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Ordo Ineptus

How to Build an Army For A Tournament Deadline

Yeah I know I said it was a really bad idea last month, but letís not kid ourselves here.  At some point youíre going to try and put together an entire army with a deadline for a tournament. You know it.  I know it.  My dog Rufus knows it, and the only thing he knows about the hobby is that he likes to chew the cardboard boxes some of the stuff comes in.  Everything I said in the first part of the article makes complete logical sense which Iím sure all our brains can appreciate, but the thing is, if we listened to our brains all the time, we wouldnít ever order a baconator or eat cheese that comes in a spray can or watch reality TV.  So Iíll close with some tips Iíve learned from my many failures and a couple successes, but mostly talk about how awesome Timís BFS army was some more because I seem to be developing a mancrush on Tim and his awesome hobby work.  This is how Bob must feel about Robert E. Lee.

1)    Use a small force.  Keep the number of miniatures you have to paint small.  Going back to Timís Battle for Salvation project, he designed a 40K army with a relatively low model count for 2000 pts, something like 32 total models with only a pair of larger models, whereas I was trying to do 73 total models, including 11 vehicles.  If youíre doing 40K, keep the model count low with big nasty showcase models like dreadknights and elite powerhouses like terminators.  Definitely keep it under 40 models.  I wouldnít even try doing a whole Warhammer Fantasy army in a couple months before a tournament these days unless I were using ogres or chaos. Figure on painting 10 Ė 20 miniatures per month realistically, so with one monthís notice you can reasonably expect to be able to field 15 minis, two months 30 minis, etc.  Of course you may get a lot more done than that, and if so, give yourself a pat on the back and go playtest the army more.  Iíve found it best to be as conservative as possible with estimating how much time things are going to take and still constantly find myself behind schedule.

War Machine/Hordes is probably one of the easier games to have a tournament deadline for, even at the 35 and 50 points levels.  Hell, even I managed to do it with a 35 point Blindwater Congregation army for an Ordo WM/H tournament in 2011 was only eleven models and I painted them all and did the display base in a month and a half and snagged best painted army. 

Get an airbrush.  The numbers I was giving above were for painting everything by hand.  If youíve got a decent airbrush to lay down the base coats with, you can probably come close to doubling your output.  Especially for vehicles and mechs. This makes having an airbrush almost essential if youíre trying to meet a deadline.  Right now Iíve got a cheap one that Iím only really using for vehicles and smoke effects, but thatís one thing Iím definitely planning on investing in the next few months to make the army building process a little easier.

3)    Donít go crazy with conversions. Basically this is going to depend on how many models youíre fielding.  If youíve only got ten or twenty models to do, you can do a decent amount of converting on each one and not get too far behind schedule, but if youíre fielding a bigger army than that, youíre going to need to be conservative and do a few big conversion pieces to stand out, and then do minor conversions on a few other things and use the rest of the army as is.  Looking at Timís BFS army again, itís fairly light on conversions compared to the other stuff Tim has done in the past, like his amazing chaos spawn model.


He did sneak the spawn into the display base as extra scenery, but that was more of icing on the cake.  The actual Space Marine force definitely had conversion work done, like the dreadnaughts kicking over the broken columns, but he wasnít trying to build stuff from scratch, unlike myself who was attempting to sculpt 30 minatures and three vehicles from scratch for the same tournament.  My Ghosts ĎN Goblins and Eyes of the Medusa armies were similarly held up by the massive amounts of sculpting and converting work I was trying to do for them.  Try to limit yourself to a few really nice conversions to be the showpieces, and then save your time and energy for the paintjobs.

4)    Keep the display base simple, yet striking.  Donít go overboard with the base if youíre on a deadline.  Using Timís Battle for Salvation display base as an example, he really has one major design element, and itís a doozie, as the rock is seemingly suspended in midair on a gigantic flying base.  Everything else is just terrain-building 101; glue foamboards together, carve rocks, make holes to put the bases in, add some scenic elements and give it some good texture and a nice paint job.  Once he knew how he was going to make the flying base and got the umbrella stand, he was able to devote the rest of his time to give the rock really nice textures and painting and add a building with lots of cool source lighting effects.  Conversely, letís just tick off all of the interesting and unconventional design elements of the display base I myself was attempting for Battle for Salvation.

      designed to come apart into sections to fit in a suitcase

      a foam carved snake body coiling around the mountain

      incorporated the snake head from the original Masters of the Universe Snake Mountain playset

      a lava fall coming from the snake mouth, branching off into more lava falls

      a switchback trail and with a bridge over one of the lava falls

      a large evil face from which the hellions were going to be flying out of

      plumes of volcanic gasses to hide the flying supports that were going to allow several airships to be hovering about the mountain.

Clearly this display base was just way too ambitious to attempt in six weeks. Itís been a month and a half past my deadline now and Iím still trying to figure out how to do some a couple of the remaining design elements like all of the lava effects. 

Even Iíve been able to hit the right mark before with display bases in the past, however, which does give me some encouragement. See, thereís hope for everyone. The display base for the Blindwater Congregation Hordes army I had mentioned previously winning best appearance for was basically a plywood piece with a foamcore top with holes cut out for the bases and a few detachable scenic elements, which included two swamps which would be used for Bloody Barnabasís theme list, a scratch built Jason Voorhees cabin complete with Mrs Voorhees decomposing head, and a few twisted gnarly trees with Spanish moss hanging from the branches.

So basically a good rule of thumb for the display base if youíre working with a deadline is to limit yourself to a single interesting or complex design element that will still make it stand out visually, but not become an overwhelming project to try to finish in time.

Five Things You Should Never Do
When Building An Army

(that I continue to do all the time)

by Dr. Carnivean  12/4/13

This one has taken me a while to write, as I admit to having been intimidated somewhat by the previous Wall of Text articles by Brian and Tim having been so great, and didnít want mine to be the Godfather III.  Coming up with a theme was tricky; I wanted to talk about an aspect of the hobby I considered myself good at, and something of an authority on, but everyone knows I canít play any of these games worth a damn and Timís painting and conversion stuff blows mine away.  (Hell, Iíve been painting minis since 1987 and was still doing all five of the things on his list wrong)

Finally I realized what I have that nobody else in the club has, and that is sheer volume.  With nine fully assembled and painted Warhammer Fantasy armies of 2000+ points each, four 40K armies of over 1500 points, (with five and six almost completed), two 35 point War Machine factions, two Blood Bowl teams, four Malifaux crews, and a Flames of War army, I am the Stephen King of the club in quantity if not quality. So I thought I would share some of the insight Iíve gained over the years on what army building pitfalls to steer clear of or at least be aware of.   

Before getting to the meat of the article, I wanted to open with a couple of apologies and clarifications. Firstly, this is going to be really long, and for that I apologize in advance.  Iím terrible at keeping things brief, except of course, in the bedroom (wow, I really will type anything to get a laugh, won't I)

Secondly, this is going to be really long.

Third, a few of these Ďrulesí stress stats and game play over models and creativity, and while those who know me will merely see it as ironic, those that donít may think Iím some kind of elitist gamer saying Ďplay to win or stay homeí, and I want to stress that itís the last thing I would want to say, since personally Iíve always felt put-out by that kind of attitude in gaming, which basically seems to me like saying that you owe your opponent to give him a challenging game. And you really donít. You owe your opponent a legible army list, a friendly and sportsmanlike attitude, a working knowledge of the rules, and a possibly a handshake before and after the game.  You donít owe him a grail quest.  Iíve always been thankful that no-one Iíve ever met so far in our club feels this way (even our resident Ďardboy Sean has no expectations of his opponents other than the satisfying snapping sound of their spine being broken under his heel). What I am trying to say, however, is that considering the amount of money, time, effort, sweat and tears youíll be investing in order to get a fully painted army onto the battlefield, you truly owe it to yourself to be able to have the most enjoyable experience you possibly can when playing the game. And that should include having an average game last longer than it takes to unpack the miniatures and set them all up. Because itís a whole lot easier to find some harder opponents if you feel youíre winning games too easily than it is to go out and buy and paint a whole new army if you feel you canít win at all with the one youíve got.

And lastly, in case this ever sounds preachy at times, I want to stress that, like the Pirate Code, I mean for these to be more guidelines than actual rules.

#5   Select a faction based solely on the look of the miniatures

This one really only matters when youíre first starting a game system.  Once youíve been playing long enough, itís not really a big issue.  Using a faction that is more user-friendly or better suited to your own style of play becomes less important once youíre a veteran of the game system and know the rules and general strategies and have played enough games against the various factions to have a passing familiarity with how they all work.  In the beginning though, it can really make a big difference, and while you can become good at playing any army type with enough practice, learning the game while playing an army with a high learning curve or one that doesn't fit with your style of gameplay can prove so frustrating it may turn you off of the game.

For instance, when people in the club were getting into War Machine, I went on the Privateer Press site to have a look at the gallery, and, having the reputation of choosing the most evil army in the game and then converting the miniatures to make them look even more evil, took one look at the Nightmare model and said ďLook!  This miniature is terrorizing a small child Ė I don't even have to do anything with it!Ē and I became a Cryx player.

And as a result, I have still never gotten really into WM/H just because of how frustrating it was for me trying to get them to work for me.  Not because Cryx is a bad faction, since the consensus among players Iíve spoken to seems to be that Cryx is the most powerful. I guess I would compare them to the knight in chess Ė it can be tricky to beginning players to get the most out of them.

Also, the word 'solely' is important in this rule, because obviously the look of the miniatures is going to be a big factor, since who wants to spend so much money and time on stuff that is not visually appealing to you or that you find boring.  I guess what I would think of as the ideal approach would be to have a short list of two or three factions based on how the miniatures look (or the fluff, for those that like to read a lot of the background material on the game world first) and then narrow it down based on gameplay.

Number of times Iíve screwed this up:  Once, with my Cryx army.  As I mentioned, Cryx are very subtle and sneaky.  My style of game play is neither subtle nor sneaky. Bob is good at subtle and sneaky, so Cryx would have made a great starter army for him, but Bob picked Skorne for his first army, which is ironic because that would have been the perfect first army for me, since I definitely see myself getting a bunch of elephant monsters, converting a model for Molak Karn that doesnít look like the Cyclops from Sinbad standing in front of a Wii sensor in his living room and trying to dance to Staying Alive, and then just collectively running everything straight at the enemy lines turn 1 while crying ďmashy mashy boom boomĒ at the top of my lungs.

#4   Only buy and paint enough miniatures to run a single list

I guess this rule could also be called, ďDonít Build an Army just for a Specific Tournament.Ē  Before you stop buying and painting stuff for an army, youíre going to want to have enough to mix things up a bit, especially in the GW games where the game is constantly shifting and changing.  Even if your own codex doesnít change, new army books are being released for other factions which are going to change the kind of lists that you might want to run. For instance you might want to go light on mechs and vehicles for awhile right after a codex with lots of big powerful shooting gets released.  Another factor is points level creep, particularly if youíre a Warhammer Fantasy player, since the points value of what is considered the standard game has been going up and up.  Better to build up an army bigger than youíre going to need for awhile before moving on to something else, because I can attest that itís pretty intimidating to end up with four or five armies you have to buy and paint stuff for to be able to use them in standard games.

Number of times Iíve screwed this up:  Twice; both with my Necrons (2006) and with my Eyes of the Medusa chapter for Chaos Space Marines (2010)

Also Dark Elves and Tomb Kings for Warhammer Fantasy, although in both cases I did initially get and paint enough run a couple list variations until 8th edition came along and changed the  >3 core units requirement to 25% core and the standard game went from 2000 to 2500 pts.  Also it doesnít matter how many points worth of an army you have if they take half of the units out of the next codex as with the beastmen when my army went from 3500 to 1500 pts.

#3   Minimize the Mainstays

This really only applies Games Workshop's game systems, because they are the most notorious for changing army composition on its head.  The second edition of War Machine may have changed how valuable certain troops were and tweaked some abilities and points costs, but you could still field the same warjacks you bought ten years ago, and the people that make Flames of War aren't going to suddenly decide that the Germans didn't use Brumbars in WWII, and that instead they used something called a Hitlerfeuer (Hitlerfire. I guess those four semesters of German 20 years ago finally paid off) of which conveniently they just released a brand new model for.

So what does 'minimize the mainstays' mean? It means not building around a good core of troop types that aren't going anywhere anytime soon and instead building an entire army that's likely only to be a legal composition in a given codex or edition of the game.  A tactical space marine squad is always going to be a troop choice for Space Marine players as long as they're making Space Marine codexes. Clanrats are always going to be core choices in a Skaven army. This kind of dovetails with the previous rule about only buying and painting enough to run a single list. Now, obviously when you're putting together a list for a particular league or tournament, by all means make the most of the composition rules in the current codex and field as many heavy choices as you can if it will make the army better, but when collecting for an army in general, you'll never be sorry investing in Ork Boyz when a codex comes along that doesn't let you field Nobs as troops anymore.

Number of times Iíve screwed this up:  Probably three times. My original Legion of the Kraken army (2004) consisted mainly of three 5 man squads of Chaos Space Marines, each with a heavy weapon, four defilers, and a three man squad of obliterators.  This was legal in the codex at the time (2004), and hasn't been legal in any codex since.

My Eyes of the Medusa CSM army fits here too, since it had plague marines as one of the two troop types, as well as summoned daemons and a greater daemon.

And also as mentioned previously, my entire Beastman army (2007) was built mainly of chaos ogres, chaos trolls, dragon ogres, and a dragon ogre shaggoth which all went bye bye in the latest book.

#2   Paint the entire army before play-testing any of it

Otherwise known as Refusal to Play with Unpainted Models.  Yes, OCD can be a real pain in the ass sometimes.  Looking back on it now, I wish I had made myself go to a lot more gaming nights with my unpainted stuff rather than sit at home working on them, especially during the time I was still back up north and had such a great group of people to play and hang out with.   My best advice for those who are similarly neurotic about always having everything painted would be to try and always keep in mind what youíre doing this for and hoping to get out of the hobby.  If you have been doing a lot of painting and havenít done any playing, try to set up a Ďpracticeí game with your army in progress, or do some playing on Vassal, where the miniatures donít matter. Also, if youíre like me and you canít bring yourself to play with half assembled, primered miniatures, one idea would be to start by building and painting the smallest possible legal list you can, then slowly add to it and then find people willing to play a small pick-up game at a low points level while youíre working on the army.

The other reason for this - besides the socialization, and reminding yourself of what youíre doing all the work for and thus avoiding burnout -  is that the army you planned out might kinda suck. And itís better to catch glaring problems in the list and things that definitely arenít going to work for you on the tabletop while you can still put some unpainted stuff to the back burner and make substitutions in the list.

Number of times Iíve screwed this up:  Letís see, how many armies did I say Iíd built and painted at the beginning of this article? About that many times. I think the only time Iíve ever played with an army as I was working on it was with the Tyrannids, Skaven, and MotU dark eldar.  This is something Iím really trying to get better with.

#1  Have a Deadline for Finishing

For me, this is the ďnever feed them after midnight ruleĒ, because every time I do it, all hell breaks loose, the whole thing turns into a big mess, and a mean old lady is launched out the window by her electric stair climber (okay so maybe that last one only happened in Gremlins)

Now, donít get me wrong, if youíre just trying to throw three colors on an army to meet the painting requirement for a tournament, thatís a totally different story.  Same with adding some new units onto an existing army for a particular event.  Hell, even I was successful doing that once. Still had to stay up all night to do it, but I did get second overall so it was all good.

No, Iím talking about the Uberprojects with 60+ models to paint with lots of conversions involved plus an elaborate display base. Iíve never made a deadline doing one of these, and after this last time attempting to sculpt and convert 30 models from scratch in addition to painting 30+ more models and eleven vehicles while making an elaborate mountain of a display base that also comes apart to fit in a suitcase, I think itís finally sunk in that, well, maybe I should just not do that anymore.

Not to say that it canít be done Ė it can.  I have seen it.  I have borne witness to the awesomeness that was Tim Wrightís army at Battle for Salvation this past October.


But it takes a heavy toll.  Oh yes.  I watched throughout the second day of the tournament as Tim capered back and forth at the gaming table, hopping from one foot to the other like a leprechaun who just found his missing pot of gold.  And I shuddered, because I knew in my heart that what I was seeing were not the antics of an enthusiastic gamer, nor a clever attempt at psyching out and distracting an opponent, nor even the effects of too much caffeine.  No, I was looking at a man who had lost his mind, driven mad by his hobby and the self-inflicted tournament deadline.

Kidding aside, while Tim was definitely feeling under the gun towards the end, he made some good choices going into his project that allowed him to be successful even if it was still a mountain of work for him to finish in time for the tournament. 

What Iím trying to do right now is get in the habit of completely finishing and playtesting the army first, and then finding an event to use it for.  Iíll let you know how that turns out.  It makes logical sense, but I know a lot of times the passion comes from the exciting new idea and the event I plan to use it for, so it may be hard to get motivated to work on an army for some vague future date.  Iíll have to do a follow up piece in a few months to let everyone know how the new doctrine is working for me.

Number of times Iíve screwed this up:  At least four times.  My Kingdom of the Zombies army for Warhammer wasnít ready in time for Conflict 2009, but I did use it in Conflict 2010 (and totally got my ass handed to me). 

The Ghosts ĎN Goblins were supposed to be ready for the Ordo-Ineptus Bloody Valentine tournament in 2010 but that didnít happen.

The Eyes of the Medusa missed the deadline for the Brothers Grimm tournament I wanted to bring them to in the fall of 2010.

And finally the Kabal of the Snake Headed mountain, which missed the deadline two months ago for Battle for Salvation and are to date still a work in progress (although Iím hoping to be done with them soon)

Are you still reading this??

 Go make yourself sandwich or something. You must be starving by now.

How to paint better without trying

by Tim Wright  8/1/13

What would you say if I told you that you could instantly improve your painting without any increase in skill? I get asked questions from those who would like to improve their painting skill. I soon discovered that I was giving out the same tips, and wouldnít you know it, most of those tips have nothing to due how well you wield a brush. Simple tips, that most people donít do but make a big difference. So without further ado, I present to you my tips for painting better without trying.

Tip 1: You are not using enough light!

It wasnít long into the hobby that I realized I need a better light setup. I didnít realize till recently just how much of a deal this is. You need to be able to see what you are painting.

Our eyes adjust to light pretty well, so you may not notice just what a big deal this is. In the first image you can see my setup, 6 bright daylight bulbs. I use daylight bulbs to make sure the color I paint is accurate. What you canít see is the single lamp in the corner. In the second and third picture I have locked the exposure, one with all the lights on, one with just the corner lamp. Iíll let you guess which is which.

Tip 2: You need a better brush!

This one is very simple. Iíve seen the brushes you are using. Yes, you, that $5 bag at Wal-Mart with approximately 79,201 brushes in it. Guess what, I use those brushes as well. I use them for washes, I use them for apply glue to my base for flocking. What I donít use them for is painting, especially painting detail.

In the next image I have wet both brushes and attempted to form the best tip I can. The brush on the left has been used significantly less than the one on the right. The brush on the right I have been using consistently for nearly 2 years. A little cleaning, a little care and I still have a point that gets the paint exactly where I want it.

That good brush is a RaphaŽl Kolinsky Red Sable Fine Pointed Round Series 8404 Brush. The size 0 (which is a great all purpose brush) is only $12.35. You can find it here. Make sure to pickup some of The Master Brush Cleaner. Now for less than $20 you have a super brush that will have you free handing like you never knew you could.

Tip 3: You need to thin your paints.
Get a wet palette!

Now that you have good light a good brush it is time to get the paint on the model. Have you ever painted out of the pot? Youíre doing it wrong! Have you ever gone to apply paint only to find the paint dried on the end of the brush? Well that will be a thing of the past once you start thinning your paints. Now this takes a little getting use to, as you donít want to thin it too much. I find that with most paints a ratio of 2:1 to 3:1 paint:water does the trick.

So, you could mix water into your paint, but the easiest way to do this is with a wet palette. Simply put the paint on the palette and paint away.

A wet palette sounds advanced but it is quite simple. I have a sponge, a plastic container and a piece of tracing paper on the sponge. Fill the container with water until the water is about 1/8Ē from the top of the sponge. This will keep the sponge wet which in turn will keep the paper wet, which will in turn keep the paint from drying and thin the paint automatically! Magic!

Bonus tip. Donít over load your brush. Wipe your brush to form a nice sharp point.

Tip 4: You need brighter highlights!

Quite simply using bright highlight will make your models pop from across the table. Take a look at that wet palette picture from earlier. See that transition from Caliban Green to Ceremite White? That how bright my highlights are.

Lets look at that in practice. You can see the transition from on the robe. We go from Caliban Green base and a wash of Camoshade. From there Iíve layered up to a nearly white highlight. Wether you are layering or drybrushing get those highlights brighter!

So there you have it, 4 tips (plus a bonus!) to make you a better painter without trying. Now get out there and and start painting!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Why do we play the factions we play?

by Brian Fox  7/1/13

ďThe Emperor wills it!Ē I cried as I hurled the die. It came up a Ď5í, and Eric cocked his head at me.

ďReally?Ē he chuckled as my Black Templar Terminator shrugged off another plasma shot. I canít roll 3+ armor saves to save my life (or rather, the lives of my poor little plastic Space Marines), but my Terminators had managed to soak up way more shooting from Ericís Imperial Guard than the law of averages dictates.

ďOur faith has been rewarded! None can stay the Emperorís wrath!Ē I boasted as my Templars prepared to hurl themselves into the enemy gunline. I never won that game, but I remember it being close Ė an immobilized Dreadnought contesting one objective while my lone surviving Initiate hunkered down in a crater to (unsuccessfully) avoid death by lasgun. Games like these remind me of what I really love about our hobby -- the factions that we play with. What they look like, how they fight, what their attitudes are. Wargaming would be boring if it were only about strict numbers, plain markers on a grid to represent combat strength; and if that was all we cared about surely chess would be a more balanced alternative. But Iím far more excited to use the fearsome Butcher of Khardov to rip apart an enemy warjack than to send my white bishop to threaten your black pawn.

One thing thatís I really like about wargaming is that itís hard to find a ďmain characterĒ faction Ė to some extent, any faction can be a protagonist, which makes every faction interesting to play. Some games, like Warhammer 40,000 donít even have real good guys Ė itís all just varying degrees of bad guys! Since the playing field is level, anyone can enjoy fighting as their favorite faction (even if theyíre evil alien zombie daemons). It also lets people enjoy fighting against their opponentís faction. When I set up my Khador army across the table from my friend, they see an oppressive empire bent on subjugation. However, I see a loyal group of soldiers led by a proud knight, prepared to fight for their homeland. Both players are experiencing the game from the lens of the faction that they enjoy; and the hobby is designed so that armies can simultaneously be the protagonists and the antagonists.

So why do we play the factions that we play? What draws us to lead our favorite models/fictional characters/historical army groups on the battlefield? What do we look for in the armies that we put on the table? There are many elements that help us decide on a faction to play. The background and fiction (or history) might strike a certain chord for us. Sometimes, we choose a faction based on its rules and how it works on the tabletop (i.e. glass cannon vs. gunline). Perhaps even more often, we choose our factions simply based on how the models look!

I play many different armies, and have picked them for different reasons. I have a monstrous Tyranid army that I use simply because I love the models. I saw my Dad playing when I was young, and thought that the alien dinosaurs looked awesome. He started collecting Tyranids for me because he knew that I liked those models the most (thanks Dad!). One of my other 40k armies, my Grey Knights, I picked up because I absolutely loved the rules behind one of their units Ė I wanted to put down a single unit that took up most of my army, the Deathstar to end all Deathstars that could beat anything in a fight. I wanted to play the super-unit, so picked up a Draigowing army (which has led me to my only first place tournament wins!). I got into Black Templars because of their fluff (the rules suck and I canít paint a good looking black to save my life!). I loved their attitude, their grit Ė Space Marines are plain awesome to begin with, but these guys were zealous bad asses. Theyíre skillful knights that meditate and pray before battle, ferocious psychos who chain weapons to their arms, and constantly project an aura of ďI am better than you; and therefore you must die.Ē

I asked some others to share their thoughts on picking factions. Bob Roda (bob) spoke about sheer practicality, which I can get behind Ė his Ork and Space Marine armies came into being simply because those were the most models he had lying around, so it was easiest and cheapest to bring them up to speed into full-fledged war hosts! I asked him about his tendency to play the evil factions: ďIt really is more a coincidence than anything else. I don't say "Ahh, these guys are really Evil, I'm going to play them!" It just happensÖ it was never a "Oooh, more bad guys, goodie!!" thing.Ē Most of his armies he either fell into as a happy accident, or started as a break from his main projects to give himself a diversion. Bob also plays Germans in FoW and the Confederates in ACW Ė ďGermans and Confederates, some might call them "the bad guys" too, were just what I was familiar with and more attached to than the other available factions...and of course I mean the military style, and not the politics. Moreover, I've a thing for cheering for the underdog, and...well...these guys lost, which makes them about as underdog as you can get. Same with my Gauls too, I guess. Hoping to somehow do better than history, not a desire to be the bad guy!Ē However, Bob is currently contemplating fighting for the Greater Good and starting a Tau armyÖ though thatís not really out of a desire to be on the good team, itís really just because Smart Missile Systems are brokenly awesome!

ďI've always chosen factions based on models and fluff,Ē says Tim Wright (Tim). ďRules have always been a distant third. Well, that's not entirely true, rules from a competitive standpoint have been a distant third. I got into 40k with Blood Angels because I wanted an assault based army.Ē Timís a prolific hobbyist, and that certainly factors into his choices. ďIt's more about the story and the models. For most of us, certainly for me, I invest a far greater amount of time building and painting models than I do playing the gameÖ In the end I've found that I am most productive at this hobby when I am excited about a project. I've stopped trying to fight it and given in. I know what I like, but what I like changes frequently. If I try to force myself to stick with something it becomes work and that just not fun. And at the end of the day if I'm not having fun then what's the point?Ē I also asked Tim about how he visualizes his armies, since he often does extensive conversions/sculpting to really make the faction his own. ďI've never let modeling get in the way of imagination. I don't think of what I can do with my abilities. Instead when a cool idea strikes I figure out how to make it real. Ideas first, figure out the rest as you go.Ē I think thatís a really cool idea Ė donít worry about what you can build or paint or doÖ figure out what your idea for the army in your head is, and go for it. Thatís the stuff that helps make the hobby our own Ė when we arenít tied to rules or models or characters dictated by a company, but by the crazy ideas in our head that we want to make a reality.

Tom Mullane (captainecho) was able to give my some valuable insight into the Flames of War world (a rabbit hole I never stumbled down!). When I asked him why he played the British, he responded, ďbecause their artillery rules seemed cool. The models were incredibly diverse, and no one else in the club really played them at the time. I didn't want to choose Germans because their paint schemes seemed too involved for me at the time, and when I first started my wife told me she wouldn't support my gaming if I chose the Germans (Editor: LOL).  Picking Brits gave me a chance to play the underdogs, and learn about an army I knew little about before I started playing this game.Ē I asked him about what itís like to play real-world historical bad guys like the Naziís; which can be slightly touchier than fictional alien zombie daemons. ďItís hard for me to speak for all members of the FoW community, but the general consensus is that German players can be a little cheesyÖ I find the players who pick germans are in it more to be competitive.  German armor is nasty, and the allies have few answers for it. [However] I've never seen anyone harbor any hatred of German players just because they're playing an SS army unit.Ē

All three Ordo members touched on the fact that it isnít any one, isolated factor that we use to choose our factions Ė itís a combination of rules, background, models, and everything in between. Even if my Black Templars are broken and bloodied, beaten on the field of battle; I still enjoy the game. Our hobby doesnít rest on the results of one game or tournament, or a particular paint job Ė we can enjoy our factions, even if they lose every game or look a little goofy. Our armies reflect parts of ourselves Ė who we are and what we like. Remember that the next time youíre playing your friend down at the club, or taking on a new player at a big tournament (also remember that when you annihilate your arch-nemesisí favorite unit!). I want to give a huge thanks to Bob, Tim, and Tom for speaking with me Ė if you would like to read the full interviews, you can find them <<here>>.

Roll low, and roll proud!

Starting 40k

Things I wish I knew before my first tournament

by Tom Mullane  6/1/13

    I'm sure we've all played a game for the first time and wished we'd played things differently the second time through. There are always rules, tricks, or knowledge that in retrospect would have been nice to know. Starting a new game system can be intimidating, even for a player who has some experience with another one. 

    When I first showed up at Hobbytown for an Ordo-ineptus gaming night 2 years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. One of the club officers walked me through a demo game of Flames of War, and I've been hooked on table top gaming ever since. As I looked around, I saw the majority of games being played were not Flames of War, but Warhammer 40k. The models were awesome, people seemed to be having a great time. But listening to the Veterans talk about 40k with the fluid language of an expert was daunting. They were mentioning stats, spells, and items that I had never heard of. They quoted elaborate tables of numbers that made no sense. And they debated the virtues of one model over another like pundits before an election...except they were speaking in another language. I decided it was a little too daunting to get started in a game with this many rules and ideas, and I put it off. But people keep getting excited about the game. New edition, new rule sets, new models, it was all so appealing.  So I made the plunge.

    But as I got started, despite some guidance I received, I discovered a great many things I wish I had known before I began. I pass on my troubles in the hope that others will avoid them. Perhaps the purpose of my life is to serve as a warning to others.

Some suggestions....

1. Study the models before you build.

I tried to quickly assemble the space marines, but found that I didn't know what weapons were which. In my haste to get models on the table, I put together a mix of weapons that didn't make much sense, or wasn't terribly effective. When I looked through the codex for the army, I found pictures to help me figure it out. 

2. Pick an army you like the look and feel of, not one you think will be easy or competitive to play.

I fell into the Space marines because of a really good deal on the models.  (which I guess is a pretty good idea) but If you are enthusiastic about the story behind the army and the look of the models, the project will be more personal, and you're more likely to stick with it and have fun

Things that confuse me... 

The Game itself...

I played a number of Warhammer 40k practice games before this recent tournament, but not a lot sunk in.  I understood some of the basics, movement phase, shooting phase, and assault phase.  But the mechanics of each of these can be awfully confusing (the rulebook is over 100 pages after all) I had the bare skeleton of an Space Marine army glued together, and decided to jump in feet first, relying on the knowledge of the other people there to help get me through the experience. I had a great time but did a number of stupid things.

3. Know what your army can do well and what it can do poorly.

My Space Marines are supposed to be good all around at everything. But I found that most of the other armies in the game had spent years refining their skills in killing me.  My Space marines may have a 3+ save, but they still get shot at a lot. Most of my army were scouts...skilled at infiltrating behind enemy lines, but terrible at holding their own in a fight. I played about as poorly as possible.

4. Have a rough idea of your opponentís armyís abilities.

In my second game, Orcs rode their Nob Biker selves right down my throat. Nothing I shot at them did a lick of difference. There are certain matchups in the game that are terrible for certain units. I quickly found, in only 3 games, that certain weapons make mincemeat out of certain units.

5. Those Giant Dragon things from Chaos are not pleasant.

In one move, a dragon torched an entire building, burned out a whole second squad of scouts, and nearly shot down my flyer. This tournament gave me a pretty clear indication that unlike other games I have played, where regardless of list construction, everything is pretty well balanced, in 40K, it is certainly not. For a new player, expect to take some lumps until you learn the basics of the game. Also, list construction is hugely important, pick the wrong mix, and your pieces will be tabled in a hurry.

So my parting words for the beginner out there are....

Find a group willing to help you learn the ropes...

Donít get discouraged by a few setbacks...

And have some patience while you wade into a game with awesome models, fun rules, and a whole mess of new ideas and concepts.

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