sun Tzu showing off how diminutive he is compared to the Hero of Paradiso), and even taller than a Space Marine. He even comes up past the waist of the two TAG's I have! He's an absolute monster!

As a one off model, I cannot recommend Achilles enough. As a model for a Steel Phalanx army, he's okay. I'm still very new to Infinity and I lose to to the Steel Phalanx a lot, but I've been told that once you know the tricks they're quite easy to beat. He's a very point's heavy unit, justifiably given his stat-line and equipment, but he's a very "all your eggs in one basket" kind of guy. Heavy armor and Mimitism make him difficult to bring down but they're easily countered with the right tools. He offers no specialist option, and should eh die you're losing 75 points worth of your 300pts army; that 25% of your force!

Fortunately, I don't play Steel Phalanx (....yet....), and so he'll make a great addition to my collection as a display model, and may feature as a HVT in a few of my games over the coming months. Hopefully I'll get a fully painted version soon!

As always, like/ share/ subscribe if you like what you've read, and feel free to comment with suggestions/ comments on how to improve this blog. I'm still new to the blog format and the only way I'll get better and start delivering on what you want is by listening to you. You support and advice matters to me, so thank you, and get in touch!


Saturday, 16 January 2016

A very special package

Hello everyone, and welcome to the first in a new min-series on my blog.

I've started a lot of projects recently, from a number of different companies, and I still have 1 or two more to start (I'm really busy with painting at the moment to try and get everything done!), but this new one is very special, and it all began with an unassuming parcel....


Much to my delight, the items inside were miniatures...


The Devils Run: Route 666!!!

Fresh off production, the wonderful Mark Rapson has sent me some of the models to build, paint and get ready for some upcoming demo's in the local area!


Now before everyone out there loses it at me and Mark, let me make it very clear: I'm actually affiliated with Word Forge Games. I've been working with Mark since his time at Prodos, and since almost the beginning of Word Forge. I've collaborated on a number of projects, including Devil's Run, and as part of work with Word Forge I'm going to start Demo-ing Devils run in Cambridge (anyone wanting a game feel free to get in touch!)

These models were first shown off at Dragonmeet 2015, and if you weren't lucky enough to see them then then feast your eyes below!

Okay... at this point "models" is a strong term, since I've not yet got round to cleaning the models and assembling them, but one step at a time!

I though I'd take this opportunity to talk through some of the models I have here with you all. And just to reassure any Kickstarter Backers - I'm sure your models will arrive in a nicer box ;-)

I want to point out at this point that these models are all made by Word Forge Games themselves - all our casting is done by Mark! Which makes the quality, as you'll see below, even more impressive!

First up, the Law! The Law are one of the Largest Gangs in the Devils Run. Run by Richard Law, a corrupt and power-hungry former convict, the Law use recovered cars and bikes painted in the colours of the police to give themselves a veneer of authority, despite their dubious history.

First display piece - the Law Car. Each starter set will contain one Car, representing the 'biggest' model you get in the starter set. (it's not the biggest vehicle you can get, but that's a topic for another time!)

The Car itself is single piece resin - so no assembly required! The level of detail is amazing - you can clearly see the rivet markings on the metal frames bolted on to the car, the tread on the tires and the mesh across the windscreen to add extra levels of protection. These models are 20mm scale, Hot Wheels scale, so this level of detail is particularly impressive!

The production quality is also pretty great. There are one or two mold-lines on the model, and a tiny bit of flash near the exhausts (you can see more clearly in the second picture, below) but they're mostly clean. 20mins or so's worth of clean up and these will be ready to go!

Up next, the Law Buggy. The Law buggy is the medium sized attack vehicle for the Law crew. Faster than a car and able to go off-road, but a little less sturdy thanks to it's reduced weight and size. 

The buggy is 'slightly' more complex than the car... two parts... wow! The gun turret fits in the top to complete the buggy. Much like the car, there are a few mold-lines and virtually no flash on the model.

Finally for the Law, the two bikers.

As you can see from the photos, there's a lot more flash on these models, but it's still pretty reasonable. Once again we're looking at two piece models; rider's from the torso up and bikes with legs. The riders have two different poses, one riding and one with pistol raised, and the they're specific to each bike; one of the two bikes has an extended handlebar on one side in place of the hand (you can just about see it in the second photo). A skilled hobbyist could probably swap between the two/ do a little conversion if they wanted, but I don't think there's much of a need.
These bikes are about half the size of the buggy, still 20mm scale, making the level of detail (especially in the face) incredible! You can make out the mouths and glasses on the riders faces, which will hopefully be more obvious once they're painted!

These four models make up the Law Company's half of the starter set, but they need an opponent...

Enter the Haul's Angels.

The Haul's Angels are the biggest rivals of the Law Company, and the first gang to openly oppose the Law's oppressive grip over post-apocalyptic San Francisco.
The Angels have a more barbaric, scavenger look to them; leathers and spikes aplenty. They're not the most barbaric of the gangs (more on that at another time ;-) ), looking more like a wasteland biker gang than some of the more ... unstable factions....

Like the Law Company, the Haul's Angels come with a Car, Mid-sized Vehicle and bikes.

First up, the Car.

Like the Law car, the Angels car has a great level of detail. A similar design in terms of the bolted on metal plates and window mesh, the Angels also feature wheel spikes and an exposed engine - giving them much more of a aggressive, muscle-car feel. Again, the quality is great - only a few mold lines and limited flash to clear off. The model itself is three piece, with both rear wheels comping separately. This is a deliberate design choice and some of the models within the Angels range will come with separate, compatible wheels to allow part swapping and inter-conversion.

The medium sized vehicle in the Angels kit is a Trike. Akin to the buggy, the trikes are lighter, and more nimble options great options for going off-road, but not as fast as a bike.  

The trike is the most complex model, featuring 5 parts; the front and rear of the trike, a rotating turret weapon, and the two riders. The parts have the most flash, and will require the mode cleaning up, probably because they're still attached to the resin block. I've had models from other Kickstartes that have arrived and looked just like this - even the first batch of Prodos models (who now have a very well respected production quality) looked like this, so Mark's done fantastically making these from home. Even still, you can pick out some of the details on the riders leather jacket, and the texture of the gunner's mohawk, along with rivets up the main gun.

Finally, the Haul's Angels bikers. 

Two Bikes, two Riders, two parts each - same as the Law Bikes. The Angels bike look more like Choppers compared to the Law bikes, with brutal-looking tusks mounted to the front. A few pieces of resin from the mold need cleaning off, like every model, but the level of detail and production quality is fantastically high.

So there you have it - eight models fresh off the line ready to clean up, build and get painted. I plan on trying to get these done by mid February ready to start trialing some games at my local gaming club.

For anyone that hasn't seen or heard or either Word Forge or Devils Run, then our website is below, along with a link to our Facebook Page.

There are some AMAZING people out on the Facebook page converting and painting some stunning models for the game. OH! And the rules and tokens are all FREE online on our Webpage!

So if you're not involved yet and want to be then get in touch! I'll be looking at running Demo's of the game later this year in Cambridge, and I'll be happy to give anyone a game.

I'll hopefully get another blog post soon with these finished models ready to go!

Otherwise, thanks for reading, please share/ subscribe with anyone you think will enjoy it, and I'll get my next post up next week!

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Infinite Possibilities: Part 2: Getting started with the Yu Jing

Hi Everyone.

Medge back, this time with the second installment of my Infinity series. This time I though I would go in to slightly more detail about my Yu Jing Army, starting with what models I bought first, why I chose them, and how I painted them.

But before all that I want to show you my Nomads and my PanOceania.

As the first army I really bought in to, I still really like the Nomads. A big part of me wants to go back to them some day (probably soon), but I'm so far down the path with my Yu Jing that turning away from the Jade Empire now seems too much like betrayal! Fortunately I still have a number of unpainted, or partially painted, models for the Nomads which I can turn to for a painting change at some point (and probably will do!).

The models from this photo were painted close to 18 months ago now, and still have only a single game under their belt. That's quite sad, right?

In contrast, my PanOceania models were painted a lot more recently (only about 5 months ago) as part of my first big project after arriving in Cambridge. My local group were looking at getting into the game, and I excitedly painted up my PanO only to swap to Yu Jing at the last moment because another player expressed an interest in playing PanO.

I really love these guys. The sky blue was a joy to paint after so long painting Red (Word Bearers and then Nomads), and the clean, Sci-Fi aesthetic of the PanO heavy army just leaps out at me. I will be revisiting this army at some point (if/when I get through my Yu Jing backlog of painting), so expect to see more of these models!

The reason I chose to show those small collections was not just to show off the models, but as a reference point for collecting the armies. With both my Nomads and my PanO I had limited intention of playing bigger games; the Nomads were collected when no-one in my community was playing, and the PanO have only been expanded after I swapped to Yu Jing. The models I bought for these armies were motivated by the rule of cool; great looking models that would be awesome to paint (and they were!). I've since gone back and looked over the army lists and they're missing a few pieces that would make them work as coherent armies. That's not to say they couldn't be played as armies, but they'd struggle to be competitive in a real game.

Getting Started with the Yu Jing

I made the decision to swap to Yu Jing following a conversation with my local gaming community. A few people had already started painting up Nomad and PanOceania models, and I wanted to play something different. The motivation behind a lot of my Yu Jing purchases have been a little different to my PanO and Nomads. I was primarily looking to build a competitive, tournament legal force, and so my decisions were more about what the force needed, rather than what looked cool. My initial purchase, however, was based on rule of cool.

The Yu  Jing model range comes with three starter sets; the Yu Jing 'Vanilla' starter set, along with Sectorial starter set's for the Imperial Service and the Japanese Sectorial Army (JSA) Starter set.

The three starter armies available for the Yu Jing - images taken from the Corvus Belli e-store

I mentioned Sectorials briefly in Part 1 of this series, but I'll explain them in a little more detail now.

The factions within the Infinity universe represent huge, planet-spanning empires or organisations. These large factions are made up on a number of sub-populations and sub-cultures based on their history, culture, beliefs, practices, politics, etc. The Combined Army are the clearest example of this, since the entire faction is made up of a dozen difference races, each with their own unique cultural background, that work together for the benefit of the faction. The same types of division exist within all the human factions of Infinity, based on the customs and heritage of the faction. 
The Infinity rules system allows players to chose to play one of these sub-factions as a bespoke army, known as a sectorial. Sectorial armies require the player to make a large sacrifice in the pool of models they can choose from, limiting themselves to those only the models from their sectorial. In exchange for this sacrifice, sectorial armies allow players to form small squads, or fireteams, from similar types of units. Fireteams allow players to use their turn more efficently, and convey benefits to the fireteam by providing certain special rules and bonus to combat based on squad size.
I'll get back on track now before I go too far down the 'Vanilla vs Sectorial' list - that'll be a topic of a later blog post.

Back to the Yu Jing!

At the time of writing, Yu Jing have two sectorials; the Imperial Service and the JSA. 

The Imperial Service are the secret police - the black hand of the Emperor tasked with protecting the Jade Empire from dissidents and traitors. Whilst their skills are normally employed within the Empire, somethings the emperor must extend his reach beyond the Jade Empire in order to accomplish his goals.

The JSA are the Japanese-themed sectorial - the Space Samurai. In the origins of the Yu Jing, Japan was one of the last nations to become part of the Empire. Many of the Japanese populace the decision to become part of the Yu Jing was a betrayal of their culture and heritage. The Japanese population remain fiercely proud of the culture, and keep their old traditions alive despite the pressure from the state. Naturally, the Japanese are seen as outsiders within Yu Jing because of their resistance to embrace widespread culture. The Japanese have been allowed to keep their own standing army which reports directly to the normal Yu Jing military command. Featuring a number of samurai-themed soldiers, the Japanese army are primarily used as expendable light infantry by Yu Jing high command. 

I picked the Imperial Service (IS). I was originally drawn towards the JSA, given my love of Samurai (hence the Bushido models featuring on this page). However, I used to play Warzone Resurrection a lot, and my preferred faction in Warzone was Mishima - the Japanese Megacorporation. Having already collected a number of 'Space Samurai' I opted for the IS, mostly their models looked a little newer than the standard starter set.

Imperial Service Sectorial Stater set. From left to right: Wu Ming with a Shotgun, Imperial Agent (Pheasant Rank) with a CCW, Hsien with Multi-rifle, Celestial Guard with Shotgun, and two Celestial Guard with Combi-rifles.

Since my first games had been played against a USAriadna force I decided to base my models on a kind of rocky/ overgrown base to represent the wooded mountains of Hope (the Ariadna homeworld). I went for the standard orange and grey paint scheme shown on the website for the Imperial Agent, Celestial Guard and Wu Ming. For the Hsien I opted for the standard yellow and green scheme. One of the reasons I chose Yu Jing over the other factions that weren't played in my local community was the opportunity to paint orange and yellow, something very different, and so far I haven't been disappointed.

As with all of my painting, I use the Citadel Paints (sold by Games Workshop).
For the Celestial Guard I used the follow colours:
The orange was painted using a base coat of Jokaero Orange, followed by a Purple wash, then a layer (or two) of Troll Slayer Orange.
The grey were painted using a basecoat of Skavenblight Dinge, followed by a Nuln Oil wash and the a second layer of Skavenblight Dinge.
The trousers were painted used a base of Castellan Green, followed by a wash with Athonian Camoshade and a second layer of Castellan green over the raised areas.

For the Wu Ming, I used the same method as above for the orange, but the Grey was painted using a Skavenlight Dinge base, followed by a Nuln Oil wash and a final layer of Mechanicus Standard Grey. The metallic sections of his armour were painted using Leadbelcher followed by a Nuln Oil wash, and a second coat of Leadbelcher over the raised edges.

For the yellow armor of the Hsien I used a base layer of Averland Sunset, followed by a wash of Seraphim Sepia. Layers of Averland Sunset were applied to the raised areas, followed by a highlight with Yriel Yellow. The yellow has been the only colour I've really applied a highlight to so far, since it looked too dark on the model without it, and I imagined the Hsien to have more ornate armour than the Celestial Guard, Wu Ming or Imperial Agent.
For the Hsien's green coat, worn over his armour, I used a base layer of Castellan Green, followed by a wash with Biel Tan Green, followed by a another layer of Castellan Green with highlights of Loren Forest. Small patches on the coat are a darker green, and were painted using a base layer of Caliban Green, followed by a Biel Tan Green a wash. The metallic sections were painted in the same way as Wu Ming.
The spines on the back of his back were painted using a base layer of Stegadon Scale Green, followed by a thin layer of Sotek Green and a highlight with
Temple Guard Blue.

The orange armor, green trousers and grey armor panels on the Imperial Agent were painted in the same as a the Celestial Guard. His tabard and cloak were painted using a base layer of Stegadon Scale Green, followed by a thin layer of Sotek green on the raised edges and a highlight of Sybarite Green. The edges of the cloak were painted using a a layer of Balor Brown, followed by a Seraphim Sepia wash, a layer of Zamzi Desert and a highlight of Averland Sunset to look like a golden-coloured fabric. His Hair was painted by drybrushing Sybarite Green over a base layer of Kabalite green. His sword was painted using a base coat of Balthasar Gold, followed by a Seraphim Sepia wash and a highlight with Ironbreaker. The mask and chest were painted using a Celestra Grey base, followed by a Nuln Oil wash and a Ulthuan Grey second layer.

All in all, I think this took me about 2 weeks to finish. It comes to about 140 points (1/3rd of which is the Hsien) making it one of the more points-heavy starter sets, but also a good set for starter games. I've used the Hsien in almost every game I've played so far - he's a very strong unit that I'm possibly a bit over-eager with (so he dies... a lot). The Imperial Agent is becoming a more common pick for me thanks to his special rules. The Wu Ming is my most under used model, but I plan on making some changes to that soon. The Celestial Guard from this box haven't been used as much as they could as I favour Celestial Guard with different weapon options. Nevertheless, it was a great box to start me on the road with the Imperial Service.

Next Blog Post in the Infinity Series I'll talk a little more about what I use these different models for, and what I added to the army after this starter set and why.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this, and will come back for the rest of the series.

Thanks everyone, and have fun!


Saturday, 2 January 2016

Bushido: Prefecture of Ryu - Unboxing and Assembling Takashi Akio


Not a game I know a lot about, nor a game I'm likely to play a lot of. Nothing wrong with the game system I'm sure, and I know Beasts of War cover it quite a lot (so it's probably very good), but more because I don't know how many people in and around Cambridge will want to play it. (By the way, if you are local to Cambridge, then please do let me know if you do!)

That being said, they make some pretty stunning models. Really stunning models! And as a bit of a Japanophile, I was immediate in love with the models as soon as I saw them.

Knowing this, my girlfriend decided to buy me a model for Christmas: Akio Takasi.

Image taken from Bushido's webstore

So I thought I would do another unboxing/ assembly review, for anyone out there that's interested in getting into Bushido.

Unboxing and First Impression

As with a lot of Skimish games, Akio is supplied in a single blister, as shown below

Within the blister, you get the model's stat card, a small artwork insert and the model itself. The packaging is perfectly suitable to a model this size, and there was no problem with damage in transport. My only major concern with the items supplied is the lack of either assembly instructions, or an image of the full model.

Akio comes in six pieces; the main body, left and right arm, and then a small sprue containing his helmet details, and the wakizashi sheathed at his waist. There was no flash on any of the parts, meaning I could move straight on to the assembly.

Assembling the model

With no clear instructions, I had to constantly refer to the studio-painted image I've included at the top of this post for help with assembly. Unfortunately, the web store only has a single angle for the photo, making it tricky to assemble.
The arms and helmet crest were easy enough to assemble, with very clear pegs/ holes moulded onto the models. The Wakizashi proved more problematic, not in terms of the actual position but more the correct orientation/ alignment of the blade. It took a few attempts to get right, but overall only took about 15 mins to build.

Overall, I'm impressed. The quality of the cast, as you can hopefully see in the photos, is very good. There's plenty of details on the model to pick out, particularly for the texture on his armour.

I look forward to painting the model (soon!), and getting a completed model up to show you all.
As I mentioned earlier, I'm not sure yet whether Bushido will be a permanent feature on the blog, or whether it will just be a one off. I guess it will depend on how many views this post gets, and what comments you leave.

Would you like to see more posts like this? Would you like different games systems shown here, or just Warhammer 30k/ 40k, Infinity and Dropzone? Leave a comment and let me know!

Thanks for reading/ liking/ sharing everyone, and happy new year! Let's make 2016 a great hobby year!


Wednesday, 30 December 2015

I March for Macragge: Part 2. Mustering the Legion

The Ultramarines are finished!

And by finished, I mean I've completed one Squad... finished was a bit of an understatement!
These models were a joy to paint. Ultramarines are an idea I've been toying with for a while, and it was really nice to actually sit down and paint the boys in blue.

I hope you like them too.

I apologise in advance for the picture quality. I'm looking at trying to make a light box at home for taking photos for future blog posts, until then I hope you don't mind the shadows. 

I was going to give a number of step-by-step instructions on how I painted them, but I got too excited and just went for it!

I was a little nervous with the painting, as I wasn't quite sure how I was going to do the colours. Fortunately, I still had my copy of Warhammer Visions Issue 23 (from the Betrayal at Calth release) and it has a "Paint Splatter" article on painting Ultramarines.

Now the painting guide itself suggested a little too  much blue for me, so I followed the guide but also took some inspiration from the Citadel Studio copy of the the Betrayal at Calth boxed game (gold trim on the shoulders the biggest change from the solid blue scheme suggested in Paint Splatter).

The model were all undercoated Black before panting. On the recommendation of a friend, I base all my models using Halfords Black Primer - works just as well for plastic, resin and metal models as it would do for a car door! All paints were from the Citadel Range, and I used Games and Gears Ichiban Series brushes.

The blue armour was painted using a base coat of Macragge Blue, followed by a Nuln Oil wash, reapplied Macragge Blue everywhere bar the recesses and highlighted with Calgar Blue.

The silver details on the jump packs, bolt pistols and chainswords was painted using a base coat of Leadbelcher, Nuln Oil wash followed by a highlight with Ironbreaker.

The black casing for the bolt pistols and chainswords were painted using a base coat of Abaddon Black followed by a quick highlight with Mechanicus Standard Grey

The Gold Trim was painted using a base coat of Retributor Armour, Wash with Reikland Fleshshade then highlight with Liberator Gold.

The Chapter Symbol was painted Celestria Grey, followed by a wash with Nuln Oil, a layer of Ulthuan Grey and a highlight with White Scar.

The eyes were painted Abaddon Black, followed by successive layers Mephiston Red, Troll Slayer Orange and Flash Gitz yellow.

For the base, I used the Agrellan Earth Technical Paint. It was my first attempt using it for the 'cracked earth' texture, and I'm very impressed. It took about 4 hours to dry completely (3 hours more than suggested on the 'how to use' YouTube video), which isn't too bad actually.

All in all, I'm happy with how these have gone, and I'm looking forward to started some new Ultramarines shortly. I think, with Christmas now done, I'll be looking to get a copy of Betrayal at Calth to add to the collection.

To that end, what would people most like to see painted next? The Characters, Terminators, a Legion Tactical Squad or a Veteran Squad? I plan on picking up a copy of Horus Heresy Book V - Tempest too to help inform my decision, but any suggestions would be great!

Just as an update, I'm busy at work on a couple of things at the moment, so hopefully there will be some more finished projects soon!

Thanks all, and Happy New Year!


Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Dropzone Commander, Part 1: Shaltari Starter set - Unboxing and Assembling

Hey Everyone

I'm back again with the start of a new, ongoing project: Dropzone Commander!

Specifically, the Shaltari starter set I showed off in my Christmas swag post. 

I first got into Dropzone about a two years ago - whilst I was demo-ing for Prodos I had the chance to go to Salute 2013, and it was here I first saw Dropzone. The models looked great, very different from the Games Workshop stuff I was playing at the time, but I was too busy with the Horus Heresy to pick up another game.

Fast forward a year and I was back at Salute, this time as a guest. The Horus Heresy was behind me, and I was between games. Remembering Dropzone, I headed straight over to the Hawk stall and picked up a starter set. I've played a few beginner games with the UCM and Scourge and really enjoyed the simplicity of the core rules, and the scale of the game. Having struggled to play big games of 40k/ 30k because of the physical size of the games, the 10mm scale really appealed to me.

I never really picked up Dropzone last year as I was still trying to settle on a game, but that's all changed thanks to the Dropfleet Commander kickstarter. A lot of people in my new club have backed it, including me, and so I needed to get a Dropzone army to compliment that.

I love the style of the Shaltari, and so jumped straight to them as an army! As the first post in my Shaltari Series I'm going to do an Unboxing Review of the Shaltari Starter Set
So lets jump in!

First Impressions:

Like most of the starter sets within the Dropzone Commander range, the Shaltari starter comes with three flying transports, three anti-aircraft tanks, three standard tanks, two transports and some infantry bases. Fairly standard fare, and a great starter army - everything you need to play!

Opening the box

Straight out of the box, everything is exceptionally well packaged. All the components come sealed within a plastic bag to make sure nothing is lost during transit.

The box contains three main elements: Three sprues, assembly instructions and quick-start stat sheet, and the bases.

The three sprues are all identical, containing one of each tank, the flying transport, the land transport, and six infantry models to place on two bases. Theoretically you can get two bonus infantry bases and a bonus transport off the three sprues, making the set great value. The sprues are all plastic, and the quality is just as good as something like GW. No flash, great detail, sturdy and easy to clip and trim.

The inclusion of assembly instructions is great, and something that I've sorely missed over the last year building mostly Infinity models. Whilst most of the models in the kit are easy to assemble, it's still a very welcome addition to the box.
The inclusion of the rule reference sheet is amazing. You get the same sheet in the two player set, one for Scourge and one for UCM, and the fact you get it in a stand alone Starter is brilliant for the new player (like myself!). It also means that you don't need to buy a rule book to start playing straight away - a great and player-friendly addition!

The bases are standard fair - three clear plastic flying bases (with Hawk-widget) and four infantry bases. Unfortunately there are ONLY four bases, as it makes 6 of the Infantry models from one of the Sprues redundant. Shame, but you still get one free transport in the set!

Building the kits

Tomahawk Grav-tank

The Tomahawk is the main battle tank of the Shltari army, and the main ground-to-ground combat tank in the kit. The models themselves require one tiny piece of assembly, as can be seen in the image below

The tank is provided in two pieces; anti-grav chassis and gauss cannon turret. The turret simple fits into the socket provided, and can be glued in if needed. I've chosen to leave mine unglued for ease of painting, and to allow me to rotate the turrets in-game. The image above also shows off the great quality of the Dropzone models - the models are covered in amazing details.

Kukri Anti-Air Grav-tanks

The Kukri AA Grav-tanks are the standard AA tanks within the Shaltari set. Unlike the Tomahawk, they require slightly more assembly.

The Kukri shares a chassis with the Tomahawk, and comes with a two-part turret. For the more skilled modellers, the guns could probably be pinned to allow free vertical rotation within the turret housing. I've chosen to glue my guns at a 45-degree angle to make it look like they're shooting into the sky. Once the guns are glued to the turret, the turret simply slots into the chassis - easy!


Shaltari braves are the standard Infantry in the force. Four bases of three infantry each are included in the set, and they're as easy to build as the Tomahawks. Simply glue the single-piece infantry into the base - job done!

Haven Terragates

The Haven Terragate are the standard Shaltari 'Transport' - albeit using the Shaltari teleportation rules.

The Haven Terragates were the most challenging of the models to build. The model comes in seven parts; a nose, tail, two arch's that form the power matrix, the two anti-grav fins and teleportation cystal (shown on the left model).
To build the model I first glued the two arches to the nose, forming the power matrix. I then glued the tail to the end of the arches, completed the power ring (shown on the central model). 
Finally, I glued anti-grav fins under the nose and the crystal support to the underside of the tail (shown on the right model).
All three models took around 5 mins each to build - still nice and easy.

Eden Medium Gate

The Eden Gates are the medium sized flying gates, capable of teleporting all the vehicles provided within the starter set.

Like the Haven Terragate, the Eden Gate comes in seven pieces. Four of these pieces are two-pronged anti-grav platforms, used for the front four 'wings' of the Eden. Two more are three-pronged wings, used for the rear wings, with the final piece making the main Eden body. The body contains three recesses on each side for the wings to slide in to, making it very easy to assemble. The two rear wings have slightly wider guide pegs, making it impossible to slot them into the wrong part of the model. As with all the previous models, these little touches make the set very simple for the novice modeler. 

The Finished Set

All in all, it took about 35mins to put the whole thing together, including clipping all the models off the sprue. The assembly was easy enough (when required), the quality is fantastic and the detailing exceptional. 

Very, very impressed, and I cannot recommend enough.

I thoroughly look forward to painting these models up! All I need now is for the weather to calm down enough to get outside to undercoat the models!

I plan on using the Apache colour scheme for the force -  a nice forest green with gold. Should be fun to paint, and very different from the rest of the projects I have ongoing (Ultramarines, Blood Angels Death Company, Yu Jing and PanOceania and Bushido).

I'll get the finished models up when they're all painted, hopefully within the next few weeks, and then I'll ask for some advice on what to buy next! As always, any suggestions/ comments are always welcome.

Thanks again for reading, and remember to like/ follow/ share to those that you think might want to read.