Shadespire Heroes

I think we can return to our regularly scheduled programming for a bit…

My painting has taken a serious dent recently – it is not so much that I am not doing a little bit every day (I am, -ish), it is more that I am not doing so much every day. Still, I am getting more than usual built and, with a two week break coming up around Christmas, I figure I can always just lock myself away with a mountain of DVD box sets and tinker away quietly…

Anyway, I did manage to finish off the two warbands that come with the new Shadespire game.

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As usual, I (more or less) followed Duncan’s instructions on Warhammer TV for these guys, and now the Bloodbound and Stormcast Eternals are ready for battle.

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For the Stormcasts, I was originally going to do them as Hallowed Knights to fit in with the rest of my armies but then I thought nah, never done golden Stormcasts before! And they do look quite reasonable in that scheme.

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The Bloodbound I painted in a slightly different way to the Age of Sigmar force I had done (just some minor changes in highlights, really) but they ended up looking pretty much the same – so go figure!

On the painting table now I still have some Death Guard that, frankly, should have been completed long before now, but what’s the rush, eh? And building-wise, I have been concentrating on my Forge World resin mountain that has been accruing for years. Got some interesting pieces, including more Blood Bowl Skaven, some Custodes bits and pieces, and a Leviathan Dreadnought and Spartan tank for the Space Woofs.

Looks like it will be a busy Christmas!

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Women in Gaming

So, this week, I went and announced a gaming event in our offices that would be female-only. This is why I did it.

Those of you who hang around the web site rpg.net may be familiar with a recent post that described an incident of sexual harassment in the RPG industry. This led to discussions about the general treatment of women in gaming circles outside of actual employment in the industry, and prodded me first to write an article on this blog (which is sort of what you are reading now) but then to actually do something, however small, about it.

However, this was a culmination of something I have been considering for quite some time, and it started a while ago with one of those moments that make you stop and think… hmmmm….

It began with, of all things, an article posted on the website of the New Statesman (and if you think to draw conclusions about my political leanings from that, don’t bother, you will be way off base – I just find some of their articles interesting).  Anyway, I cannot tell you why I was flicking through their feminist column, as it held little to no interest to me back then, but I came across what might be described as a curious account.

The writer was talking about what it was like to be a woman in the modern age, and she mentioned that she never liked to walk down the street on her own. She did it, sure, but there was always something in the back of her mind that was concerned for her own safety.

My first thought? What utter rubbish. After all, this is 21st Century Britain we are talking about, not some… other country where violence is rife. I mean, I walk down the street all the time, and do not worry. I’ll happily walk down a dingy alley, at night, and not think twice about it. Perfectly safe. Wouldn’t even cross my mind that there is anything to fear.

However, I did have (what I hope is to my credit) the presence of mind to ask the women around me: are you ever concerned about walking down the street on your own?

And it turns out, women are.

It is a bit of a cliche, I apologise but the result of this was… Mind. Blown.

Never even considered it before, but there it was.

That was when I started thinking about it. For thousands of years, women have been mistreated for no other reason than they are women. Unable to own property. Essentially regarded as property themselves (and we are not exactly talking about a remote period of history for that). But while huge strides were made during the 20th Century, it did seem that being a woman was still (and forgive me if I go too far here) a bit of a crap way to live.

Think of it for a moment: being worried about walking down the streets of your own home town. Every day.

If that has not happened to you on a continual basis, I am not sure you can understand it. Pretty sure I do not know what this feels like.

However, you can muster enough empathy to do something about it and agree that it should not be normal.

There are horror stories in gaming of actual sexual assaults taking place. I have no knowledge or experience of that, and do not feel qualified to discuss it. What I want to get at is something that, in its own way, is a bit more insidious; the constant pressure being applied to women, every day, that makes them fearful to walk down the street – or into a gaming convention, or a gaming store, or sitting down at a table with a bunch of guys to play.

That is just not on. It is not decent. And it is not how we should be living our lives.

(If you flatly disagree with that sentiment, I am not sure I can reach you, but I would perhaps suggest that you ask the women in your life – family, friends, and colleagues – whether they are ever concerned about walking down the street on their own, as their answers may just surprise you).

(You might also consider the things said here, which are described from a viewpoint I can never represent – but think about what it would be like actually going through those events).

The next step, of course, is to start analysing your own life and what you have witnessed – and if you are anything like me, your first conclusion will be ‘not much, really.’ But is that true? Really? Remember, you might not have known that women are afraid to walk down the street, so what else is going on that escapes your attention?

For me, I recalled an incident that had happened a while earlier. We had this guy in our gaming group who, frankly, was not the most pleasant of people – fun enough to talk to, but I had already caught him cheating and pegged him to be ejected ‘at some point.’ Hadn’t done anything before, obviously, because, you know… confrontation, and I really just wanted a quiet life.

Anyway, I was on one side of the office working, while the others had gathered around a table and were chatting. And I heard said guy opine that the reason one of my staff members won games was because she used her breasts to distract her opponent. She was not present at the time, but it was said quite openly.

That is not an okay thing to say about a woman you game with on a regular basis.

My mistake upon hearing that was to file it under ‘okay, we really need to lose this guy.’ What I should have done was thrown him out immediately. I know that now. Suitably warned, today I keep a far tighter rein on what goes on in the office.

And the guy? He is gone. He was made to feel so uncomfortable that he left of his own accord. Which avoided confrontation (if that had happened, he would have just lied about everything, and that would have seriously honked me off), though I did miss the chance to say a few choice things to him.

I know that was not handled well, and believe I am better equipped to sort things out if it happens again.

The point is, all those casual comments do have an effect. They are not always taken as jokes, however intended. They can seem threatening, even if you do not mean them that way.

Have I made comments that went over the line?

Hell, yes.

I can fairly cringe at some of the stuff I have said in the past and, furthermore, I cannot promise that I won’t say such things in the future (seriously, I cannot believe my mouth sometimes).

But I can try. We can all try.

So, that is why I decided to hold a women-only event at our offices (which, incidentally, I will not be present at).

It is not about coddling women. It is not about women being thin-skinned. It is not about these things not happening around you, in gaming and out.

It is about women still being mistreated and disrespected for no other reason than they are women.

Even if you are not the problem itself (you probably have said inappropriate things at some point in your life that made the women around you uncomfortable, whatever your intentions), it is a problem that exists and is around you right now. Even if, like me, you were previously unaware of it.

(I do wonder what women think of us, that something so obvious to them is utterly invisible to many of us, but I digress…).

And to those of you who think me sexist or an SJW… it is one day dedicated to women only, in a small office, not the end of civilisation. As things stand, you have the rest of the year to yourself. You can give women one day.

(Incidentally, I am not sure the term SJW is really an insult. Social: we all live in the same society. Justice: justice is always good, surely? Warrior: warriors are cool…).

I’ll leave it there for now. I mentioned at the start that I had been planning an article about this, and this one is only really half of it. I have also been ploughing through various web sites and Youtube channels posted by people (well, guys) who are raising concerns about the advance of third wave feminism into tabletop gaming, and I have a few things to say about that.

Want to let things percolate in the mind a bit first.

Table-Legal Space Wolves

It took me a fair while (most of a year) and there were a fair few tribulations involved, but I finally finished off two squads of Grey Slayers for the Heresy-era Space Woofs, which means they are table legal using a Combined Arms Detachment.

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Painting these guys is easy (if you want quick to paint Heresy-era Marines, stick with MkIV power armour rather than the ribbed MkIII), and I have got the technique down pat now. Building them… well, that was more of a chore.

The issue is that GW do not do close combat weapons for their MkIV Space Marines (aside from the odd Power Fist and Sword for sergeants), which means you need to go to Forge World. Which is fine (though always a little expensive), but Forge World do not do a separate close combat weapons upgrade pack like they do with heavy weapons. So, you need to buy the actual Assault Marines. But I did not want to build twenty resin marines, I wanted to use the plastic MkIV guys…

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Anyway, long (and costly) story short, those are the Assault Marine arms you are seeing on plastic MkIV bodies.

It is done now, I like the results, and I am not going to think too much further on that subject.

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Knowing that, as Troops choices, these guys are going to get fielded a lot (in just about every battle), I kept them fairly cheap in terms of options – they are also the youngest Space Woofs,so I figured they would not be trusted with the really cool stuff. So, the Huscarls both get a Frost Claw (and one grabbed a Plasma Pistol from the Armoury), one Grey Slayer in each squad purloined a Power Sword, and one had a ‘special weapon – a Power Fist in one squad and another Plasma Pistol in the other.

Keeps everything low cost but still allows them to (in theory) deal with pretty much anything they meet on the battlefield.

Both squads desperately need a Rhino though…

So, what is next on the painting table?

Well, the two starting Shadespire warbands are almost done (will be finished later this week), and Death Guard Bloat-Drones and Crawlers have already moved into position to be done next – hoping to get those done over the weekend.

For the Heresy, I have some Thousand Sons characters and a flyer (which I am hoping will turn out fairly awesome) getting their base colours sorted but I will be returning to the Death Guard first to finish off their characters, Terminators and one more Plague Marine squad before I start looking at other projects…

Star Wars Trio

I was actually mucking around with Warhammer stuff more this weekend (Heresy and Shadespire, piccies coming soon!), but I did manage to complete another three models for Star Wars.

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Chewie, Kenobi and the Royal Guard Champion – I think these now finish off not only the Imperial Assault box set, but all the optional add-ons for the core campaign too…

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For once, I did not follow Sorastro’s Youtube channel for Chewie, instead falling back to a really easy way I found to do fur – Mournfang, drybrush Tyrant Skull, then wash with Agrax. Gives a really good effect and the only concession I made was to add some Nuln Oil to the head and shoulders to reflect the different colours of fur Chewbacca has.

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I varied the colours once again for Kenobi, but this was much closer to Sorastro’s suggestions.

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And finally, the Royal Guard Champion. He ended up a bit more purple than I intended but, well, he is a Royal Guard Champion…

Got some bits and pieces on the painting table to finish off right now but, those done, I will be back into the Death Guard!

 

The Grand Cultivator

Nurgle’s first daemon has arrived – Horticulous, the Grand Cultivator, atop his snail-beast Mulch!

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This model has been sitting on the painting table for a while, getting bits and pieces done on it in between other things, but last night I finally knuckled down and got the last detail pieces completed.

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I did not do the base in quite the same way as the rest of the Age of Sigmar stuff, partly because I think that scheme is looking a bit tired tired now, partly because there is a chance (not great, I think) that he will appear in 40k, and partly because I wanted to use Nurgle’s Rot in the ploughed area behind the model.

I did briefly consider re-basing all of my existing Age of Sigmer Nurgle daemons, not least because it would give me a bucket more allies for my Death Guard, but that way probably lies madness – I attach my models pretty firmly to bases and there would be some serious hacking involved. The Forge World models might survive that (and I may return to this idea for them in the future) but the Plaguebearers would not.

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Anyway, this means we are now all set to begin the Blightwar (still not sure whether that is a one-off campaign for the box set or if it will be continued next year in proper ‘campaign’ books), if we can just find the time!

Next up on the painting table: a little more Star Wars, Space Woof Grey Slayers for the Horus Heresy, and more Death Guard!

Imperial Assault

Continuing the Star Wars theme, I managed to get the last miniatures of the Imperial Assault starter set finished last night – we are now ready to play!

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As I said before, these are really quick miniatures to do but, while they do not have the same edge as GW models (the sculpts – but not the plastic – are a bit ‘soft’ and there is a lot of repetition among the rank and file), they are very characterful and some really do capture the Star Wars magic.

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Take these two, for example, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. Check out Skywalker’s pose – doesn’t it just make you start humming da-da-da-daaa, da-da-da-daaaa-da, eh?

While Luke is part of the Imperial Assault set (along with Vader), Solo is from the expansions, and I have already started adding the expansions that tie directly into Imperial Assault. Chewbacca and Kenobi are already on the painting table, and I’ll be adding some Rebel Troopers as soon as I can. I’m avoiding the later expansions for now though (all in good time…).

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Along with the Wookiee I did earlier, these are the core characters of Imperial Assault. While they all have different approaches to painting, I did them all alongside one another and, being Star Wars miniatures, they were quick enough to get through.

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The Trandoshan Hunters were a bit more of a pain, if only because I gave them different coloured jump suits but, funnily enough, I had the Trandoshan Hunter episode of Clone Wars on while I painted these. So that helped!

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The Rebels may rue the day I painted these guys – two Scout Troopers manning E-Web Reapeating Blasters.

It is worth pointing out that these models all come fully assembled (except the AT-ST, and that is no bear to put together), and they need little to no work in final prepping or gap-filling. Excellent if you just want to get down to the painting!

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Finally, the two Nexu (Nexus? Nexi?). Again, very easy to paint, and I had these polished off before anything else you see here.

Alongside Kenobi and Chewbacca on the painting table, I have the Royal Guard Champion just taking his base coats, and no doubt there will be more Star Wars to follow (like the Rebel Troopers and Saboteurs). However, I also want to keep the other armies ticking over, so I also have more Death Guard, Horticulous from Blightwar, and a couple more squads for the Heresy-era Space Woofs on the go.

Busy, busy, busy!

Deathshroud & Plague Marines

The Death Guard have been a bit of a slog of late, not because I haven’t wanted to do them but because of other things getting in the way (Star Wars miniatures, a platoon ops on World of Tanks that we finally got through last night…). However, the next two units are done and dusted – the Deathshroud Terminators and a second unit of Plague Marines.

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The Deathshroud are, obviously, the cream of the crop when it comes to the Death Guard, as they are just plain nasty when they teleport into your opponent’s rear line with a Lord of Contagion.

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Naturally, I went with a unit of six, completely ignoring the fact that they are so expensive, only the first three are ever likely to appear. Having six of these guys dropping down though will be really funny…

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Then there are the Plague Marines. I figured out a while ago that if I picked up two boxes of the Easy to Build Plague Marines, along with the Plague Brethren box set, I would have enough of these guys to fill out the Dark Imperium squad (it is ‘missing’ a special weapons marine) and build a whole new squad of seven Plague Marines, with one marine and a unit champion ‘spare’.

This would have given me a second unit before the actual Plague Marines box set came out, but my delays made that kind of moot.

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However, it does mean that I have my two squads, and can now use the box sets to build the 20-strong close combat-oriented squad that I have been planning (it will simply be awesome as it pushes aside any enemies it meets…).

Next up for the Death Guard will be some vehicles and characters, but I have a feeling Star Wars may get a little in the way first…