Saturday, December 28, 2013

Deadzone Terrain Weathering

If you have been following my previous guides to speedy and even speedier painting of the masses of tiles that came with the Deadzone Kickstarter packages, you should now have a tonne of nicely painted two-tone grey tiles. Are yours not so nicely painted? Well, thats ok too. Its art and art is subjective.

So, that two-tone scheme is a really fast way to get paint on your tiles, but there is no reason to stop there. In fact its a good idea to add more colours to the tiles as all that grey, even with accents, can look a bit monochrome en masse.

I am going to show you here some ways I have added a bit more colour and texture to my collection of terrain. One is as easy as it can be and uses something you are guaranteed to have in your house. The second requires buying a GW paint (although there may be other substitutes out there). The third uses paints you probably already have, and the fourth requires an airbrush and some specialist consumables.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide

1. Pencil edging. For this, all you need is a simple graphite pencil. If you run it across the edge of your tiles and the edges of raised areas, you can give your tiles a subtle outline that will add definition and a metallic sheen. This is great when you want to fool the eye into perceiving your tiles are made of metal. Where you have salt-masked your tiles, concentrate the pencil edging on places where the darker 'base' colour shows through.

Its hard to photograph though >< In the above picture, you might just be able to pick out the thin dark line along the beveled edge of the tile. I have done it on the edge of the raised square in the tile's centre as well. 

 Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide

2. Washes and Sponging. For my floor tiles I wanted to produce an effect that simulated the combined weight of thousands of footprints, containers and gear, and general atmospheric dust on the surfaces. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Steel Legion Drab is great for producing nondescript dust-coloured washes, particularly as a contrast to the grey colour of the tiles.

I tried not cover the entire tile in wash - I wanted some areas to look a bit closer to their 'intended' colour than others - an made sure the wash got into the recesses and corners as this is where dust and dirt would naturally accumulate. You have to be a little bit careful of pooling though. In the picture above it can look like some of the tiles have got tea stains on them. In real life its a bit more subdued than the camera makes it appear, but you want to avoid tide marks when the wash dries.

I have also sponged on some darker colours, like Scorched Brown, in a few places. I used a packing sponge, just like in the speedier guide, but I smeared rather than dabbed this time. A real industrial floor can be a patchwork of colours and spills, the trick is making yours look random. Again, its art.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide

3. Blood for the Blood God. GW released a handful of technical paints just before Christmas. Most of them I don't see the point of, but Blood is a good one. You can splatter it, drag it, and pool it, and it dries to a gloss and looks like fresh human blood. There were ways to simulate blood before this paint of course, but this paint just looks fantastic.

In the picture above you can see the same tiles from the previous shot, with a little BftBG dabbed on. Here's another photo of tiles from the same batch with washes and Blood.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide

4. Weathering powders. Weathering powders are like painting black magic. Everyone has heard of them, but few have used them. Or know how to. Its mainly beardy types that build scale models of tanks and stuff. But, I'm here to tell you, they are surprisingly easy to use, with a little care, and can produce some great effects on your terrain.

 The first thing I did with them was add some to the wash I used on the floor tiles, then reapplied it. I used a mix of earth coloured powders, although I probably used too much of the darker ones in places.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide

If you look closely at the gaps between the square in this tile, you can see how the powders give the wash a granular quality. Basically it makes a more muddy than dusty powder.

You can also just apply a few spots of powder to your tile and smudge them in with a sponge. This is a great way to simulate soot, scorch marks, and the general accretion of dirt you might see in a place like the Deadzone.

And finally, here are three videos demonstrating how to use weathering powders with thinners and an airbrush to dirty-up your terrain facades. The front bits.

To start with, I sprinkle weathering powders onto wet thinners I have sprayed onto the tiles.

Then I spray some more thinners onto the powders, allowing it to form a paint-like liquid and flow into the recesses of the tile.

The finishing touch is to cover the dried powders with a matt varnish to seal them in.

I reshot the last video in the sequence for two reasons. For one, I had the camera set at the wrong resolution for the first run through, which is why parts 1 and 2 are a little blurry. For the other, I went a bit heavy on the powders on the batch in the first two videos. So I have shot a different batch in the last vidoe, one that is a bit lighter, a bit more dusty than muddy.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide

I went in a bit lighter on the first batch I weathered too. I think the patchy dirt is more effective looking than the heavier mud for this type of terrain.

That then is how I am weathering my tiles and breaking up all that grey. As always, if this has been helpful, please click on the ad because it helps me buy more weathering powders :) And comments, questions, or suggestions are also equally welcome below.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Mantic's Next New Game

At the most recent Mantic Open Day, Ronnie mentioned the possibility of taking on other franchises for the tabletop games treatment in the manner of Mars Attacks. The success of that Kickstarter, he said, showed Mantic could handle someone else's ip respectfully and innovatively. He also said there were other properties he would love to take on - Aliens and Predator perhaps having been one of them, although Mantic were never actually in the conversation about any rights to make a game from those franchises.

So what properties was he thinking of? Here are a few I would like to see:
  1. Game of Thrones. Games like Spartacus have shown it's possible to build intrigue into tabletop games alongside violence, but the massively popular book series also has great potential for a massed combat system - an army of white walkers versus the elite Black Watch, anyone?
  2. The Walking Dead. There already is a boardgame based on the comic book/tv show. But I can also see this as an adaptation of the Deadzone/Mars Attacks rulesets with missions to recover foodstuffs and medical supplies and so on. Players could choose from factions including original survivors, Woodbury, and the hunters. Perhaps you could even choose your band of survivors from all those characters - Rick and the Governor working together! - and fight against card controlled zombies. The options for a Kickstarter exclusive are clear - if the game is based on the comic, you can get TV versions, and vice versa.
  3. Netrunner/Magic/any other ccg. With Mars Attacks, Mantic took a series of collectible cards and made a game out of them. Netrunner and Magic are already games of course, but they don't have collectible miniatures - yet. Personally I'd love to see an adaptation of Netrunner's covert ops and skullduggery into a miniatures game. Mantic love putting cards in their games so it's not such a long stretch.
  4. Star Trek, Star Wars, and/or Stargate. Three sci-fi franchises with legions of fans both within and without the tabletop gaming community. The success of X-Wing and Wing Commander shows the two bigger franchises have support, but this may well mean the rights to them are all tied up. As far as I know though, there is not a Stargate game on the market. 
  5. Planet of the Apes. The rights to this could be pretty hot with a new raft of movies being made. But I'd still love the opportunity to tell my opponent to take his stinkin' paws off me. The damn, dirty ape!
So thats my top five(ish) ip's for Mantic to take on. What would you like to see them develop?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Deadzone Terrain - Even Speedier Painting Guide

A few days ago I put up a tutorial/report on how to quickly paint Deadzone terrain using a couple of spray cans and a salt masking. While a lot of people seemed to like the guide, a lot were perhaps also put off by the use of an airbrush and even the salt.

So, let me present an even easier way to paint your terrain, using no airbrush and no salt. The effects you get aren't quite as great looking, in my opinion, and take a little practice to master, but are fast and simple to produce.

Start off with the first few steps as shown in the previous guide:
  1.  separate your tiles into vertical and horizontal piles (that is, walls in one pile, floors in the other).
  2. blu-tack your tiles to a strong sheet of carboard or other firm, flat, and portable surface.
  3. prime them - this time it doesn't really matter what colour, but I still recommend black.
Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide
It still looks like this.
Now, the first departure from the first guide's technique - go straight to painting on your main colour layer. In my case I am still using Vallejo's Model Air Pale Grey Blue and airbrushing it on, but you can use whatever colour you want. Use a lightish colour though like Army Painter's Wolf Grey (in theory you could just go straight to this step and skip the black primer!). Slightly patchy or uneven paint is still ok but you're still going to want to try to spray your wall sections from the 'top' to try to keep some of the black primer on the undersides of raised edges.

You will need a dark grey paint for the next bit. I made mine using pure black with just a hint of grey to break it up a bit, but you could just use something like Games Workshop's Mechanicus Standard Grey.

Now you take a piece of clampack foam - thats the dark grey sponge that comes in many 28mm miniatures, such as Dreadball MVP's - and use it to dab the dark grey paint onto your tiles.

  • Don't load the sponge with lots of paint. Think of it as being a bit like drybrushing - too much paint will spoil the effect.
  • Concentrate on hitting edges and corners. 
  • Don't smear the paint on, you will just get a sooty look. Dab it on. 
  • Mix up the angles you do it at to avoid getting repetitive patterns.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide
et voila
It might take a few goes to get the hang of it and understand how your sponge puts paint down. But thats the same with any technique. The good thing is a little experimentation here cannot hurt - the more worn, and messed around with your tiles are, the better they will look on the table.

In my previous guide I used salt masking twice; once for the paint chipping effect, and once for applying an accent colour. You can also sponge on the accent. I highly recommend you do this on at least some of your panels or you might end up with a slightly monochrome board.

 To do this, I masked off the area I want to colour. Then I dabbed on my accent, Golden Yellow, before reapplying my dark grey around the edges to bring back that chipped look.Dabbing on a little bit of the Pale Blue Grey would also help with that worn look.

Compared side by side, you can see how the two techniques come out. The dabbed on chips tend to make the tiles look more smoky while the chipped paint seems cleaner. Both are fine to put out on the table though.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide

One area the sponge technique is probably better for is small parts. Crystallized salt can come in large chunks that are difficult to apply accurately to little things like handrails and ladders. From now on I plan to sponge those parts. The trick there will be making sure the paint I dab is the same shade as on the salted tiles.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide

So there you have it - a fast, easy, and cheap way to quickly paint worn looking tiles that does not use an airbrush or any kind of advanced technique.

Later on I plan to play around with adding more weathering effects like rust and blood to some of my tiles so let me know if there's anything in particular you would like to see or know how to do.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below and, if you like the guide, please click on the ad as it helps keep me in spraycans :) And check out my guide to weathering your tiles here.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Deadzone Terrain - Speed Painting Guide

I went in fairly heavily for the Deadzone terrain. I pledged for enough mats for a complete 6x4 table, so I wanted enough building tiles, at least when combined with my existing stock of GW stuff, to cover them. Of course, now I have to paint them all...

I want to paint them quickly so I don't just end up with a bunch of unpainted sprues and parts. But I also want them to look good. Partly out of personal pride in my work, of course, but also because I want people to see that this is quality terrain - that Mantic have made a good product. So here's my guide to getting my tiles looking good quickly, as well as some optional 'effects' stuff you can do on top of the paint job to really get it looking cool.

To start with, I sorted my tiles into two piles: one for wall pieces, barricades, and vertical connectors, the other for floor tiles. I am not going to be painting the right angle connectors here. That's partly because most of them will be invisible once the tiles are clipped together, and partly because the ones you can see won't be coloured that differently to the tiles anyway. This is a speed run. But if you want to spend hours painting all the clips, go for it ;)

Next, I blu-tacked the tiles onto sheets of cardboard. Note I only have a dozen or so tiles on each sheet. This is because this was the test run to check the colours ad techniques all worked and looked good. But you save more time the more tiles you stick up each time, so I'll be doing twice as many tiles at a time in future.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide

Its important to keep the vertical sections all aligned the same way. So the top of every wall is at the top of the card sheet, the bottom of every wall is at the sheet's bottom. It doesn't matter which way you line up the floor tiles.

Once the sheet is full, I took them out to the garden and primed them black. Most of the time I tell people it really doesn't matter what colour primer you use. But here, its important to use black. Any black - GW, Army Painter (which I use), or Halfords. But Black.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide
Check those corners
 As you do this side of the tiles, its important to make sure both sides of the bevelled edges and all the insides of windows and viewports are well covered. Thats because later, when you come to paint the other side, you don't want to be blowing paint back onto this finished side. So be thorough. Get the edges and sides.

When the primer is dry, I sprayed the tiles with Humbrol Acrylic Sea Grey. This is a dark grey, almost black.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide
A slightly uneven paint job will give your tiles 'character'

A smooth finish is not vital here - you can afford to be a little patchy. This may be counter-intuitive. You're always told that you need to get smooth layers of paint on models. But this is large scale terrain and a little variation in tone and texture is normal and natural and will make your tiles look better and more realistic when you're all done. I'm not saying leave parts of the tiles blank or to skimp on the paint. Just that you don't need to plaster the plastic trying to make every square millimeter of the thing a flat matte uniform shade.

I also spray the paint down onto the tiles. I don't mean just holding the can above the tiles, but firing it from the direction that is at the 'top' of each tile. This is most easily done by holding the sheet of card with my hand at the top of the sheet, and then spraying away. What this does is put a bit less paint on the bottom of any raised surfaces on the tiles. Doing it this way you get a 'drop-shadow' effect. It means you have shaded the tile without even trying and this is why you needed to make sure all the tiles were lined up the same way and primed with black paint. Again, this effect will be helped by not blasting every tile with paint until it squeals for air.

Note: this effect is probably easier to achieve with an airbrush than a spray can. But speed is more important right now.

So now we have a sheet or sheets of tiles, all primed, and all base-coated. Now its time to apply the main colour.

At this point I switch to the airbrush.

I would guess that at least one person reading this now is thinking 'airbrushes are expensive' or 'airbrushes are for expert painters' or something like that. Let me assure you, neither of those statements are correct.

My airbrush is really basic. It was a cheapo ebay purchase - £75, I think, for two (!) brushes and a compressor. For that I got a half-decent compressor and two basic airbrushes. It literally pumps air through the brushes and forces paint to go along too and thats it. No fancy gizmos, no variable apertures or trigger resistances.  It is one step up from what I would recommend anyone unable to get what I did - a GW spraygun. I think these are around £15 now and you'll need a can of compressed air too. Either of these systems will do for this, giving you the ability to spray much finer layers than a can and much smoother, more even layers than a brush.

Now its time to talk about the coolest part of the process - salt masking. Salt masking is using chunks of salt to mask areas of your model so they don't get any paint on them in the next layer. Its a fantastic technique to simulate wear and tear on painted surfaces. There are other ways to do it but salt-masking is the coolest. It looks like cookery but feels like magic when you do it right.

You will need:

  • salt, proper rocky or crystallised salt, the sort that goes in a grinder, not table salt. I use Waitrose Coarse Sea Salt Crystals.
  • hairspray. Get the cheapest stuff you can find. I use Tesco Value. 
You then take one of your sheets of tiles and spray the bejeezus out of it with the hairspray. I highly recommend doing this in a well ventilated room and possibly with a filter mask on. You want the hairspray to be a liquid layer on your tiles. While it is still wet, sprinkle on the salt. All over is good, particularly on the edges of raised areas, corners, and the edges of the tiles. Anywhere that looks like it might get knocked about as that tile holds up a building or gets walked over. Then you let it dry.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide
Ready salted.

When it is, load up your airbrush or spray gun with the main colour for the tile. I used Vallejo Model Air Pale Grey Blue as it seemed like a nice match to the Deadzone mats.

In theory Model Air paints don't need any diluting. In practice I found the Grey to be a little thick, so I did cut it with a tiny bit of Tamiya Thinners. You want a fairly even coat here, but as with the previous step, a little patchiness is quite acceptable. Take note, some of the salt will probably fall off here, so make sure you're painting on a surface you can collect it from easily afterwards. As with the base coat, spray the wall tiles from their top side to accentuate that drop shadow effect.

Once this layer has dried, you will need a pot of warm or hot water and some cotton wool. Dip the wool in the water and use it to wipe off the salt crystals from the tiles. Now check out that magic! Say to yourself, 'Boy, can I paint!'. It doesn't matter if you scratch the paint as you go, or find slightly thicker areas where the light grey paint peels or rubs off. The more damage you do to it the better really.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide
Boy, can I take photo's.
 So, you should now have a set of tiles that look like they've been through some wars. At this point you could just stick that stuff out on the table and enjoy playing with it.

But all that grey can be a bit overpowering though and make a table look a bit washed out. Don't get me wrong - a collection of salt masked tiles put together will make some impressive looking scenery people will love playing on. But for a little extra 'pop' I added some accent colour and used the salt mask technique again.

For my first batch of tiles I chose Vallejo's Game Colour Gold Yellow. At first glance this seems like a really strong colour. But you have to bear in mind the cold/hot colour model. That is, if you use lots of 'cold' colours - greys, some blues, some greens, - you can accent it with a contrasting 'hot' colour. In this case I have cold greys everywhere, so I am contrasting it with the warm yellow. Reds would also work, and probably some browns and purples as these also have red pigments in them.

I used Tamiya's masking tape to protect most of the tiles, then salt-masked the tiles as above before airbrushing on the yellow. Here's how they look when I wash off the salt.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide

You don't need to do this accent step to every single tile. I did it to every one of the first batch just so I wouldn't need to do it again. If you did do it to every tile, well, you'd lose a bit of that individuality and leave your table looking all uniform again. I'll probably do a few more of the barricade tiles, just because it seems to make narrative sense these things would be painted to stand out a bit. But not every single wall and every single door needs to be marked out the same.

Note I only did this on the vertical tiles too. For the floors I did a quick wash with GW's Steel Legion Drab and dabbed it all over the tiles. Steel Legion is great for a generic 'dusty' look and here's how the dried tiles look.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide

Its probably a good idea to give the tiles a coat of varnish at this point and I used Army Painter's Matt Varnish. These things are going to get a lot of wear and tear as they get put together, played on, and taken apart again.

The next step should be obvious: take the tiles off the board, turn them round, and do it all again to the other side. I might not even bother doing the floor tiles again though. One side is all you're ever likely to really see and that's done.

Take care when spraying paint on this second side though. Don't forget you have already painted the first side and you don't want paint creeping under the tile and ruining your paint job. A little stray paint won't hurt, just don't spray the tiles from extreme angles.

The most time consuming part of this whole process then is tacking the tiles onto the cardboard. Spraying the first two coats takes maybe five minutes. Spraying on hairspray and sprinkling on salt takes a bit longer, particularly as you have to wait for the hairspray to dry. Masking up areas for the accent colours is a little time consuming. But if you do a big enough sheet of tiles you only need to do it once. Get big tape. All in all, it is quite possible to paint scores of tiles, on at least one side, in an afternoon.

edit:for those put off by airbrushing or salt masking go here for a guide to similar technique that uses neither.

Hopefully then, this guide has been useful to someone and I'm always open to questions or ideas for other ways to do things so feel free to leave a comment and, if you liked the guide, please click on the ad at the top right :) And check out my guide to weathering your tiles here.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Deadzone Mercs and Wrath Guide

Mercs are the fifth, or maybe seventh, faction in Deadzone, depending on how you view production schedules. Whatever, they are a great little collection of models and come in their own confusing baggie of limbs, guns, and 'bits' for Kickstarters to pore over.

The good news is most of them are actually pretty straightforward to put together and are only two or three pieces. For those guys, please check out the gallery below to help you decide which arm or head goes with which body.

A few notes:

  •  thorough clean up before gluing is highly recommended. There are one or two tabs that need to be filed down to their exact intended shape or they just won't go in right.
  • make sure you put the bladed arm on Blaine and the silenced rifle on the Pathfinder. Blaine's fist weapon looks kinda Enforcery and it will go onto the Pathfinder's body.
  • Freya's arms didn't even need glue on my model, the fit is that tight. I pushed the arms on almost vertically over her head before rotating the pegs down into the sockets.
  • take care with Oberon's toes (easy to clip off) and the Pathfinder's combat knife (easy to snap off)

Nastanza -backpack goes with smooth pointy end up.

Simmonds - reaching right arm.

Freya - no glue necessary.

Blaine. 'nuff said.

The Survivor - backpack has shaped tab to ensure right way up

Pathfinder and Drone

Oberon - no glue needed, but some hot water for reshaping is.

Wrath - hardest model in the bag to put together.
 All of which brings us to Wrath, my favourite model from the Kickstarter fluff and least favourite from the bag.

For a start, he comes in  seven parts: a body, two arms, two kasaya straps, his cloak, and his sword. Then you can add that these parts all have tabs, but they aren't all the right shape. Then add onto all that Mantic's infuriating habit of putting the tabs next to the holes in the molds where the plastic goes in, so when the model comes out you have to trim it down and try to figure out what shape the tab is supposed to be and what is flash. Honestly, that, and putting mold lines right down the middle of faces with tiny tiny details, is the worst thing about Mantic's Deadzone minis.

Anyway. Once you've got all those parts sorted, here's how I recommend you put them together.

1. Put the kasaya strap with a small tab at one end and a larger rectangular tab near the other on Wrath's left shoulder (the top one in the picture above). The rectangular tab goes into a socket just above his groin. You'll see on Wrath's shoulders a roughly triangular arrangement of holes - the kasya tabs go in the front and lower holes.  Put the other kasaya strap on his right shoulder. I did my arms first, which made putting the straps on a lot harder.

2. Put the arms on. Long rifle on the left side, bottom and rear hole, pistol on the other side.

That deep hole in his right shoulder is for the cape.
And there's the one for the left shoulder.
3. Put the cloak on. You'll see a fairly deep and long slot on the top of each of his shoulders. This is where the cloak is designed to fit.
Mind you, he is crazy. Maybe it makes sense to him.
4. Stick his sword on. Once again a little hot water will do wonders here if yours is as bent as mine. I couldn't tell for certain from the KS pictures where this was supposed to go, but there is a small hole in the top left surface of the cloak that appears to match a little tab on the sword's scabbard, so thats where I put mine. It looks awkward as anything, but unfortunately I think this just means its not a great sculpt.
He took it off a dead member of the Council of Seven, who's going to tell him it looks silly?

As always, feel free to ask me any questions if you're having trouble with any of your Deadzone Mercs and, if you like the guide, please click on the ad at the top. Or if you know a better place to put that sword ;) Personally, I feel some repositioning and greenstuffing coming on.

Tervigon - Now with Added Slime!

I have a few health issues and, when I'm feeling particularly low, I just need a big monster to build and paint to pick me up. So, here's a Tervigon from GW. I used the new Nurgle's Rot paint to make the burtsing birth sac look particularly vile.

I would highly recommend anyone else building one of these things paint the sub assemblies before gluing. A combination of feathering, washes, basic edge highlighting, and, of course, the slime paint, make it really easy to put the wrong paint in an area you already finished. If I did it again, I'd paint the birth sac seperately at least, then glue it on to the finished body.

I'm very happy with how this beastie came out. I really like the colour scheme and I think a whole army in these colours would be incredibly striking on a tabletop. Sadly, thanks to GW's crazy pricing, I won't be starting another 40k force in the foreseeable future which means this model is probably going to ebay :(

Once I've finished the rim of the base, that is. Man, I do get bored quickly!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Ripper Suits!

In thirty-odd years of wargaming I've never been a fan of orcs. In traditional fantasy they've always been bad guys. Usually they are technologically inept, basic brutes who stumble from one fight to another. Sometimes they're comedy relief - portrayed as being as lucky just to point their weapons the wrong way. So I was surprised to find myself really liking the concepts and sculpts for the Marauders during the Deadzone Kickstarter.

The models are of course out now and I'm actually starting to think they may be my favourite faction of them all. I can see myself collecting an army if they all look as cool as these.

My favourites within the favourites has to be the Ripper suits. These are the ultimate one-Orx heavy weapons team. An already hard as steel and just-above-psychotic genetic monstrosity strapped into a powered exo-suit with every weapon available strapped on top of that - whats not to like?

The resin kit is great. But you get two models in a bag, plus some goblins, and all the weapon options so it can be a confusing pile of parts to sort out. So here's a quick guide to what's what and where it all goes.

deadzone ripper suits pieces

I've laid out all the Ripper suit pieces here. I didn't put the goblin heads out because its kind of obvious what they are and they slot straight into their bodies anyway. But you should be able to see, on the left of the picture, two arms, a two-piece weapon, a chainsaw, a las-weapon, and a grenade launcher. Then, in the middle, are three head options, a radar/scanner dish, and a missile launcher. Finally, on the right, two more arms, a multi-barrelled weapon, a close-combat weapon, a small rocket launcher, and two ammo belts.

It doesn't matter which body you put which weapon or head or arm on - they are all interchangeable. Most of the weapons are too but the gatling gun does, I think, need to go on a left arm. This is largely because the attached flame-thrower would look a bit silly on the 'inside' of a limb. If we can say anything on a 10ft tall orx with this many weapons systems attached looks silly, that is.

Deadzon Ripper suits

Edit: after gluing all my models together, I finally got round to opening the packs of cards and looking at building lists. It turns out I messed up a bit here. While the weapon systems are all interchangeable on the models, in the cards there are two distinct builds for Ripper suits. One is the clos-combat oriented Mauler, the other the more shooty Rainmaker. The two piece weapon I tend to refer to as a missile launcher is actually a Ram and should be paired with a Buzzsaw - I believe you can use either of the two saw-type weapons to represent it and make a Mauler. The las-cannon, or HEW Beamer as it should be known, should be paired with the rotary cannon. This makes the Rainmaker. The addon components are all more or less still interchangeable, although the back mounted launcher should also go on the Rainmaker.

Here's how the models look with heads, arms, and major weapons attached. The two-part missile-launcher thingy was the only one that was a little problematic at this point. It has a guide stud on one part to help align the pieces when gluing. The female receptor on the weapon head was not really drilled out deep enough on mine though. Even though I bored it out a little, I still didn't get a good fit and so my weapon is now a little wonky. My own fault though for not being thorough and I'll be fixing it before painting.

The trickiest part of the whole kit was the ammo belt for the gatling gun. For a start, you get two of them, in different lengths. So you need to figure out which one to use. Now, there are a couple of possible reasons for this. One is that each one is intended for use when mounting the gun on a different side of the body. The second, more likely one, is they are both for the left arm, but you get two different left arms of differing length, so you need different length ammo feeds. Whatever the truth of it is, if you mount the gun on the bent left arm, like I did, you need the longer ammo belt.

Moving on to the extras, you get some cool stuff, but only one of each piece. I would have liked more, but then perhaps the suits wouldn't be as cool or individual if every suit had every upgrade on it.

Each suit has two holes in the top of the chest plate, about level with the orx's head - the scanner dish will fit in any of them. 

It looks like the top-mounted rocket-launcher is also intended for use on either suit. Perhaps I got a bad cast, but ti didn't feel like it fitted perfectly on either suit. It looks like there are guides and slots in the sculpt, but none of them seemed to make the part go on just right. I ended up picking the one that seemed best.

The shoulder-mounted rockets do have well-sculpted guide rails though. You should be able to see crenelations on the underside of the piece that fir into the zig-zags on either suit's left shoulder.

The small grenade launcher for the right side also has a guide hole bored into it and it fits onto a vambrace, or wrist armour. I seem to have managed to forget to take a picture of that though, so take my word for it ;)

Once all is done and dried though, you should have two very cool and mean looking Marauders, as well as a spare head, ammo belt, and chainsaw.

I had no major issues putting these models together. Mold lines were pretty minimal too. Mantic seems to have made a habit of casting the two halves of the Orx heads right down the middle in Deadzone though, and both heads did need a little bit of slightly tricky scraping here.

The detail on the models is fantastic though. If you look closely you might be able to see the models' knuckles! And, just in case all this isn't enough to make you want a collection of Marauders too, here are some bonus pictures of Chief Radgard, a Marauder character funded through the Kickstarter and now almost completely sculpted.

I'm painting mine like he's snapped a broom in half and put the end on his head :)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Today I have mostly been playing with the Landing Pad and Fortifications Battlezones from Mantic. The potential for these kits is absolutely fantastic. Their execution is not quite so brilliant though.

First off, the Landing Pad. I started off building this in the square pattern shown in the Kickstarter. On my first go I used the flat connectors all over the pad to get the sturdiest construction possible. This did work. But, it was only when I came to put the support pillars on, these also having connectors on each end,  that I realised the potential drawback of a belt and bracers approach.

That is, if you connect the top surface all over and then connect the bottom surface with the pillars it can be difficult to remove them without prising. Prising is the enemy of the Mantic connectors, you really need to push them out with a pin or dowel of some sort. So I ended up gingerly removing a lot of the pillars again, before popping out the flatties on the top, and replacing the pillars.

 As you can see, you can make a very nice looking landing pad. But, here's where it gets really cool: you still have a bunch of stuff left over on the sprues that, unlike a certain other game company's kit, is still useful. After building the square pad you will still have four square floor sections and half a dozen triangular ones too.
 So I built an extension :) using all the floor tiles, the main body of the pad is just a foot long by 9" wide!

Note that none of the pictures I have shown so far include all the parts on the main sprues or any of the accessories. you can, for example, put a skirt all around the landing pad, not just on the corners like I did. You get a laser cannon or radar dish in this kit too, which can also be put anywhere. There's a whole accessories sprue with loads of crates, and barrels, a ladder, and a cool looking elevated light that doubles as a connector for wall sections too.

The main sprues come with several sections of stairs as well. These are the weakest part of the kit though, at least as far as I can tell. I'm just not sure how they are supposed to actually connect to the landing pad. There seems to be a half-hearted attempt at putting connector slots at the top, but I haven't found anything they will actually clip on to yet. They are supposed to join to each other as well, so you can have double or triple width stairs. But the sockets are too small for the pegs. So unless I've missed something, these are not so useful.

Still, check out that pad! I can totally see Stormraven's landing on the larger one. Perhaps the smaller one gives us an idea of the kind of size of kit Mantic are working on too.

Next up is the Fortifications zone. This is a funny one.

I thought at first the thick pillar sections were supposed to join the fortified walls together. But they just don't. I couldn't understand how Mantic could tool something so badly that they refused to work together at all. Then I realised the pillar connectors are actually intended to connect Core Worlds walls together >< Used on those thinner tiles they work just fine and look cool. Same with the corner columns. They just won't work with the walls on the sprues they are supplied with, but go great on Core Worlds tiles. In that way, I see the Fortications as augments for the other sections. You'll get the most out of them if you mix them in with the other zones.

But what happens if you do mix it all up? Well, you can do stuff like this for a start:

 Its perhaps not so good for Deadzone, what with it being played on a grid and all. But 40k, or Infinity?

 It reminds me of the Forge engine from Bungie. The ability to mix and match terrain pieces in infinite combinations is fantastic and I am so excited to see what people do with these kits.

When Forge came out, a map editor for a console multiplayer, the first ever I think, it blew people away. It has been iterated on a few times since then, growing in both subtlety and complexity. The maps that have been created have likewise become more and more amazing. I really hope we see the imagination of the community go to work on Mantic's kits to produce some similarly amazing boards.

The pieces I have built and shown so far have just been experiments as I get to know the materials. I'm going to decamp from my tiny office now to the big dining room table to see if I can't build something really cool. I'm thinking a multi-level keep, with gun emplacements and holds and all sorts. Lets see what is possible :)