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".

Friday 30 May 2014

Fire ze Missiles! - Vampire Hunter Scenic Base

Back when the Hunter was being conceptualised, Steve and myself had been talking about how to mount the beast plus do something funky with a missile swarm - Robotech style (for those of you able to remember that era).

Little did I suspect Steve would combine both the swarmed missiles and mounting concept into one funky mess of madness. With the Chaos Predator acting as a scenic base anchor, copper rods were bent as struts which would be shrouded by smoke plumes. The final result? The beast looking like a seagul rapid firing turds of destruction at the hapless Predator underneath. On to the pretties.

Stay tuned, there are a couple of extra goodies on their way as finishing touches ;)

UPDATE: As requested, some WIP shots of the scenic base and uncoloured smoke plumes as it all took shape.

Thursday 29 May 2014

Air Superiority - Conclave of the Sun Dragon

With Steve's efforts on the Vampire class flyers coming to a close, Mat has begun building smaller aircraft of the Sun Dragon Conclave. Dras'Volharr's full air wing detachment consists of 23 aircraft;

1x Vampire Hunter
2x Vampire Raiders
4x Phoenix Bombers
4x Void Dragon Bombers
4x Nightwing Interceptors
4x Crimson Hunters
4x Hemlock Wraithfighters

First up are the Crimson Hunters and Hemlock Wraithfighters, completing the standard Games Workshop component, with the remainder being of the Forge World variety.

Over the next few weeks, Mat will be prepping and sorting out schemes based on the sample done a couple of months back. A nice mix of flyer bases from Secret Weapon Miniatures have been selected to reflect the terrain profile currently underway by Elliot at CustomTerrain.net

The first sample Wraith units are also off to Mat as of today. With a total of 25 Knights and Lords, the Veil-Walker Consul should start taking shape towards year's end. Just in time for the Titans return...

Wednesday 28 May 2014

An exposition of the Dras'Volharr - Part 1

Friends, Romans, Countrymen... lend me your ears.

Over the last 12 months i've been sloooowly been creating history for this Craftworld i've been collecting. During that time, i've had quite a few requests from followers of the blog for background, out of general interest or as inspiration for their own custom Craftworld efforts.

I've decided, rather than keeping it all noted to myself, that I would start blogging it here. Be warned, this is going to be very rough, the likes of which will make a doctors handwriting look legible. Whilst a general flow will be evident, changes will occur through the course of time - after all, a smooth river stone does not become polished without going through a crap load of tumbling.

So without further ado, this is a story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down, and I'd like to take a minute, just sit right there, I'll tell you how I became the author of the Dras'Volharr.

(Bonus points if you know what the theme tune is - Gee guess which generation i'm from)

The Dras'Volharr, translated to Mon'Keigh tongue, Tempest of the Desert's Shadow, are remnants of an outside consul of Eldar far removed from their capricious pre-fall society kin, who enjoyed creating technologies of perfect idealistic balance. Their mindset was built upon a utopian idea that whilst (as all Eldar believe) they reigned in a benevolent sense, it was their responsibility to provide a universe wide foundation of integrated technologies. These technologies were the concepts of an idealistic view which would enable efficient transition of energies for all beings to tap into a unified will (in a sub conscious way), that would help empower and direct akin to a benevolent cosmic mother - a cosmic consciousness of balance in both right and wrong. It was believed that this kind of technology would restore balance, in an altruistic sense, to dissipate the exponential increase in hedonistic activities witnessed over the past few millennia.

As energies in the warp became more tempestuous, the urgency for such a technology had been increasing - as a result, mistakes were made, eureka moments were observed and byproduct technologies were manifested. The Seers became restless, drawing on psychic energies to skein new ways of approaching the task at hand - They could sense the increase of warp instability, which had made their previously impeccable meditations difficult, akin to focusing on the horizon aboard a ship during a storm surge.

Emissaries were sent out to multiple Seer conclaves for assistance, requesting they provide barrier protection to help calm the psychic storm building over time - all so that they may complete their work before an unknown and unforeseen terror should manifest. Some Seers joined the cause, the most powerful of which even provided ancient relics previously unknown to the largest governing Seer Dome Councils to assist in the effort. 

The added strength also had its drawbacks, one of which gave few a glimpse of horizon events, sparking a panic causing almost a complete decade of project stagnation - later found to be a defining moment in their history. It was during this period the great Craftworlds were psychically sung into existence - Two sister ships were born, which would house the future Dras'Volharri. The smaller of the two Ainaarin, was completed in a three year period as an immediate stop gap insurance measure, to provide a safe haven for the best and brightest should impending events escalate faster than anticipated. Volharr, at almost twice the size, had begun its song into existence in the final year of Ainaarin's birth song. Over eight years had been spent creating these new living ships, with a further 18 months fitting them with technologies psychically hidden from the cosmos. Almost a decade had been spent ensuring the survival of the future Dras'Volharri.

Each ship was named according to their intended use - Ainaarin, meaning great expectations, a symbol of hope that with aide of on board relics, the future would be bright. Volharr, meaning shadows tempest, was aggressively named as a protector ship of Ainaarin. Volharr had been built with more care and in less of a rush. A living vessel of hope, yet more than capable of war, harboring some of the most destructive technologies ever devised - in a twist of irony, some of these devices had manifested as byproducts of the cosmic balance project the Volharri had worked so hard to realise.

Safeguards were put in place should either of the vessels both be threatened, or all hope lost. Upon creation, an enormous Webway gate was constructed on the Volharri homeworld - in a permanently activated state should evacuation be required. Both ships sat in a neighboring star system, surrounded by a nebula that buffered view from prying eyes. The Seers decreed that should Volharr be crippled beyond use and Ainaarin become vulnerable, activation of the Destra'Tain was sanctioned. A play on words, the device meant, "entrance' end", a jump location that no one could follow to a section of the Webway that had been deliberately collapsed as a sanctuary. Upon activation, Ainaarin would jump and simultaneously set a trigger event to draw upon the energy sources buried in surrounding planets (including the systems Sun) to create a solar system wide instantaneous collapse - viciously splitting the atoms of everything within its field of influence.


The next installment will deal with cataclysmic events leading up to Volharr's unexpected encounter, Eldar insurgency and Ainaarin's sudden departure - heralding the events that made the Dras'Volharri who they've now become, their evolving mindset and focus as remnants of a once vastly decadent race.

Monday 26 May 2014

God of War, Fury of Dras'Volharr - Avatar of Khaine

This is not the kind of thing you want to run into in a dark alley. Although his fiery glow may be useful for a stand in camp fire - he may take offense to toasting marshmallows while in the heat of battle though.

Waking up and finding this in my inbox on a Monday definitely made the day easier to face. Vincent has once again outdone himself, even incorporating the Dras'Volharr rune designed by Steve - painted freehand no less on the loin cloth.

And what would the Avatar be without a little love from his psychic posse?

I'll be quietly drooling in the corner if anyone needs me. Stay tuned for more of Vincent's work as he churns through the HQ units of the Dras'Volharr :D

Thursday 8 May 2014

Tsunami of Serpents - Eldar Wave Serpent Production Line

You may recall I sent off a batch of tanks to a mate up North for assembly and painting last year - Well Clinton has been a busy lad having been churning out the Wave Serpents (with many pieces of Armour to go bwahaha). Below is a work in progress image of the pieces in a pre-assembly state. Keeping in mind this is about a quarter of the Wave Serpents alone ;)

I dare say there are a lot of folks out there screaming about the amount of Wave Serpent shields this can fire in a single round.

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Eldar in 7th Edition - I for one welcome our new overlords.

If you've been living under a rock the last two weeks, you wouldn't have heard the rumors about an upcoming game changer for all armies across the 40k spectrum. In a nut shell, the most controversial is a harkening back to ye' days of old, 2nd edition - with the removal of Force Org Charts (FOCs).

While I have little interest in how this will affect other armies (being biased), I can see this being a game changer for the Eldar. Whilst our current Codex covers most variations of the primary Craftworlds, it doesn't cover them to the degree we probably would like. When the Iyanden supplement dropped, it gave Eldar fans a taste of what could be expected in the future.

Let's break it down a bit though, into the pro's and con's. First, the positive aspects. In essence, the proposed rumors indicate the various flavors of Craftworlds out there will now have full "unbound" potential to be realised. Reminiscent of Codex: Craftworld Eldar, released as a supplement to the 3rd Edition Codex, how you wish to play will be purely your choice. I could almost hear my Biel Tan friends wet themselves with the force of a firehose.

Of course, this all depends on what will count as scoring. Pre-3rd edition, I never had a single Dire Avenger - they were just too plain and Guardian like for my tastes. Then along came the 4th Edition Codex which changed all of that. Now, however, I can do without them and return to a playstyle more fitting to a list I ran back in 2006, pre 4th Edition Codex Eldar. Want to include Warp Spiders, Striking Scorpions, Fire Dragons, Swooping Hawks, Dark Reapers etc and still have room for support vehicles? Well supposedly now you can.

So with the positives, let's also look at the middle ground and what the past has taught us. Whilst I recognise the tournament scene in the US is very different from that here in Australia, we (down under) have typically used comp systems to see people bring balanced armies and attitudes to the tabletop. My last tournament was in 2006, when the FOC was reinforced with percentage house rules in a bid to eliminate min/max/spam lists. Generally, for some years the rule was you must have 40%+ Troops and no more than 25% in any other section, plus you lost points for min/max units (except of course if you had one area completely empty - ie: no Elites, yet slightly more than 30% Fast Attack or Heavy Support). The two worked very well in tandem, and its still something I remain aware of when building lists even today.

As for the negatives? What I do see a lot of people complaining about is the potential to create broken lists - which I might add, already exist. Warhammer isn't a game designed on impeccable balance for the tournament scene, which is why Tournament Organisers (TOs) make house rules and the like to reinforce fair play that focuses more on Generalship than putting together an overpowered spam list, which proves nothing other than the person bringing it can identify such a unit... and spam it. Not exactly the sign of a brilliant tactician or strategist, nor will it win you any friends.


"Panties in a twist" syndrome - aka symptoms of change

These days, Gamers are far to quick when jumping to negative conclusions. There have always been power gamers, but that doesn't mean you have to play against them. Take back some responsibility, stand up and say "No, that isn't in the spirit of the game". If every gamer did this, it would set about a resounding culture that would fix most of the niggles most commonly complained about. Stop complaining about the rules and how they're written, they will never be 100% ideal, instead, make the game work the way you want it to and enjoy it as such. Don't want to play against a spam list of Hell Turkeys? Refuse to play it, explain why and watch the behaviour change. In short, stop blaming the game and everything else surrounding it and be the change you want to see. It is really elementary stuff folks.

I believe a lot of the changes Games Workshop have made are to introduce flexibility, allowing us to do far more with what we have than was previously possible. The issue seems to be, we have so much flexibility that we're spoiled for choice given that previously, the 40k culture was so dumbed down and structured, no one really had to think for themselves. Now the chains are off, we can make it truly our own.

Given my profession in Governance and Change Management, I see this adversity to change on a daily basis - the funny thing about routine is people both love and hate it. They love it because life has already given us a lot to think about, so why add to that eh? The last part of that comment is the problem "Why add to it". Change is often perceived as "adding" to something previously observed as unbroken. Yet, why do we change? Because people are also curious creatures and get tired of routine, or things that take longer than one would like. So now you're probably asking "Ok big shot, so what would you propose to stop the complaining?". Pretty simple actually, Games Workshop would do well to produce an announcement something a little like this;

"We at Games Workshop appreciate your thoughts and comments as loyal customers. As such, we have listened to what you feel best reflect the common aspects surrounding your enjoyment of our products as part of the Hobby. Warhammer 40,000 7th Edition is a collaborative effort to both open up the game from its previously stale state to the wider gaming community to truly personalise your gaming experience whilst keeping in true spirit of the game - having fun. Change to the long standing army structure (Force Organisation Chart) allowing the new "Unbound" list design, giving players the opportunity to venture into new ways of playing with new and existing miniature investments. Games Workshop believes that by giving you more freedom of choice in how you play will help to grow your enjoyment of the game and in so doing, grow the company so we can continue to bring you high quality miniatures and products."

In the above, I have addressed the fact this isn't adding more weight but flexibility, explaining the benefits, showing this is the result of feedback from the gaming community in a bid to provide a richer experience for all.

TL;DR - To sum up...

Positive - Greater flexibility in Eldar lists, personalise your game and investment
Middle ground - Not a far cry from what has previously been indoctrinated in house rules
Negative - Increased capacity for making broken lists (the solution there is simple - take action rather than complaining about it, its the grown up thing to do).
Change - It isn't a bad thing, how it is delivered can make all the difference

Saturday 3 May 2014

Coming to life - Eldar Planetscape Update

Elliot from CustomTerrain.net has been at it getting the texturing down on the Eldar Planetscape over the last month and a bit, having finished in the early hours of the morning. All the mountains, dry riverbed, tiling etc has been done, with some of the larger terrain platforms being roughly cut out - lots of detail to go, but the shapes are underway.

The remainder of the project will take about another three months at the current rate, luckily another avid Eldar fan wants much the same terrain pieces, so Elliot can kill two birds with one stone.

*Rough cutouts of the main platforms the terrain will be built around

*The mountain range in all its glory, with two sniper nooks to be built in soon

*The small cliff leading down to the dry riverbed

*More large platform templates...

*The ruins filled in, looking more the part now they're recessed below the drifting desert sands

My Little Pony of Death... Bright Stallion Knight

That's right - screw your Imperial Knights (which aren't Titans by the way). Just a few hours ago an email came through confirming the sale of an Eldar Bright Stallion Knight made in the Armorcast era, with very limited castings, if I recall correctly it was only half a dozen or so.

Above: This isn't the model i've bought... its a good friends photo, so hope he doesn't mind me borrowing it! (Thanks Jon!). Either side of the Bright Stallion, the Towering Knight Destroyer, that Mike Biasi designed which later became the Armorcast production version.

Above: The Bright Stallion kit, image from the Collecting Citadel Miniatures Wiki.

Whilst there are newer versions made from the most recent Wraithknight kit (which look spectacular by the way, kudos to the German lad who kitbashed them), this old cast was an upscaled version of the Epic equivalent.

Back in the day, there were three Knights on the block; The Firegale, Towering Knight Destroyer and Bright Stallion. To my knowledge the Firegale was never made though, sadly. One might argue that the new Wraithknight fills that gap - and very nicely so.

Above: A more recent comparison of the various Knight kits (sans Bright Stallion) with the Firegale in the middle. Image from Apocalypse40k.com

In short, if this guy sees the table top, other Titans best watch their shins. Short of finding themselves hoping across the battlefield.

Titans - Six of one, half a dozen of the other

If I ever win the lottery, remind me to send Steve a cut. Spent a few hours cutting excess resin chunks from six Titans (two Phantoms and four Revenants - suddenly the old Armorcast ones seem more appealing).

While there is a second batch of Titans to go (Phantom/Warlock, Revenant, Towering Knight Destroyers, etc) which will be significantly easier to build, these guys are next in line to get a fantastic paint job from Steve at Third Fate Creations.

Each Phantom has its own pair of twin Revenants, so all up three Phantoms, one being a Warlock class, and six Revenants... Pulsar, Sonic Lance variants included. Speaking of Pulsars... if you ever wondered why you can't hide from a Revenant, its because they can shoot around corners.

I'm also starting to wonder if it would be cost effective for Forge World to cut the excess resin off and re-use it. Given the stuff I cut off amounted to half the weight and reduced the bag size by almost half.

I might also add these guys are going over with a Land Raider and Predator to be appropriately demolished as scenic bases... now if only I could find a second hand Brass Scorpion.

Thursday 1 May 2014

I love the smell of Napalm in the morning

... It smells like... Victory.

Yep, I now have shots of the three Super Heavy Flyers as a group of winged death. Just wait until the 20 accompanying smaller flyers join them. Given these guys are all Corsair based with their individual paint jobs (with an underlying bonding theme), each will have its own back story in the grimoir being written at present.

With the base remaining for the Vampire Hunter (this is going to be a funky base, so stay tuned), and a few gems etc left, in the coming two weeks these boys will be ready for action.

Please note, the Hunter does not have its top fins on at the moment, yes you're not mistaken, they were on in previous photos :)

Very close to the smaller flyers beginning as well over at "Above the Table Top". Should be a frightening scene when they're all together, ready to deal death from above.

Twin Female Farseers - And an appearance from Uncle Bob the Autarch

What do you get when you take two of the 2006 Farseers and chuck in a good dose of gender equality? Chicks you just don't want to mess with - Given their psychic abilities, they probably know where to find your stash of porn. Hide, now.

Ok, so these aren't official GW sculpts, however they did originate from them. These two have been modified from the original Seer Council box set, given new heads, flowing locks, female bits and a healthy dose of attitude to go with it. Also, there is a nice resculpt of the Striking Scorpion Autarch, refitted for use on a Jetbike - complete with funky canopy and flowing Roman style cape.

Beware, some folks will have you believe these are unreleased GW sculpts, or command rediculously high prices for them on eBay. Most recently someone (I won't mention names) sold these for $150 USD each - In reality they are $6USD each (Autarch $12USD), or were when more readily available. Knowing is half the battle!

Anyhoo, on to the pretty pictures :)