Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Death Castle (Part 4)

This post continues the re-presentation of the  Death Castle thread I originally posted on way back in 2008. See Part 1 for why I am reposting it here.



The base is mostly complete. 

I have reached a point in the painting where I’m satisfied that I can move on to attaching the castle to it. The base is not totally done; that’ll be the last step of the whole project when I apply the grass. 

I’ve also begun work on the tower. 

I’ve started by evening out the frame and then applying the stone strips that I have left to it. This is proving to be time consuming for a number of factors, mostly being the slow drying time of the glue. Trevor built this castle originally using Elmer’s Wood glue (or Carpenter’s Glue), which I thought was over kill compared to the regular Elmer’s glue. However when it comes to rejoining the two wall sections, attaching it to the base, expanding the ramparts and attaching the tower, I will most likely use that wood glue. I considered using a hot glue gun, but the super quick drying time unfortunately doesn’t allow for mistakes or alternations. If Trevor had not used the Wood glue originally, this castle might not exist anymore at all! So as I piece the tower together, I’m reaching into the inside and putting strips of tape on backside of the cracks. I have some modeling paste stuff that I’ll use to fill in the gaps. The way that I have to join these pieces to the tower frame will help give the illusion that this was always apart of the castle. Since the amount of stone work embossed pieces that I have is preciously limited, I had to take into consideration the extension of the ramparts during this step of construction. I did this by measuring sectioning of the parts that will remain hidden with a sharpie.

I’m also looking at the years of battle damage this castle has suffered and trying to determine how much Styrofoam stone stripping I’ll have left over to be able to repair the walls. As I look at the front of the castle and it’s becoming clear that I may have to replace 80% of it. The section nearest the gate received the worst of the original dose of spray paint in ’89 and the result is that a lot the cobble stone detail is just gone (blame it on the lascannons). The entry way is very badly damaged and I’d like to hide the toilet tissue tube, I mean support column, a lot better.  

I was asked by Duce, one of WH:E's users: How's the ramp work though, is it as steep as the pictures show or is it misleading?

I responded with: 

The ramp is definitely steep! 

Definitely steep!

However there is enough grit on it to hold most models just fine although some of the larger more top heavy ones could have problems with it. 


Loaded movement trays tend to slid off of it as they are usually quite smooth on the bottom. That's a shame because I made the ramp wide enough for a standard 5X4 mansized unit. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Death Castle (Part 3)

This continues the re-presentation of the Death Castle thread I originally posted on way back in 2008. See Part 1 for why I am reposting it here. As the perfect affirmation for why I need to do this, I got an official email from Photobocket last week: 

I am unsure how much time I have before the photo links on the original post break, but I will be focused on trying to get this project completed before it happens!


Originally posted on 5/13/2008 on Warhammer-Empire.

I have begun work on the base. No pictures of the base at this stage as it’s too dull to showcase. However I thought an image to give you an idea of the width and height of the tower might be interesting.

The Tower's frame. 

As you can see (below) it will be wide enough to fit most units (US20 empire/US16 Orcs etc.) although ideally I’d think most players would stick an artillery piece on this and I tend to base my artillery on this size movement tray anyway. And it’s going to be fairly tall and should give a commanding impression when done.

Wide enough to accommodate  a full unit. 

I'm thinking I will sort of “jigsaw” the Styrofoam with a foam cutter to avoid strange seam lines and awkward joins.

Prepping the veneer. 

Here's a quote from Dr.TSG the creator of Death Castle: 
"Death Castle was a place of massive death, whereby I slaughtered many opponents over the years. I think the castle should sit on a small bailey--it is only befitting Death Castle! We could even build a full motte & bailey system for the little castle!"

PART 3.1

Death Castle gets it's base.

I have finished the basic construction of the base. After some serious contemplation I settled on making the entry way to the castle a step ramp to give the defenders the advantage of height (imagine the difficulty try to push a battle ram up that and doing it with enough force to pierce the gate!) I may level out the field a bit more and add more rocks at the base of the foundation and alongside the ramp.

It's a long drop of of that wall!
The backside I made almost shear. The small ledges will either have added to them rocks, clumps of grass or brush or be removed altogether. My next step is to apply lots of sand to the base and add the first base coat. I’ll then leave the base aside until I’m ready to attach the castle permanently to it. Then I’ll proceed to the actual repair work on the castle and as you can see I’ve got A LOT of work to do there. What the previous pics failed to show were all the smaller holes and cracks which the sunlight unforgivably reveals. That could take some time to deal with…

Can you see the holes?

A quick update:
Spray Adhesive and Styrofoam don't play well together. It has the same melting effect as standard spray paint does. So, I've spent what little free time I've had this week where daylight was available gluing sand to the base. I went and got a broad paint brush, an old baby food jar, water, Elmers glue and sand from a near by site where an above ground pool once was, and went to town on it. This evening I just used Design Masters floral spray paint on it and gave the thing a base coat of brown and now the it's sitting in my utility shed drying and venting. I'll decide tomorrow if I need more sand on it or not and go from there. I'd like to have the base mostly finished by the weekend so hopefully I can start truly renovating this castle.

NOT a good combo...

Design Masters is the best spray paint to use with Styrofoam as it does not melt it! But the fumes are just as intense. I will give you guys a proper visual demo soon.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Book Review: Helsreach

 Helsreach by Aaron Dembski-Bowden is a story about the Ork siege on the Hive City of Helsreach on the planet Armageddon. Actually, it's really the dramatization of about 3 paragraphs from the Warhammer 4th edition Codex: Black Templars entry on Chaplain Grimaldus and how he became the Hero of Helsreach.

Spoilers ahead! (Possibly).

The book starts off with war preparations as the Imperial Forces are very aware that the orks are coming back to wage war on the planet and they are readying for a battle to end all battles. The hero in our story, Black Templars Chaplain Grimaldus, starts the book hardening his heart in preparation to die. He knows that he has been assigned a task that he will most likely not survive.  They know that the approaching ork forces are legion, and they know that in spite of all of the Imperium's preparations that they are grossly out numbered and outgunned.

For a taste of what I'm describing here, check out this  sweet fan animation done to the Helsreach audiobook, it's really cool.

For anyone who has read a lot of the Ciaphas Cain novels you kind of become an expert on what preparation for Xenos planetary assaults looks like. Titanicus is another brilliant example, especially from a Mechnicum perspective. Being that this is about one of the many battles of the 3rd War of Armageddon, the siege preparation is also proportionally epic.  The early chapters are a lot like these examples in that sense, and when the Orks start to rain down the story quickly turns into "war-porn".

But it's well written war-porn and that helps making the grind through some of these chapters a lot more enjoyable. But unlike other works that I have described as war-porn this narrative never loses it's objective tone or turns into Imperial propaganda in the sense that it sells you glory over lives or action over suffering. Indeed, Dembski-Bowden never lets you, or Grimaldus, forget that this is a city full of people. The civilians, countless and faceless minions of the Imperium that are the heart and soul of what the Imperium is, that are most in danger the whole time. In war there are always refugees who are displaced and disloged from their normal lives and roles that government must deal with in some fashion. The terror of it all is that the orks are not interested in the conquest or subjugation of these people, but only in their slaughter. Surrender is not an option. We see civilians pick up arms to defend their hidden bunkers, or to snipe from scattered rooftops. And we see whole manufacturing districts conscripted into the PDF to fight alongside the Imperial Guard.

It is this overarching human tale where Dembski-Bowden transcends above the typical Black Library war-porn epic and gives us a tale where the players and personalities are always in danger, but it's not just their lives you worry about because you understand that if they die the city of Helsreach dies as well. This isn't a senseless war fighting for the fight of it, but fighting for the very right to be alive.

The siege escalates quickly, and desperately, and although it seems the Imperial forces just might hold out and push back the invaders a series of calamities ensue culminating with the ork submersible attack on the docks, that pushes the tide back in the other direction. This is a war against all odds, we are told as much in the begining, and the story sticks to that theme. Even the titan combats, which evoke the afore mentioned Titanicus, are crazy intense.  When the mega-gargant Godbreaker arrives, the intensity ratchets up quite a bit while hope and sanity take a massive downshift. Here we have some of the awesomest titan combats I have ever read in both scale and intensity and it was a thrill to behold it.

In the begining of this review I mentioned that this is the expanded story of Grimaldus's entry in the original Codex: Black Templars. It explains how and why when you see the Reclusiarch on the battlefield he is often accompanied by a zealous pack of servitors (see pic below). Demnski-Bowden has done a brilliant job with this although I couldn't but feel that the final chapter, though satisfying, felt a tad rushed.

  • Did I like it? Yes I did, and more I  read the more I like it. 
  • Was it hard to put down? For the first half of the book I found it too easy to put down. Yes there was action and excitement but too often you would be introduced to a character that would be dead within 2 chapters, and I found that the loss of individual continuity would sometimes demotivate me to continue to the next chapter. The final 3rd of this story however was very challenging to put down, as events truly ramped up to an incredible finale. It took me a long time to get through this story, but the last 3 chapters I devoured in a single sitting.
  • Could I care about the characters? Ultimately yes, but with so many characters dying you found yourself detached from them ultimately. Again, there are characters that are introduced that die quickly but ultimately you see that there is a reason for it. Heroes are the ones who die, and this a book full of them. Regardless of their past glories or their bravado or gusto, the ork war machine is an unstoppable force and it cares only for your death and your glory matters not to it. Grimaldus is self-assured and reluctantly humble throughout the whole thing as he expects to die. Not without a fight however, and never once does he yield to his expectation. Reluctantly by the story's end he comes to terms with why he is here at this city, and why it matters that he fights for the lives of the humans of Helsreach. Dembski-Bowden, by the tales end, has truly created a character that has grown above and beyond it's Codex game entry, and one we now hope to see grow further.
  • Did the writer truly grasp how the 'world' of the 41st millennium works in the sense that it doesn't betray or retcon previously established (as I know it) lore?  Oh, he gets it! In fact Demnski-Bowden excels in this regard and I find that his embellishment ultimately is what sold me on this book. It is, so far, the best story about the 3rd War of Armageddon that I have read.
  • Was I being talked down too? Never, the tone was perfect throughout. 
  • How predictable is this story? It's fairly predictable as far as plot goes and as far as the Techpriest subplot goes, but there are many story elements that are not, especially the outcomes of some the secondary characters. The chapters where the Salamander Space Marines are in Helsreach were particularly fascinating as they served to showcase just how different the Salmanders are to the Black Templars. I had not predicted that to end the way it did.
  • Do I recommend this book? Yes. But be patient with it. It may feel familiar to those who have read other BL Space Marine tales, but it grows into a very fascinating tale and examination of the  typical  broken cityscape battlefield of Warhammer 40k. By the tale's end I very much enjoyed it and think you might as well.

The book is now out of print but was reprinted with another story and is now sold as Armageddon which I think may still be available. (It is, at least in ebook format anyway).

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Death Castle (Part 2)

This continues the re-presentation of the original Death Castle thread I originally posted on way back in 2008. See Part 1 for why I am reposting it here.


Death Castle -A restoration project


Now with crenelations!

I can now cross one item off of my list: The crenelations are done. They are not the smoothest cuts, and this is intentional. A quick subtle blast of spray paint on these new openings will help maintain the weathered look of the rest of the castle. I have also made the opening above the door larger. I’m still working out whether to do this to the opening at the back of the building also.

With Empire models for scale purposes.

I have decided that that corner will be where the building will go and I have decided that the building will be a tower. The tower will be tall, acting as a stairwell, and keep. Attempting to model stone steps for Warhammer has always bothered me; Castle steps tend not to be very wide, and if you ever toured an ancient castle you’ll know what I mean. But in order to make them functional for this game they need to be big enough to support the required base sizes. The tower will prevent the need to model it. Also my inner wall expansion will drastically reduce the space inside the courtyard making steps even less practical. The tower I’m going to make large enough to hold a basic 20 man unit on top of it. I’m also thinking I should have enough room to place a balcony of some kind on it, perhaps as a battle platform for a long range wizard or a sharpshooter. I’ve spent some time creating a "skeleton" for the tower and what I’ll do is layer on pieces of the Styrofoam sheet and add doors, arrow slits, etc.  

A small but important step for Death Castle...

After posting the 1st two posts back in 2008, 2 old friends of Doc TSG and myself, Scott H and Jason V both chimed in with some encouraging comments:

Jason V:
Wow, I remember that castle.  (Doc TSG) had a playing field almost 8 feet long, and he used to get big chunks of wood and moss to use for foliage.  It actually came out pretty cool.  Have fun restoring it!

Scott H: 
Ah, yes.   Castille de Muerte.  AKA the Castle of Doom.  Anybody unlucky enough to start the game defending it, or foolish enough to move units in there during the course of play, would quickly affirm the aptness of the moniker.  Whole units of Eldar, mobs of Orks (including, naturally, Warboss retinues), squads of Space Marines and platoons of Imperial Guard are all laid to rest within its enduring testament to the fact that static defenses have no place in 41st century warfare.  Especially when Vortex grenades and D-Cannons abound!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Death Castle (Part 1)

Way back in 2008 I began work on restoring a favorite, and very important (to me and my history as a tabletop wargamer anyway) terrain piece; Death Castle. I worked on it off and on for about a year before other projects, career changes, breakups and moves forced me to once again abandon the project. The model is safe and sound at my folks place, although it has become a bit dusty since. While I worked on it back then I chronicled the steps of this project on warhammer-empire. It was my first stab at doing something like this and you could say it was a precursor to what I do with my blog today.

The original post has been linked on my site for years now and I hoped to one day finish the project, but at least I knew this piece of early 'neverness' history was safe on that site. However recently the jerks who run Photobucket changed their policy to be as greedy as possible, and as a result my only modeling thread on that site might be in danger of becoming a broken linked mess. So in an effort to preserve those 9-8 year old (at the time of this writing) posts, I hope to reconstruct them here as best I can and even add a few more comments on the pics as well as some well needed edits. I expect this to be a bit of tedious project that will take me some time to accomplish, but I think it will be worth it in the end. And who knows, this might even motivate me to finish the actual model!

General Grausocken arrives at Death Castle.

Originally posted on May 11th 2008 on Warhammer-Empire.

Death Castle: A restoration project.

Welcome to Death Castle. Death castle is 20 years old this year and to celebrate that birthday I’ve decided to restore it. It was created by my best friend of 20 yrs Dr. TSG, while we were both High School students at Woodbridge England. He made this castle before he met me when he and his friends discovered Warhammer 40,000.

The Ruins of Death Castle.

It’s construction was a simple, yet an ingenious, use of the materials available.

Toilet paper tubes and Styrofoam.

The basic design is a series of shortened toilet paper tubes overlay-ed with strips of Styrofoam. The front veneer was created using stone patterned sheets of Styrofoam that his Dad found at a D.I.Y shop somewhere locally (Ipswich?). Soon after some application of carpenters glue, the project was finished and we had a basic, yet very cool, castle to play with!

A piece of the DYI shop "stone" sheeting.

My very first table-top battle was fought using this castle so the nostalgia I have for this piece is intense. Intense because I soon learned to hate it! The crenelation-less walls were too high, so in order to fire from it, or achieve LOS, you had to position your models at one of two preciously small openings or set your models on top of the wall. Both of those options removed the cover the wall provided thus making your defense redundant. Many units of marines were blown off the walls of this castle. Back in the Rogue Trader days, the weapon ranges were extreme and a target standing on the highest point on the table with no cover was sure to die. Yet we kept playing with this castle! Over the course of many games if became clear that the only way the defending force could win with this castle was to abandon it. In one game a force of eldar abandoned the castle just at the marines stormed it and the marines took the castle only to be slaughtered by the eldar from outside. It was clearly a death trap, and thus we named it Death Castle.

The one attack position.

Death Castle has seen some abuse over the last 15 years. Dr TSG’s early attempts to paint the castle were quite devastating to it. We didn’t know the horrible reaction that black spray paint would have with Styrofoam. The castle became his test bed for other painting experiments as ultimately he was unsatisfied with it and when TSG left England, he gave it to me. When I left England it was used as packing materials! During that point it was cut in half. We still used the castle though, but usually as wall pieces for Mordheim or as a ruin. Much damage has occurred, and you can see from the pictures that some ad-hoc repairs have been attempted. I’ve replaced some of the holes that have been punched into it over the years.

Trooper Rudolph has mastered the art of using cover, Trooper Jenkins has not.

Recently, I rediscovered the castle, and was inspired to restore this castle to the greatness it has always been denied and finish it!  

This is my restoration blog, and over the course of time I shall update it with my repairs and improvements. I intend to make it a full Warhammer piece. I imagine that this castle is a small boarder fort that has seen quite a bit of action, so I’m going to attempt to maintain a weathered and wearied look about it while embellishing it with marking of the Empire. Listed below are the steps I need to take:
  • Add a base. A lot of the damage the castle endured was a result of a lack of a stable base. 
    Crenelations. The castle needs this to be usable as a defendable position. Also enlarge the opening above the gate to be able to support artillery and/or siege defenses.
  • Make a real gate. The castle never had a proper one thus making the opening, which was big enough to let a Rhino pass through it, far too inviting to attackers.
  • Repair wall sections. I have enough left over foam pieces to be able to fully restore it.
  • Enlarge the upper deck. Reviewing the siege rules that have came out over the years, it seems that the upper walls are too narrow and although they easily support one model are just too small to support two. I’ll need to enlarge this to accommodate combat on it without risk to our models.
  • Add an internal building of some kind probably a tower.
  • Add stairs. However I may skip this if I go with a tower that abuts the wall.
  • Level the top of the wall. The melting caused by spray paint has caused stability issues that can result in some models easily falling off the walls. I’m considering making the top magnet friendly.   

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Ultramarine Color Scheme Test.

Hello again. While pondering just how I wanted to paint my Reivers  it occurred to me that I haven't completed any Ultramarine models in a very long time. So choosing between painting the Reivers as either Ultramarines or as Celestial Lions would be largely decided by how satisfied I would be with painting the Ultras now. My Ultramarines were painted a very long time ago and if I chose them it would mean the start of a vast overhaul/touch-up project. Whereas going with my Celestial Lions would mean that I would be expanding them from a Kill Team (with options) and into a full fledged army; and that would require acquiring more new models than my budget currently allows.

So I went ahead and knocked one out:

1st completed Ultramarine in ages.
The following will review just how I did it as it involved a few steps and course corrections in mid-stream. I can honestly say this post is more like reference notes for me to refer back at than they are intended for anything else, but hey, I hope you enjoy it anyway:

The "subject"
Honestly, this painting was a rather spontaneous act after an alergy attack derailed Mrs. Neverness and our plans for the day, leaving me with a few hours of free time. Inspired by the paint guide in the Know No Fear book I thought I could quickly do a test painting of an Ultramarine color scheme. I found this model neglected in a box. I got him from Bryan Hunter about 3 summers ago and looking at it I would say he was probably not it's orginal owner. It had a lot of mould lines that need to be scrapped off, which is why it looks so patchy in the above picture.

Space Marine Blue base coat on armor.
The Know No Fear color says they use Macragge Blue as their base coat but I thought this was far too bright. I went instead with Space Marine Blue which was the Ultramarine base color that came with the Space Marine Paint Set from '89. All of our previous Ultramarine models are painted with this as a foundation so it wasn't a tough choice to stick with it.

Basecoats on other area.
After some experimentation I settled on Macragge Blue as the next layer.

Macragge Blue coat on armor.
I followed this up with a layer of Ultramarine Blue around the edges.

Ultramarine Blue layer.
Finally the edge highlights were done using Fenrisian Grey. This follows steps I found in the Know No Fear book as well as various White Dwarf articles over the years. I can never seem to match the colors in those articles but this guy came out pretty damn near close.

Fenrisian Blue high lights.
Finished with the other details such as the gold acquilla, purity seal, etc.

Finished main painting before touch-ups.
After a few more touch ups I figure it was more or less done. And I think this turned out to be a successful color scheme test.  All that is left is a decal or two and I need to expand and model up the base.
Completed painting.
A day later (everything prior to this point occurred the day before) and what the heck, I figured I would base him anyway and do the decals. This actually is an important aspect of my decision as I genuinely loathe applying decals.

Decaled and based! 

OK, so that is done, now back to a choice: Ultramarines or Celestial Lions for my Primaris models? The debate continues...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Leave it to Reivers (Part 1)

When this new edition of 40k arrived last month, I was excited, but not so excited that I had to have it on launch day. Thankfully I had a look at a preview copy to see how little rules content was actually in the $60 hardcover book and decided to pass on getting just that.

The big boxed set had some cool looking models but nothing I felt I had to have. But with the arrival of Know No Fear, a half priced starter set with a smaller book, a lot of the new models and some easy to teach intro scenarios, I decided to go for it. The discounts I got at my local hobby store enabled me to get a a free box of the new Primaris Reivers as well, so I figured that was a win. They are kinda neat and, weirdly enough  I am more interested in them at the moment than I am anything else I purchased that day (although I am thinking a lot about Papa Nurgle). Now let's look at these Reivers...

Little box, big hopes.

I am always happy to see art work on a box as opposed to photos of the models. There is just something about that I appreciate more. Cracking open the box and laying out the contents we get a single blue sprue, 3 bases, decals and a booklet.

For monopose snapfit models they sure have a lot of bits! And the instructions you'll quickly realize are surprisingly vital. Althougn they are easy to comprehend and within a few minutes, give a little bit of time for flash and mold-line clean-up, and presto you got 3 completed marines. Also it is nice to FINALLY see GW produce some 32mm slotta bases. I hope they make these available seperately at some point.

The 3 Reavers assembled.
 That's three completed BIG marines I must stress. Compared to their traditional older Battle Brothers, they are freak'n huge!

Freak'n huge!
But the heads remain somewhat scaled with the older marines, which in turn makes their proportions something like refrigerators, on stilts, with helmets on top of them. Oh, and while I am thinking about their heads I have got to gush about my favorite aspect of these minis: their heads actually MOVE! How cool is that? Oddly pointless as far as the game is concerned, but neat as heck as far as models go!

"Look to the left! Look to the right!"

Ultimately, I think I like these guys even though they seem to be armed somewhat strangely for such big guys. But now I must make the ultimate choice of picking how to paint them. I have 2 Codex Chapters: Ultramarines and Celestial Lions. I am about 85% in favor of the Ultramarines at this point. We shall see in Part 2 which way I ultimately go...

"You all come back now, y'hear?" (In booming speaker-voice).