The Return of a Classic

Necromunda picture*

There has been Games Workshop news and I’m really excited about it.  They’re re-releasing Necromunda, with new models, updated rules and one would assume, some super snazzy scenery.

I imagine most people at least know of Necromunda, but for those who don’t it’s a tabletop skirmish game, played with a handful of models, over dense, multi-level scenery.  The best thing about it though, is the way your gang changes over time, a result of what is essentially levelling up.

The events in each gang fight, paired with the way each individual advances, along with equipment available to you, turns each miniature into a little person, a person whose survival you can become quite invested in; at least that’s the way it was for me.

Although I haven’t played it for quite some time, at one point it was my most played game.  I must’ve had hundreds of fights, spread across several gangs and although I remember all of them fondly, my favourite will always be my Escher gang, The Bloody Roses.

They were a motley assortment of ladies, who suffered a great deal of instability in the leadership department.  Some were killed by my nemesis, a Van Saar gang called The Hussars.  One was deposed in a leadership challenge, the woman who won being captured by the authorities some time later, never to be seen again and the last leader of the gang was about to retire when I drifted away from the game.

This is just a small sample of the stories that created themselves and played out on the table-top and I could probably write a blog several thousand words long about all of them.  Necromunda was one of the greatest gaming experiences of my life.  That may sound a little over the top, but it’s true.

Now I know the saying ‘You can’t go back,’ but if I can recapture even a little bit of that magic, that would be flippin’ grand.

 

*The contents of the original Necromunda boxed game.

White Dwarf, July 2017 Review

 

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I enjoyed writing the review of White Dwarf so much last Month, I thought I’d make a regular thing of it.  Also, it’s nifty little bit of writing practice, which can never be a bad thing.  So here it is, White Dwarf review, number two.

There’s another nice cover picture.  Space Marines doing their Space Marine thing.  It’d be nice to see one of the other Chapters on the cover, but it’s a good cover nonetheless.

I’d thought that they’d done away with the issue numbers, this is not so however, they’ve buried them in the small print sidebar on the White Dwarf team page.  Since they’re still keeping track of the numbers, I don’t know why they don’t let them find their way back to the cover again.

The editor intro is pretty by the numbers stuff, but I wouldn’t want to see them get rid of it; it’s a pretty essential part of the makeup of the magazine as far as I’m concerned.

Two pages for the contents is a bit of an ongoing bugbear for me.  It’s not needed and one of the pages could be used for absolutely any bit of meaningful content they’d care to put on it.  It’s a small thing but it really bothers me.

Planet Warhammer.  Not a lot to say really. It’s got all the latest releases, well presented, with a nice eye-catching selection of pictures.  There’s a nice bit of the latest Forge World stuff, a little interview with Phil Kelly and a look at the awesome Magnus the Red and Leman Russ diorama.  All in all, the section does what it sets out to do and I can’t say fairer than that.

Sandwiched between this and the letters page is a two-page advert for the upcoming Path to Glory game.  Interesting.

Speaking of the letters page.  There is a little bit less glowing praise this Month.  Nothing I would call criticism exactly but there are a couple of interesting letters there.

Temporal Distort is one of my favourite articles and always sends me on a nice little nostalgia trip.  The Battle Report in the featured issue was, I believe one of the last, before they really started messing around with the format of them.

The model of the Year.  Magnus is indeed an awesome model and I’d very much like to paint him, but he wasn’t my model of the Year (the cargo containers, if you’re wondering).  Not that I’ve got anything against the choice, it’s a very worthy winner.

There is also a very interesting interview chat with Matt Holland in the Model of the Year article, which was a good read.

The Interview.  I continue to be impressed with this article.  It’s consistently of a high quality and always seems to be a good size.  This Month they’re talking to a group of the sculpting guys about how they got into the job and the collaborative nature of the process. It’s a genuinely interesting read.

The Tale of Four Warlords still doesn’t really grab me.  As I said last Month, it feels like it’s lost some of its shine. This is a shame, as the participants are always enthusiastic about what they’re up to.  There are as always, some nice little painting guides and a bunch of snazzy pictures of offer though.

The Golden Demon article is headlined by a fantastic looking Warhound Titan, with some mind-blowing freehand work.  It really needs to be seen to be believed.  It almost puts what follows, in the shade; which is a shame as it’s all of the very highest quality.  I like the little bit of blurb about each of the winners.  It’s always nice to gain a bit of insight into another painter’s methods.

Illuminations covers Orcs this Month and although I’ve already a few of the pictures, it’s never a bad thing to look at pretty pictures.  Also, Orcs make a nice change.

Tactica Imperialis covers how the new Warhammer 40,000 rules work, from army building, to the table-top.  It’s a pretty interesting article, worth reading whether you’ve seen the new rules, or not.

The Battle Report this Month is Orks versus Tau, which isn’t a match up I recall seeing before.  It’s still a little light on text for my liking and the little summary bits in the margins are wasted space, as they just repeat what’s already been said.  It’s good to see the return of the little front and back end stories though and there are a couple of amusing orky moments during the battle.  A good read, despite its flaws.

Next there’s an article about the new Age of Sigmar skirmish game, War in the Shadows.  It gives a brief overview of the game and a mini, two-page Battle Report.  It seems quite a bit like Shadow War Armageddon and if that is indeed the case, it’s no bad thing.

The Collecting article covers a Stormcast Eternals army by James Karch.  It’s a really nice-looking army and it looks pretty dapper in maroon.

Painting and collecting follows a few Games Workshop folks as they each begin an army with one of the Start Collecting boxes.  It’s always nice to see ‘Eavy Metal models, but this is a nice chance to see some stuff painted in none GW styles and there is some good stuff here too.  Also, a Taurox Prime with the guns mounted on the roof; conversion?

Paint Splatter has some nice, basic guides on Ultramarines, Plague Marines and Poxwalkers.  Good stuff for anyone just starting out, or looking to get an army on the table quickly.  There’s a more in-depth guide for the new Primaris Librarian.  I’ve got one of these guys and am really looking forward to painting him, as soon as I’ve worked my way through the pile of plastic that I have outstanding.

Modelling and Painting.  It’s an interesting read as far as it goes, but I miss the scenery articles of old, when they told you how to make things from scratch.  This mostly just tells you how to spend your quids and wield a paintbrush, which is a shame.  These things are a real missed opportunity.

Blanchitsu is another one of my favourite articles and I enjoy it without fail every time it appears, it was a real blast from the past this Month though.  There were hecka old models and references to old White Dwarfs a’ plenty.  Some super cool ye’ olde concept art and as usual really nicely painted models too.

It goes without saying that Parade ground has some spangly looking models, but I particularly like the Landraider, the Kastellan Robots and the Onager; they’re all painted in styles that I’m fond of.  There’s a particularly nicely painted Taurox Prime too, unfortunately I’m just not a massive fan of the model itself.

There’s such a variety of models and styles of painting on offer in the Readers Models section and as such it’s always a treat to look at.  The real stand out model for me this Month is the Onager, from Forge World Metallica.  The work that must’ve gone into it is amazing.

I always like reading the In the Bunker piece, near the back. It’s good to see what the White Dwarf folks are up to and it gives the magazine a personal touch that was missing from it for a long time, when everything in each issue was anonymous.

In summary, a solid issue, worthy of a respectable eight out of ten.  There’s some really good articles in here, some of which even have a bit of depth to them.  Most of the Age of Sigmar stuff was a bit of a chore for me, but I suspect this is more a reflection on me and my general lack of interest in the system, than the quality of the articles themselves.

Can’t Write, Busy Writing

The gap between my last blog and this one wasn’t meant to be this long; nor was this my intended writing material.  This blog was supposed to be a short story, a Warhammer 40,000 short story and it came about as a direct result of the daily prompt being recommended to me.

I was vaguely aware of the daily prompts, as my bro has written more than a few blogs and short stories based on them, but it wasn’t until he suggested I had a go at them that I ended up there.

The word was ‘Savage’ and I decided that I could build a cool little story around it.

I’m not sure of the exact date, but that must have been about two weeks ago.  I started writing what I intended to be a tight, focused story based around my 40K Ultramarine army and I suppose that’s where it went wrong.

Ultramarines and me go back a long way.  Way before Games Workshop built them up to be ‘Down with the kids’ and pretty much reviled by almost everybody else.  I first latched onto them when I was a nipper and got Space Crusade for Christmas* and they weren’t much different from most other Chapters then.  GW Space Marine love was a wee bit slanted towards Blood Angels, if anything.

Not only have I been sucking up as much Ultramarine background as possible over the years** but I’ve also spent a large portion of that time adding to the backstory of my army and building the characters up, tweaking it here and there, as particularly interesting victories, or defeats came along.

I should’ve known beforehand that the story wouldn’t be as short as I intended to be but I ploughed on regardless.  As a result, I’ve gone from something That I intended to get done in five hundred, to a thousand words, to a story that’s teetering on the edge of four thousand.

A side effect of this, is that it’s now large enough that it’s going to take longer to tidy up, as well as the extra time it took to write, so I’m going to have to shelve it for a smidge. Hopefully then, I can get back to it in a week or so.

* Easily in the top ten of most awesome Christmas presents ever.

**A good deal of it stomach churningly bad.

The Big White Dwarf Review 1

20170703_214531-1It’s been out for a couple of weeks now but I thought I’d have a stab at doing a review of this Month’s White Dwarf.  I’m planning on doing this every Month, hence the rather hopeful number one in the title.

The cover has a cool picture of a Space Marine’s helmet, which I’m fairly-sure is the cover to the new rulebook.  I always prefer proper artwork, rather than a photograph of the model of the Month for the cover.  It’s not that I have anything against GW’s photography, in fact it’s rather nice to look at, but there’s enough inside.

The contents are spread over two pages. Two pages for contents seems a little unnecessary, but it would feel like nitpicking to say it’s a negative; it is undoubtedly page filler though.

The section on this Month’s stuff is, as you would expect, pretty 40K heavy, however there is a reasonable spread of other stuff too.

Some Bloodbowl rules, which felt a little out of place in a section of the magazine usually reserved for new release news, but it was nice to see nonetheless.

Then there’s the new Age of Sigmar skirmish game and although it’s not really for me, at least for the time being, I can see it being popular AoS players.  Releasing it in the same Month as new 40K does seem like a bit of an odd choice though.

There’s some nice-looking Forge World stuff and a few pages about comics, books and games and that pretty much rounds off the whole this Month section.

The letters page is okay, but it’s all glowing GW is awesome kind of stuff.  When they relaunched the Monthly WD, there was a bit of mild criticism, which balanced all the praise out a bit.  I find it a bit hard to believe that every single person that sends them a letter, sends one full of glowing praise.

After this there’s a nice, big 40K designers notes feature, complete with a two page battle scene and an impressive gatefold section, with loads of Ultramarine, Imperial Guard and Nurgle models to look at.

There’s also some nice Imperial Fists artwork lifted from the rulebook, that’s well worth a mention, because Imperial Fists.

A bit about why they felt eighth was needed, nice artwork, bit of a chat about the new rules, wee bit of background.  All in all a pretty good article.

There’s a piece about the new Primaris Power Armour, a smidge about the Death Guard and an ‘Eavy Metal Showcase with some pictures of Primaris guys in assorted Chapter colours.  It’s all a bit light on reading and fairly-standard stuff, but nice enough to look at.

Next there’s an article showing a couple of the GW folks playing a game of new 40K.  Not a Battle Report, but a demonstration of how an average game works.  There’s nothing wrong with it as such, but it comes across as incredibly staged and seems a bit pointless, given that there is an actual 40K Battle Report later in the issue.

Then we have an article about the new Index books.  These are designed for the sole purpose of providing army lists until the codexes are released.  A few guys talk about how well their armies work with each Index and how awesome the new books are.  Despite it being essentially an advert for the new books, it’s a decent read.

It’s at this point that I feel the need to ask a question.  When did the Tau gain an apostrophe and become the T’au?

The Battle Report comes next and is Ultramarines versus Death Guard and minions.  The basic premise is that the Ultramarines are sorely pressed by an inexhaustible horde of Nurgle dudes and need to hold out long enough for the smelly fellers to decide they’ve had enough.

It’s fast paced and an interesting read; a pretty good advert for new 40K.  I wish they wouldn’t spend quite so much time talking about how awesome Roboute is though.  I’m a big fan of the Ultramarines; they’re my main guys in 40K and I’ve got an army of them with models that go all the way back to 1990, but even I’m starting to find it a little wearing.  The battle is generally a pretty good advert for eighth though.

Perturabo, Primarch of the Iron Warriors is front and center in their Golden Demon Showcase and a pretty-spiffy model it is too.  I’m not really a big fan of him from a background perspective; I always thought he came across as a bit of a sulky whingebag, but it’s a spectacular paint job.

All the models in the showcase are fantastically well painted and even though some of the painting styles aren’t to my taste, that’s just me and they are all models that deserve to be there.  An honourable mention does go to the Sigismund model though, as I always like to see Fists.

Tale of four Warlords is always a decent enough read, but it seems to have lost something for me since the earlier ones from years gone by, I can’t quite put my finger on it.  Lack of a budget perhaps?  Cool painting guides though.

I find my motivation for AoS to be lacking and just can’t work up any enthusiasm for it, but there are undoubtedly some awesome models out for the system, a lot of which are showcased in this Age of Sigmar armies article.  It’s always a pleasure to see well painted armies, so this article stands up, based on that alone for me.

The Ultimate Guide to Khorne has some nice artwork and is an interesting read, but Bloodsecrators* is an exceptionally silly name.

After this is an article about the GW artists.  It contains some nice insight into how they work and is a really-interesting read.

The Collecting and Painting article is about a Harlequin army.  It’s an incredibly impressive force to look at and the article contains a handy dandy little guide on painting the diamond pattern that Harlequins use so much.

In the painting guide section, there is a guide on Ultramarines and one for the Plague Marines.  I have little use for the Ultramarines one, having painted loads of Team Roboute guys over the years, but it’s well presented and will be useful to a lot of folks.

The Plague Marines guide however will be very handy for me, as I’ve never painted them before, so it’ll be nice to have something to refer to if need be.

I always enjoy reading Temporal Distort, it’s a nice trip down memory lane.  It’s yet to feature a WD that I didn’t read when it was new though, so it can make me feel a bit old.  As an aside, Abaddon is showcased in that particular WD; he really needs a new model, he’s tiny.

The readers models section is always nice to look at and I always cool to see models from people on my Twitter feed turning up there.

In the Bunker is always an interesting look in to who’s doing what and is always a decent read.

Generally, a solid issue.  It could still do with tightening up a bit here and there, but it’s head and shoulders above anything they’d put out for a long time, before the relaunch.  If I was to mark it out of ten, I’d probably give it a nice respectable eight.

*Bloodsecrator sounds like the name of a Dethklok song.

Dark Imperium Starter Set Review

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Warhammer 40,000 eighth edition was released yesterday (17th of June for those of you reading this in the future) and I got the Dark Imperium starter box and I’m bloody chuffed with it.

The box itself is really nice and particularly well put together; opening it is almost an experience in itself.  Whereas previously it’s been a matter of just popping the lid off and rummaging through the contents, this one has a slip cover before you even get to the main box.

Once the cover’s off, there’s a box in a box that contains the models, which you lift out to get to the rest of the stuff.  I particularly like that they’re in their own box; breaking a little purity seal to get to the miniatures is a nice touch.  There’s certainly thought gone into how it’s all been put together.

I haven’t done anything with the miniatures yet, that exciting prospect is looming large though and I expect to be getting stuck in to the Death Guard over the next couple of weeks.  One thing I can say, after poring over the sprues at great length, is how awesome they all look.  Taken at face value, they look like they’re all going to be a treat to work with.

All the things you’d expect in a starter set are present and correct.  The little getting you started books for the Primaris Marines and the Death Guard, dice and whatnot.

One thing that does deserve a mention is the death of the range-rulers of doom.  They’ve been replaced with a flexible see through ruler thingy, which is probably for the best, given how much trouble those deadly, red sods have caused over the years.

The rulebook is one of the full size, hardback beasts and as far as I know, the same sort you’d buy if you were to purchase it separately and on that alone is a mark in Games Workshop’s favour.

It has loads of lovely looking artwork, both old and new.  A good deal of it is the sort you can spend time looking at, soaking up the multitude of things going on.  There’s a particularly nice Imperial Fists piece that deserves special mention, which I think I would have to say is one of my favourites.

As far as the background is concerned, there is loads of it.  This is great if you’re new to the hobby.  Unfortunately, an awful lot of it covers the same ground as previous editions and if like me you got in at the ground floor as far as 40K is concerned, you will have seen a lot of it before.  Whereas this is inevitable up to a point; history of the Imperium and such, there are what I would consider to be missed opportunities.

The section detailing the races of the Warhammer 40,000 Universe is an example of this.  The description of each race is generic and apart from a few instances, doesn’t contain much in the way of new material.  It would have been nice to know how each race is dealing with the changes wrought by the Cicatrix Maladictum, Gorks Grin, or whatever the chosen name of it is for each race, for example.

Also, unless I’m being particularly dense, there is a large continuity error regarding Roboute and the Blood Angels.  I won’t say anything more with regards to that, as it would be spoilertastic for those yet to read it.  Suffice to say, as somebody who likes the background material as much as I do, mistakes of this sort bother me.  As I said, I might be missing something, but I don’t think so.

Something else they need to work on, as far as the background is concerned is their obsession with the Ultramarines in general and Roboute in particular.  I’m not an Ultramarine hater, I have an army of them that I’ve been collecting on and off for close to thirty years now.  But I can understand where a lot of the resentment comes from and some of the stuff in here is likely to exacerbate the strength of feeling against them.

They’ve been pushed hard for a long time now and with the return of Roboute it seems to be getting worse.  Some of the stuff they’ve done is so overblown and cringeworthy that it can read like fan-fiction at times.

I won’t say more about the background, otherwise I might end up coming across as a grumpy old sod who doesn’t like anything and I’m not, honest.  The truth is, the background isn’t awful, but it is, as I said earlier, in part at least, a missed opportunity.

I’ve already touched on the artwork, but the photography also deserves a mention.  There are some fabulous models on show in the book, both in terms of sculpt and paint job and as somebody who has taken lots of pictures of my own models, I can safely say that Games Workshops photographers deserve a pat on the back too.

As far as the rules are concerned, I can’t really go into much detail about them yet.  I’ve read the core rules and cast an eye over the advanced stuff and the scenarios and I like what I’ve seen.

It seems like they’ve removed a lot of the clutter and whereas the core rules are wee, I wouldn’t say they’ve been dumbed down, more streamlined.

Matched, narrative and open play are something I’m happy to see.  A lot of my games will probably be matched play, but I can certainly think of instances where I will play using narrative, or open play as well.

All in all, it seems to be a solid release.  A great starter box with ruleset that seems ripe with potential.  The issues with the background are a little problematic, and whereas it does mar the finished product for me a bit, it’s not a deal-breaker.

This, however is just how feel about it as a crusty old 40K dude and the background certainly won’t be an issue for a newcomer to the game, which is arguably who the starter set is aimed at.  It’s a good box for anyone into Warhammer 40,000, but perfect for newcomers.

Riding the Hype Train

The new edition of Warhammer 40,000 is released in a few days and I’m really looking forward to it.  Whereas it’s always cool when something you like is getting a new release, the new edition of 40K has really caught my attention, unlike any of previous edition, since third.

Second edition was awesome and it worked well for smaller scale scraps, so well in fact that the ruleset was almost completely reused for Necromunda, with a stripped back version existing to this day as Shadow War Armageddon.  It was somewhat unwieldy for larger battles though and third edition was the answer to this.

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The third edition boxed game was a real step forward for Games Workshop and was a big deal.  It saw the release of the multi-part Space Marine kits, which was exciting because up to this point all we’d had for a few years were metal miniatures that were limited, as far as options were concerned and snap fit plastics.  It also contained the plastic Landspeeder, a kit which is still kicking around to this day.

New Space Marines weren’t the only thing to get excited about as the release also debuted an entirely new race, the Dark Eldar.  I’m pretty sure these kits aren’t the ones that’re on release now, as they were very basic, but they were super cool at the time, purely because they were new.

It also contained what I think may have may have been Games Workshop’s first attempt at plastic scenery.  There had been cardboard ruins and the like previously, but nothing like this.  Ruined buildings and rather strange looking modular jungle trees.  Rather basic looking by today’s standards, but ground-breaking stuff then, with the buildings still usable to this day.  The trees however were rather fragile and met their end long ago.

Despite all this, as far as I’m concerned third edition ultimately turned out to be a bit of a damp squib.  I wasn’t fond of the codices, due to the lack of background material and they went much too far when it came to de-cluttering the rules.  Folks may well disagree with me, but that’s how I felt about it.

What came after the release of the boxed game in no way diminishes the excitement that I felt for it upon release however and this is precisely how I feel about the imminent eighth edition. All new models, a completely new ruleset and more new background than you could shake a range-ruler at.

Will it be the perfect game? Almost certainly not; nothing’s perfect after all.  As with third edition though, what comes after the initial release in no way diminishes how I feel about my first dip into eighth edition.

That Bloody Model

Some models are a joy to work on from beginning to end.  Assembly, flash-line removal, painting, none of these things present a problem.  When such a model is finished, you’re almost sorry to have to put your paintbrush down and call it done.

Then there are those other models.  The ones that hate you and want you to stick your fingers together with superglue.  The assembly instructions might be vague, only showing you the general area that a part needs to be glued onto, and not for example how it should sit in relation to other parts.  These little beauties often include parts that need to be glued together by a person that has at least four hands.

Or it could have flash-lines in very visible, but hard to reach places, leading you to the conclusion that you need a knife / file that will bend in three different directions at the same time.  These buggers present a very real risk of your model getting a red undercoat, whether you wanted it to or not; modelling knives cut deep.

Then we come to painting a model.  Hard to reach crevices, poor detail (mostly a problem on older models) and the ever-looming spectre of what’s that supposed to be, I have no idea what colour to paint it?  Such areas usually consist of little twirly bits, or small and ambiguous box like shapes that could be painted in any one of half a dozen different colours.

Lastly there are the things which aren’t really the fault of the model and you’re only making it about the irritating little sod because you’re having such a bad time.  This can be anything from not having a replacement blade for your knife, to your polystyrene cement inexplicably being blocked a couple of minutes after you last used it.

The most recent, but by no means the worst offenders for me have been the new Custodes models.  They are fantastic looking models and although I haven’t quite finished them yet, they aren’t too bad to paint either.  The main issue I have with these guys is assembly; they are bloody frustrating to put together.

Games Workshop made some strange decisions about the amount of parts these models were broken down in to.  One example that springs to mind would be the Storm Shields.  There is a gem in the centre of the shield, a very tiny gem and it’s a separate part.  As far as I can tell, there is no reason this gem couldn’t have just been part of the shield from the start.

Detaching this teeny tiny part from the sprue, cleaning it up and getting where it was supposed to go was no easy task and I nearly dropped more than once.  I have somewhat large hands and this rather exacerbated things, but I can’t imagine anyone having a good time with them.

This pales in comparison to the problems I had with the Guardian Spears; those things are bloody awful.  Two of the Custodes hold their spears across their chests in a two-handed grip.  To assemble these dudes you have to attach two separate arms to the torso of the model, while also attaching the spear to the arms at the same time.  Oh yeah, you also need to have the arms oriented at the correct angle for the hands that are moulded to the spear to join to the wrists.

That’s complicated to even write about, but to assemble them frustrated me more than any model has for a long time.  It was one of those occasions that I mentioned earlier, when it feels like you need more hands than you have access to.

Another model that deserves a mention is the Krootox, but first a bit of a disclaimer.  I bought these soul-destroying monsters when they were new and it’s entirely possible that something might have been done to fix them by now.

When the Tau were originally released their Codex would be best described as functional.  It had everything needed to build an army, but not much in the way of choice.  This made models like the Krootox almost essential if you wanted anything approaching variety in your army.  This wasn’t necessarily a problem as they were nice looking models, although they have dated a wee bit now.  The problem came with the assembly.

It was a metal model and a poorly cast mess.  All the detail was there, the parts just didn’t fit together, it wasn’t even close.  To get them to go where they were supposed to go required pliers and a lot of elbow grease, followed by green stuff and pinning.

They were such terrible models to assemble, that to this day I still only have those same two Krootox in my Tau army.  If they still fit together as badly now as they did then, I’m not even sure how they’d work as models anymore.  They’re resin these days and resin isn’t known as a material that reacts well to brute force.  Warm water and patience perhaps, but it’d take a lot of work and as a unit choice they just aren’t essential enough to warrant all that effort anymore.

Some models are going to be a pain in the arse to get onto the games table, there’s no getting around it.  More times than not it’s well worth the effort though, when you see what you’ve achieved and you know what it took to get a particularly troublesome model onto the table.

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My Krootox, complete with fifteen year old paint scheme (give or take a year or two).