Monday, November 29, 2010

1st Warrior Squad Complete

Here is the squad:

They have an extra Sybarite due to my fiddling around with the kits. First Sybarite:

I painted the skin under her fringe as if it had been badly scarred (and addd some scar lines on the right side of her face) - I'm imagining she wears her hair like that to hide her disfigurement, like Meg Ryan in Captain Planet.

Second Sybarite and Splinter Cannon dude:

This Sybarite is made from a Raider crewman body.


Warriors... come out to play!

Very happy with how the colour scheme turned out. I obviously went for black tabbards with yellow stripes - I tested the reverse and it was too overpowering for the purple. Next up I'll be doing a Wych squad and finishing off my Lelith counts-as.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Raaarg, Gotthammer smash GW! and why I don't like mixing paints

So I went into my local GW to buy some more small drybrushes and some more Tentical Pink, since mine is looking a bit gluggy.

Games Workshop no longer makes Tentacle pink! What the hell guys?

If I was female, a lawyer and a superhero I'd have done this and wrecked up the place.

The minion there informed me that they're cutting a few lines from the range, not just the pink I need as the final highlight for my entire Dark Eldar army. Probably some of the twenty shades of green they have.

I find this personally very annoying as, despite the minion helpfully telling me I could mix some purple and white, I hate mixing paints.

I really do - it ends up wasting a whole bunch and I can never get the colour quite right again, something important when it's a main colour for your army. I guess it is easier from GW's point of view that they have to make/carry less colours, and make more from selling multiples to mix, but the draw for me of citadel colours has always been the good range of shades available.

I'll probably stick with the pink I've got and thin it a bit (even though that makes my brushes taste weird), but later i guess I'll make a bottle of Liche Purple/White blend so everyone gets the same colour.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dark Eldar II

Captain Loressha is just about done - only need to do her back banner.

First time using line/edge highlighting, pretty happy with how it turned out. The coulours are Hormagaunt Purple drybrush over black, followd by a Liche Purple drybrush, then a 60/40 Liche / White mix edge highlight, purple wash, fine tentacle pink edge highlight and lastly a black wash.

Dassanta is coming along nicely now, though she was giving me serious headaches - the colours weren't working and no matter what I did the detail wasn't coming out well defined or crisp. It was getting to the point where I was thinking I'd have to strip her back to metal and start agian honestly.

But, fortunately it didn't come to that and all is well. It was only around the Gryphonne Sepia wash of her skin that it started coming together.
I'm thinking of giving her tattoos down her arms and back, Yakuza style, but I'm not 100% sold on the idea. Well, I like the idea... I just don't know if it'll look any good.

Who got da butt? Brak got da butt!
I couldn't find a clip of that, so have some Sisqo linkage instead.

With this army I'm trying lots of new techniques - heavier shading, line edging and a 'rougher' style. This is partly inspired by Ron From The Warp's Deathwing and Space Hulk minis (who also inspired me before) in terms of not having 100% paint coverage - by which I mean they're wearing purple armour, but the model isn't fully based in it, leaving the shadows black.

I've also been more immediately spurred on by THIS POST (read it, it's awesome) by Dave_G over at Wargaming Tradecraft. I'll just be lazy and quote my comment there here:

"I sometimes have to remind myself as a painter to not get stuck doing the same things with my models and to try new things rather than just playing it 'safe'.
It doesn't always work but when it does it is certainly more rewarding seeing the job done than simply going the tried and true."

So I'm pushing the envelope, thinking outside the square, going fastermax, reaching over the top and mastering the ass. I'm also using Dave_G's posting of the 'alternative styles' of Sketching and Outlining for a bit of inspiration (I liked Borderlands art style, pity I didn't like the game itself) - I'm being rougher and more carefree with the shading and highlighting. That's not to say lazy or haphazard, but focusing more on the feel of the model than getting it 'perfect'.
This could also be to do with getting back into drawing again as I tend to be rather sketchy there, so it's probably bleeding over into my painting.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dark Eldar

As with everybody else it seems I have been constructing some Dark Eldar, though I'm using them as pirates / mercs rather than Commorites (more on that at the bottom). First up, some Wyches:

This lady was a fun one to make - I simply glued the two bent legs together (they fit fine without chopping) and turned her plait around 180 degrees. She's mounted on a paperclip secured on the underside with some greenstuff.

Mixed in some Hellion parts:

I know kung-fu

I'm using the power swords as Agonisers - everyone with a special CCW has an Agoniser, so they won't be mixed up. I just don't like the whips.

Raider and crew:

Hangin' tough.

Get some! Get some! Get some!

And now, young Jedi, you die... *scratches on invisible turntables*

I used the leftover Raider pilot body to make a Sybarite:

A warrior squad:

My Archon, Captain Loressha (Sliscus stand in):

Wych head, and Banshee Exarch arms as the twin poison swords.

Dassanta (Lelith/Succubus stand in):

Changed her left forearm to the chain weapon from the Wych kit - it's functionally the same as another knife.

Their colour scheme will be a mix of purple, black and yellow - similar to the Archon on pg66 of the codex.

The basic inspiration is the RT era Eldar Pirates and corsairs, namely these guys:

So they're technically Craftworld alligned and I won't be using any of the wierder stuff like Haemonculi, Mandrakes or other gribblies without some re-working/counts-as. Talos might get a Wraithlord standin depending on rules, and if the Scourges look as awesome as their artwork they'll be in.

The colour scheme will be purple as the main colour with yellow and black accents. The yellow will also get tiger striping. I won't be doing the whole helmets as the guys above though, but the shoulder pads and tabbards.

Basically they're a group of piratical raiders based out of a Haven Spire, using Eclipse class cruisers - mostly because they look the coolest. Another reason for the name is I was giving them an Imperial designation of The Eclipse Corsairs. A thought was to have that name come from their use of the cruiser, as well as their logo.

Rough idea:

The logo is based off the Sunblitz Brotherhood icon and one of the old forms of the Eye of Horus. It is a symbolic representation of an ecliped star on the horizon - something like this cut in half:

Loosly translated from the quenya (in Tengwar Annatar script, to make it a little eviler) the text reads :

"i hecil ciryamo halda firinva"

which loosly translates to "The outcast mariners hidden from the sun's rays". The idea is to have them coming from Luganath craftword, who's namemeans "Light of fallen suns".
As Lugganath is of the opinion of escaping into the Webway Dark Eldar style and has aided humanity in the past I was thinking my crew would be of the more millitant members of the Craftword - those who think giving up is a terrible idea, the Eldar should be trying to restore their glory and that humans/Tau/Ork/whoever else are insects etc etc... ie they wish they'd been born on Biel-Tan
In addition to this noble, if misguided, group there are assorted ne'erdowells, criminals, kinslayers and such who have sought sanctuary after exile.

They leave as Outcast corsairs, but raid colony worlds and are generally very aggresive in their manner (wiping out existing colonies rather than just preventing new ones). This doesn't sit too well with the Craftworld who cut them off, but they still need supplies so they trade with their Dark Kin and later copy their designs.
Lugganath's interest in the webway also gives a reason why they'd be as adept as the Dark Eldar in using it (ie why I can use portals and such), as well as the trading.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Review: Path of the Warrior

Non spoilery review:

Good, but the last third has next to nothing to do with the first two thirds so the whole thing feels incomplete and disjointed.

It does have some excellent insights into Eldar culture and society, but unfortunately many of these plot threads are left sparse in favour of overly repetitive battle scenes.

Major Spoilers Ahead!

Path of the Warrior tells the story of Korlandril, and his eventual stumbling onto the titular path, and his fall into Exarchdom (told you there were spoilers).

The book opens with Korlandril , on the path of the Artist, waiting with Thirianna, a poet and forme Aspecct Warrior, waiting for their mutual friend Aradryan – he is on the path of the Mariner and has been sailing the distant stars for some time. Korlandril is basically in love with Thirianna , but is trying to suss out if she feels the same. Korlandril is also very jealous of what he sees as Thirianna ’s attraction to Aradryan .

Each chapter is prefaced by a legend of Eldar myth relating to that chapter’s subject. For example when Korlandril is injured and healing, the story of Isha giving a lock of her hair to Eldanesh to heal him is told. They are done neatly and don’t intrude into the narrative, and certainly enhance the Eldar mythos.

The first section goes on to cover how paths work, how the Eldar change their psyche (and personalities to an extent) when they take on certain paths, and how everyday life on the Craftworld goes about its business. This is very well written and the characters, while relatable, still seem alien.
Korlandril is further put out by his friend’s return as Aradryan seems distant and distracted, and uninterested in Korlandril ’s upcoming unveiling (he’s a sculptor).

It all comes to a head when the sculpture is unveiled and Aradryan criticises Korlandril ’s work, calling it uninspired and derivative compared to the marvels of the cosmos. Korlandril flips out and storms off, and Aradryan leaves the craftworld (to become an Outcast/Exodite).
After unintentionally insulting Thirianna ’s military past Korlandril makes a pass at her, asking her to stay with him as artist and poet. She tells him it is inappropriate to concentrate on one path, as well as unhealthy. Korlandril flips out again and storms off, raging and brimming with rage.

Seeking to find a control for his feelings he seeks out his friends Arthuis and Maerthuin, brothers walking the Warrior path as Dark Reapers. He also meets Elissanadrin, a Striking Scorpion. Korlandril tells them of his feelings and his need to be rid of them, while the Aspect Warriors tell him he needs to find a release for his anger.

I thought this part was superbly done – Korlandril wants nothing more than to be rid of his anger, he finds it ugly, wasteful and against everything that creates beauty. His mind is truely set as that of someone seeking nothing more than the creation of splendour, destruction is totally abhorrent to him. The Aspect Warriors, here at rest, tell him that they put on their ‘war mask’ to release their anger, but take it off outside of battle so they can release it and be free of it.
Korlandril ’s conversations with Thirianna reveal that as a former Aspect Warrior she finds that the experience has better helped her manage her anger outside of the Path.

I found this very interesting as, while Korlandril is certainly a self centred layabout (all his paths we know of are self indulgent), he reflects the Eldar’s natural distaste for violence. Other Eldar sit apart from the Aspect Warriors in communal places, and the Warriors seem only to associate with each other for the most part.
It also ties in with the prologue where an Exarch loses a member of his squad, and is not concerned as another always appears. It is basically saying that there will always be Eldar driven to the Warrior Path, as if the Paths simply create a proportional balance of the Eldar psyche across the whole society. So there will always be roughly the same number of Aspect Warriors at any given time, as there will be Bonesingers or Mariners. This appears later when Korlandril becomes an Exarch and a number of Eldar are drawn to him as soon as he takes the mantle.

Elissanadrin takes Korlandril to her temple, the Shrine of the Deadly Shadow, where he meets Exarch Kenainath who takes him in. He goes through an extensive Kung-fu training montage sequence, learning about his War Mask and how to control it. He does this in isolation lest he harm others, and is confined to the Shrine. After a time he is allowed to mix with the rest of the squad, Elissanadrin (there is brewing attraction between the pair), Arhulesh ( the joker), Bechareth ( the silent mysterious guy without a past) and Min (the older jolly guy).
The training continues and Korlandril eventually gets to put on his helmet, and thus his War Mask. It doesn’t go well, with him losing control and blacking out, but he eventually gets there and is allowed to leave the shrine.

The montage of training I found well written, as with the descriptions of the Kung-fuesque stances and moves. The training fights were short and sharp, and focussed mostly on Korlandril ’s thoughts about his skills and feelings. He also is growing as a character, and when on the outside he meets Aradryan again he apologises, revealing his mindset is now more serious, less emotional than before (again, the changing psyche). Basically he was a snotty, whiney brat who got a reality check and realised what a douche he was being for not accepting his friend had changed.

Aradryan reveals war is brewing on a distant world, and that he had seen Thirianna . Korlandril is unmoved by this, saying if they meet again he won’t be angry, but similarly won’t be sad if they don’t. Aradryan draws his friend out into revealing the attraction to Elissanadrin , but Korlandril gets embarrassed and says nothing is happening as it would be unprofessional.
Battle draws near and Korlandril receives a token of well wishing from Thirianna – a rune from her Aspect Armour, which makes him happy (Love triangle alert!). All through the book the Eldar’s psychic nature has been used very subtly and effectively in instances such as this. Communication is done through the Infinity Circuit, and people can look for each other by seeking out their imprints in it. Instead of doorbells people go to a doorway and send a psychic ‘request’ to enter, that sort of thing.

It is integrated smoothly and never feels like Gav is going ‘look at how psychic the Eldar are!’, as the Space Hulk novel often clumsily introduced Overwatch and such into the text.

As war draws near the Avatar wakes up and Korlandril is drawn back to his temple and to war. After they suit up the Warriors mill around, and see another Striking Scorpion group, the Fall of Dark Rain. Their Exarch Aranaraha , unlike Kenainath , is talkative and disturbingly friendly. His group is also much more sizable than Kenainath ’s. Elissanadrin explains that Aranaraha enjoys being an Exarch, while Kenainath hates it and that he is needed to train others to control their bloodlust. Kenainath is revealed to take a very personal interest in his pupils, wishing they didn’t need training, while Aranaraha teaches en masse and actively tries to recruit new members (I’m not sure how this works as Exarchs aren’t meant to leave their Shrines [excpt when they do]).

So basically Kenainath is Mr Miyagi and Aranaraha is Cobra Kai.

Things go badly for in the battle and Korlandril ends up nearly getting killed. We are then treated to a scene where we have Korlandril helped back to life, so to speak, by a healer. Korlandril has to face his fears and the terrible pain he feels to survive, rather than shying away from it. He eventually does, and awakes to discover that his psychological damage has been compartmentalised into his War Mask persona, and that he has to don it to repair the damage lurking inside. Initially reluctant to return, Korlandril ’s healing is interrupted by Aranaraha on a recruitment mission. Aranaraha attempts to lure Korlandril to his Shrine by blaming Kenainath’s teachings for the injury, and claiming the FDR training will make him strong.
This freaks Korlandril out, who vows to return to the Deadly Shadow. The healer is also furious at Aranaraha for coming into a place of healing with his bad vibes.

The healing section was interesting, but felt incomplete. The subject of Korlandril ’s fears being locked into his War Mask is never really mentioned again, and he is basically back to normal in a few pages. I would have liked to see more about the psychological/psychic healing personally, at least another couple of pages.

Korlandril rejoins his squad, meeting Min as he leaves the Shrine – he is finding it too hard to take off his War Mask, and cautions Korlandril against overconfidence in his ability to do so. Of course Korlandril laughs it off and goes on as normal.

We then get some good banter between the remaining squad, until time passes and Arhulesh is headhunted by Aranaraha . This provokes an honour duel between the two Shrines to prove who’s style is most worthy, and who keeps Arhulesh . Naturally Korlandril is set to fight him, being the newest Deadly Shadow as Arhulesh is the newest Dark Rain. It is doubly important as without Arhulesh the Shadows will be too few to operate as a squad and would be disbanded. A very interesting point, tying in to the whole Exarchs drawing people to them, as it shows there is some higher authority over them to do so (maybe simply tradition). The warriors do not know what would happen to Kenainath if he lost his squad though.

Of course Korlandril wins the duel, but a jibe from Arhulesh at the end causes Korlandril to lose control and almost kill him. The two make up and Korlandril is set to train by himself for some time, and upon his release makes the conscious decision to seek non warlike companionship, forsaking his squadmates initially to meet with Thirianna .

Thirianna is happy to see him, but reaveals that as a Seer she read his runes and they are confused and that he is treading down a dangerous path.
It goes badly, with Korlandril deriding Thirianna ’s concern for him and mocking her observation that he treats everything as a battle to be won. He then goes on to call her jealous of his feelings for Elissanadrin , and sees her crying as an attempt at attention (smooth move dude). Returning to the Shrine for some training he meets with Elissanadrin , and they have some sexually charged banter before another war breaks out.

Honestly, I was pretty annoyed with this battle scene. It went on for a bit too long (there are only so many descriptive ways to kill someone with a chainsword), and it interrupted a very interesting part of the story. I’ve often heard people say Eldar only have few children because sex is so intense emotionally and blah blah blah (though no idea on the source – anybody?). But here we have two Eldar basically saying

Korlandril : “I like you and am attracted to you, we should go out some time.”
Elissanadrin : “I’d rather just do you now, and then we can go out after that.”

Prettymuch flies in the face of the whole “no Eldar gettin’ jiggy with it” thing.

Na-na-na na-na na-na, Na-na-na na-na na-naaaaa, gettin' jiggy with it

The battle is doubly annoying as after he comes back Korlandril falls off the deep end with his growing insanity and becomes an Exarch. There are some scenes I found amusing where Korlandril will do something perfectly normal, everyone will freak out, and he’ll review it in his mind revealing he was acting all crazy. One example is that he walks out from a grove to ask for directions, but in reality he leapt out of the shadows in a combat stance. I thought it was well done, but unfortunately he doesn’t pull back from the brink at the last minute and the book goes down along with him.

From here on in, everything you have read is basically irrelevant.
Korlandril no longer exists, being replaced by the Exarch Morlaniath (he puts on the suit and the gestalt personality subsumes him); the Deadly Shadow squad don’t appear much, certainly no meaningful interaction; and the few characters (Thirianna , Kenainath ) who are around are talking to an essentially new main character – one with all the personality of a rock.
Morlaniath also gets a bunch of new recruits who are basically irrelevant. Eventually Thirianna comes to Korlandril (or rather Mor), asking for his help. She is a Farseer now and is having strange visions of doom that no-one else listens to.

Wait... she’s a Farseer now? lolwot? Didn’t she abhor the idea of getting caught on a path? If only there was a main character who had feelings and emotions to comment on this...
I’m inclined to think this might be an error, and they mean a scryer of some sort, rather than a full blown Farseer, but if it is it a terrible mix up for a 40k book to make – Mutilazorz level of bad IMO.

It’s fairly irrelevant in either case as Morlaniath doesn’t care in any way, shape or form about Thirianna , so he sends her away. Eventually he convinces himself to call in a favour one of his past incarnations with an Autarch, and it is revealed her visions were in fact true and the Imperium is about to invade Alaitoc!

Strap yourself in for a hugely tedious battle scene! Short version is: a bunch of Phoenix Lords show up, including Karandras. Kenainath gives Morlaniath the Deadly Shadow as his own squad is too inexperienced and Kenainath ’s mortal body is dying. We are treated to page upon page of epic battles – from the POV of Morlaniath waiting in the shadows mostly. See, the thing about stealthy close combat dudes is that they tend to wait and hide and spring ambushes. Not very exciting when they’re waiting around watching other guys do the fighting.

Eventually they team up with Karandras, Elissanadrin gets killed (maybe, she’s described as wounded later), Bechareth is also hurt (but must survive as he’s actually an Incubi and his reformation proves the worth of the path) so it ends up with Karandaras getting ‘killed’, and Korlandril /Morlaniath giving themselves to him so he gets up and goes back into the fight.

So basically Elissanadrin (probably) dies with no emotional reaction, despite being a love interest at one point – its literally a couple of lines - and the main character, who only peripherally exists at this point anyway, now totally ceases to exist. You see while Exarchs house the souls of their former ‘bodies’, Karandaras simply absorbs their energy but not their personality so they gain peace at last.

Now, why I hate all of this:

1) If you look at the inside cover of the book it is listed as ‘Path of the Eldar Series, Book One’. So there will be others. My guess is Path of the Seer (Thirianna ), Path of the Outcast (Aradryan ), and probably one about the Incubi guy.

2) This means that this entire book was essentially set-up for the others. The only real carry over is that Morlaniath convinced the Autarch to listen to Thirianna ’s vision. Aside from that Korlandril ’s story is largely irrelevant.

3) That it’s irrelevant wouldn’t be so bad if it was a complete story – Korlandril ’s relationship with Elissanadrin is never resolved, his own personal development just stops when he ceases to exist. I would have much preferred the final battle scene to be massively cut back, maybe just to be the part where they fight the Space Marines at the end with Karandaras.
This would have left room to have Korlandril step back from the brink, a bit more love triangleness between him, Thirianna and Elissanadrin , and then have Kenainath give his life to Karandaras at the end – it would be symbolic of Korlandril ’s mentor attaining peace at the same time as he does and have him leave the Path and resolve his personal issues (ie being a self centred ass [though to be fair he only seems to be around Thirianna ]).

Essentially it was like the first two thirds were a separate novel from the end, and the story never completes. For all it’s worth it could have been Kenainath instead of Morlaniath as the Exarch at the end, such is the character. It makes sense in terms of the universe to have the personality change, but it really ruined the narrative for me (and that last battle goes on far too long).

Overall it started great, but the sudden shift in the thirds section left me deeply disappointed.