Thursday, January 9, 2014

Personal Notes 101

Having taken practically a year and a half hiatus from 40k and miniature wargaming I've started to dive right back into it and I'm remembering everything about this hobby that made me love it so much.  In fact I'm enjoying even more of it, for I was the type of person that absolutely abhorred painting mini's and so at most all I had was a 1k point list painted of Tau (my primary army, or so it was when I played 40k regularly).  Having returned though I've started to paint practically daily however, and a significant portion of that is simply from inspiration.

I have a variety of ways to find inspiration and this is not a blog post on finding inspiration, but just to bring you up to speed I listen to podcasts (Independent characters, 11th company, and more recently War and More Radio - Adam is an amazing guy and I've had several talks with him about all sorts of things and its always a pleasure to hear him speak in person as well as those times where I tune in to his podcast), I read books (absolutely love black library), read codexes (with my time away I'm now starting to read tau and Eldar, and haven't gotten my hands on dark angels, daemons, or space marines).  And then of course as I'm sure you can guess I like to write.  Writing missions, writing campaigns, writing stories, army lists, articles, creating settings and worlds, all these things I do when I'm excited about something and it only elevates my passion.

So here's where I'm at right now and what is driving me to write this series of articles:  currently I have a host of miniatures to be assembled, painted, and played of a variety of different factions, 3 of which have received new codexes since I played them, and 1 which is getting one in the next couple of days.  These armies are: Tau, Eldar, Chaos Marines, and Tyranids.  I feel the need to say a few things about these forces for clarification's sake.

Each of these I love for a different reason, I love the lore and story telling element that I can so easily construct for the Tau (as you've no doubt guessed by my battle reports with my Tau) and the stories that come from them feel very natural to me and are the empire that I most empathize with.

The Eldar as models are really awesome and I love the concepts that they work with on the battle field, less from writing stories from their perspective but the disciplines necessary to them and the war culture and they have some really awesome possibilities as well, but their aesthetic has always been one of my favorites (I'm not actually that big of a fan of the Tau look, it gets VERY repetitive to me and the difference between battle suits is negligible, fire warriors are all the same, the only variety that could ever exist in the army is if you choose to paint them differently which poses problems to thematic cohesion of a force that is supposedly united and while it could be reasoned out having to do that for every single battle would feel cheap and detract from those times when you want an actual change in the story or advance some piece of the lore for your personal army, I mean they have so many battlesuits that all just look identical unless you drastically alter their paint schemes).

Chaos Marines have some really cool models as well, but what I like about them isn't even the Chaos part of them but the fact that they are renegades against the Imperium (I hate the Imperium and everything it stands for and I can never ever EVER consider them to be good guys) and so part of what I have in mind for my Chaos Marines you've already seen some of being the Virtue Forsakers and how they aren't so big on the Chaos Gods and only resort to seeking their help when they have no other options, but the resources that Chaos Marines have are cool to me and they can have, just like the Tau, some really awesome story telling if you make sure that you don't portray them as evil.  Not every Chaos Marine faction has to revel in destruction and death, and maybe the Forsakers will lean in that direction, but that’s definitely not where they are starting from.

And Finally there are the Tyranids.  I have always loved  Tyranids more than any other faction.  Lore wise they're actually quite bland, mindless aside from a mysterious Hive Mind but without that their story entirely consists of battles and how they've evolved as separate Hive Fleets which I find disappointing but I have my own ideas on how to spice up the Tyranids as you'll see soon enough when I get to developing my faction of them (and I have a feeling that you're not going to agree with where I take them).  However aside from their lack of personality I love what they DO from a story perspective to other people and planets.  I love how their models look, I love how they feel on the tabletop, and I love the way they force factions to develop.  I just wish that there was more character to individual Tyranids aside from the tactic that one Hive Fleet adopts versus another.  The terrible threat they pose to everything though is not to be missed however, and while I am knocking on the Tyranids a little just remember that I do place them as my favorite above all others.

So now that some of the details have been explained let me reveal a bit more of my purposes, and feel free to take anything that I say or the ideas that I mention or reasons that I do this and utilize them yourselves.  Writing articles for inspiration or just throwing words on a text document without even sharing it can be helpful on its own.  But I digress.  I am excited about these 4 different armies because they have always been very inspiring to me for their own different reasons and now that I've returned to wargaming I have so much awesome toys and an edition that I'm still completely new to unlike the rest of you and its all just so exciting to me.  As a result of my new found habit of painting and my desire to write articles again I have found that my various different actions are all feeding on each other and my passion is growing almost exponentially and that has brought this idea to fruition for me.

I have significant modeling work to do for each of these armies despite the amount of time that I've owned them and the quantity of the models I have for each. The Tau I have some models painted but I am actually going to be painting lots more of what I have in different ways, I don't feel that I adequately represented them as they should be.  As it stands I have painted about 12 or 18 Fire warriors with any decency that I recall (haven't looked at those models in quite a while) and those that are painted are done in the standard T'au sept colors.  If you can remember however, the lore for my army is entirely centered around Shas'o Dal'yth Myl'ok.  The Key part of that commander being Dal'yth, a sept that has its own colors and lore.  I have read through both the 4th edition codex and the 6th edition one and neither of them have a color scheme for them and so I'm going to have to do my own work on that but because it is in fact unique and unexplained it clearly can't use the same scheme as what I have painted so far.  Sure I can use the models to play, but being so driven by lore and story telling as I am it only feels right to at least start painting some of my models in a manner that is true to the faction that I've already devoted many hours to developing.

My Eldar I possess about 1.5k points at MAX, and I truly mean if I really stretch out my points, as I have about 9 dire avengers and 8 Fire Dragons that are painted (by someone else who I bought from via FLGS) in addition to about 35 unpainted guardian defenders, 1 unpainted metal heavy weapon platform (the particular gun I can't recall), 2 unpainted war walkers (1 with dual star cannons, other dual scatter lasers), 1 unpainted Farseer, 3 unpainted warlocks, 1 unpainted Yriel, 5 unpainted rangers, and 5 painted guardians I have done up Iyanden style (because I like their colors and their lore and I'm not sure that I want to design my own Eldar faction when theirs suits me just fine).  As you can see though I am quite lacking but I want to paint up most of what I have before I add to this collection.

Chaos Marines consist of 2 boxes of Dark Vengeance that I bought at release, so I do have 2 of those limited edition chaplains whatever that means.  But part of what I'm planning on doing is utilizing those Dark Angels as Chaos Marines.  This will take a little bit of effort, and I'm not sure how much at the moment.  Currently I have in mind filing off all the iconography that is clearly reminiscent of the Imperium or Dark Angels, and going through my various Chaos bitz I have purchased off of Ebay a while back and adding bits and pieces to them where I feel its necessary.  I also have a box of Chaos Terminators as well, so I can at least use those before I start worrying about the Dark Angel Terminators.  I am very definitively planning on making the DA Tactical Marines and the bikers Chaos, and I justify my modeling this way since not only are the Dark Angels shifty in nature according to the lore anyways, but when my intention is to play them only as Chaos anyways and they'll be painted in the same scheme as my truly Chaos models so I doubt anyone will have real objections to my playign them as such when they are so neatly in my thematic army.  Everyone makes do with what they have, its an expensive hobby and there's no reason to go adding to the cost needlessly when I have perfectly suitable models for use elsewhere.  It might be different if I were to use my Tau models to act as Helbrutes or cultists, although if I was consistent with the theme and painted them properly even that might be excusable.

Tyranids I have a large quantity of models and the most work to put into them, far more than any of the others.  While I might have more Tau models (though I haven't actually done a direct comparison yet) almost none of my nids are even off their sprues, and this is for several reasons.  First and foremost, at my core I'm a perfectionist, and as a result the task that I've put in front of myself for my Tyranids is rather daunting.  How I am trying to model all of my Tyranids is that they're taking part in a battle with some force of Imperial Guard, from the lowest hormagaunt to the mightiest hive tyrant.  I have visions in my head of how they will look in the end, and its… extensive.  So far I have about 15 hormagaunts modeled as I want them, with various guardsmen bitz involved with their modeling.  My most detailed hormagaunt has 2 guardsmen as a part of it, 1 that has been skewered through the chest by one of its talons and the other that is sliced up under its feet.  Other hormagaunts are far less extravagant (I don't have the money to support that many guardsmen pieces on horde infantry) and typically have parts from helmets, chopped up arms or legs, a couple torsos (typically with heads attached), guns and backpacks, or so on.  Sometimes they're strewn on the base, other times they have holes in them so that they are simply stuck to the scything talons or even on the horns that are part of their heads.  At this point you can see why I'm so hesitant to do much modeling on them  because not only does it take lots of time, but there are lots more models to do as well as painting to begin.  I devote so much effort into these 6 point models, and my ideas for the 'better' units are even more extravagant.  I tried doing some serious reworking and custom modeling for a tyranid prime.  The chest carapace I literally cut up into each individual raised segment (there are something like 8 or 10 if I remember correctly) and I tried to use green stuff to add some size to my intended prime model.  It didn't go so well, I'm not actually good at modeling and this is my first effort at using green stuff pretty much.  I got about halfway done with just that chest piece in the course of 3 hours because of problems with keeping green stuff in shape and making it not look totally hideous before I eventually gave up from frustration.  I intend to work some more on the idea but that will take lots more time.  Not to mention I wasn't just trying to make him bigger, I also plan on having the model be tearing apart an Imperial walker apart with its claws (or whatever I end up arming the thing with, once I decide on that from the new codex I'm going to stick with that and never change it, I haven't even begun to dream of magnetizing and I doubt I'll attempt magnetizing for a while yet).  But wait, the funs not over yet!  My Carnifex will be plowing through an Imperial Chimera with guardsmen still inside and 'pouring' out of it desperately trying to escape the wrecked thing and the rampaging Tyranid.  My Hive Tyrant will be flying and I hope to model it to be taking down an Imperial Valkyrie in mid flight, wresting it out of the skies.  I've devoted the money to this already and own most of the models I need, I have 2 tyranid battle forces off their sprues and I have 30 hormagaunts assembled (as mentioned earlier I only have 15 with their guardsmen 'decorations') and I have a battleforce of Cadians off their sprues.  I bought the chimera and 10 guardsmen bundle as well as a Valkyrie, and I have 2 Tervigon/Tyrannofexes on their sprues, a Trygon still new in box, a Carnifex new in box, and a Hive Tyrant new in box (the newer one that is plastic and can be swarmlord as well as winged fyi).  I have like 3 other random carnifexes that I bought used off ebay or my FLGS that I need to find, but since they're assembled I can't really do that custom modeling that I'm planning on doing so far.  But Tyranids are my favorite army and feth it all if they don't become my best looking army ever, even if my modeling sucks at least they'll look cool slaughtering guardsmen with their bad green stuff jobs.

So with these 4 different armies I plan on modeling and so I came up with an idea to help inspire me to do some serious modeling with them.  Back when I used to listen to like 10 different podcasts and was up to date on all of them 2 years ago they would always mention escalation and campaigns and other awesome things that really encouraged them and others to paint and to work on their models.  Being mostly isolated from other people unfortunately I can't really rely on others to provide events or to work with me on my own ideas so I have to do something by myself.  However unlike many others I do have a large amount of models that I can work on, I am used to doing most things on my own (playing multiplayer games single player mode because I have no siblings and I always lived about 30 minutes to an hour away from my friends), and as you can see I am very willing and able to write things for my own enjoyment, be they missions, campaigns, settings etc (see same list above for reference).  So I thought, why let everyone else have all the fun?  I can come up with my own little event.

Here's the idea:  I'm going to write a setting that involves all 4 of my personalized armies.  I'm going to construct a series of systems and reasons that these factions are all involved with these territories and why this conflict even started as well as its necessary escalation.  I'm going to flesh out the details about the armies themselves and what makes them unique.  I want to provide detailed characters from each group and have them be realistic and incorporate personal motivations to them that will make them seem like actual people.  I hope that at a certain point when I do battles I can actually find ways to make these characters interact (even if those interactions aren't exactly peaceful) and how they change as a result of those encounters.  I've written 1k point lists for each of these factions and what I've started to do is do some painting for a few of the models each night.  I haven't finished any units yet, but I have about 2/3 finished 10 cultists and I've started to put on some yellow coats of paint onto 15 guardians.  I'm working on a system of painting 1-2 units from each faction before moving on to the next and trying to complete these armies piecemeal.

So here's where you come in.  You get to see how I make all of this into reality.  I don't plan on just writing up my lore and showing you guys picture of my progress, that’s not what this site is about.  I'm going to create this lore and this setting and use it to show how you guys can do it yourselves.  That’s much the way I've done it in the past, just come up with the material as I go along and hope someone finds it useful or at least entertaining.  Some of these concepts will be repeats from other articles, but hopefully there is enough new things that it makes it worthwhile to type all of this up for you guys.  Even if you don't find things to use for yourselves maybe you'll be inspired.

Well I understand that this has been more of a personal article than anything else, but if nothing else maybe this will give you guys ideas to write for yourselves or others.  If you do, let me know cause I for one like to read what other people write as well, and most people that write articles aren't really done with the ideas of lore or setting creation in mind and are frequently focused on tactics or modeling.  This is one reason that I love Graven Games, and Tim Walker's blog.  So hope you guys enjoyed this article and let me know what you think, suggestions and criticisms are welcome as always, whether in the comments, through twitter (@chargincarnifex), or via email (


  1. Cheers for the shout out mate!
    All sounds like a lot of fun, great to hear you're enjoying the hobby again and doing things your way. The dead guardsmen on the nid bases sound especially cool.

    What's the end goal once you've got the 1k per army finished up?

    1. Part of the 1k goal is to allow me some space to figure out where I want to go with each army and play with them some to see what I am lacking. For instance My initial CSM army might feel too squishy, or too slow, or something about the play style doesn't fit with how I intended for the faction. With some playing I'll be able to find out what other models I want to paint next (or buy if unowned). I will likely, during this break period, work some on terrain pieces as well as figure out what kind of basing I want to do for my models. As it stands currently I am going to leave everything (aside from detail parts for my bugs) on undecorated black bases. All 4 armies will likely have the same theme for their basing, so I want to make it suitably cool, but with my inexperience in modeling anything at all it will need to be simple. I might look into secret weapon miniatures for basing supplies, or look around for some other inspiration. But the 1k points for each is sort of like a goal for the immediate future, one that is pretty large in fact but I am hoping to use to spring board off in another inspiring direction.