Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Army in a Weekend challenge!

About six weeks back, Rob Phanulf from the Countercharge podcast reached out to the members of The Beer Phase and asked us if we wanted to take part in a little challenge. Follow the cut to see how I cranked out a 1000 point Herd force (which doubles as a 1498 gold Darklands force) in three days!

Before the Event

The Concept

For 2016, I had always intended to build a Beastmen army, using Mierce models to fill the roles of the army. With the well-documented change of game in the South, doing a Herd force was the obvious choice for me.
I was also intending to use the army as a Darklands demo force, so I can start doing better photographed demo games.
Since the challenge was to come up with a 1000 point Kings of War list, I built a 1000 point list that had a low enough model count that I could crank it out in three days, and cool enough models that nobody would care.
The Tribal Longhorns - 12 Gabrax with a Gabrox
Kings of War list:
* A Regiment of Tribal Longhorns (11 Gabrax joined by Chaagmuth the Jaw Taker and a Gabrox)
* A Horde of Lycans (4 Sronax and a Sronax Untain)
* A Tribal Chieftain on a Chariot (Chaagmuth the Jaw-Taker on a Toracx)
* A Shaman (Bruncaath the Vile)
* A Brutox (Mammax Tain)

The Lycans, fielded with Sronax models
Darklands list (1498 gold):
* A Gabrax Untain with Heavy Armor, on a Gooracx (Uncommon, 158 gold)
* Commanding 10 Gabrax (Mainstay, 256 gold)
* Commanding a Gabrox (Uncommon, 109 gold)
* A Sronax Untain with Heavy Armor (Rare, 273 gold)
* Commanding 4 Sronax (Common, 408 gold)
* A Mammax Tain (Rare, 213 gold)
* A Gabrax Warlock (Uncommon, 82 gold)
Qaano, a Sronax Untain, who will double as the Lycan commander
Tribal Chieftain on a chariot/Gabrax Untain on GooracxThe Brutox/Mammax Tain!

Prep Work

Magnetized... to a desk lamp.
The models were already assembled, so I didn't have any work to do there. However, I wanted the force to be able to be used in both games. While Kings of War puts the whole unit on a single base, Darklands requires models to be on their own bases. To allow for this, I drilled holes in the hooves of each of the Longhorn unit, and inserted a 2mm magnet into each. This will allow me to magnetize my bases and pop models on and off as needed.
The Longhorns, magnetized to a sheet of flashing.

With the one unit (and shaman) magnetized, I decided to just temporarily glue the other models to their bases and moved on to the next phase: Priming! Knowing that I would be painting rapidly, I convinced myself that Zenithal priming - a two-color priming system that builds in automatic highlights - would be the way to go. I even decided to be craftier, and prime the Gabrax (which were originally going to be a lighter shade) in black/white, while priming everything else in black/grey.
The Longhorns, Zenithal-primed.
Ready for priming First coat of primer - black - on Zenithal-primed grey
   This decision was a very poor one for me, and I should have anticipated it - I've tried Zenithal priming in the past and have never been satisfied with it. My paint style requires high dark-light contrast ratios to be effective. To accomplish this, I almost always prime with Black, so that I don't have to do blacklines or ink washes as part of the painting process.
In addition, I don't have an airbrush, which makes Zenithal priming much cleaner and more effective. I did it with aerosol cans, which can produce spotting - something that doesn't work with wash-based paint jobs. Take a look at the boar-rider on the right to see just how bad this worked out for me.
In the end, I ended up re-priming the two larger units after my Friday paint work, but more on that later.  Let's just say it'll be a while, and probably the purchase of an airbrush, before I try this technique again.
Note how "fuzzy" the grey paint looks - this is because the Zenithal priming was done with aerosol cans

Planned Painting Schedule

For the Chieftain on Chariot, I figured I would spend four hours painting the model. The Brutox, being the biggest, would be a six hour task. The Longhorns were small, and I thought I could get the whole unit, with the shaman, done in about eight hours. Finally, the Lycans were gigantic models, and had a lot of detail. I budgeted twelve hours to get them done to a tabletop quality.
So, to do this project to a level I would not be embarrassed with, I would need 28 hours.
Friday, I was going to get off work early, so I would have some extra time to play with there. I budgeted 7 hours for Friday.
Saturday, my daughter had her fourth birthday party. I knew I could probably sneak in an hour of work before the party started (when the kids were still waking up), three hours after the party when they had an exhausted nap, and seven hours after they went to bed (if I stayed up until 3 AM). 11 hours for Saturday.
Sunday, we planned to take the family (including both sets of Grandparents) to Wurstfest, which is a german Oktoberfest-style festival in San Antonio that celebrates beer and bratwurst. I'd get an hour in the early morning while the kids woke up (my son is a cuddly waker - he'll sit in my lap and watch me paint for almost an hour before he remembers he's two and has to be distracted with stuff). I figured we'd get home about 3 from Wurstfest, the kids would nap for three hours of paint time, and then I could nail another five hours after bedtime for seven. 9 hours for Sunday.

You're worth the time, big guy
OK, so I only had 27 hours available for a 27 hour task. I figured I'd still get it done, though!


For Friday, I resolved to paint the Tribal Chieftain on Chariot. I did some quick math, and decided that to get him to tabletop quality would take 4 hours. I had seven hours budgeted for painting on Friday, so I knew I would get the Chieftain done, and hoped I could get some progress in on the Brutox as well.

Tribal Chieftain on Chariot

Almost immediately, the Zenithal priming started pissing me off. The fur texture on the model was so elaborate that as I started painting the mount's fur, I was having to expend more and more paint to get into the cracks, which were highlighted a light grey from the priming. I knew right away that I'd have to do ink washes to get the darkness in those cracks correct, and was annoyed - I hadn't budgeted time for that!
Chieftain - mount base coat Chieftain - bone and fur base coats Chieftain - Base coats (reverse)
After bumping into the banner pole as I was painting, I popped it off so I could paint it separately. Even though I didn't want to do it, I mixed up a pair of quick washes - a purple/black/brown mixture, and an all black mixture and rapidly applied them over the basecoat.
Chieftain - Ink washesChieftain - Ink Washes (reverse)
Another revelation came at this point - I wasn't going to be able to finish if I kept stopping to photograph the model after every step. Resolved, I went through some quick highlights on the fur of the mount and the rider. Instead of my typical six-seven highlights, I did both in four.
Chieftain - Fur highlightsChieftain - Fur Highlights (reverse)
With the fur done, I shot through the bone in another four layers, cutting out three of my typical ones.
Chieftain - Bone/fur highlightedChieftain - Bone done (reverse)
I knew I was going to have to have a contrast color in there for the straps/cloth/other stuff, so I went with four quick layers of a green. I also knocked out the Non-metallic metals, though I used all six of my typical layers to do so.
Chieftain - Done (for now) Chieftain - done (reverse)

Brutox - Friday's work

While I was doing the NMM on the Chieftain, I decided to also knock out the  NMM on the Brutox - that way I wouldn't have to spend the time mixing it up a second time today. I then plowed through his fur and skin, which I decided would be two different shades of the same basic colors. I was very pleased with how the two-toned effect went, and decided to do it on the Lycans as well. However, the more I glanced at the Chieftain on his chariot, the more I disliked the green. Fomoraic are supposed to be an ice/sea based army, so I decided to give the Brutox a chance with blue in the morning. By the end of Friday, I had the fur on the Brutox done. I was a bit behind where I wanted to be (I had hoped to get the tusks and claws done), but was not in bad shape.
Brutox progress Friday nightReverse of the Brutox, as of the end of Friday



I started Saturday as expected - painting tusks with my son on my lap. Very soon into the process, I realized I was going to have to cut corners a LOT more than expected. The bone took longer than expected, and I had not even finished it by birthday party time.
After naps, I made a few executive decisions - all the wood for the army would be Ironwood, which is great in that it is a nice grey color - the color of the Zenithal primer. In addition, I was going to start cutting my highlights even more, and stop highlighting in my typical mid-tone. This made the process recoverable - rather than coming back and trying to add midtone to a painted model, I can come back later and just add more highlights to get the model back to where I wanted.
Once I'd made those decisions, I was able to knock the Brutox out before my kids woke up from their naps, and was able to get a jump on the Longhorns.
The "finished" Brutox The hammer was also ignored to get finished The tusks came out better than expected.

Tribal Longhorns

The Longhorns were a hit-the-ground running kind of project; I already knew the colors I was using for them, as I'd already mixed them for the Chieftain. I plowed through the skintone in about two hours. My kids woke up before I was done, and my daughter delighted at taking a few pictures of Daddy doing his painting. Then she wanted to paint, so we cleaned my brushes and made a big mess somewhere else. As part of the corner-cutting, I also dropped two models from this unit, so it would be ten plus the big guy.

Tribal Longhorns, with the skintone completed
The unit, with the bone basecoated, as photographed by a 4 year old I didn't even know she was taking the shot
Once bedtime was done, I jumped back in on the bone and knocked it. I had neglected the fur on the Gabrox (larger member of the unit) when painting the unit, but I included him when I did the bone.
The unit, with the bone painted

Closer shot of the shaman, Gabrox, and a Longhorn with painted bone The remainder of the unit, bone completed
After the bone was done, I went in and used blue as a contrast color for the wrist wraps, loincloths, and everything that wasn't supposed to be metal. I liked the look so much that I also repainted the mounted character. As with the Brutox, I stopped the blue highlights two layers too early to save time, knowing I could come back later and finish highlighting it.
Longhorns with blue contrast colors. Close-up of one of the models. There was an Aggie joke here about what Aggies do to Longhorns.
The chariot character repainted with blue contrasts The shaman, with blues. Large portions of the model are still unpainted because he wears rhino hide.
Once the blues were done, I did some very fast non-metallics. Again, I stopped this step several highlights short of where I normally would, in order to complete the project on time. It was 2 AM by the time I was done with this step.
The Longhorns, with their NMM done for the night. Another shot of the chariot character with the blues finished
Status of the army as of Saturday night


For Sunday, I had intended to start work when the kids napped after Wurstfest. Instead, we stayed at Wurstfest until almost 6, and it was 7 by the time I got home. On top of that, I had a big model from the Tribal Longhorns unit to paint. I'd expected the Lycans to take 12 hours, but last night had resigned myself to having to get them done in 9. Instead, I didn't get work started until 8:30, which meant that I only had five hours to churn out a unit I expected to take twice that! I was afraid that the project just wouldn't happened, and started painting resigned to failure. I started with the fur for the Rhinos, using a shade more grey than I had used in the Brutox.
I must paint you. The Lycans would use the same grey, but their fur would be less brown than the Brutox's
Since I had this big unpainted Gabrox as well, I attempted a quick solution - when done with the Lycan fur for each layer, I mixed in a drop of Gory red, which had been used in the infantry unit's skintone. This tinted the grey-brown fur of the Rhinox to a red which worked pretty closely to the infantry.
The Lycans after base coats The Gabrox after base coat. Note the difference in color of the paint in the mixing pot, bottom right.
I highlighted the rest of the fur and rhino-hide as fast as I could. I don't know if it was adrenaline, or the fact that I didn't do a fourth layer (I usually do seven), but in a little less than two hours, more than half the models were painted.

Fur completed. Downhill from here! Another shot. The Gabrox moves out of the way; he's done at this point.
At this point, I began to feel confident. It was almost 11:00, but I had cut 12 hours of painting down to about 4. I took a breath. I hopped on Twitter and started talking smack. I opened a beer. Then I mixed the same blues I had done for the rest of the army, and got back to painting. I even made bases for everyone, something I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do, and took a few minutes rebasing the rest of the army.

Blues completed. I had to start wiping out my paint mixers, as all of them had wet paint in them.
The rest of the army rebased, just waiting for the last unit. Yes, I used the wrong sized base for the chariot. That's what happens when you use power tools close to midnight.

I felt time was on my side, so I did more NMM highlighting on the Sronax weapons than I had on the Gabrax. These are only short the last highlight, whereas the Longhorn unit will still need one more.

Final unit painted
Finally, I popped the Sronax off their Mierce bases, and pinned them down to the Monstrous Infantry Horde sized base I had made. Boy was I glad I hadn't painted all six!

Bit of a tight fit getting them all on there!
Once they were glued to the bases and dried enough to photograph, it was 2 AM. It took me an hour longer than I wanted, but Challenge: Completed!
The "finished" Kings of War army

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