FTW December Round Table

So for the current FtW round table discussion Ron posed the question

"You have just been put in charge of Warhammer 40k for GW.
They would like to know what you think the company should do with the start of the new year.
What are the Top 3 things you would change about Warhammer 40k?"

Which started me thinking - what would i want to change in the 40K world. Originally when i looked at the question, my first reaction was to change some of the rules - to bring back some things that i think are missing (overwatch!) and to remove some things that i think make games unbalanced ("And they shall know no fear").

But then i started to realise that in many ways, the current 5th edition of 40K is actually quite a decent game. Sure it doesnt have all the intricacies of "Rogue trader" nor the totally silly weapons of the second edition, but it is fast and fun to play, and for the most part the designers have do a good job of clarifying and cleaning up the rules.

So having moved on from the game in general, i started to think about everything that surrounds gaming, and how i would improve that... Here are the answers that i came up with -

1. Setup an online community forum with experimental rules and interaction with gamers before, during and after release of main rules and codex include better online errata rules for each army, including a points calculator / unit development tools for creating your own custom units at home.

I have always had a bit of a problem with the fact that GW puts out rulebooks full of errors, and then takes ages to put up any erratta for them. When the errata does come out, it tends to be a very brief overview and doesnt answer some of the more detailed problems.

There doesnt seem to be any proper interaction between the GW designers and the people who play the games (namely us!). What i would like them to do is to setup a web forum, which the designers frequent and on which you could ask questions, get definitive answers, as well as helping to play test new rules that are coming up - For example, so of the changes to the vehicle rules between 4th and 5th editions could have been trialled in this way.

I would also really like to see the designer be more open about the way that they develop the points cost for the units they design, and if possible to make available the calculation tools that they use (I have this theory that its just an Excel file that they input some numbers to and it gives them a points cost - similar to what they have for Battletech etc).

With this sort of tool it would be trivial to create custom units that were "somewhat" official (in the sense that the points were at least in the right range...).

2. Provide software tools for army building that are included with a copy of the codex, which run completely cross platform (Mac OS, Linux, Windows)

Okay so I will freely admit that I am a nerd (and judging by the fact that most people reading this are also bloggers, gamers and painters I would guess the same applies to many of you!) and that this one is a nerdy request, but why is it, in this day and age that 40K codexes (codicies?) dont come with a set of database files for a well designed piece of software that allows you to build and setup your army? I know there was the poor thing that GW put out a year or so ago (and promptly forgot about) and I know that there is "Army Builder", but both of these applications are Windows only. Let me say this loud and clear


In an ideal world, i would really like this to be included with each codex, along with templates for basic armies, images of painted models for that army and a PDF copy of the codex - (maybe on a locked memory stick for copy protection purposes?). Okay, it might add a small amount to the cost of the codex - which lets face it are not exactly cheap at the moment, but think of all the time it would save and hastle playing round in Excel. However, i dont want it all digital - for gaming at a friends house the paper codex will always be needed.

3. Bring out plastic titans!

Yep, everyone wants a titan (or three!). So i'd put together multiple kits (Warhound, Reaver, Warlord, Gargants etc) for as many armies as possible. Then put them out as plastic kits at under £100. I'd put money on them being one of the most popular kits they make.

So there we go, my 3 ways to chnge the 40K landscape. Comments welcome as always, and thanks to Ron for such an interesting round table idea!


Painting 3 Baneblades...(Part 1)

For a game of Apocalypse that me and friend have planned ive been working on a Steel Fury Apocalypse unit - this consists of 2 Baneblades and 1 Baneblade command tank - Yes, that is 3 Baneblades in one unit! As i was painting them, i took stage by stage photographs. These are included with a basic tutorial of how i painted the models.

Stage 1
Once i had bought and assembled the units (a very enjoyable experience i must say - the Baneblade really is one of the best kits ive ever put together), i undercoated each Baneblade with several coats of Chaos Black undercoat.

In total each model have around four or five coats on each part (two lascannon mountings, turret, Hull Heavy Bolter and main hull). I then left each Baneblade to dry for approximately 24 hours.

Stage 2
Next each Baneblade has Vallejo "Wolf Grey" lightly airbrushed over each panel, concentrating on the center of each panel

By the time i had finished the third tank, the first was dry, and i then applied a second light coat of wolf grey, covering mostly the same areas. If you havent tried using an airbrush on a tank before, i highly recommend it. The finish that can be achieved in far superior to brush painting, and other effects are easy to learn. Whilst there is some initial outlay (i use a Spray Master kit that i got on Ebay for about £70) the differnce it will make to your vehicles i vast. However, i digress....

After the second pass of "Wolf Grey" each tank then had a mix of "Wolf Grey" and "Stonewall Grey" airbrushed in to the very center of each panel, lightly. Sorry about the photo above - it came out a lot bluer than the actual tank is. Later photos show this more clearly.
One question that friends tend to ask me, is about the consistency of my paint when airbrushing - although this depends on the colour and the effect that you are after, normally i work at a 1:1 paint / water ratio. The paint ideally should be about the same thickness as semi skimmed milk. This is similar to the ratio of water and paint that i would use when brush painting, so i guess its habit more than anything.

Stage 3
Once the "Wolf Grey" basecoat was complete on all 3 tanks i gave each one a light dry brush using "Stonewall Grey" and "Bone White" mixed together, in varying amounts. Initially i focussed on wide areas using a high concentration of "Stonewall Grey" and then as i added more and more "Bone White" i concentrated more on the absolute hard edges

Stage 4
Painting the tracks and other metallic areas was next - I like to paint these in a mid grey to start with, as a good flat backing fot the mettallics and then work in the metal with the weathering and mud (shown in a future post!). The first thing i did here was to mask off any areas that could potentially catch the overspray from any parts. Main areas that i concentrated on were the tracks and the gun points

Once the areas had been masked off the exposed areas were given several light coats via airbrush of Vallejo "Cold Grey". Once this was dry, the masking tape was carefully peeled away

Stage 5
Once the Grey on the tracks was dry they were given a watered down coat of MIG Pigments "Standard Rust" pigment mixed with a lot of water. You can see the combination in the photos below

If you havent used MIG Pigments before, i highly suggest that you get hold of some. They are basically artists pastels ground up to a fine powder. You can make you own by rubbing a pastel on a piece of fine sand paper (this is something that i use later on in this tutorial, for "soot" effects on gun barrells etc). If you are using the pastel method, make sure that you dont buy oil based pastels as these are no good and will simply smear on your nicely airbrushed tank.
The mixture of pigment and water was then liberally splashed all over the tracks.

Once this first coat had dried a second coat was applied, using the same wash. You will notice that the pigment stains in a way very different from inks / washes. One thing that is very cool is that you can use a wet brush to move the particles of the pigment around, even after the wash has dried!

Once dry this gave a nice rusted effect to the tracks, as seen in the image below. Although not much of this rust effect will be visible once the mud and other debris has been added, it non the less gives a more "used" look to the tank where the tracks are visible

Stage 6
The next stage was to add mud effects to the track areas of the tanks. This was acomplished in several simple steps -

    First the entire underneath of the tank and the edges of the tracks and skirts were given a light airbrush of watered down Vallejo "Charred Brown" followed by a light airbrush of Vallejo "Earth". This gave a good base coat for the mud to come.

    A mix was then made of Vallejo "Plastic Putty", Vallejo "Charred Brown", Vallejo "Earth" and MIG Pigments "Basic Earth". I also mixed in a large handful of "Burned Earth" static grass. This was then liberally applied to the base, tracks and skirts, covering roughly the same area as the airbrushed in step 1, but leaving some of the base colour to show through. The Plastic Putty means that the mixture remains malleable for a good while (I usually find that the working time is about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the exact ratios). This is usually more than enough time to get the mud down. I try to avoid key areas that would avoid mud in real life (If you look at real tracks, mud doesnt generally collect on the actual face plate of the tread, because it is constantly moving) and also try to avoid splashing mud too high up the side of the skirts - in real life, this is what the skirts help to do; prevent mud from getting in to the drive mechanism!

    Once the mud has dried it gives a very realistic effect, as can be seen in the photos below. The static grass especially give an extra dimension to this effect, and especially if you move the grass whilst the Putty is still wet you can achieve really great results!

    To be continued...