Thursday, September 29, 2011

Base - How low can you go?

I've been looking for some cost-effective basing solutions for my Epic: Armageddon models. In addition to the possibility of basing my vehicles (which I'm still not sure if I'm going to do,) I need base solutions for some of my troops. My Imperial Guard and Space Marines will be mounted on the standard Games Workshop strip bases, but I need to figure out what I'm going to do with my Orks and Chaos Space Marines. I don't have enough of the strip bases as part of my Ork and all of my Chaos purchases were second hand and came without bases. In addition Games Workshop's pricing for their strip bases is pretty high ($4.50 plus shipping and tax for 16 bases.)

As a result, I've been looking at some options - here's what I've come up with:

Games Workshop bases

Thickness: 2.17mm
Size: 10mm x 40mm
Pros: Perfect for Epic infantry
Cons: Expensive ($.28 per base); only comes in infantry size

Self-made bases

One of the first options I tried was to create my own bases from plastic card. I measured out and cut strips based on the size of the GW bases, then punched holes in the strips with a standard 1/4" hole punch. After much cutting and hole-punching, I had some sore hands and partially finished bases. I then cut strips out of a thinner card and glued them to the bottom of the punched strips - instant (after a lot of work) bases. Epic guard fit right in the bases, and I locked them in with model cement. Unfortunately, the glue caused the thin bases to warp, and the stands didn't sit properly on the table. In retrospect, I think the plastic sheet idea is sound, but the bottom layer should have been magnetic sheet - there would have been no warping of the bases, and they would have been magnetized, to boot.

Thickness: Varies on the plastic card and method of construction you use
Size: Unlimited
Pros: Cheap (depends on what you pay for your plastic sheet); scalable for any size base
Cons: Labor intensive, prone to warping if you use the same methods as I did

Litko bases

On a recommendation from a fellow gamer, I ordered some bases from Litko. Litko will laser cut wooden bases to your specifications, which is pretty cool if you have anything that is kind of a weird size. Another neat thing is that Litko offers pre-cut magnetic or flexible steel sheeting that adheres to the miniature bases - very handy for securing your infantry in your carrying case. Litko's pricing is based on the base size, base thickness, material, and quantity of bases you order. For the Epic-sized bases I ordered, I was paying around $10-$12 for 100 bases. Shipping is a little high, so it makes sense to get together with some friends and place a larger order. The Litko bases do not come punched though, so you will either have to drill holes for the infantry models manually, or just glue the models directly to the top of the base.

Thickness: .8mm, 1.5mm, 3mm
Size: Unlimited, cut to spec
Pros: Reasonable pricing, depending on what you order (roughly $.10-$.15 per base); cut to any size; huge array of options
Cons: Labor intensive if you have to drill holes; price per base doubles if you want magnetic bottoms; high shipping


Again, on a recommendation, I went to the local Arts and Crafts store to take a look at a product called Woodsies. Woodsies are a line of wooden shapes that can be used in crafts projects - popsicle sticks, circles, squares, etc. The first store I went to, AC Moore, had a very limited selection, and I did not find what I was looking for. Michael's, on the other hand, had a larger selection and I was able to pick up a bag each of rectangles, squares, and circles. Each bag contains an assortment of 140 small, medium, and large shapes and runs $2.99 plus tax. In the circle assortment, I found 26 large (32.4mm), 65 medium (21.3mm), and 49 small - I didn't measure the small pieces, but they fall well under the rules requirement of being at least 20mm across. Again, these are obviously not punched for Epic infantry, but you could do it yourself with a drill. I know Dave and Capt. Piett on the Tactical Command forums both use medium rectangular Woodsies for their infantry - I feel the bases are a little large, but you have additional room for scenery effects.

Thickness: 1.8mm
Size: 32.4mm, 21.3mm (lg and med circle); (lg and med square); (lg and med rectangle)
Pros: Super cheap! ($.03 per base - even cheaper if you can find a use for the small pieces)
Cons: Limited in size; not punched for infantry; might be hard to find, depending on your location


As stated, I'm already using the GW strip bases for my Imperial Guard and Space Marines. If I decide to base the vehicles, I'll most likely use the Litko bases for the models, since I already bought and paid for them. As for my Chaos and Ork armies, I think I am going to seriously have to look at a combination of Woodsies and Litko round bases. The medium Woodsies are going to work great for stuff like weapons teams, Big Gunz, Sentinels, etc - things that are small and don't require a larger base. The large Woodsies should work for Rhinos, tanks, and battlewagons. I can then fill out the remaining base needs with Litko products - 25mm rounds for infantry, etc.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

An Epic Weekend in Pennsylvania

Last weekend, a thirteen of us headed to Bethlehem, PA, for a couple days of gaming hosted by the Bethlehem Resin team and Dragon Head Distributors. I only stayed for Saturday, but had fun nevertheless. We started off with a 4000 point per side battle - my Guard fought against a Space Marine army. For once, I actually won a game - well, kind of.

My opponent was suffering from a severe lack of sleep coupled with the fact that he was bringing his Marines down piecemeal using Planetfall. Unfortunately for him, this allowed me to concentrate on small units, rather than having to deal with the army as a whole. Adding to that, his intense focus on eliminating my Leman Russ company left me plenty of room to take objectives. He called the game at the end of the second turn, but it was pretty obvious that he would have had a hard time winning. I wouldn't have liked to continue to the bitter end, but I've been on his side of the table before - lack of sleep and bad dice rolls make for a crappy game.

The second game was a mega-battle of 8000 points per side - my Steel Legion Imperial Guard and a Slaanesh Chaos Space Marine army vs. Orks and a Elysian Drop army. Unfortunately, people were starting to get tired, had too much to drink, attention started to wander, etc. On our table, we only wound up getting about halfway through turn two before having to wrap things up so the store owner could close up shop. In retrospect, it probably would have been a wise idea to put time limitations on the players' decision-making process and possibly allowing both players on a side to move simultaneously. At any rate, a good time was had by all.

I didn't bring my camera, since I was embarassed by my unpainted army (I wasn't ready for the 4000 point requirement.) Dave (from The Epic Gamer blog) on the other hand got some photos - you can see my "winter themed" troops in the pics below. For more shots of actual painted armies, you can go to Dave's blog and check them out.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kill Team

I finally got around to playing Kill Team last night. Yeah, I'm a bit behind the curve, since Space Marine was released a couple of weeks ago, but, hey, what are you gonna do? I had actually downloaded the game when it  became available on XBox Live, but had only watched the intro. Well, that's not true - I tried to play about 30 seconds of the game before I got frustrated and quit. Why? Because I didn't know that you fired your weapon using the second control stick. I missed the cut screen showing the pad layout and had no clue how the heck to kill Orks!

Anyway, I sat down last night and decided to play for a bit - I didn't feel like doing anything else. It took a bit to get a feel for the controls, and I had a problem with some of the aspects of the game - namely activating certain objects. At certain points in the game, you need to activate certain objects to complete sequences or to upgrade your Marine. I didn't realize that at these points I needed to be hitting the "Y" button on the controller, even though there was a big yellow circle graphic with a "Y" on it displayed on the screen. You see, my XBox play sessions for me are so few and far between, I actually forget how the usual controller schemes work - obviously this is a fault with me, and not the game...

I made it through the entire first level of the first mission (I don't know how many total there are) using the Assault Veteran. The gameplay isn't particularly strong, but it is intended as an arcade style shooter/combat game. The corridors are repetitive, the hordes of grots and Orks are repetitive, etc. That being said though, I still enjoyed myself and think the game is a good filler for when you have a spare half-hour or hour to kill and don't want to play one of those games that requires you to block out a few hours on your calendar in order to complete a mission and get to a save point (I'm looking at you Dead Rising...)

All in all, the game is a good arcade port of our favorite universe, and well worth the $10/800 points. If I want something more tactical and combined-arms oriented, I'll fire up the PC and play Dawn of War, but Kill Team is good for some light 40K action. Now I need to find a cheap copy of Space Marine and give it a try...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Based, primed, and magnetized

My Guard is mounted on GW bases, with Litko magnetic strips. In addition, there is a steel sheet in the bottom of the foam tray, which does a pretty good job of holding the bases securely - I can actually turn the tray upside-down and the bases stay in place. The downside is that removing all of the interior foam from the tray results in a try that doesn't offer much support - at least the infantry isn't too heavy. This exercise probably wouldn't work too well using a Leman Russ company - some sort of support structure would have to be in place.

I also used a fine sand for the basing material, and I like it much more than the coarser stuff I used on my older Guard. A light coat of white spraypaint as a primer, and we're all set.

Now all I have to do is paint them...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Strippin' - Taking it all off!

In addition to redoing my Guard troops, I'm also redoing the majority of my vehicles. In this case, I did like the paint scheme I was using, but I didn't prime anything, so now paint is coming off of the metal models in the army. I know what you're saying - "Why didn't you prime your stuff, idiot!?" The answer is that I thought I might obscure detail if I used a spray primer. In addition, a sizable chunk of my force is from Forge World (they were a whole lot cheaper than GW Epic) and the detail on the FW models isn't as prominent as the GW metals.

Since that time though, I've made some trades and some purchases, and now have enough metals to fill out my Chimeras and Leman Russ companies, so I decided to strip everything down and start over. And, yes, I am going to prime this time around. Fool me once...

So I dropped a bunch of models into a jar filled with Purple Power and waited a few days. Well, weeks, really. After those couple of weeks, I unscrewed the jar lid and promptly dropped the jar into the sink, spilling out much of the sludgy Purple Power. When I recovered the jar and dumped them out into the strainer, I found this:

Uh-oh. Not only did the Purple Power eat all the paint off, it destroyed the superglue holding the models together. Nuts. Looks like a puzzle, and I only vaguely know what the final product is supposed to look like. I think they're mostly Leman Russ tanks, but there are a few Demolishers, Hellhounds, and I don't know what else. I hope I didn't lose any parts in the process...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hordes of Guard!

I haven't been happy with the way I based my oldschool Necromundan-type Imperial Guard. In an effort to conserve bases, I made my own from sheet styrene. Basically, I cut strips to match the size of the Epic strip bases (10mm by 40mm), punched holes for the troops, then glued another strip to the bottom to seal everything together. It worked and looked fine - at least until the glue started to dry... Unfortunately, when drying, the liquid model cement I used caused the bases to warp.

The warping wasn't too terrible, but the basing material I used was far too coarse, so, not only did it bury the feet of the guardsmen, it looked like they were trying to slog through rocks the size of their heads.


Fortunately, I had some greatcoat infantry I picked up through a good deal some time back, and I decided that I would use those guys as my IG. And this time, I would use actual Epic bases and a basing material that was finer than the previous stuff. Clever, huh?

At this point, I've based all (I think) of the rank and file IG. I've got a few strips of the metal command models, but I haven't decided if I want to do stands of four or five models. The metals are a little more dynamic and have stuff like large flags that might be a pain to paint if crammed five to a base.

At any rate, I'm trying to reorganize my guard to be able to neatly fit into any of the official or variant IG lists - I've got enough troops for:
  • Five Steel Legion infantry companies; or
  • Six Baran Siegemaster infantry companies; or
  • Three Krieg infantry companies

I should have done this consolidation when I did my original guard, but I was in a rush and wanted to get them all done RIGHT NOW! Moral of the story: Even if you think you know how something is going to turn out, try it out in a small scale first. You might save yourself some headaches. Oh well.

I'm probably going to go with the standard paint scheme of the tan greatcoats - not very Krieg-like, but they'll stand out better on the table. The drab green of the vehicles is unsuitable for such small models, and they'll just get lost at viewing distance.