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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Going on a little journey...

Hi all,

Well, I've thrown my lot in with Mr Harris, and we have decided to attend the 40K UK Doubles Tournament next year- more on that in a moment...

First of all, further to last weeks announcement that Warhammer Ancients has closed its doors, comes the news that John Lambshead tried to get his Intellectual Property returned to him- and was refused :( Apparently, GW legal have decided to hold onto the rights in perpetuity, so no free licenses on the horizon! Unless GW have something up their sleeve (Forgeworld maybe?) then it looks like Warhammer Historical has officially, died a death. I am actively trying to find out more, but I honestly can't get an official answer out of anyone.

Anyway, back to the Doubles 2013 topic. This started as a conversation about Armies on Parade- Mr. Harris is going to be entering Golden Daemon again this year, and we were talking about various options when he suggested doing an Eldar army for it. Now, I've had in my head for a little while the idea of doing a small Dark Eldar army- I don't want to invest the money in another full collection (it would be my 7th 40K army) but I do love the Dark Eldar range, so I was just looking for an excuse. As I've said previously, I'm also trying to improve my painting standard- most of my armies are painted to a "Tabletop" standard, but I have projects sitting on the back burner which I want to be painted well, I just don't have the skill right now. So we wee both looking at Armies on Parade entries, when I had the additional idea of running them as Doubles armies- giving us both an extra impetus to get the project done and do it well.

The idea behind the Dark Eldar is simple- I want a fast moving "city fighting" army- by which I mean dense terrain. I really enjoy the idea of Dark Eldar stalking enemy units through ruins and habitations, creeping through the shadows then pouncing out and devouring the souls of the unfortunate before slinking off. So when I was looking at the theme of the force, I dismissed most of the "Warrior" style units (Trueborn, Warriors, Raiders, Ravagers.) Since I will also be limited to 875 points, I also dismissed all of the Haemonculus units (Grotesques, Wracks, Talos, Chronos.) This has basically left me with a Wych cult force- small bands of Gladiators stalking the city streets. Due to the alliance (Mr Harris is running Craftworld Eldar) we are both running a Harlequin squad, to tie the forces together.

So, I'm going to be running a small Wych Cult. Competitive? Almost certainly not (Wyches aren't that great at killing things in combat.) Fun? Almost definitely. Themed? Well, I'll leave that up to you! I know that I want lots of Wyches, and I've opted for small squads on Venoms. Due to the small points value, i am heavily restricted and can only afford 3 squads- however, that does tie in nicely to the idea of a "Court" for the Succubus- a Bloodbride from each of the Wych units, put into 1 unit and riding around in another Venom, sort of a Command Squad for the Cult (at the moment, I'm thinking of modelling the Succubus leaning over the front of the Venom, giving the "Thumbs down" signal to one of her squads.) All I can afford after that little lot is 1 support unit. I toyed with the idea of Mandrakes for a while, but decided against it. Then I moved onto Hellions- and then I saw Sprokets Scourges, and I was sold. It was at this point that I noticed the anti-tank potential of the Scourges, so it was a double-win- flying beasties are in.

So at the moment the list stands like this:

Succubus- Agoniser, Haywire.
3 Hekatrix Bloodbrides- Shardnet and Impaler, Haywire Grenades
Venom- Splinter Cannon
5 Harlequins- Shadowseer, 4 Harlequins Kiss
5 Wyches- Shardnet and Impaler, Haywire Grenades
Venom- Splinter Cannon

5 Wyches- Shardnet and Impaler, Haywire Grenades
Venom- Splinter Cannon

5 Wyches- Shardnet and Impaler, Haywire Grenades
Venom- Splinter Cannon

5 Scourges- 2 Heat Lance

That's 875 points! Not much there, but it's fast moving, and with combined attacks I'm hoping they can get the job done. However, I do think it can make a visually striking force on the tabletop, which is really the point of the project.

With all that in mind, I picked up my first box of Wyches and started tinkering. After building one straight from the box, there were 2 things I knew- 1) I don't like the pistols in one hand, it doesn't feel right for Sci-fi Gladiators. 2) I need some way to get the Bloodbrides to stand out. So I dug out some spares I had from a Dark Eldar Corsair set, and had a bit of play:

This was the first "Conversion" I came up with (more of a kit-bash) With a little cutting and filing the Sea Dragon Cloak fits quite neatly into the Dark Eldar frame, which is handy. I also removed the pistol and mounted it on the back of the arm, similar to the Dire Avenger Exarch, which allowed me to have an extra close combat weapon. However, I wasn't sure that this was the right look and feel for the entire force- it's a little too elaborate for the basic Wyches, so this is currently the template for the Bloodbrides.

This was the simpler option I came up with- mounting the pistol over the shoulder, like the Inquisitor MIU weapons. I like the feel of this- it's a little alien, a little technological, and easy to put together. The right arm on this model is straight from the Corsair box- it doesn't look quite right, so I will be cutting the blades off the proper models and adding them to Dark Eldar arms.

So now that the general look and feel of the Troops was set, the next puzzle was the paint scheme. I know that black doesn't feel quite right- firstly, shadows aren't black, secondly it's a pain the backside to paint well! Instead, I had a look at the colour-components of shadows- it turns out that shadows are greys, blues and purples. That kicked off a few ideas in my head- my first thought was, would a deep rich blue work across the army?

I like some aspects of this model- the blue isn't quite right (it's just a little too plain- though it may work on my Craftworld Eldar?) but the Wraithbone works as a contrast. So, since the blue just doesn't have the right feel, how about the purple?

I must confess, I do like this- the dark purple and the blue-grey plates work nicely together. I tried a dark metal effect on the weapons, and although it is darker there is no contrast on the model, which means that the whole thing becomes a dark blob on the eye- I may try this on other armies in the future, but it doesn't feel quite right for the standard of painting I want to achieve.

So, I've basically decided on purple undersuit, blue/grey plates, wraithbone weapons, grey skin and details. After I'd shown these photos to Mr Harris we had a bit of a chat about painting technique. I've always painted from the dark tone up (I've started with the shadow.) This leads to my models looking quite dark- which is fine, but it means I struggle to get nice, crisp sharp highlights. he suggested starting from a mid-tone, adding shadow and then highlighting. Also, he suggested trying to do it in finer bands than I've been working with (essentially adding multiple thin "glazes" to a model, if I understand it right?) Here's the result.

As a basis for the army, I must confess I do quite like this. The cloak is a little distracting, but fits the Hekatrix idea. That being said, it does help the model stand out from it a little- I need to work on darkening the undersuit even more till it is almost black, so that it silouettes the model on the table.

So that's where I am at the moment. I think I've got the look and feel of the army settled, with a fairly strong theme. I need to make sure that the models aren't lost on the table as there are more of them, and also I need to work on improving my highlight/shade technique so that the models look crisper and more interesting. I will put a big shout out to a few sites that I've used extensively for painting advice: Richard Harris' Miniature Painting (obviously- he'll be my team-mate); Massive Voodoo; Manana Republic; The Painting Corps; and of course Ron.

What do you guys reckon?

Comments, as always, are welcome.

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