Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Tale of One Gamer: Initial Steps Both Forwards and Back

Hail readers!

Welcome back to this (hopefully) ongoing series wherein I embark upon the creation of a brand new army. With the Warhammer Armies book limply in my hands, I began to build the dark elf warriors box that I purchased alongside it. Initially, and with a background in spear-exclusive high elves, I began to clip out the Dreadspears from the sprue, intent on them being the vanguard for a mighty spearmen unit. I built, primed, and began painting the armor of these ten Dreadspears only to change tack somewhat.

Sprue for me, sprue for you (no sprue for you).

Close-up of Dreadspears.


One of the benefits to working at a games shop is the regular contact I come into with other gamers. I chatted with a few, and asked their opinions on which of the two core dark elf warrior builds were the most effective: the Dreadspears with their extra rank of attacks, or the Bleakswords, with their parry save. I should, at this point, say that there will be some Warhammer lingo thrown in here, and for the sake of brevity I'm not going to describe every special rule as I say it. If you don't know why a Bleaksword should get a parry save when a Dreadspear does not, then ask a friend.

I got about 55/45 opinion on Bleakswords vs. Dreadspears, most of which stemming from the opinion that because elves don't have the best armor save or toughness, an extra rank is nice, but ultimately a parry save is better. Really, it depends on what you want a big unit like that to do. Should they be the big block that rushes into a combat and anchors it while more deadly units slide around to its sides, or should the unit be the spearhead (excuse the pun) and take out as many of the enemy as possible before being taken out themselves? Dark elves have long been thought of as a glass cannon (putting out damage while not being able to take it in return), and the Dreadspears would definitely fit that bill.

So why did I spend a half hour clipping off the already-primed spears and cleaning the mold lines from a bunch of swords I just took from the sprue? Ultimately I decided that the parry save was a nice thing to have, and if I wanted a unit that could put out a ton of attacks I might want to go with the Corsairs, who not only have two hand weapons (thus giving them the same amount of attacks in two ranks as three ranks of Dreadspears) but have a sweet dragonhide cloak which gives them a 5+ scaly skin save (psst! They're also cheaper at $29.75 a box vs. $40 a box).

I talked to a gamer who suggested that I forgo dark elf warriors entirely and use, as my combat blocks, simply Witch Elves, Executioners, and Blackguard. While I no-doubt will include these things in my army, I do have a soft spot for the humble warrior of whatever army I'm playing. I don't think I've ever done an army that didn't include a basic soldier of some sort, even in the chaotic days of 4th/5th edition Warhammer where regiments were simply regiments and they made no distinction between the elites and the rank-and-file in terms of army construction beyond just including them in your percentage breakdown.

So, you'll notice these pictures change. They are now Bleakswords, and thus had to undergo a paint-on priming (which I'm always leery of) of their right arms (no left-handed warriors in MY army apparently) using Imperial Primer. Oh well. This was one of the things I knew would happen as I built this army slowly. I'll have more exposure to a change-of-mind, or outside opinions because of the pace at which I'm taking this project. It also didn't help that I haven't written an army list yet. I hope to get around to doing that today, and I'll write about it in a later post. I also plan on doing a breakdown of all the units in the army and giving my armchair opinions on them.

So, on to the painting:

For this session, I really only managed to get the bases and the silver finished. On my models, I always do the bases first, as it's messy and involves lots of drybrushing. I got a little excited and started with the silvery metals first, but after having to re-do their weaponry, I decided to approach this sensibly and start with the bases. I opened up my Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms Underdark book to get some inspiration for Underdark bases. They all looked like stone (natch), but had this etherial glow to them. Also for inspiration, I used the old D&D: Chainmail book "Shadow of the Drow" wherein Jason Soles gives a painting guide to drow. He just used a black base with some grey and white highlights, which isn't enough for me (no disrespect to Jason Soles).

To begin with, at the suggestion of a friend, I stuck my command figures on scenic bases. This lets them "pop" and stand out (even more than they normally do). I went with the Ruins Bases from Micro Art Studio because they were the rockiest-looking bases at my hobby shop. I plan on doing this with every command section I have in the army. They come five bases to a pack, so I was able to have two left over. To do another command section I'll still have to get another pack, but then the third time I do this, it'll be "free" (in a sense). I'll even be able to stick any lords or heroes on these bases. I had to cut the bases off the command, though, as my friend's suggestion came after I had gone to the trouble of basing the figures normally. I had to hand prime these separately.

Scenic bases.

The command all regal-like.

A note on hand-priming: I dislike it, in general, though it often has its uses. Spray-on primer is initially expensive, but it gets the job done quickly, efficiently, and effortlessly. It's crappy for things like rebasing, or weapon-swaps after you've started painting, however. As I saw here, Imperial Primer got some use out of it. I'm not particularly worried about the quality of the prime-job, as the material I primed was resin and plastic, which are more porous materials, and allow for a better adherence of paint and primer. If this was pewter, I'd be more concerned. Though for pewter, I use paint-on primer to get into the gaps that the spray just wasn't able to get at. It works well-enough for this as the gaps don't see a lot of wear-and-tear the way the higher portions of a model do.

For the bases I went with a Mechanicus Standard Grey followed by a Nuln Oil wash then a drybrush of Dawnstone and Administratum Grey. I didn't bother to mix the paints together, as I also wanted a well-defined tone to the bases (though not as extreme as Jason Soles').

Bases done... For now. I'll end up sticking static grass on 'em and painting the rims black, no doubt. 

For the silvery metals, I began with a basecoat of Leadbelcher followed by my handy-dandy Nuln Oil wash. I then did a bit of a highlight with some Leadbelcher and Ironbreaker mix, followed by some Ironbreaker and Runefang Steel mix. I really like the dry paints for metallics especially, so I drybrushed some Necron Compound around the angular bits like the swords, and the chain mail. The chain mail, by the way, was done almost exclusively by drybrushing instead of painting on the steps above.

View of the metals.

More metals.

The metals finished on the whole regiment.

Another shot.

So here's this entry's breakdown (italics are items already owned):
Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves - $59.50
Battle Magic: Dark Elves - $7
Dark Elf Dreadspears/Darkshards/Bleakswords - $40
P3 Clippers - $15.99
Excel Set of Six Files - $14.99
Chaos Black Primer - $19.50
Excel Hobby Knife - $6.99
"Ruins" Scenic Bases from Micro Art Studios - $8.99
Plastruct Plastic Weld - $6.99
Gale Force 9 Hobby Round Fine Basing Grit - $5.50
Windsor-Newton Series 7 Brush #3 - $18.99
Citadel Fine Detail Brush - $7
Citadel Wash Brush - $10
Citadel Medium Drybrush - $7
Citadel Large Brush - $10
Imperial Primer - $5
Leadbelcher - $5
Ironbreaker - $5
Mechanicus Standard Grey - $5
Nuln Oil - $5
Dawnstone - $5
Administratum Grey - $5
Runefang Steel - $5
Necron Compound - $5

As always, please patronize your local brick-and-mortar hobby shop before hitting the web for supplies and models.

Time spent since last update: 2h 37min
Total time spent: 2h 37min
Money spent since last update: $115.49 ($167.95)
Total money spent: $115.49 ($167.95)

Remember: that the breakdown includes both stuff that I bought specifically for the army (like the Battle Magic cards accessory, and the scenic bases), and the stuff that an experienced hobbyist would already own (such as the paints and tools. I own almost every Citadel Colour paint). If you own nothing, add the number in brackets to the number not in brackets, or look at my breakdown and add the costs of things you don't already own.