A word to the wise

"Ask not the Eldar a question, for they will give you three answers, all of which are true and terrifying to know." - Inquisitor Czevak Turns out, the answers are; "Oh, just a few days", "Our friends will be here shortly" and "We have quite the appetite".

Tuesday 30 December 2014

Phoenix Lord Fuegan & Female Striking Scorpion Exarch WIP

If ever there was a cure for Mondayitis, Vincent is the man. I awoke to good news on his front of little upcoming addition to his family (congrats mate!) and the latest WIP image to arrive. Here we have the Eldar Phoenix Lord Fuegan and 3rd party Female Striking Scorpion Exarch - who will act as the personal bodyguard to an Eldar Farseer (stay tuned on that front).

Sunday 21 December 2014

Planetscape update - Eldar Terrain

Elliot from over at Custom Terrain has recently (ok i'm a little behind on this one) sent me an update on the terrain he's been working on for the Dras'Volharr Planetscape. At this rate the table isn't very far off being completed, so I guess now I have to consider a house to store the sucker in. Anyway, pretty pictures etc... Enjoy :)

Sunday 14 December 2014

Tables & Titans - Planetscape & Phantoms Nearing Completion

This week i've had both Steve and Elliot contact me with regard to current WIP projects, and given the Dras'Volharr Planetscape is oh so very close to being completed, i'm quite eager to post up the photos from Elliot's own website CustomTerrain.net

Steve has also been smashing along with the Phantom Titan progress, having just the finishing touches and some cinematic work left on the big guys. Enough from me... pretties...

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Phantom Titan WIP - Shoulderpad Runes & Death Masks

New runes have been consolidated to create some new Titan glyphs for the shoulders and hip guards, albeit with a few layers of shading left to go. The ground forces contain the scorpions tail insignia and venom drip, in contrast to the airwing's more avian stylised glyphs shown on the Vampire's.

All coming together, with the Webway Gates up next upon completion, followed by the Armorcast Titans - Warlock class and twin Revenants.

 And a small glance of a downed Falcon for one of the Phantoms as a scenic piece. Still thinking about how this one will work out :)

Friday 5 December 2014

Craftworld Dras'Volharr - Illustrator of Valedor now on board

Yesterday I had a lovely message from none other than the illustrator of Apocalypse Warzone: Valedor, Helge C. Balzer. Helge has confirmed his interest in illustrating the project Codex for the Dras'Volharr. This large tome of a book is still being constructed, with the InDesign file growing at a fairly sustained rate. With any luck discussions will take place in the new year as to what kind of illustrations will be created to form a very polished book capturing the full glory of this ambitious project.

*Above - The cover of Valedor, artwork by Helge himself.

In the next three months, the vast majority of  miniatures will have been at least put through prototype schemes, ready for photos and subsequently concept sketches of the artwork to be discussed. With Elliot working hard to get the Planetscape finished (which will feature no doubt), and the consortium of artists globally working to get the Warhost painted, solid ideas should start forming before mid 2015.

Again, very happy to have Helge's interest in this project as he brings a very polished element to the quality of this Warhost's future "Codex".

Thursday 4 December 2014

Harbingers of the Void - Eldar Phantom Titans WIP

Steve has been hard at it, building up the layers on both Eldar Forgeworld Phantom Titans. While i'm still working out names for these two, and converting them into the Eldar tongue, they definitely have a menacing "reaper" quality to them. With the Hell Turkey being drawn into a charged D-Cannon bubble (with swarming missiles for good measure), and the Chaos Land Raider being sliced like bread... well, there is a whole lot of awesome happening cinematically speaking.

These images came in at the same time as Elliot's latest work on the Eldar Planetscape, of the former Dras'Volharr maiden world. There will be some collaboration in the terrain aspect, with Elliot creating the Webway gate structures and Steve painting them (plus building a giant resin airbrushed portal for the "activated" mode). There are definitely some good things coming in the next few months. In case you're wondering why the portal is so damned big, well I need to get a Phantom Titan through it somehow, no? On to the pretties!

And the latest shots of the Webway Gates;

In case you're all wondering what this is going to look like in the end, imagine something akin to the following;

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Eldar Synergy - Strategy Vs. Tactics Vs. Mindset in 7th Edition

While this blog is mostly focused on the Dras'Volharr Craftworld project, once upon a time I played the game with vigor. This week I thought i'd take a little detour from the normal project stuff and move into the mind space of an Eldar General, discussing the end to end planning process of how to maintain that all important synergy required to keep the pointy eared folk from going the way of the Dodo.

Since 2nd Edition, the Eldar have generally held their ground in variety of units, despite sliding up and down the Tiers of capability depending on the meta game - which flip flops from close combat to shooting oriented each edition. The one thing that has stayed the same is their standout technology, speed and fragility.

Through this article I won't be focusing on particular units in a "this one is better than that one" stance, more so how to create a complimentary force at a high level. Within various military groups, doctrine is instilled to keep a sense of "what" is needed at a strategic level, complimented by the "how" in regards to SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), or tactics.

Once these concepts are fully understood, you will find yourself automatically applying them with little thought. As a result, the decision process in creating a solid strike force will be simplified, meaning you hit the ground with a solid fighting chance (not that the Eldar are in much need of help this edition).

Phase 1 - Play style. So you have already chosen the Eldar as the implement of destruction. Very nice. You are well aware that they are fast, fragile and pack a punch, in street terms they're a "glass cannon". Knowing this, we move into play style. It is important to understand what works for you. Some are a fan of skirmish tactics, others enjoy a hammer & anvil approach, whilst another may enjoy all out frontal assaults.

It is imporant to note that identifying your play style as a general needs to be realised up front. If you don't identify it, then your patterns of play when applied to an army not built to support the commanders intent will crumble as you consistently make bad decisions by default. Basically, this comes down to the "know yourself" principle.

Phase 2 - Army planning. Now we begin building a force around the established play style. What we're aiming for here is to accomplish the following;

a) Prevent unit choice over specialisation
b) Establish appropriate redundancy
c) Establish appropriate unit complimentation (Synergy)

Point "A" is an important one. Have you ever seen an opponent bring a force spamming a particular unit? How often do you see it get face stomped due to encountering an army that see's its one trick pony and denies the army of spam any opportunity to exercise it? Yep, this happens a lot, and all because the army general places all bets on getting that first move off. This is Warhammer 40,000... not chess. A solid balanced strike force with clear intent and synergy will break an opposing force most of the time.

Point "B" is your Devil's Advocate in this sense. While you do not want spam, appropriate redundancy is important. Let me use an example. Say your play style is based on a Saim Hann skirmish/assault strike force, the core composition will be Jetbikes, you WILL have more than one squad, however this does not mean your entire army will comprise of just Jetbikes (hey it can be fun, however don't expect a high win rate). Likewise, you wouldn't just create an army of Wraithknights - you're likely to encounter a sniper heavy army just rubbing its hands together... and "tada!" rock crushes scissors. By all means have more than one squad of your core chosen units, these are going to be objective grabbers, campers etc - the ones that will be your winning MVP's in the game, core to your strategy and tactically versatile.

Point "C" is where the meat resides. Synergy is PARAMOUNT with the Eldar, as effective as overlapping cover fire, their entire stat lines are built around how each unit can support the other. The strategy here employs a high force multiplier. Let me illustrate this, going back to a very simple analogy. You're playing Saim Hann, Jetbikes, Wraithknights, Night Spinners etc. Naturally you don't want your Jetbikes being snotted out of existence, but you need to capture objectives with them, hold up the enemy and prevent them from snagging flanks requiring immediate self lubrication from an imminent railing. Wraithknights are wonderful for getting in the face of threats and can take a beating, your brawlers so to speak. These units will keep nasties at bay while repositioning your Jetbikes. Those that can't be tied up, can be pinned down by using Night Spinners to hinder movement. These units working in concert, supporting each other are enjoying the perks of Synergy. Similarly, a Biel Tan Warhost makes good use of Warp Spiders and Striking Scorpions - Jump, fire, jump back... if things get real, you have close combat melee counter assault units close by to get them out of a pickle. Each work in tandem to minimise loss, while maximising damage output.

So now we have a solid understanding of what contributing factors enable establishment of a solid strike force, at a strategic level.

Phase 3 - Standard Operating Procedures. These are your "if this happens, then do that" field doctrines. Your "go to" response to an "oh crap" moment once deployed. The nature of dice means you will have moments like these and lose units that you DIDN'T want to. The advantage you have is by going through Phase 2, you've mitigated the risk by planning for redundancy, force multipliers and prevented the enemy from exploiting a one trick pony play.

You have units chosen, your synergy has been identified between units. Now the table is set, the terrain is down and you know how you want to use these units. The next step is to Identify objectives, fire lanes, any terrain that hinders movement, open flanks etc - now place your units considering these factors, whilst maintaining pre-determined synergy as part of Phase 2. Typically, a force will break into two parts, with a fallback plan in the instance that something goes catastrophically wrong for one team of units. What ever happens, don't let one units demise ruin your advance - with redundancy and synergy in place, you've mitigated any single weak link in the chain.

Phase 4 - Winning, consistently. Ahhhhh, now we get to dive into Mr.Boyd's OODA loop. The premise of which means you can respond faster to the changing battlefield dynamics than your opponent. If you control the pace of battle, and keep the enemy in a reactive position, you will dominate and subsequently win the game. OODA represents "Observe", "Orient", "Decide" and "Act". If you want to know more and how it has been applied in battle, feel free to Google it, there are many many articles out there. I will however go over it in brief, with the context of Warhammer 40,000. In essence, always keeping in mind the battlefield layout as part of Phase 3, your units should always be shifting for the pre-determined decisive point whilst denying the enemy advantage. The decisive point is that which the final act of battlefield dominance (the turning point, or point of assurance) occurs - The "Checkmate" of 40k.

By already coming prepared mentally with where the synergy lies in your strike force, knowing the force multiplier points on the battlefield, knowing where you need to get to (and where the enemy is trying to access), you can "get in their face", which will in turn prefent any solid tactical response from forming. If the enemy general has to keep rethinking their tactical response every turn, they will never see any long standing strategy come to fruition.

So there you have it, high level strategic and tactical planning. Of course this is a very prescriptive analysis, which can get down to some very granular levels depending on the phase. These granular components are typically around the unit choices, war gear, specific points of synergy, static standard operating procedures etc. There are a myriad of Eldar tactica articles out there, however I've yet to see a good one discussing the high level architecture of a well formed strike force that can be used as a model to fit any army list composition.

This list is by no means definitive, however it should act as a good starting point, given the dependence of Eldar on mitigating losses due to their fragility. Dying race? Not if I can help it.

Monday 24 November 2014

Craftworld Dras'Volharr - Project "Deliverables"

I've had a few enquirers now relating to just how the hell I keep track of everything, including the ideas yet to be realised. After 17 years, you could say the vision for creating this has evolved a bit and with each milestone achieved "scope creep" has definitely played a part in just how the Warhost became the behemoth it is today.

Originally, the whole concept was to have a Warhost that catered for every possible permutation of units - simply put, I wanted to have absolute flexibility in fielding any combination my heart desired.

The turning point started when Force Organisation Charts came out in 3rd Edition and I managed to get my hands on the OOP Armorcast Titans. Having such enormous Warmachines on the field meant the rest of the Warhost looked kinda small... it needed to be much bigger to justify the need for such complimentary firepower. Since I have an "all or nothing" approach when it comes to these things, I went down the path of "all", with gusto.

As the project currently stands, these are the objectives, and level of completeness (roughly estimated) to be achieved over the next couple of years (hopefully before the 20th Anniversary);

1. Core Warhost - The primary composition of miniatures, of which 95% have been purchased, with a few still lurking about that i'd like to add in.

2. Collectors Pieces - The rarest miniatures or OOP pieces i'm still hunting down (or know of, and yet to bribe the appropriate sources into selling them). At present there are probably around a dozen pieces i'm chasing to complete (to date) the current outstanding allotment. NOTE: I'd give an arm and a leg for the Avatar below... just sayin'

3. Theme Table - Currently WIP, this 8x6 Foot table is undergoing painting and terrain sculpture as the theme desolated, former Maiden world of the Dras'Volharr. Additions may happen later down the track depending on a few factors, however for the present the table stands as described in the projects section of CustomTerrain.net.

4. Tome of the Dras'Volharr - This puppy requires my attention urgently, more so than I've given it over the last 12 months. The full history of the Dras'Volharr, all units photographed for the Warhost pages and illustrations to be created by some of the lads who worked on recent Games Workshop publications. Make no mistake this will be a very professionally polished piece, 100% unique to the Craftworld itself and possibly double the size of a standard Army Codex.

5. Warhost Painting - Presently, the Warhost is about 90% allocated to commissioned artists. Each with its own teir and assigned budget to be completed within the next two years. A lot of research, theme discovery, samples and artists engagement has gone into making sure the Warhost is fully covered.

6. Custom Sculpt - Towards the end of the project I plan to have a piece sculpted (of which I have the designs/concept at the ready), completely unique to the Warhost and intended as a one off. Details will be released of this only to the contracted artist, none of which to see the light of day until the sculpt is well under way. Honestly, i'd just like this one to be a surprise and icing on the cake so to speak. Anyone interested in helping me realise this piece, please get in touch!

7. Storage - Yep, the administration/logistic component of the Warhost is being able to store and mobilise it when needed. So far I've managed to obtain fairly decent options at reasonable prices, however the display case itself I fear will be a custom job. Ideally i'd like to create a Wraithbone style cabinet, as soon as I can find an artisan capable of realising this vision.

So there you have it. The Warhost as it currently stands, with the objectives to complete within the next couple of years. I will say I've been very lucky and feel honoured to have had so many generous and equally enthusiastic people encourage and support me on this journey. It has indeed been a blast so far and I do not doubt I'll need a mental holiday once it has been completed. Any of those who have contributed to this project viewing or keeping track of this blog, a very heartfelt thanks goes out to you - I hope this monumental effort lives up to your expectations! :)

Saturday 22 November 2014

Phantom Titan #1 - Chaos Land Raider Scenic Base

Steve spoils... and when he spoils, he does so with style. This is the latest update for the first Phantom Titan scenic base, just in case you were wondering - it's the one with the power glaive for whipping up a quick Chaos Coleslaw. This will be a quick one and I may write a little more soon about this update ;)

Thursday 20 November 2014

Monofilament Fun - 3rd Party Warp Spiders

Well i've heard back from my mate overseas and the latest project of sculpting greatness has been finished. Note that they aren't actually called Warp Spiders, but that's what i'll be using them as - they do make excellent stand in Warp Spiders until Games Workshop releases new sculpts all things considered.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Corsair 7th Edition Update - News from Forgeworld

A bunch of us Corsair fanboys (and girls) regularly hit up Forgeworld for updates as to when we can expect a revision of the Mymeara rules. It has been a while and given the answers can vary from time to time, I feel it is worthy of reporting the latest information wise. Here is what the folks at Forgeworld had to say last week:

"Our rules team are currently in a position between major book releases so they are working on the various rules updates that are needed including the Corsairs Army list. We don't have a precise date for when this will be published at the moment but it should be within the next few months."

So, we shall soon see (perhaps) if this holds true - fingers crossed making enough noise about an update has increased the vigor behind releasing this long awaited update :)

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Awesome Foursome - Part 2

So here we have the final two Revenants of the four Forgeworld versions. These were originally posed pretty dynamically and reposed there after. I'd normally put more words around the story of these two, however its been a busy couple of weeks :) enjoy!

Edit: So there has been a bit of controversy over the arrangement of the Revenant Titan shoulder turbines. These suckers were originally depicted in the concept sketches as being able to pivot to shift direction and rapidly maneuver the Revenant as it is described in the "fluff" as the most agile of all known Titan class War Machines. At first it may be a bit disconcerting due the very abundant use of static poses out there. However these Revenants were built to convey a nimble/straffing/dodging stance as eluded to by Games Workshop. Understandably they will not be to everyone's taste, however what is life without a little spice eh?

Friday 31 October 2014

Awesome Foursome - Forgeworld Revenants (Update)

Well folks, in the next couple of weeks we should be seeing the first four Titans finished off, with the base colours having been put down, bases sorted out and all things zipping along nicely. Complementing this development will be 120 Storm Guardians, ready for mass blob mobilisation. Good times.

Stay tuned, there should be some very interesting developments in the next couple of weeks to a month. For those of you in the USA, Happy Halloween ;)

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Eye of the Storm - Storm Guardian Concept

Navin from PaintedFigs.com has recently got back to me with the latest concept for approval - the humble Storm Guardian. There are a total of 120 to be painted (to be followed by 120 Defender Guardians and 120 Jet Pack toting Eldar Corsairs - all in the same theme). Each of these guys has their own dedicated Wave Serpent transport ready to deliver the Fusion Gun and Flamer goodness, frankly I wish the Black Guardian Webway Portal from the 3rd Ed CWE supplement was still available... shit would get real, very quickly. On to the pretties.