Monday, August 04, 2014

A hobbyist takes to the field

You may have noticed that on and off I post pics of the Hordebloods on a battlefield to the Wargaming Tradecraft Facebook page. It's true, they're not just a bunch of pretty faces, they also chew up opponents fairly well. While I don't keep track, I'm proud to say my record usually puts me near the top of the local rankings.

But I'm not writing this to boast. I wanted to talk a little about gaming as a casual player and hobbyist. This is also rather topical because apparently my Hordebloods are no longer tournament legal. Ha!

Casual Attitude and Gaming

A bunch of what you'll read here is from a very laid back approach to wargaming. I'm a hobbyist first, gamer second. The fact I do well when I game is just gravy. However, you'll notice that from a competitive standpoint, I'm a little harsh on artists. That's because I recognize that someone who shows up just to play the game might not be interested in sorting through your conversions to figure out what's attacking them. If they choose to play you in a friendly game, it's their problem - but if you want to compete in their tournament, it could become yours.

My general advice to gaming artists is:
  1. Focus on playing friends and casual players and to have a good time.
  2. Only tournaments force you to play someone you don't want to.
  3. Try to keep conversions in the spirit of the original model to avoid confusion if you want to compete in tournaments and leagues.

Artistic Integrity vs WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get)

At some point, you may have to make the decision between your artistic vision and being able to participate in competitive play. It shouldn't be much of a problem unless your conversions are a little too "out-there." Rely on others to give you advice on if something "makes sense" because you could be blinded by creativity.

You may find that people in your local scene will not play with you unless your army is 100% legal, but more importantly this is something you need to be aware of if you plan on travelling to any larger tournaments. Big events don't have the time to deal with arguments because you made something look confusing.

This is what I mean by incorporating the original
model in to your conversions. If you can change
this much stuff while still keeping the defining
features of the model visible, I think you've
succeeded in creating a strong conversion.
Hopefully, your opponent will be struck in awe
instead of complain in confusion.
Some tips:
  • Mental Tips
    • Hobby minded?
      • Then who cares!? If the army looks great on a shelf and you don't intend to field them, you can do anything you want. Period.
      • If you want to play with them, then at least make an effort to ensure they're not confusing. People won't want to play against the army that nobody understands what's what - no matter if you think it makes sense.
    • You're not legal
      • If there's confusion, you're going to be ruled against. If it's not a tournament setting, be the bigger person and don't argue. Your army may be hard to understand, especially if they're not familiar with your models.
  • Hobby Tips
    • Competition minded?
      • If playing in tournaments is most important to you, keep your conversions light. Use all the recommended gear, don't chop stuff off or glue much extra on. Maybe find a project you can accomplish just by changing how you paint your army instead of modifying them.
    • Magnetize!
      • Magnets allow you to easily replace non-legal conversions with tournament-legal parts.
    • Convert - don't replace.
      • Try to work your changes in to the original model so that defining features (gear, weapons, armour, etc) are still visible.
  • Social Tips
    • Call / eMail ahead
      • Before going to the expense and effort of attending a tournament, contact the organizers with photos of your army to check if they have any concerns with it. If they say you're good, print that permission and bring it to the tournament.
    • Point stuff out
      • If you have a model that's borderline "weird", point it out at the beginning of a game.
    • Proxy with legal models
      • If your opponent doesn't seem cool with your "weird" stuff, have a legal model handy you swap in for this game.

Tournaments vs Artists

I knew for a while now that changing Madrak's Axe in to a hammer wasn't allowed by Privateer Press rules but never cared. Nobody locally was going to say a thing because hammer / axe, it's pretty obvious who he is and I was never interested in competing in any large tournaments.

But, not long ago, came this from Privateer Press:

"Models may not be converted in such a way that any part of the model is representative of another party's intellectual property. Models may not use copyrighted logos, symbols, iconic elements, or iconography that are not the property of Privateer Press"

and continued to be defined as:

"Iconic elements and iconography include, but are not limited to:

Logos, symbols
Weapons, helmets, armor
Costumes and costume color schemes
Character likenesses and creature designs"


"we continue to increase our coverage of events and the creativity of WARMACHINE and HORDES players through our social media, live-streams, and No Quarter magazine. Out of respect for other creator's intellectual property and to protect the integrity of our own media, we cannot feature model conversions that are representative of another party's intellectual property or use iconic elements, iconography or likenesses that may be copyrighted or trademarked by another company. "


While we artists might not always agree with tournament rules, they're usually in place for a reason. Lets look at some examples...

  • Games Workshop's Line of Sight rules
    • In GW games, LOS is determined by your model's ability to see the enemy model. I'm not up to date, but a revision or two ago it was center mass vs center mass. No cheating by shooting at your target's antenna.
    • This adds a level of realism to the game because you're treating it like one figure against another and really makes you think of positioning since games like 40k revolve so much around shooting.
    • From a modder's perspective, this creates concerns. If you build up bases to raise troops, they become easier targets. Your opponent might also complain elevated models have an unfair advantage because they can see better. Or, you have a close-combat unit that's been modified to be crawling on the ground or used smaller models... this also gives an unfair advantage because they're harder to hit.
  • Privateer Press' Weapon Types rule
    • Seems a little bizarre at first... so what if my Madrak is using a hammer instead of an axe?
    • What if you made a unit that has reach weapons appear to be holding small weapons? They no longer look like that have reach, which could confuse your opponent. Same thing the other way around... an opponent might play a lot more carefully around a unit they think has reach because you gave them all huge swords or spears.
  • Games Workshop's "no Nazi's allowed" policy
    • You'd think this would be self explanatory. When I read a rule, FAQ or errata, I sometimes try to picture the rules lawyer who caused it to have to be written out. Same way some warning labels come into existence and you're like, "Who would do that???"
    • Except... look at Ultramarine and Imperial fluff. When a company builds their best selling line around Arian supermen and a certain WW2 regime, they don't like it being flaunted.
  • Privateer Press' Intellectual Property Ruling
    • Some people put A LOT of time and money in to their armies. The unfortunate thing about this ruling is who knows how many people out there suddenly find their army basically a door-stop as far as tournaments are concerned?
    • "But, my Hordebloods are basically just fan-art! Who is Privateer to say what I can and cannot paint?" That's not what's going on. They're not controlling what you can paint, they're saying that when they take pictures at events to post on social media or in magazines, they want to have done their due-diligence to reduce the chance that they print something another company might try to sue them over.
    • My only confusion with this ruling is this: Look at all the websites, magazines and tv shows dedicated to reporting or hosting fan-art. Marvel isn't going to sue Deviant Art because a fan posted a drawing they made of Wolverine. Part of me feels like this decision is them simply saying "We don't want to bother with the situation."

BONUS! My Fluffy Competitive List - The United Horde

Being that I'm trying to create this Hordeblood army, I tend to play infantry heavy armies and over the months (years) I've been tweaking to create a list that not only performs on the battlefield but has a fluffy style to it. The want to fluff has affected some of the choices I make when I'm tweaking the details and I wanted to share the list here. I don't use netlists, but I guess now that it's posted, it's online for anyone to use. If you do, just remember its name:

  • The United Horde - 50pts
    • Orcs
      • pMadrak - Thrall
      • Fell Caller Shaman
      • Mok'Nathal Champion Hero
      • Warsong Champions (Full Unit)
    • Pandaren
        •  Skaldi Bonehammer
    • Orcs / Forsaken
      • Krielstone Voidwalker and Warlocks (Min Unit)
        • Warlock Elder
    • Trolls
      • Troll Impaler
    • Ogres
      • Troll Bomber
    • Tauren
      • Janissa Stonetide Shaman
      • Tauren Runeshaper Shaman
    • Forsaken
      • Lanyssa Sylvanis
      • Fennblade Kithkar Abomination
      • Undead Fennblades (Min Unit)
        • Undead Officer and Drummer
* The alternative to this is I take a min unit of Warders and a Pyre Troll, dropping the Bomber.

Those familiar with Warcraft fluff will recognize that that covers a good chunk of the Horde. Finding a role for the Blood Elves is tricky since Trollblood models are so bulky. Down the road, I'm going to create another Krielstone unit out of Nyss or Ret models.

Maybe I should turn my Fell Caller into a troll by giving him some tusks.

From a competitive angle, this list WRECKS. It's taken me a lot of time to fine-tune and not once have I net-listed any of it. While it labours in timed games due to the high model count, this has actually improved my game as I have to focus on just "playing" and going with my gut instead of taking forever worrying about every little detail. In Brick we Trust.

Essentially, the list works like this:

  1. Madrak and Janissa front line with everything else on either side of them.
    1. Madrak puts Sure Foot on himself
    2. Janissa keeps a stone wall in front of him, putting his defense beyond reasonable.
  2. The Krielstone gets fueled over turn 1 and 2, not activating until turn 2 or 3.
    (Depending on where the enemy is.) 
    1. Once it activates, it stays on the rest of the game. I default to the UA's power that cancels out continuous effects, switching out for +1 strength when it's needed.
  3. Fennblades have two options:
    1. Either hoof it to threaten the opponent's flank and rear against a smaller army or,
    2. Initiate with the mini-feat if against a lot of infantry.
  4. Champions stay close to Madrak until the time is right to go in.
  5. Runeshapers do their own thing, rather than benefit from Janissa's buff.
    1. This usually means taking the flank opposite the Fennblades and pressuring with ranged attacks or,
    2. Moving to intercept targets you might want to knock down or,
    3. Protecting Madrak and Janissa using her buff.
  6. The Impaler will keep the Bomber long-shotted
    1. Occasionally, it'll toss a boosted spear for an increased change to slam a jack/beast into models behind it.
  7. The Bomber is your initiator.
    1. He'll toss 2 long-shotted kegs per turn at your opponent.
    2. If you can afford to wait, you sit back. Let him throw his kegs. He's happy like this. Your opponent can't afford this damage and will come to you. Hopefully, one of two things will happen. Either he gives up doing damage and runs to close the distance, at least robbing you of charging or he doesn't get in range and you get to charge him. There's a good chance that's your feat turn.
    3. If you can't afford to wait, target jacks / beasts / engines to do tons of damage or try to drop the pie plates on high DEF infantry.
    4. A far striked bomb is also a fantastic assassination move. If you're on a hill or can knock down / kill intervening models, the enemy usually doesn't see this coming from such a melee-focused army.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

State of Hordebloods

The topic came up in the Facebook Trollblood group to post pics of your finished models. So I did, which you can see above. I know, it's not a lot. Been a crazy time in the life of yours truly. But I stand firmly in the belief that if you hit a hobby road block - MARCH. Get your troops on the field and play some games. It's been a great motivator for me to keep working.

Speaking of working, Tradecraft Live is in full swing! It's been fun streaming while hobbying and getting a chance to chat with people at the same time. As you can see from past broadcasts, it's not super-exciting yet though it is a good time when there's people watching and we all end up chatting. Otherwise, I'm trying to talk to myself to increase the replay value. TheWife also points out that streaming is helping me hobby. I'm listening to music instead of watching TV/movies and I'm focusing on what I'm working on.

I'm in this real "hands on" mood with the Hordebloods at the moment. I know I'm mid-Champions on the painting front, but it feels good to revisit some units I don't think I spent enough time on. Fennblades have been give a real Forsaken undead look, I'm going to come back to the Warders too to strap on some carved wood totems, the skinner needs a nicer dagger and I'm having a bit of a time deciding exactly how I want my banshee's face and hair to look. A lot of this, you can watch live.

So yeah, just a quick update... remember to FOLLOW Tradecraft Live because then you'll get an eMail when I go live. Unfortunately, all this creativity is pulling me away from posting stuff to the website, but if you follow on Facebook you'll get more info on what I'm working on.

Due to plans last weekend and the upcoming one, I wasn't / won't be broadcasting, but don't worry, it will continue!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hordebloods - Carving Forsaken Fennblades

The unit of Fennblades are planned to be Forsaken (undead) in my Hordeblood army. Originally, I think I hit a strain in my process and just decided that I'd paint the Fenns undead-like and that would be enough.

I'm in the process of revisiting some of my units and making sure I've done what I can to convert them. The Fennblades needed some work.

Here's the unit before I did any work on them. Just regular ol' Fenns.

Now, it's time to cut...

I streamed this work live on Twitch (Which you can watch a recording of.) and will probably stream the work this evening while green stuffing.
For the unit attachment leader, I removed his jaw and upper right-arm.

The jaw, I'll clean up and his arm was replaced with a pin. (Which I'll green stuff to make bone-like.)

Gave him a hair transplant undead-style by drilling a bunch of holes in his head and gluing in guitar string for a spiked look.
On one of the infantry, I've carved away the flesh of his jaw, down to bone. Lips are removed and gums / teeth are where it's at on the lower portion.

Slicing the skin on the side of his face, I got under it to make a flap.

For the guy below, I've cut in and revealed (carved) his shoulder blade.

This poor fellow had the whole of his right side removed. It'll get some gorifying done once I'm painting and gelling.

I'm a huge fan of how this one turned out. Still a little hard to tell in the photo, but he's got a spine running down his back and tendons pulling away from it.
The drummer's a pretty solid piece of metal, but I gave him something new to beat with.

Below, I removed these two guys heads. Looked through my bits for some skulls, but found these chaos heads instead.

They're inhuman enough that I think it's believable they could have been trolls at some point.. maybe flesh pulled against their skulls.

Finally, the leader got impaled with some rebar. I'll probably green stuff on some concrete.

For an added touch, ran a chain from the bar, around his foot and to the back. I used some super-thin glue on the chain so it's frozen in motion.

Take a look at my Step by Step page for the entire Hordebloods project.

Here you will find each model broken down into links showing each step:
Concept, Works in Progress, (for both modelling and painting) and Final Shots

Monday, July 07, 2014


After a day filled with marching Hordeblooded armies, did some work pinning a Carnivean.

I tried a little something to help drill the metal models and was blown away by how well it worked.

To that end, I've updated my pinning article to talk about it.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Coming Soon: Tradecraft Live

In the near future, (See: As soon as I figure out the best way to mount the webcam  that keeps it out of the way but lets you fine folk see everything, and I have a few ideas.) I'll begin streaming my painting sessions live to the world. They'll be in HD, at least if the old computer next to my painting station can handle it :) Hoping to get things going in the next day or so to be honest. I figure as long as I'm painting, might as well stream it while chatting with anyone who wants to watch about what I'm doing and answering questions live.

You'll be able to watch here:

If you click "Follow", you'll be emailed whenever I go live. This will also give me an idea of how many people are interested in what I'm doing and the validity of possible future plans.

I'm also hoping this will assist my own focus. If I'm broadcasting, I can't be distracted by MEDIEVAL LAND FUN-TIME WORLD now can I?

For now, I won't be posting video tutorials. It takes long enough to write tutorials here to the quality I hold myself to, I'm sure video ones would be even more time consuming.

Monday, June 23, 2014

[REVIEW] Custom Templates from Greenman Designs, Inc.

A little while ago I was contacted by Josh from Greenman Designs, Inc. wondering if he could send me some examples of his work. I'd been dealing with some crappy customer service around then, so my first reaction was "This is awesome! A company that's contacting ME to offer service!" From there, I was only impressed over and over.

Greenman Designs has a great selection of templates, tokens and markers for various games like Warmachine / Hordes, Warhammer and Infinity They also do custom work if you've got your own ideas you'd like to see come to life. Parents, they even sell gift certificates. I love the artistic edge that he adds. When I saw the Eldar template set, I knew I was dealing with someone who could make my ideas for the Hordebloods come to life.

You can take a look at their shop, but prices are competitive. Custom jobs cost more depending on how much work is involved.

If you want to keep up with the latest stuff he's working on, take a look at the Gdesigns Inc Facebook.

I gave Josh some designs and he sent me a sample of his work. Right away I started planning the rest of what I was interested in. His laser cut templates can create extremely fine details. Working with him and planning the templates was quite an easy process. I tried with a few other custom template companies a while back and their customer service was just poor.

I planned my order like this:
  • Filled in Horde Symbol shaped markers with room for text for buffs, spells, etc.
  • Smaller Horde Symbols to act as Fury tokens.
  • Small, coloured totem symbols for status effects:
    • Red: On Fire
    • Yellow: Knocked Down
    • Green: Corroded
    • Blue: Stationary
I also picked up a set of his templates for measuring blasts from models directly hit.

You'll notice the detail is sharp and the cuts are clean. Text for buffs is small but readable. Even the eyes in the totems have been cut out and those are tiny. (You can see the scale in the photos.)
If you think the close-ups look good, look at the photos below to see how they really add style to the army on the battlefield!

The only downside to using custom buff / spell templates is they're a little more to manage. It's easy to place a template and write a buff on it but with custom templates you need to look through the pile for the templates you need as you need them. To solve this, I keep the templates for my main list together and pull them out with the rest of my dice, tape measure, pen, etc. before the game starts.

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with the work Greenman Designs did for me. Easy to work with, fantastic detail and the Hordebloods look absolutely fantastic on the field with the extra flare that these templates and tokens add. Josh definitely brings an artist's eye to precision gaming.


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