Drukhari · Warhammer 40000

The Nobility and Trueborn of Commorragh

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Today I finally get to share the big bad of my Drukhari army and his entourage of what were once known in the Dark Eldar codices of years past as Kabalite Trueborn.  Back when the Dark Eldar range was updated in 2010, one of the big draws (besides looking sweet AF) was how easily interchangeable bits were across the army, and it only made sense that individuals who held some sort of standing within Commorrite society tended to be more fashionable as well.

For the Archon, I found the helmets that came with the original, metal iteration, were a bit much.  Granted, this is 40k we’re talking about and over the top helmets are very much a thing, but the original Archon’s pose was a lot more subdued and stylish than the over the top, plastic one we have now and I just didn’t feel like those helmets fit the style I was going for.  By the way, am I the only one who finds the current Archon’s stock pose kind of ridiculous?  Especially when you imagine him charging into battle holding that pose, compared to the fluidity present in say the Succubus’ model.

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Speaking of style, the space pirate motif was one of the things that really sold me on the Dark Eldar, and this one particular head, which I believe was in the Wych box, fit that theme.  It’s a slight nod to anti-heroes in anime and manga, like Griffith from (early) Berserk, or rogue-ish, swashbuckling types in western fantasy settings.

He was also one of the first models I painted after my first box of Kabalite Warriors.  Most of it holds up I think, but as I’ve mentioned before, where my Craftworld Eldar and Orks all but begged for complete overhauls, my Drukhari (mercifully) were okay enough that they benefit more from just having details touched up on by someone with more paints, better brushes and several more years of experience…  Seriously, I don’t think I could stomach repainting another entire army.

As mentioned at the top, Kabalite Trueborn are no longer a thing outside of the 8th edition Xenos index, but models built as Trueborn still find use most commonly by tagging along in 5-elf Venom squads for their Blasters, which is what you usually took them for (aka Blasterborn).

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Trueborn, being higher class citizens in Commorragh, all but beg to have something that sets their models apart from rank and file Kabalite Warriors.  It didn’t take long for people to notice these cool, featureless helmets that came with the Reaver kit, and it was just such an obvious, yet simple conversion to do. The head swap makes them look pretty slick, even if you were just to paint the “glass shell” straight black and apply a gloss varnish over it. If you want to step it up a bit, you could do what I did.  Using thinned down paints, apply Incubi Darkness from about halfway down the glass and mix in increasing amounts of Temple Guard Blue the further down you go to create a gradient.  Then, if you want, use a very thinned down Baharroth Blue to draw a thin line around the bottom quarter of the glass.

A complaint I’ve heard for at least as long as I’ve been in the hobby, and relevant while we’re on the topic of Trueborn (though less, now that they’re index only), is how stupidly hard it is to assemble a single squad of elite weapons specialists when you only get one per box.  Even the fairly recently released Chaos Havocs, which are $55 USD a box, only come with a single Reaper Chaincannon, when some players may want four.

In the past, GW sold some heavy and special weapons bits to make up for this. Some models that carried specific weapons were even available in stand alone blister packs.  Now such options are not readily available without resorting to trading with other players, or if you play a less common army like the Dark Eldar, pretty much just eBay as they aren’t prioritized much by most online vendors.  Luckily, at least for Blasters, there is a fairly simple conversion involving the rarely used Shredders, and Blast Pistols, which weren’t very useful before 8th edition.  I also lucked out and found an auction on eBay way back when for 4 Warriors with Blasters.  2 were legit, 2 were pretty well converted; so while I did find my way around this problem and ended up with as many Blasterborn as I needed, it has always seemed like an unneeded annoyance for a hobby you’re already paying premium for.

Finally, here’s a quick look at some of them before and mid-touch up.  I was starting to feel like the bronze Blaster tips stuck out a little too much, and needed to look no further than the 8th edition codex for an example of one I liked.  In the model showcase section there’s a Hekatrix with a pretty sleek and simple looking Blast Pistol.  The metallics were still slightly visible under a black casing, and it just looked way more interesting to me.  After these changes, the models as they are are now just have a much colder and mysterious look to them.

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Before I go, I feel really obligated to shout out StrikingScorpion82 on YouTube.  It took me way too long to try and figure out how I wanted to paint this army, and the handful of test models that I tried mimicking GW’s heavily highlighted color schemes with just didn’t look great.  I might be able to pull it off now halfway decently, but at the time I was really unhappy with what my results, and if you’re not at least moderately confident in what you’re painting, your enthusiasm will run out real fast over the course of an army.

Anyway, StrikingScorpion82 had put out a handful of videos showcasing this very striking (no pun intended) color scheme for his Dark Eldar.  It was simple enough, and he goes into detail in this video. The main point of interest for me was getting that ghostly, bluish-green armor that he cited the cover of the 5th edition codex as inspiration for.  And to this day, it’s one of the most fitting color schemes for the Drukhari.  The amounts of wash and how aggressive I am with highlighting changed over time (and as the paints themselves changed), but the basic idea’s still the same:

  • [Base] Boltgun Metal (now Leadbelcher)
  • [Wash] Thraka Green (now Biel-tan Green)
  • [Wash] Asurmen Blue (now Drakhenhof Nightshade, thinned slightly with Lahmian Medium)
  • [Highlight] 2:1 Leadbelcher + Lahmian Medium
  • [Fine Edge highlight] Stormhost Silver

A few things to note is that Drakenhof Nightshade is a lot darker than Asurmen Blue, so it’s worth thinning it down, unless you want the armor much darker.  Also, adding just a touch of Lahmian Medium to Leadbelcher before you highlight the armor panels helps ease the transition between the washed armor, and highlights.

Until next time…

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…Fools.

 

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Blackstone Fortress · Boxed Games · Warhammer 40000

[Blackstone Fortress] Chaos Beastmen and Small Tweaks Making a Difference.

Work continues on Blackstone Fortress despite a lack of blog entries.  After finishing the Traitor Guard, I decided I wanted to start working on some of the more unique models found in this set, starting with the Chaos Beastmen.  These actually weren’t too bad, as a lot of the colors combinations I just lifted from my Traitor Guardsmen, and if there’s one thing that slows my painting down to a crawl it’s trying to figure out color schemes on the fly.  Indecision is really one of the banes of my hobby life.

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Much like the official paint schemes I made heavy use of blacks and greys with spots of red and earthy colors to break things up.  The only thing that really took a bit of experimenting on was the flesh.  …And somewhere in Commorragh a Haemonculus just cackled.  Anyway, what I settled on was this:

  • Basecoat of Rakarth Flesh
  • Wash of Reikland Fleshshade
  • Layer in slightly thinned Rakarth Flesh leaving the wash in the recesses alone.
  • Build up the previous layer with Flayed One Flesh thinned down with Lahmian Medium.*
  • Mix Flayed One Flesh and Pallid Wych Flesh 1:1 and highlight the contours of muscles, fingers, raised areas of the face, etc.
  • Fine highlight of Pallid Wych Flesh on the most prominently raised areas like the tips of the ears, just above the eyebrows, knuckles, etc.

As a quick note (*), I found the transition from Rakarth Flesh from Flayed One Flesh to be more harsh and unnatural looking than usual, so thinning the paint down with some kind of medium to build up this layer is important.  Regular water doesn’t really thin the paint down in a way that gives us the result we want.

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And a WIP image with the first test model front and center.  One of these days I’m really going to have to figure out how to take better pictures, since as this blog has gone on I’ve noticed how inconsistent the lighting can be.

Finally, as you might have noticed, the bases on the finished models look a bit different.  I initially went with a very basic, shades of grey color scheme with splotches of Gryphonne Sepia to add a bit of flavor.  And those look fine when you add a bit of flock to them — it’s basically how I do a lot of my Craftworld Eldar bases, except maybe I went a little too heavy on the white with these.  Anyway, they don’t look right on these models and it’s been bugging me since I started painting them.

Luckily I stumbled across this tutorial on How to Paint Shyish Themed Bases on YouTube by Xenus Minis.  The change is small, but made enough of a difference I felt compelled to go back and redo all of the bases on my Blackstone Fortress models.  You start with Mechanicus Standard Grey as usual, but when you shade with Nuln Oil, you use patches of Nighthaunt Gloom as well to create an eerie, otherworldly glow.  A small detail, but very fitting for the setting.

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Where I deviated from the video was going heavier on the Nighthaunt Gloom, and instead of drybrushing with Rakarth Flesh and Pallid Wych Flesh, I used Dawnstone and Administratum Grey.  Rocks were painted with Dawnstone, given a wash of Coelia Greenshade, then drybrushed much like everything else.  I also used Ulthuan Grey to pick out edges on rocks to make them really stand out, and sparingly in patches on the ground just to add some variation.  Above, you can see the test base on the left, and a after a bit of practice, where I kinda settled, on the base of my WIP Kroot Tracker.

That’s it for now.  Negavolt Cultists and the Rogue Psykers are next.

Blackstone Fortress · Boxed Games · Warhammer 40000

[Blackstone Fortress] Traitor Guardsmen

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These guys have so far been the biggest hurdle for me in trying paint my way through the Blackstone Fortress.  Most of us learn pretty early on in our hobby careers that painting groups of infantry in a sort of assembly line is generally the way to go.  Taking my Dire Avengers as an example, you might basecoat, wash and highlight the undersuit on the entire squad before moving on to the armor plates, which you would again finish on every model before moving on to the next detail whether it be the helmets, weapons, etc.  It saves paint, keeps colors more consistent, and is arguably just a much more efficient way to work through a squad of models rather than painting the same model over and over again from the beginning.

But that’s something I had trouble doing with these Traitor Guardsmen.  These guys are no longer a part of any “official” military force and a lot of their gear is obviously scavenged.  It’s also pretty easy to imagine that a lot of them come from different regiments or worlds so there’s probably very little uniformity in their clothing.  This is something I wanted to work into their paint jobs despite knowing that it would take a little extra time and effort.  And that goes without saying, I know — but I can’t be the only one who gets a little antsy when there’s still dozens of models waiting to be painted from the same set.  Right?

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The Guardsman on the right served as the sort of test model for everything else.  You get two identical models for every type of Guardsman, and one of the things I wanted to do was make sure each was distinct from the other.  The official GW color scheme ties them all together with black armor and I liked that look, so things like their clothing, capes, arm and leg wraps, fur coats, shoulder pads, etc. would be where I would try and mix things up.

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Here’s one half of the lot.  The black armor, dark reds and generally drab colors keep with the dark atmosphere of Blackstone Fortress, but they’re still identifiable as people who were, at least at one time, Imperial Guardsmen.  The paints used for the different fatigue colors was minimal, and the process for painting them was simple and the same throughout.  The first color is your basecoat, which you then hit with a wash.  Once the wash is dry, build the basecoat back up, leaving the darkened recesses alone, then finally highlight with the last color.

  • Grey : Mechanicus Standard Grey, Nuln Oil, Dawnstone
  • Tan (Cadian) : Zandri Dust, Agrax Earthshade, Ushabti Bone
  • Light Tan : Karak Stone, Agrax Earthshade, Screaming Skull
  • Sand : Balor Brown, Agrax Earthshade, Ushabti Bone

Just mix and match the pants and coats and you’ve got one way to add variation to your group of Traitor Guard.  Here’s the second set:

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The fur pelts were also something that gave me pause for thought, but Warhammer TV once again had a few really good tutorials on them.  The guy with the flamethrower up top is a good example of the following technique for grey fur:

  • Basecoat Mechanicus Standard Grey
  • Water down Administratum Grey to about the consistency of a wash and apply it towards the top third of the pelt
  • Use Nuln Oil to shade the bottom third
  • Once everything’s dry, use White Scar to lightly drybrush the pelt and tie all the colors together

Brown fur you can get a little more creative with:

  • Basecoat with Mournfang Brown
  • Use Zandri Dust to paint patterns into the fur like stripes, or just different colored patches
  • Wash all over with Agrax Earthshade to tie the two colors together
  • Once dry, use Tryrant Skull preferably to lightly drybrush the fur, though Ushabti Bone can work as well

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I’m probably still going to go back and add more scratches and maybe freehand more Chaos symbols into their armor before I varnish them, but for now these guys are pretty much done and I’ve moved on.  I hate to admit it, but as I make my way through Blackstone Fortress, hobby fatigue has started to kick in, which I might touch on in another post.

Up next, Chaos Beastmen.

 

Blackstone Fortress · Boxed Games · Warhammer 40000

Into the Blackstone Fortress: Unboxing

I know I’m a bit late here and anyone who’s had their interest piqued by Warhammer Quest’s first venture in the 40k universe has probably either already picked up this box, or at the very least played with a friend’s set.  Still, I feel like this deserves a post as Blackstone Fortress was one of the highlights of Games Workshop’s 2018 release schedule for me — which by the way is no small feat.  They’re killing it right now.  Seriously, give my wallet time to breathe.

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Up until recently with the Kill Team Starter Set — which is what caused Blackstone Fortress to sit on the sidelines for a few months — I’ve never actually had the pleasure of opening up a box of one of Games Workshop’s big releases.  Army specific ‘starter’ boxes and the like sure, but never any of the specialist games or any of the edition specific starter sets.  …Though I do have a Battle for Macragge box sitting around, that was passed off to me by a friend who took an extended leave of absence from the hobby, and was mostly finished anyway.  So that doesn’t count.

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With that said, man does it feel like a mini-Christmas when you first remove the lid and see all the new stuff that’ll be occupying your free time for the foreseeable future.  There was definitely a lot less plastic here than in the Kill Team box, but that’s understandable since Blackstone Fortress is closer to a board game and is pretty much devoid of all the terrain that gave the Kill Team box so much of its heft. What you do get instead are a set of entirely brand new set of sculpts, including the much requested Traitor Guardsmen and an early peek at what modern Chaos Space Marines would look like.

As seems to be the trend, you also get a neat little placard that features art from the game, but also doubles as a layer of protection separating the sprues (and their pointy bits) from potentially damaging any of the cards or books underneath.  So while it’ll likely be a bit scratched up when you open up the box, know that it took one for the team.

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Apart from rulebooks and dice, you get multiple decks of cards, some of which serve as character sheets for the heroes, or explorers as they’re called, as well as decks which I assume are for randomizing encounters as well as dictating what form the Blackstone Fortress takes.  You also get a little book that contains the first bit of the Blackstone Fortress tie-in novel.  Not shown are the five sheets of heavy cardboard, four of which are the tiles that make up the board, as well as one that contains counters and markers you’ll be using during the game.

The last thing of note is a sleeve that warns you not to open it until you’ve finished a certain quest.  It likely has some really powerful piece of archeotech that you’ll be able to use in future adventures.  The air of mystery it adds is a nice touch and fitting for the mood of the game, giving you a reason to play until the end provided you have it in you to resist opening it beforehand.

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As soon as I could, I jumped right into clipping plastic, and assembling models.  Most were really straight forward and consisted of only 3 pieces, but despite being snap fit, it took about two nights to get everything done.  This might vary from box to box, but some pieces were annoyingly hard to get to push all the way together; so much so that on at least one model I just clipped the peg and glued them on the old fashioned way.

As for the models themselves, they are mono-pose, but look great and are full of character.  My favorite, unsurprisingly, is the Aeldari Ranger, who gives me hope that one day we’ll see all the Finecast stuff in the Eldar ranges (Drukhari included) get phased out for some really slick looking plastic kits.

I also opted to base them to match my default 40k scheme since I planned on using some of them either in Kill Team or regular 40k.  Warhammer TV does have a tutorial on how to get that glossy black stone effect that you see on the box and website, but that requires filing down every base, something I didn’t feel like dealing with.

And that’s that.  I’ve actually made a decision not to play the game until all this is painted.  I just hope I don’t burn out before that happens.