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The Grey Guards: The Kindlers

The Grey Guards: The Kindlers

I’ve pretty much finished my first squad of Firewarriors for my Tau Battleforce.

The Tau don’t have unique names for soldiers, unless they do something truely noteworthy. I assume that the same goes for cadres and squads too, but I’ve decided that the caste and the cadre are going to have nicknames.

The nicknames were earned by the force which first fought for the planet. The squad names are passed on; the individuals might change, but the squad goes on.

Anyway, here’s the first squad I’ve painted: The Kindlers.

Group Photo

Freakin’ Posers.

The Armour is a kind of faded Bronze, using a base of Bugman glow, then drybrushed with tinbitz.

The underclothing is a kind of Khaki green, using mournfang brown base, then drybrushed with Waagh! flesh, and details picked out in Goblin Green.

The Weaponry is a strong red, using a base of Mephiston red, drybrushed with blood red, and with details picked out in Waagh! Flesh and Tin Bitz.

I then covered the figures with a black wash, giving them a kind of dirtied and dark look.

The base material is fire ash, which I liked for it’s lack of consistency and occasional cinders, which make simple additions to the scenery.

I’ve tried to give the warriors a battleworn look, with pock marks left from bullets and gouges from glancing shots and tearing claws.I’ll be adding more, since I haven’t added it to all of the figures.

Squad leader

The squads leader, a “Shas’vre”.

Squad Member

A member of the squad, ready for battle

I’d love to get some opinions on what they think of my work, and anything that I should change or add. Any and all comments are appreciated and greeted with a small squeak of surprise and gratitude.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Games, Warhammer

 

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Building an army

So, I began painting Warhammer last Saturday.

I bought a hobby starter pack and a Tau battle force for a total of €126. After I picked myself up off of the floor and stopped gibbering, I went home.

After getting myself a cup of tea, and preparing my desk for the new arrivals, I opened the box. It was filled to the brim, to bursting, with the parts of my army, held in a plastic frame. I took out each one, and examined it.

Hmm, good old Firewarriors.
How fire warriors arrive before being put together

Well, they will be firewarriors.

Able to shoot their opponents full of holes before they get close, but vunerable to close quarters combat.

Ah, the Kroot.

Kroot pieces

They’d appreciate arriving in bite-sized chunks

Cannibals, rather savage, but loyal to the Tau. They complement the Firewarriors well, excelling at fighting up close.

Oooh, the XV8 Crisis Battlesuit.
Crisis battlesuit

I can just tell putting him together is going to be a bitch.

Well, I think it is. I honestly thought this unit was missing when I took out all the parts. I’m looking forward to pieceing it together.

Mmm, the XV25 Stealth team.
Stealth Suits

Were you really expecting me to have glued them all together?

Bulky looking, but capable of sneaking about, unseen to the opposition.

And finally, the Devilfish.
Devilfish

If I lose even one part of this, I think I’ll have to be carted to a mental institutuion.

The land transport of the Tau army. It has a burst cannon, showing that it’s more than a mere beast of burden.

I decided to go backwards, and paint the pieces before I glued them together. This way, I’m hoping to get a better result.

I’ve decided to keep a bit of a diary of how the army’s getting on, which is why I’ve suddenly started using this again.

If anyone’s interested, please comment on the blog, because otherwise this would be similar to talking to myself in public.

PS: Sorry about the crappy picture quality. I don’t have a camera. I’m just using the camera on my phone which, while not bad, isn’t good enough.

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2012 in Warhammer

 

Cultured

Cultured

I’m going to give you a small taste of Tau culture. I’ll keep it under 250 words, I swear.

  • The Tau follow a concept called “the Greater Good”, the concept of setting aside your personal desires for the Greater Good of the empire.
  • There are 5 “Castes” of Tau society:
    • Fire: Warriors
    • Earth:  Workers/Builders
    • Air: Pilots and messengers
    • Water: Diplomats, traders and administrators
    • Ethereal: The leaders of the empire, who united the Tau after years of conflict.
  • The Tau do not instantly attack any alien species it comes across, instead opting to try persuade them to join the Greater Good.
    • The only other race I know which doesn’t attack aliens upon sight would be the Eldar.
  • The Tau have a hunter mentality in war, where position and weaponry are key. They have two main tactical philosophies:
    • The Killing blow: A target of opportunity is spotted and its likely destination identified. An attack force is placed in their way, where they plan their attack while they wait for the prey.
    • The Patient hunter: The attack force entices the foe to attack with some form of lure, which draws the foe into a position where it can be swiftly killed.
  • There are several known allies of the Tau, but only 2 have figurines (so far).
  • The Tau are the only species which doesn’t have any psychic units. As a result, they cannot be corrupted.

There, I told you.

Now, I’ll talk a bit about the Tau force I’m putting together.

They hail from an outlying colony, called Fi’rios. Before the Tau arrived, the world was infested with Orks. It took many, many lives and many years before the last Ork fell, and the world was ready for a new beginning.

Obviously, after paying such a high price, the Tau were unwilling to give up the planet. The warriors of Fi’rios are renowned for their stubborn refusal to accept defeat. Since I’m new to Warhammer, the force are fresh recruits, set to guard a Tau post on the edge of a desert, not of sand, but of ash, a remnant of the fierce war.
Their armour is scratched and battered, from the regular attacks by wild Orks, who had developed after the war. (Orks are composed of fungus and flesh. They spread spores their entire life, and these spores become new Orks. Years after Orks are exterminated, their children can develop and wage war. Orks are hard to get rid of.)

They have the nickname of “The grey guards”, not for their armour, but for the desert post they guard.

And here are the first few:

Why yes, I do keep my paints like that. Don’t you?
I don’t have a real camera, only a phone. Cut me some slack.

I’ll take better pictures when I can, but all I’ve got is the camera on my phone. I decided to use the contents of the house ash bucket, since it fits in with both desert and urban enviroments, is realistically inconsistent, and has pieces of charcoal which can be used as decoration.

Comment and let me know what you think of my Grey Guards.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2012 in Warhammer

 

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Hobby for hobby, obsession for obsession

I  vaguely remember when I got my first console. It was a Gameboy Colour. My parents had bought it, along with Pokemon Gold, and Pokemon Silver. I adored the TV show, and poured hours into the training of my Pocket Monsters. Then came the PS1, with games like Driver and Final Fantasy. Then I learned about PC games. Then the Xbox. Then the Nintendo DS.

I’m unable to have a casual hobby. It’s a case of all or nothing: it either takes over my life, or is dropped. If I can’t do it regularly, I lose interest. Video games weren’t just a hobby, they were an obsession, an addiction.

When I got a computer, I could play games, surf the web, and chat to friends, all at the same time. I used to even have a swivel chair setup, where all I’d have to do was swivel, and pick up a controller to play my Xbox 360. That was a particularly bad stage, where I left school, got home, played games, ate food, played games, went to bed.

I’d like to think that I got better, but I probably didn’t. Brief hobbies came and went, all swept away by video games. They were always changing, always diverse, strange and interesting, and so unlike the world I lived in. That was the point. It’s all escapism. Every bit of it.

That’s the reason my unemployment was so frustrating. I needed something, anything, which could pull me away from my virtual reality. Secondary School was good for that, but the summers were horrific. I was useless, finishing every job as quickly as possible to get back to the game I had paused. I never lost control of reality, but I did lose control of myself.

I don’t particularly want to look back, but “Those who don’t remember the past are doomed to repeat it”. A new obsession has come into play, and this one has one foot in the real world, and one foot in fantasy.

I’ll post more about that tonight. Please leave a comment, let me know what you think.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2012 in Games

 

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Pixels are soft.

A friend of mine brought this to my attention:

http://www.arixystix.com/blog/2011/05/28/minecraft-creeper-plush/

The amount of work that must have gone into this is staggering, and the craftsmanship is superb.

Creeper at the door

"Why, thank you my good sir!"

For some reason though, I wondered how many squares it took to make this little creeper (No gunpowder included).

So, counting rows and columns for head, feet and body, minus the black felt areas, I found out that it takes  more than 1000 squares of green material to build this little guy from the ground up.

EDIT NOTE: Arixystix, the creator of this green wonder, corrected me, telling me that it in fact takes more than 1000 squares. Beforehand, I had said it was exactly 1000 squares. If you want to know the real number, you’ll have to find out for yourself: The sewing pattern for the creeper is up on Etsy, with step by step instructions and the all important material list.

It also took 88 ‘squares’ of black material to make the creepers hooves and it’s trademark grimace.

That really shows up your mothers favorite patchwork quilt, doesn’t it?

Oh Crap.

After all, no-ones afraid of a quilt.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2011 in Games

 

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Stand, fall and be counted.

To celebrate my purchase of Dead Rising 2, I’ve decided to type at length about one of the features that attracted me to the game: The Kill Count.

The kill count is a small display on your HUD which tells you how many enemies you’ve killed. It’s that simple. Its nothing more than a tally counter, updated in real-time when you smash someones skull in.

The kill count regularly features in games where the playable character is ridiculously powerful, and the enemy forces over compensates for its lack of quality with seemingly infinite quantity.

More than you can shake a stick at.

'I knew I should have called in sick today.'

This feature can be found in a few game series, such as Dynasty Warriors, Ninety Nine Nights and Dead Rising.

A major problem associated with this ‘death harvest’ gameplay is that combat is largely unchallenging (if considered with a 1 on 1 situation) and the only possible danger that awaits you is being attacked by an enemy who somehow dodged your roundhouse axe swing.
Games like these focus less on the feel of the combat and instead focus on its aesthetic. It’s not if you can kill the legions of enemies, but how flashy and flamboyant you look as you wipe them off the face of the earth.
The most common example of this are acrobatic leaps and ‘area of effect’ powers which can tenderize, mince and blends your enemies into a bloody mess.
In Dead Rising, it encourages players to seek the most humourous ways to put zombies back to rest. Put a funny hat on their heads, right before you chop them in half. Ridicule their impotent attempts to eat you by wearing a flower print dress. It’s just the zombie apocalypse, nothing to get serious over.
It also boasted simple customization for the main character. Shirt, pants, hat and shoes could all be changed by simply plundering your local boutique. And of course, there’s the arsenal of weapons which range from the useless but funny to the insane and bloody, each weapon satisfying and interesting.

All of this is great, but slicing easily through the population of a small country does eventually present problems, and one of the most obvious is repeated enemy designs.

Dynasty Warriors dodged this problem skillfully, because it’s a game based around warfare. Armies like everyone to look the same, since it’s easier to tell who’s going to stab you if the guys wearing the same uniform as you aren’t allowed.

Fox among the hounds

"Sir, the fox got away from us." "..."

Dead Rising on the other hand was caught hook, line and sinker by this fault.
Of course, it’s hard to hold it against Dead Rising, since they have nearly 60,000 zombies. It goes without saying that designing each zombie would be a flagrant waste of labour, although a thoroughly impressive one.

There are probably lots of features that could have been used to combat this, but I’ll only talk about one.

Palette swapping is the act of changing the colours of a character to produce a second character. The worst offenders of this lazy method was the Final Fantasy Series, especially the earlier ones. Changing the colour of a monster seemed to raise its level by about 10. I guess the clothes really do make the man. Or Werewolf, sea serpent, elf, dragon, bird, or animated piles of junk.

Palette swapping could have been used in the Dead Rising series to give an illusion of variety. Not the skin of the zombies themselves: the only thing more terrifying than a pale grey zombies is a zombie with a flourescent pink finish. But if the clothing on the zombie is separate, changing the colours of that should be simple enough, shouldn’t it? I’m talking from ignorance here I admit, but it should be possible with today’s software.

Ignoring this, the games of the kill counter are great fun. There is something darkly and worryingly satisfying to see that you’ve killed more people than all of the worlds serial killers rolled into one. And if you’re playing Dead Rising, you did it all wearing go-go boots, a baseball uniform and a knight’s helmet.

Blanka

If things start to make sense, hit a zombie with a hammer. Works 9 times out of 10.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2011 in Games

 

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What could be better than a mixture of management and zombies?

There are lots of games that require you to kill zombies. There are less games where you create and maintain a village in a zombie infested world. There are probably a handful of games that gives you the chance to do this with other players. But there is only one where communication and co-operation is absolutely vital.

Say hello to Die2Nite, a game where 40 players have to struggle together to survive as long as possible, despite the constant efforts of hordes upon hordes of zombies

This game is, in my mind, completely unique because utilization of the forums is the largest focus of the game. In many games,even team online games, it is possible to do well with the minimum of input from your teammates. In Die2Nite, this course of action will have you banished, verbally abused and eaten.

The game is set in a stretch of nameless desert, where 40 random players have made a town. At the stroke of midnight (actually, it happens at 11.00pm, and because of time differences, at 10.00 pm for me, but thats beside the point) a horde of ravenous, bloodthirsty zombies will attack the village. Before that happens, you need to build defenses. To do that, you need wood and iron. To do that, you need to venture into the desert and scavenge.
As you come back to the village, aching from the weight of the materials and roasted by the heat of the sun, you find out you have enough for a rudimentary line of defense against the zombies. Hooray!

Now you have to build it.

Each day, you have a limited number of Action points (AP for short), which are needed to move about in the desert (known as the world beyond), build structures, open the gates, close the gates, and so on and so on. I really cannot stress how important a sense of community is in this game.

The number of action points you have each day is pitiful by comparison to the requirements of most buildings. And this is after you have spent a lot of your energy searching the desert to find the materials to build.

This is the very reason why the forum is such an important part of the game.

Organization and discussions go on in the forum. Topics can involve which building to make, who should go scavenging, who’s closing the gates tonight, what do we need, who took what from the bank, etc.

The bank is the communal store of materials. It’s where all the building material, weapons, defensive items and food is normally stored. Citizens can give and take items as they please, but this often leads to trouble.

The problem with features like this is that griefers find it so easy to mess up the game. They take a few vital items, or build something they shouldn’t, and their work is done.

Which is why we have banishment.

On each players page, there is a button that allows you to list a complaint against that player. This by itself does nothing, but if a player gets 8 complaints, they are shunned from the community. They can no longer take items from the bank, they can no longer open or close the gates, they can only scavenge around and eventually die. A most befitting punishment for a griefer.

When the midnight attack comes, the defenses will be pitted against undead intent. Defenses are calculated with defense points. Each defense point will turn away one zombie. During the day, you can help estimate the size of the attack to come. When it arrives, it is a case of simple maths:

Number of zombies – defense points = zombies which get inside the village.

I told you, You didn't count it properly!

"You let JACK do the maths? When he counts his fingers, He comes up with 24!"

If zombies get inside, a number of them will gang up on a citizen, and eat them. If lots of zombies get in, lots of citizens die.

Each passing night will see an increase in the number of zombies. This means the game is a constant attempt to better your towns defense before the attack sweeps over you.

Most towns last about 4 days. A few get to a week. Less than five villages have ever reached a month.

When you die, you start a new game, with new players, all looking to survive, all of whom will fall

Die2Nite is perhaps one of the few games where, in a case of human vs. Zombies, the human loses. Nearly every time. Unarmed, you have a 1 in 10 chance of killing a zombie. The other 9 times, you get beaten back. Its OK, there isn’t a chance that the zombie wins. Yet. As if that wasn’t enough, you can get stuck in an area if there are too many zombies. This happens if the number of zombies is more than twice the number of the humans in the area.

Hey wait! Here’s some good news: zombies can be easily killed. With pure, fresh water.
Did I mention you were in the middle of a desert?

I did, didn't I?

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-

You have a well, and it has over 100 water rations, but you need those to survive. You can get more water through various methods, but they take a lot of effort. So its better to drink it than pour it over a zombie.

This game is about community, zombies, management and risk. But most of all, its about futility.

The name of the game is not an idle threat. You will die. Repeatedly. There is no final battle, after which the credits roll. You have no chance, nothing to aim for, only a constant struggle against infinite opponents which you will lose. There is no ‘winning’, only lack of losing. Why so do you try so hard to continue?

The answer is the community.

You join a group of people, random strangers, and co operate to survive. You’ll get to know them, learn how they act and what they think. Do you want to be the one who let down the town? Do you want to be the one who gave up?

Or do you want to be apart of one of the few towns to reach the 30th day? To hold back losing for so long, that it looks like your winning?

There are other games which give no final goal, and no possible way of winning. A more modern example is Minecraft. The most famous example though, is Tetris. Pac-man, asteroids, space invaders, all the old arcade classics gave no possible way of winning, but you kept playing anyway.

And as the zombies appear by the hundreds, tearing at your defenses, you know that there will never be a happy ending in all this. There can only be death.

There is no hope. But you might not Die2Nite.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2011 in Games

 

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