Monday, August 28, 2017

Death Castle (Part 6)

This post continues the re-presentation of the Death Castle thread I originally posted on back in 2008. See Part 1 for why I am reposting it here (hint: Photobucket's bad corporate decision). 


 Death Castle has slowly progressed.

The part that took me the longest was mounting the plastic Mordheim frame into the main entry way and filling in the resulting gaps. 

The egress is formalized.

For some reason I convinced myself that Woodglue would make a great filler (and it does the trick rather well on small gaps) but the slow drying time proved to be a challenge. I still need to tidy up some areas on the frame. 

Filling the gaps with wood glue.

I have this great latex modeling filler but I seemed to have misplaced it and I’ve not had the spare time to go seek out more at the local stores.

Next came the most important step so far, the joining of the two halves! Death Castle is now whole again!

Joined as one! I am holding it above my head in this picture.

I then proceeded to take old TP tubes and cut out patterns similar to the “rocky” surface of the Styrofoam walls and glued them onto the columns. This should create a more unified look once painted.

Stone patterns on columns.

They seriously are TP tubes.

Next step: Finish filling in all the gaps, and then prime the whole thing so far with Design Masters flat black before adding on the rampart extensions and finishing the tower.  

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Death Castle (Part 5)

This post 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.



Progress is slowly being made. The tower’s wall sections are mostly in place and the renovation work has truly begun. I spent some time working the old front wall section off, which proved to be tougher than I thought it would be. 

Serious renovation work!

I was trying to preserve as much of it as I could but it was so brittle and the glue was so tough that it broke up as I removed it. Laying side by side you can really see just how harsh the spray paint was to the original wall.

Comparison of old wall to new wall.

I used a hot glue gun to fix the new wall in place. 

The new wall is added.

I then built from Mordheim building sprues what is going to be the front entrance’s door frame. Getting the door frame mounted to the wall will probably be a challenge.  

The new door frame.

2017 note: As I look back on this project I can't help but be grateful for just how awesome GW's Mail Order service used to be. I ordered those Mordheim sprues (and other assorted bitz) a la carte and it was so awesome to have been able to smoothly do that back then. The bitz program ended and Mail Order turned to total crap not long (within 2 years I think? after this. I don't think I have utilized GW's Mail Order very much since those days...

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Leave it to Reivers (part 2)

Here we are with the work in progress on the Reivers.

Almost there! 

And after a bit of debate I decided to paint them as Ultramarines after I completed the Ultramarine color test . I was quite pleased with that, so the following images will show me following those same steps.

Space Marine Blue base coat.

Maragge Blue layer.

Ultramarines blue layer. 

Fenrisian Grey highlights.
Fenrisian Grey highlights & dark areas basecoated black. 
Fenrisian Grey basecoat on their death masks.
Other details painted.
In the above pic I painted the metal bits, the gold skulls, the red trim on the pauldrons, and the grenades in a few different colors. And I painted a thin line of Pewter Grey along the edges of the black bits (pouches, holsters, etc.). After a correspondence with Da Masta Cheef he reminded me tbat the gun barrels needed to be drilled out (without screwing them up!).

Gun barrels drilled out. 

 Although there isn't that much more to do but a few more details and the decals, I decided to leave all that for Part 3.

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!