Sunday, 17 December 2017

Build Week


(Camera is utterly screwed so pics of my Flesh Tearers project will have to wait, I'm afraid).

Its like a reading week but for building aka James has a family Christmas to live through and is taking some painting with him. I have also had a recent eBay splurge and have a few things that need putting together.

For a start I have a set of Mark III Space Marines and enough sonic weaponry upgrade sets to make a full squad of Noise Marines for my Black Legion. I have a third party conversion kit for a Death Guard Rhino which is gorgeous in a horrible, horrible sort of way. I have a few Tyranid minis waiting to be built from my birthday, as well.

So, how much can James build in a week? Let us see. 

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Revisiting the Jacket Scene before The Last Jedi


I'm not seeing The Last Jedi until Wednesday so the other night my housemate and I popped the Force Awakens DVD on for background noise.

Now, I still rather like The Force Awakens. I acknowledge that most of the standard criticisms hold water and that Rogue One was a much better movie that did far more interesting things with the property. Still, I really enjoyed TFA when I first watched it and I really enjoyed rewatching it.

And the Jacket Scene is so much gayer than I remember.

I mean, I thought it was gay when I first watched it but it was so much more obvious watching it again. I thought that the internet had just giffed and captioned that scene to death and made us all think it was gayer than it was but no, it is so very gay. The hugging, the short argument about who keeps the jacket, the little lip bite when Poe says it looks good on Finn.

Now, I doubt we'll ever see anything actually happen with these two. Disney does not do gay on film, not with its major franchises, because China. They're pretty good for it on television (at least in things that make it over here) but I don't think that's going to stop Isaacs and Boyega, two men who are young enough to know they're complicit in an entire internet fan fiction culture with this behaviour.

Its rather charming, actually. 

Friday, 15 December 2017

Comic Reviews


This week Wilson Fisk goes the full Trump; Weapon X clings on to my pull list by the skin of its satire; everyone in the Runaways needs a hug; Mister Miracle gets considerably more than a hug (the lucky goit); and, Booster Gold gets some measure of satisfaction from saying “I told you do” to the man who told him he wasn't responsible enough to wear a cape.

Daredevil #596
Charles Soule continues to be as wonderfully unsubtle with the whole Mayor Fisk angle as I'd hoped. After last issue's confrontation between Daredevil and Fisk the entire NYPD is let loose on the city in an attempt to bring the superhero who “attacked” the mayor to justice. I'm sure this has nothing to do with, oh for instance, the current US president's relationship with ICE, not at all, guv. On a less snarky note this whole arc rather vindicates Soule's decision to put the genie back in the bottle as concerns Matt's secret identity since this storyline just couldn't work with people knowing who he was.

And the issue cliffhanger is a fantastic twist that makes me hope the Mayor Fisk angle continues beyond this arc.

Weapon X #12
It has to be said: I was rapidly going off this series. The initial arc didn't thrill me but I kept at it because I liked the choice of characters for the team and then Amadeus Cho rocked up to lend a hand. Now we're out of the Reverend Stryker-shaped woods and I'm hoping this next arc follows through on the promise I saw in the concept when it was announced.

And don't get me wrong, this is better. Weapon X get a call from some South American guy who apparently appeared in the first arc and I forgot that a militia with US flags tattooed on their faces is rounding up and killing mutants on the orders of the local dictator. Turns out they have those flags tattooed there because they're a rip off of Nuke, a mad as bag of frogs Captain America knock-off a couple Weapon Plus generations behind Logan and Sabretooth. I sort of remember the character from a Wolverine: Origins arc and I suppose I shall go back and read that to get myself up to speed.

My continued interest in this series basically hinges on how well Greg Pak addresses the politics of this arc. He has a South American dictator using “American technology” (read: knock-off super soldiers as substitute for ex-US army hardware proliferation) to kill his own people. This is not an unknown situation in developing nations across the world. I trust Pak on this, he's a clever writer and I'm hoping the subtle as a brick attitude to satire Marvel has going right now continues.

Runaways #4
There's this odd trend in superhero comics that comes from their long, often decade-spanning histories, where a new writer will come in and make a thing about an old inconsistency. Sometimes its dumb but sometimes its the key to a fantastic new angle on the whole thing. I hope Rainbow Rowell has hit on the latter because, good grief, did I not notice a staggeringly strange plot point of the original Brian K. Vaughn run.

Molly's parents have the same mutant power. The exact same mutant power. That only happens with siblings and it is, frankly, a bizarre coincidence even for a comicbook universe otherwise (or very, very icky but let's not go there). Now we discover that Molly's grandmother is a geneticist who took Molly's father in when he was a kid. I hope this is going somewhere awesome.

Meanwhile, on the level that makes me feel less like a relentless geek, Gert continues to work through her issues with how everyone has grown and moved on since her death. She distrusts Molly's grandmother on sight, refusing food and drink from her on principle. Its consistent with where the character was when she died and actually throws into sharp relief how bitter Gert and most of the rest of the team was in the old days.

And, damn it, can someone just give Nico a hug.

Mister Miracle #5
Okay, so this was actually a pretty straight forward issue of a series that has previously gloried in not making a lick of sense. Plus, Big Barda spends quite a few pages with not many clothes on and therefore enough guns out to stock a frigate. Which was nice...

In less lascivious terms Mister Miracle is spending a day with Barda before he gets executed for... I'm still not quite clear on what but this whole series has a “just go with it” vibe going. Anyway, they spent time around LA, they sit on the beach and Scott monologues about Descartes and Kant and the origins of “I think therefore I am”. There is light bondage and Barda... wow. There is also a PR man who keeps harping on about how executing Scott is going to make the New Gods unpopular so he wants Scott to really, really consider making it look like suicide to soften the blow which is pretty much the only part of the issue that feels as trippy as the rest of the series has been. I wonder of the lack of mad is a blip for this issue (Scott's impending doom sharpening his perceptions) or the beginning of a shift that'll lead us to the conclusion.

Also, the moment when Scott and Barda listen to “their song” is all kinds of wrong and wonderful.

Action Comics #993
I have missed Booster Gold. I'm not 100% clear on whether this is meant to be the Booster from Jurgens' pre-Flashpoint series or the Booster who appeared in the New 52 Justice League International but its nice to see Jurgens back on the character regardless. On the one hand he seems to be a time cop as he was pre-Flashpoint but he also cares about his fame, which pre-Flashpoint Booster had basically given up on as vapid and immature.

Anyway, after the whole Mister Oz business, Superman has travelled back to Krypton just before it was destroyed but things go strange and he ends up on what seems like either a Krypton that was never destroyed or a Krypton from another timeline. There's one of those trippy hypertime segments featuring what look like glimpses of the New Krypton storyline and Cir-El, the future Supergirl from more than a decade ago. Booster is travelling to find Superman before history gets completely screwed, which may or may not already have happened since... well, check out the earlier parts of this paragraph.

There's also some business in the present setting up the Rebirth status of General Sam Lane, a character I have never cared for and, judging by the way he's spoken of here, never will. Still, it promises interesting developments for Jon and Lois which is something. In all honesty not much happens in this issue and the main pleasure is seeing Dan Jurgens writing Booster again and that's more than enough. 

Thursday, 14 December 2017

A Flesh Tearers player's notes on the Blood Angels codex


Seriously, just my personal notes not anything like a review.

I am not blown away by Gabriel Seth. He's not bad by any stretch of the imagination but considering that there are no sub-faction rules in this book I was hoping he would do a bit more to impart some Flesh Tearers character to my army. As it is he has a cool but intensely situational rule that gives a slim chance nearby units might get a second combat round in (it goes off on a 6 on units within 6”) and the usual 6” AoE effect allowing Flesh Tearers units to re-roll to hit.

Blood Reaver, his chuff off massive chainsword, is suitably nasty at Strength 8, AP -2 for 3 Damage and inflicting an additional hit for every hit roll of 6 (and Seth has 4 Attacks so that's good odds).

(By the way, there's a perfectly needless note about unique characters I encourage everyone to ignore about how, for instance, Dante is the Blood Angels Chapter-Master and no one else's so you can't change his or anyone's Blood Angels keyword to be used as another chapter's Chapter-Master. As I say, I'd encourage people to ignore this for the simple reason that there isn't another Chapter-Master profile other than Seth you can use if you want, say, field the Blood Drinkers with their Chapter-Master).

There is also a non-Primaris profile for Lieutenants which is useful for someone playing the perpetually under-manned Flesh Tearers. It makes sense they'd have people leading strike forces who aren't as senior as Captains (of which I think they had four at last count).

Should I ever want to use Primaris Marines (I'm not currently that interested) the Blood Angels get access to the full range. Of more interest to me is the fact that they have access to a lot more armour as they gain Land Speeder Storms, Hunters, Stalkers, Stormhawk Interceptors and Stormtalon Gunships. The fliers and the Storm interest me the most as someone who wants to theme his army around mobility rather than static firebases. I really want a Stormhawk.

That's about it. As I say there are no sub-faction rules so Seth really is the only Flesh Tearers representation the Codex provides. There are some nice pieces of Flesh Tearers art including a picture of a Rhino that almost sells me on that mostly black colour scheme. I might event try it on my Vindicator. 

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Why I don't believe God hates gay people


San Francisco is still there.

You get these “Christian” evangelical types banging on about how various illnesses, natural disasters, voting trends and the like are evidence that God is punishing the Western world for our tolerance of LGBTQ+ communities. The thing is, though, that you probably won't find a city more vital to the history of LGBTQ+ people in the modern, Western world than San Francisco.

San Francisco is on a fault line. There is a very real risk that at any moment the city will be hit by “The Big One” which will not so much level as sink the entire city and a large portion of the rest of California with it.

Yet it is still there. The city of Harvey Milk and Armistad Maupin.

That's either one hell of an oversight or He's fine with us, is what I'm saying. 

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

A new game: Fake or Dishonest Geek Boys?


Miles Morales was introduced in 2011 in Ultimate Fallout #4. The first issue of his own title followed pretty quickly and he's had a solo title of one form or another ever since. He was a big player in the Spider-Verse and most recent Secret Wars crossovers. He has been featured in team books including Ultimates, Avengers and Champions titles. He was basically the only element of the Ultimate Comics universe deemed worth keeping after Secret Wars and grandfathered whole cloth into the MCU proper. He has also made a smattering of appearances in Marvel animated series before now. He is without a doubt one of the most pushed Marvel characters of the last decade.

So anyone claiming to be a Spider-Man fan and whining about how “Spider-Man isn't black” in the comment sections under that Into The Spider-Verse teaser trailer can sod right off. I feel quite confident in proclaiming it is impossible to have read Spider-Man comics from the last half-decade without being aware of this character.

So the big question: Fake of Dishonest Geek Boys?

The truth is that however we answer that question its just gatekeeping bullshit. This character exists, is something of a big deal and your precious white boy Peter Parker is absolutely fine. Hell, the trailer even goes out of its way to say Miles isn't the only (read: “proper”) Spider-Man which pisses me off slightly.

(Okay, I exaggerated a little in that last paragraph:, Peter Parker has never been “fine”, that's sort of the point of the character. But you know what I mean).

Let us also tackle another issue that always comes up in these sorts of discussions: why Miles is the black Spider-Man instead of the black character with his own superhero identity. That's an easy one: economics. The comicbook industry is in a terrible state because stupidity and cannot afford to create wholly original characters, hence the recent proliferation of legacy identities. Not that there isn't something to be said for giving a big name identity like Spider-Man to a character purely for representation purposes (hell, I remember what a big thing it was for some of the black boys at my school when the Red Ranger identity passed to a black character) but it is mainly the economics of wanting people to actually give the new character a chance.

Rant over. As you were. 

Monday, 11 December 2017

The Army of the Eternity King: my big 2018 project


I admit that about 90% of this decision was based on my housemate and I watching the complete Lord of the Rings cycle (Hobbit films first) one film a night for a week. You can't expose yourself to that much high fantasy without wanting to paint elves, not when you're a Warhammer player.

And because I am a painfully indecisive person (who also has a small Wood Elves army already) it'll be an Army of the Eternity King (minus the Eternity King because I hate that model). I love all three of Warhammer's elven races: the High Elves in their white robes, the Dark Elves with their serrated blades and the Wood Elves with all the longbows you could ever want. There are so many specialist units I so want to paint: Executioners, Swordmasters, Eternal Guard and so forth. I think this project will be less building to a plan and more picking up whatever catches my fancy.

About the only definite idea I have for the army is that the general will be a Loremaster Of Hoeth.

Korando of Hoeth is an old character of mine, though this will be the first time I've used him as a general. He used to be a mercenary captain for games of Triumph & Treachery who led a small unit of Shadow Warriors. He's a wanderer and the army I'll be building represents less an official alliance than people he's picked up on the way.

Whatever else, this'll be a fun story to write and an interesting army to paint. 

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Hobby Goal: paint a unit of Flesh Tearers


Thought I'd bring this back because I feel like getting some painting done this week. I want to finish up some Flesh Tearers because its been a while since I touched that project. I built a few units a while back and any random one will do for this Hobby Goal (though it will probably be some Sternguard I built recently because I absolutely adore Sternguard).

I also want to focus these Hobby Goals on developing my painting skills so, as often as possible, I'm going to have list out some techniques I want to improve through the goal.

Things To Do

Getting a consistent shade on the red armour was a real problem for me when I was originally working on this project. The simple solution, in theory, are Duncan Rhodes' axiomatic “two thin coats” and trying to recess wash the armour (before I just slathered Nuln Oil all over it and whilst that gave me a deep red it also ended up rather inconsistent).

I also want to try out the new AoS-themed golds which look to be brighter than the older golds.

Optionally, I also want to try highlighting some of the black elements, probably just the shoulder pads. I don't highlight often except through drybrushing and its probably about time I learned. 

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Quentin Tarantino's Star Trek?


At the same time I am looking forward to this and dreading it. No matter how this goes (all we know right now is it will be “R-rated” which is the American wuss version of an 18 that usually gets downgraded to a 15 over here) it will be interesting. I don't doubt it'll be interesting.

No, I am perfectly serious. I don't like all his stuff but Tarantino is always interesting and given that he tends to create what are basically tribute movies to genres he loves as a kid... well, I wonder whether he more of a Wrath of Khan man or a Final Frontier sort of fellow.

And it will just be fun seeing a creative voice like that let loose with the Star Trek toys.

And we might get Samuel L. Jackson as the captain, that'd be nice. 

Friday, 8 December 2017

Marvel, I think you have a problem


You see, after the grotesque screw-up that was Secret Empire, Marvel declared they were done with “event” stories for a while. I was all for this because, to be frank, comics are expensive and regularly expecting a niche audience of people with adult financial responsibilities to massively increase the amount of money they're giving you is bad business. Making that strategy the main way you introduce new series and concepts is a recipe for disaster.

Furthermore, the event model interrupts regular series' narratives for months on end, sometimes in pretty intrusive ways, like when Al Ewing's Ultimates series basically forgot its own premise for the durations of Civil War II and Secret Empire.

So this sounded like a pretty good idea to me.

Except...

Right now Avengers and Champions are having a crossover and after that the three Avengers titles are collapsing into a single weekly title for a sixteen week event (and I am still not clear on whether U.S.Avengers, my favourite Marvel title, is coming back afterwards); Amazing Spider-Man, which only just established a brand new status quo, is just starting a crossover with Venom; and, the X-Men books are heading towards Phoenix Resurrection sometime in the new year.

And this is Marvel trying to cut down on events that force their readers into additional purchases or, more realistically, into dropping smaller titles that are less prone to them like the late, lamented Unstoppable Wasp (lamented by me, damn it).

I think those guys have a problem. 

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Before the Women's Revolution (Cyber Sunday 2008)


Looking at the WWE women's division these days its hard to believe that less than a decade ago you could tune in to a pay-per-view and the women's entire participation in the show was a costume contest. A sexy costume contest including a sexy nun, a sexy cop, Marilyn Munroe, Batgirl, Victoria dressed as a banana amongst others.

Why was Victoria dressed as a banana? Why was this a thing that some booker thought was a good use of her abilities? Was it in any way related to the fact she'd jump ship to TNA Impact a few months later?

Over the course of the show there were various cutaways to the women posing in their costumes and delivering horrible sexy one-liners to camera. They then lined up in the ring in their sexy costumes and Tazz announced the winner of the costume competition as voted by the fans on WWE.com.

Back in the day this was cringey. Looking at it from our modern perspective in the Space Year 2017 where the women's division has dumped the “Divas” branding, had a Hell In A Cell match, had a Money In The Bank match, where Asuka's undefeated streak has surpassed Goldberg's... its actively infuriating. I'm looking at a ring full of talent that had to travel to this show, that was being paid to be at this show (probably not much because B-show and sexism but still...).

Mickey James is standing in a ring with Victoria and they're both just standing there. Beth Phoenix is there, so's Natalya. There are fourteen women in that ring and there was no women's division match that night.

Then, to cap it all off, the crowning dick move of it all, once Mickey is announced as the winner they all just start fighting each other because women don't like losing or some shit. I have complained about some dumb booking of the women's division the last year or so (the Money In A Bank match springs to mind) but nothing compares to this offensive, pervy waste of talent. 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

I hope the Easy Build kits take off


Long story short: I want cheap stuff. I'm looking at last weekend's White Dwarf and seeing the Myphitic Blight-Hauler (aka the smol tank shaped like a friend) Easy Build kit is going to be £15. I don't know how long its been since I saw a GW kit released at a price point that low. Spirit Hosts, I think, would be the most recent example of something coming in almost that low.

I've wanted a Blight-Hauler since the first leaked image of them hit. Since the Death Guard codex came out I've wanted three because in the army list you can take them in squadrons but the sensible, financially responsible part of my brain confidently predicted that a multi-part plastic vehicle kit of size was probably going to come in at around £30 to £35.

The solicit promises that this Easy Build kit has thirteen push-fit components and it looks great. It doesn't look like a kit that's been simplified and the same goes for the Primaris Marine Easy Builds which actually have full multi-part plastic equivalents. The Primaris Aggressors, who are £10 cheaper than their multi-part equivalent, look indistinguishable. True, you don't have as many options for them (you can only give them the flamer gauntlet load out) but that's an acceptable price to pay for not having such a high price to pay. The Easy Build Redemptor Dreadnought, similarly, comes only with the gatling cannon but also at a £15 mark down.

I would like to see more kits like this, especially since GW are clearly able to make them look as good as the more expensive versions. I can accept not having the full breadth of weapons options.

Plus, the whole posing thing has always struck me as a bit of a false selling point. How many different poses are there for a Tactical Marine, anyway? Holding bolter up, holding bolter down and holding bolter at a perfect horizontal are all that spring to mind. For anyone who thinks I'm exaggerating those were the exact poses used in the Dark Vengeance Tactical Squad and those models looked amazing.

It would also be a great option for horde armies. Imperial Guard, for instance. You need dozens and dozens of guys in a Guard army and right now the multi-part Cadian and Catachan basic infantry are £18 for ten guys and those squads don't even come with heavy weapons.

Now, if you could just create blonked out snap fits £10 for ten...

One can hope. Hell, I'll hope all the way and wish for Steel Legion. 

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

2018 hobby project: some ideas


And by that I mean a big project. Like a project I can work on and showcase throughout the year. It'll be something I can tinker with on the side of whatever else is occupying my attention at the time, something that can give me a constant sense of achievement throughout the year.

Hopefully, also something that it will be interesting for other people to read about.

And the nominees are...

Bretonnians

Ah, my white whale. Well, my white, red, yellow, black and blue whale. My first army back in the day and one that's tormented me ever since with the vision of how spectacular I could make them look. There's also the fact I recently discovered fantastic alternative Bretonnian miniatures from Norba Miniatures and a few others that would make for a) great showpieces and b) Bretonnian miniatures that are new to me and not something I've painted a dozen or more times before.

Honestly, choosing this one all comes down to how easily acquirable these alternative miniatures turn out to be.

Some Space Marine Thing

There are a couple of ideas I rather fancy trying out, perspectives on the old standard template Space Marine army I've never got around to. A First Company army appeals, probably in the form of a Deathwing force because there are so many nice Deathwing models now (not the Dark Angels themselves, maybe Angels of Vengeance or Guardians of the Covenant).

There's also the ever appealing but also terrifying to paint White Scars all-mounted army. All the difficulty of painting white armour with the difficulty of covering up mistakes made in red. This is an unlikely candidate.

Army of the Eternity King

Now, if I want variety what better to choose than an army made up of three whole elf armies? I have a small Wood Elves army already, though being me a lot of it remains unpainted or semi-painted as well as various High Elves models panic bought around the time of the early-AoS cull (it was a smart decision, as it turned out). I also spent a while earlier in the year scouring eBay for some of the old metal elf characters I always adored when I was younger but never thought I had the skill to paint.

Now, I feel I might have the skill having managed an almost semi-consistent coat of white on some Black Templars shoulder pads.

Imperial Guard in skirts

So, a long time ago a friend asked if I wanted to share postage on a large order from Victoria Miniatures, an Australian company that does fantastic conversion kits for Imperial Guard (“Astra Mili-what now?”). I got myself a nice job lot of their kilted legs. This would be a regiment I've had on the drawing board for some time now, my own Silvik 23rd / Metellus 5th Consolidated Logistics Regiment who have existed in our group's background for many years but only briefly existed as an army before I realised I just couldn't paint another unmodified Cadian because they are so boring!

Dothraki Chaos Warriors

Another idea that keeps popping into my head is an entirely cavalry based Warriors Of Chaos army. There are so many cool cavalry, monstrous cavalry and chariot based units in the army and I just don't get along with the infantry models, if we're being perfectly honest. It would be a hard army to play because in spite of their strength and resilience they'd be easily out-maneuvered and caught in combat res annihilating combats. So as well as being fun to paint (and hopefully to read about) it would have the benefit of being a gaming experience that would teach me new tactics.

*****

Some serious mulling is in order on this one. Not that any one of these are going to be the only thing I'll be working on next year, I'm too much of a magpie for that, but I do want one big thing to keep going back to. 

Monday, 4 December 2017

Dark Souls II Take 2 (twice)


I have a plan. A few months ago I tried to play Dark Souls II and after getting my head kicked in repeatedly by monsters in the earliest areas (not to mention repeatedly rolling into the sea or leaping enthusiastically down chasms of my own volition) I have up.

I have, however, been taking some advice before restarting.

The advice for “easy mode” comes in two flavours. The first is to take the Knight class because they can tank damage well and have pretty good offensive abilities from the start. The other flavour of advice is to take the Pyromancer class which starts with a pretty good ranged magic attack and has at least some combat chops.

Having discovered that the game accommodates multiple saves I intend to do both and walk off in separate directions: Erza the Knight is going to start the game by leaving Majula via Hiede's Tower of Flame and Sabifa the Pyromancer will be leaving via the other end of the town for the Forest of Fallen Giants (which has far more flammable opponents, as I recall).

We'll see who gets further.

I have also, since my last attempt, acquired shoulders of giants to stand on thanks to Dan Floydd of Extra Credits' Side Quest series and, to a lesser extent, Yahtzee Croshaw and his good friend/victim Gabriel Morton's old Let's Drown Out series.

Now I just have to create these characters and, as the saying goes, prepare to die (again). 

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Drink Wilkins Coffee... or else!

So here's a strange historical artifact: the Wilkins Coffee commercials produced by Jim Henson between 1957 and 1961 and they are a work of art.

The ads feature two characters: Wilkins (who, I kid you not, is the Kermit prototype puppet), whose job is to shill Wilkins Coffee, and Wontkins, who doesn't want it. Over the course of at least a couple of dozens commercials Wilkins tries to “persuade” Wontkins to try some. In pursuit of this goal Wontkins is repeatedly humiliated, threatened, stabbed, shot, run over, blown up, thrown out of aircraft and in various one-off indignities he is executed by electric chair, eaten by a whale and crushed by the Washington Monument.

Any number of these near or actually fatal humiliations are accompanied by Wilkins declaring “Things just happen to people who don't drink Wilkins Coffee.”. Hell, in one or two of them, after dispatching Wontkins, Wilkins even threatens the audience.

Its like the secret origin of The Muppet Show and you can watch it here

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Painting Challenge #1: Carcharodons Cataphractii Captain


In my endless quest to improve my painting skills I've decided to do some odd miniatures just to push my skills. Recently, I've been painting Nurgle Daemons and Tyranids using a grey flesh method that's heavy on the drybrushing. I tried applying the same method to some Empire Crossbowmen's uniforms and it looked bloody awful! On cloth it looked dirty and sketchy and I clearly needed a layered method for what I was trying to achieve.

I've also recently been reading Robbie McNiven's Carcharodons novel Red Tithe and I need to get the desire to start a Carcharodons army out of my system. So I'm going to paint a Horus Heresy Cataphractii Captain I got for basically nothing on eBay because he came with the Chaplain I actually wanted to turn into a Black Legion Sorcerer.
So is a picture of the model from the GW webstore and a list of the things I want to use this model to teach myself:

One: a flat grey armour. Most of the model will be plain Dawnstone grey. The methods I want to learn here are twofold: first, to get a good finish on the light grey, and second to practice recess shading. Terminator armour has large panels and prominent recesses so this should be a forgiving model to practice on.

Two: the white-grey flesh. Its a mutation of the chapter and might be helpful for future undead armies. The main challenge will be to make it look appreciably different from the armour colour.

Three: highlighting black. I'll be painting the cape black because I like the monochromatic look of the Carcharodons. I also really, really want to return to my Black Templars one day and this cape has very prominent creases that even I should be able to follow.

Four: the exile markings, which are what the chapter call those Maori-inspired etchings on their armour. In the novel they're a sort of battle honour tattooed on flesh and then repeated on the armour. A good way to practice my freehand because it doesn't have to look like anything, I'm not trying to replicate an actual shape again and again like a chapter symbol. I'll use the illustration in their Badab War Index entry as a guide but, ultimately, I can just experiment wildly here. I'm thinking the breastplate and lower leg armour would be good areas for it. 

Friday, 1 December 2017

Comic Reviews


This week Bruce and Selina get romantic; Getaway promises to make the Lost Light great again; and, Zatanna gets some of the school spirit.

Batman Annual #2
First off and most importantly, this annual features the bar full of gangsters based on Looney Tunes characters from the Batman/Elmer Fudd Special aka the most surprisingly awesome comic of the year. These guys are proper canon now and hopefully will be forevermore.

Also, this was a really sweet issue about Bruce and Selina's relationship and how it all got started in this version of continuity. I don't mean it resolves the “we met on a boat/we met on rhe street” argument Tom King keeps bringing up but it examines how they began their funny little romance and why. Naturally, Selina's the instigator of it all as she repeatedly heists Wayne Manor mostly to troll Bruce (who she already knows is Batman). Once again, King has gone to great lengths thinking about these two and how their histories and personalities square with one another.

Honestly, this is fast becoming one of my favourite versions of their relationship and not just because King has lengths not just to restore Selina's knowledge of who Bruce is but also backdating it to well before she knew in the pre-Flashpoint continuity.

There's also a glimpse of their future together which not only features Helena Wayne as Batwoman but Helena Wayne as Batwoman wearing Kate's colours. So yay for cool Bat-aunt Kate!

Transformers: Lost Light #11
As much as I miss the “Rod Squad” this trilogy of issues about the mutineers back on the ship is starting to heat up with Getaway slowly confronting the consequences of his actions. Last issue with the Protectobots was all about Getaway as mastermind, as the winner whose unassailable coup was making everything great again.

This issue he's put in positions that involve quoting Donald Trump and Theresa May for comic effect as everything begins to crumble around him. Its a great single issue fall from grace as he finds himself improvising ways out of rods he's made for his own back as lie after lie is exposed to the rest of the (surprisingly innocent) crew.

Also, I don't know if I just never noticed him before but Xaaron is on the crew. I remember him from the old Marvel UK comic. Oh, and on that note there's a little reference to Death's Head, I think.

Mystik U #1
You know, when I first heard the pitch for this one it felt strangely like one of those university AU fan fictions. Damn me if that doesn't seem to be exactly what this is. The story opens with a prologue that seems to be about Zatanna the adult as we've always known her, the women who is a big deal Justice League type and fights creatures of awesome power. However, time gets turned back because of an unspecified threat called the Malevolence and suddenly we have Zatanna the teenager who has only just come into her powers.

I'm not complaining, this is a great start and has some nice redesigns and relaunches for some classic DC magic characters like the Enchantress and Sargon the Sorcerer. They're at a special university for the magical run by the likes of Mr. E, Merlin, Madame Xanadu, a bunch of people I don't recognise (a woman called Dr. Rose Psychic seems to be in charge) and, for some reason, Cain and Abel are just sort of wandering around.

There's also a hipster who knows nothing about talking to women who I enjoyed immensely for the way writer Alisa Kwitney puts him through. He's a stereotype but he's a stereotype I think we've all encountered, women more than the rest of us. His fate is both fitting and funny.

I'll definitely pick up the second issue because it may not be the Zatanna series I hope would get launched but it is interesting. Interesting enough to keep me reading? Well, I'll wait for #2 to make that judgement. 

Thursday, 30 November 2017

30 Discs Hath November #30: The Tub Full Of Cats


Bernice Summerfield 8.1:
The Tub Full of Cats
written by Daniel O'Mahony

Okay, I'm bored of GW stuff, so let's end this catch-up series by resolving something from earlier: did the cliffhanger from The Empire State lead to a good season opener in this or is it going to be completely incomprehensible because the resolution was in a random novel I don't own?

Surprisingly between series four and this one Big Finish seem to have learnt their lesson. This story picks up pretty directly from The Empire State with Bernice and and Braxiatel's cloned daughter Maggie dragging Brax back to the collection. For various reasons, including being a cheap bastard and only wanting to pay for two full price tickets, Brax has put himself into suspended animation in a coffin and is getting himself shipped home as cargo. Brax picked the ship and so, naturally, we're in one of those stories where he's got himself a deal with a hell of a downside. If nothing else its a good nostalgia trip for those who missed the character,me included.

Its a trippy sort of story with regular cutaways to an old time American astronaut called Anthony Rogers, cutaways in which Brax is a waiter, Bernice is the former First Lady and Maggie Matsumoto is the personification of death that Rogers keeps being racist about.

Its a race against time for everyone to get back to the Collection where the Draconians and the Mim (the latter who I vaguely remember from a Companion Chronicle) are blockading the place and getting ready to shoot at each other. The ship has a secret, of course, a particularly nice science-fiction-y secret that involves the ship being absolutely infested with cats. I finally looked up what happened to Wolsey and its nice to hear Benny doting over a cat again, even if I seem to remember references to Wolsey still being alive when she's moaning about the people she doesn't know the fate of in Legion.

For my money, the most interesting parts of the story are the interactions between Brax and Maggie. Brax is still being charming and urbane, or trying to, but Benny is having none of it after the things he did to Jason and Maggie is just angry with him for a whole host of reasons starting with being an absent father and moving up from there. Its certainly more interesting than the fictional history of late twenty-first century space travel. That whole thread comes to an interesting and tragic conclusion but the reason I'm going back to listen to the stories from the single release era is I miss the Collection cast.

Speaking of which, now that Brax is back on the Collection I'm looking forward to hearing the fireworks fly when he gets the necessary confrontations with Bev and Jason.

But that's not for tomorrow, maybe not even for the day after, I'll get to it I'm sure but that's the last of my thirty discs in thirty days. Its been fun, apart from I Scream

Returning to the Alola Region

I wanted to play one of the Pokémon Ultra games but I was damned if I was going to pay full price for the thing. This isn't just because I'm cheap (which I am) but because I found Pokémon Moon a bit underwhelming. There was a lot I liked about it, most especially the format chance away from gym battles to the more individualized Trial Captains. Still, the Alola Region felt a bit small and hemmed in compared to the sprawling mass of Kalos.

I've kept myself relatively spoiler free on this one. I know the Rockets are back in the post game, I know there are new Ultra Beasts (who I think I can capture?), and I know there's a bunch more story and side quest content. I'm prepared to give it a go.

And the first job, of course, is to pick my starter.

My starter in Moon was Rowlet because he looked cute and I've always had a preference for Flying types. Also, he was absolutely bloody adorable. I feel I should make a different choice this time around for the sake of variety. My choices are a cat that evolves into John Cena and a sea lion that evolves into Liberace. Also, in common with all Water starters, Popplio's second form looks bloody awful. That said, I have a profound and irrational dislike of humanoid Pokémon which is what Litten ends up as. I'm sorry, they look creepy and it starts to feel a bit too much like slavery.
So, Popplio, I choose you which should be interesting because their final form, Primarina, is dual Water/Fairy and in spite of them being around for a couple of generations now I don't think I've ever used a Fairy type. Also, Water starters are a rare one for me but Bulbasaur was what I used in the very first Pokémon game back in the day and what I'm currently using in my FireRed playthrough so let's come full circle for the last Pokémon game on the dedicated handheld console before it all moves over to Switch.

Let the Trials commence. 

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

30 Discs Hath November #29: The Eagle's Talon


Horus Heresy: The Eagle's Talon
written by John French

I'm not sure if its a different editorial direction of if they just both came out after Mortarion's Heart but so far the Heresy audios have been a lot better for knowing what makes a satisfying audio experience. The basic plot of this one is a very simple engagement: at some time during the Battle Of Tallarn an Imperial Fists strike team of three squads has infiltrated an Iron Warriors macro-transport ship (its like a troop transport except its transporting an entire army including armour) that they have to stop reaching the surface.

That's a very simple and direct skirmish engagement, more so even than the battle at the centre of Mortarion's Heart, but John French uses the audio medium to make it both interesting and varied to listen to.

First of all we are once again in a story being related after the fact. In this case we have someone examining a series of archived radio transmissions between the three Fists squads as they infiltrate the ship and making notes on them. This allows French not only to skip a lot of boring bits but to use the listening historian as a source of exposition. During the breaks between vox fragments we have our Iron Warriors historian talk about the specific tactics of the skirmish, the larger tactical situation of Tallarn, and even offer some thoughts on whether or not the concept of honour has any value in the Heresy-era Imperium.

A similar conversation to that last one comes up between the Fists sergeants, one interesting detail of which is that one o their number became a Space Marine during the Heresy and has only known war against other Space Marines.

Of the communications the most interesting, for my money, is when the subject is broached of destroying the ship and letting it crash. The impact and the nuclear fallout would kill indiscriminately the people on the surface both loyal and traitor. What interests me, what gave me more insight into the Imperial Fists psychology than I think I've ever been granted before, is that one of the sergeants insists that Space Marines should not sacrifice human lives for their own victory, that it runs counter to the reasons the Space Marines were created.

It isn't a new insight into Space Marine psychology (it forms the basis of one of the earliest Black Library novels) but it gives the “vox archive” sections a bit of meat they might otherwise have lacked alongside the more contemplative exposition of the archivist. 

A sidestep into royal commentary


Look, usually I don't care about this stuff. I mean, I've nothing against the royals as people though I do think they should be able to afford their own bloody weddings (seriously, tens of millions in taxpayer money is not something we need to waste right now) and I know this could come across as mean...

but...

I kind of want the alt-right to get confused about this engagement and condemn the future princess' ethnicity as forced diversity that doesn't serve the plot.

You might think this an unrealistic expectation but The Spectator is honest to goodness saying she's “unsuitable” to marry a royal because she's divorced. Yes, in our exciting Space Year 2017 a supposedly serious news source is invoking the spirit of Wallis fuckin' Simpson because they can't bring themselves to just be honestly racist.

Wallis. Fucking. Simpson. 

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

30 Discs Hath November #28: Hunter's Moon


Horus Heresy: Hunter's Moon
written by Guy Haley

I think I made a mistake yesterday. I chose an audio from the Space Marine Battles line which tends to be very action oriented (and not terribly well-suited to audio) from an author I didn't know about an army that doesn't much interest me. Today its a Horus Heresy story, which tend to do better on audio, by one of my favourite Black Library authors and featuring two of my favourite Space Marine factions ever: the Space Wolves and the Alpha Legion. Certainly a better recipe for success. Also its only half an hour long so wouldn't try my patience it if didn't live up to its pedigree.

Haley certainly knows how to make a story like this work on audio. He crafts a small incident in the greater sweep of the Heresy rather than trying to write an entire battle into a short script. He also employs a more intimate narration style as an old fisherman on the planet Pelago tells his young pupil of the day the “star giants” came to their world. As well as providing us with characters from grimmest, darkest Mummerset this allows us an unusual glimpse into the Horus Heresy setting. Several, actually.

First, the Heresy is normally either presented as the present day or as ancient legends, not the recent past. This is someone narrating the lived experience of seeing the dream of Unity end before his eyes, having the illusion that the Space Marines are perfect defenders of mankind shattered. We also get to hear something of how this more liberal and forward looking Imperium affects the worlds under its banner. Pelago is clearly a primitive world where flashlights are an imported miracle but one of the characters mentions attending a collegium where he's learnt some science and knowledge of other worlds, spaceships and the existence of the Legions. Its clear that the presence of the Imperium is actually doing something for the population rather than the grinding exploitation more commonly shown in the forty first millennium setting.

Its actually a little disappointing when the Alpha Legion ship crashes in the sea and the fishermen go to investigate. Now, obviously, there has to be some point to the story rather than just some fishermen telling tales and filling us in on random worldbuilding and I don't begrudge it that. Rather, its that there's a limited number of places the story can go after that. I enjoyed the interactions of Torbjorn with the fishermen once he loosens up enough to tell them things (he's all “do not speak to me of it” for a little too long given the brevity of the story, to be frank) but a lot of the exposition is just to reinforce that his squad was one of those dispatched by Leman Russ to look in on the Primarchs to see if anyone was thinking a bit too much about rebellion in the wake of Prospero.

As with any good Warhammer short there's a twist of the knife ending. Not a terribly surprising one but one that has a lot more punch than you'd expect thanks to the narration style. 

Pity the political historians of the future


I mean, for serious, the present day is bizarre if you stop and think about it from the perspective of what, if we survive the Orange Supremacist's attempts to dick wave at “ Crazy Rocket Man”, will have to be included in future political science textbooks:

Okay, so there was a huge fascist revival that first came to public prominence as a harassment campaign against one female game developer.”

The fascist revival adopted a cartoon frog as their new mascot and god. When a fascist was explaining this on television they got punched in the face and it became a meme. It also became a sort of competitive sport at his future speaking engagements.”

The fascists founded a fictional nation, made a flag for it and named it after their frog god.”

Okay, so internet memes and their political significance...”

Here is a photo of the future 45th President of the United States failing to sell a Stone Cold Stunner at Wrestlemania 23. Here is another photo of his appearance in Home Alone 2.”

A massive vote winner was the promise to save an obsolete fuel industry whose entire US infrastructure employed fewer people than the Arby's restaurant chain.” (Totally true fact, I swear)

Another vote winner was a promise to build a wall across the entire US/Mexico border. There follows fifty-sxeven pages of detailed costings and basic geography that prove how impossible that would be.”

In Great Britain, the generation who spent twenty years telling their children not to believe anything they read on Wikipedia collectively decided 'but if its on the side of a bus, it must be true'.”

After claiming their opposition was soft on terrorism, the Conservative Party lost their majority in an election they had no reason to call and ended up entering a coalition with the political offshoot of a terrorist organisation.”

The Kremlin used social media to try and stop British pensioners from getting their flu jabs.”

There was an annual controversy amongst conservatives about Starbucks holiday themed cups that got so entrenched that in 2017, in sheer desperation, they decided that a pair of simplified cartoons hands drawn on the cup were both so slim they must represent a clear advocacy for lesbianism.”

In a separate incident, US conservatives ritually destroyed their coffeemakers in support of Sean Hannity.”

The coffeemaker incident was tangentially related to an Alabama election where 'Republican pedophile or Democrat not a pedophile' was a genuinely hard decision for thousands of people.”

The president supported the pedophile, by the way.”

There was a transphobic conspiracy theory concerning the chemical composition of soy milk.” 

Monday, 27 November 2017

30 Discs Hath November #27: Mortarion's Heart


Warhammer 40,000: Mortarion's Heart
written by L. J. Goulding

I'm looking for motivation to paint at the moment so let's round out 30 Days Hath November with a few Warhammer 40,000 audios I found in the same box as those fan made unlicensed “not Doctor Who, honest guv” CDs. First up, because I'm still mired halfway through my Dark Imperium Death Guard, is Mortarion's Heart. Oh, there are also some Grey Knights hanging around, as well.

I joke but, if I'm being honest, I was rather disappointed that this was a Grey Knights story where they fight Mortarion rather than a Death Guard story. Also, the story sort of pauses for the Grey Knight grand masters to have a psychic teleconference.

For the most part this is a straight-up battle story. It doesn't say much about the Grey Knights or the Death Guard, in fact aside from Mortarion there isn't much in the way of speaking rolls for the Death Guard. There's a rather nice confrontation between one of the Grey Knight battle-brothers and an inquisitor who doesn't understand or appreciate the chapter's mystical rituals which is pretty fun for what it is and would have made a nice centrepiece for the story if it had led to anything. As it is its more interesting filler than Goulding trying to say anything about the two allied but separate organisations. Rather it just sort of fizzles out when Draigo tells him to bugger off.

The psychic teleconference itself has an interesting aspect to it: the idea that Mortarion is not Mortarion's true name which makes sense since all the Primarchs were adopted at least some of them might have been given different names. Some, we know, only ever had one name (Perturabo and Magnus, for instance, both awoke on their homeworlds knowing their names). The central idea of trying to bring Mortarion to personal combat where his “true name” can be used to bind and kill him is a good one, especially as the surrounding destruction of an entire world plays well to the Grey Knight's ends justify the means attitude.

Naturally, it doesn't work since Mortarion is a big deal deal sort of guy who isn't going to get jobbed in an audio original (not to mention it being an old release and Mortarion still being around nowadays) but the confrontation has some fun posturing about titles and battle honours between Mortarion and Grand-Master Draigo. This, to be frank, is more satisfying than the actual fight because even with narration a sword fight on audio is not the most thrilling experience. It does end with a fantastic visual, though.

Also, I know its probably a practicality thing, but I question giving Mortarion a deep, booming voice. That's petty, I know.

Anyway, though it doesn't have any deep insight into either force or the two character dueling this is decent listen and certainly useful background for the rituals and admin of the Grey Knights. 

Underhive Adventures pt.1: Housing Shortage


My friend Dave is planning a Necromunda campaign for the new year. He's still hashing out the details and basic background for our little corner of the underhive so right now we're just picking out the gangs we want to play.

Obviously, the options are a little limited and we're just in luck that at least one other player has an old gang of their own (Orlocks, I believe) so we won't be completely limited by the current plastic range. I, however, am and so my choice for the campaign will be House Goliath, the house of massive cleavers and big sweaty men. I originally wanted to do Escher but we were already drowning in Escher players by the time I got to store on Saturday.

I am definitely getting some Eschers just to paint because they are gorgeous but for the functional side of things I'm all about the big, sweaty muscular men.

I've yet to read through the rules for making the gang but there are some things I definitely want to include. I want someone to have the big chainaxe that has its own mohawk; I also want at least one of those big thumpy hammers; and, I absolutely don't want to paint their armour red. Its not that I dislike red (because Flesh Tearers are awesome) but since I don't have to paint many miniatures for this project I want to push the boat out a little and red is sort of my comfort zone.

Now, to build the models and come up with a suitably hench name for my gang leader.