BB2020 – Post-Leak Reflection and the future of Star Player Breakdown

Well, it’s certainly been quite the maelstrom of change in the Blood Bowl community as of late! We started off with dribs and drabs being leaked (both rules and new team miniatures) with GW responding with a handful of “official” photos and announcements via Warhammer Community. Then yesterday (as if writing) the entire rulebook for the new edition was leaked.

Naturally, I’ve been soaking all this information up like a sponge but as we’ve hit the end of the leaks I’ve had some time to reflect on the big shake-ups. This will be a reflection on how the game has changed for me personally; the bits I like (many!), the things I don’t (there are some) and more importantly how that’ll affect both my own Blood Bowl hobby as well as that content here on Circus of Paint.


EXPANDED TEAM ROSTERS

Overall, I’m happy with the rule updates in this upcoming addition. I won’t go in to precise detail as of what and why, but I get a general sense that things across the board have been clarified and tidied up. I only got into Blood Bowl in the early days of BB2016, so I’m perfectly fine with the large upheaval that the core rules have received. I get that some longer-term fans may not, but again that’s fine.

The changes I’m most happy about are for the team rosters. Again, not necessarily drilling-down in the minutiae here, but more looking at how for many teams that they have received either new positionals, or even some that were once exclusive to only a handful of other teams. To give a handful of examples;

  • Halfling Hopefuls added to Human teams
  • Chaos versions of the Troll and Ogre added to the Chaos Chosen team
  • Snotlings and a Rat Ogre added to Underworld Denizens

Already you can see how Games Workshop have by expanding various team rosters, both added new options for building those teams, and an excuse to sell more miniatures to you. Examples, Rat Ogres can be taken on two teams instead of one, Treemen three instead of two, Halfing Hopefuls on three teams instead of two…. Some may argue that this approaches leads to some dilution of character and individuality between comparable teams, but the way I see it is that it’s easier to build a “bank” of various positionals and Big Guys to try out various related teams. Chaos Chsoen have a greater cross-pollination with Chaos Renegades, Underworld Denizens with Skaven etc.

Most importantly, Underworld Denizens can now take 0-6 Underworld Snotlings, who have access to Mutations on a Primary Improvement. This makes me so happy!


STAR PLAYERS LIST

Alas, for all the changes in which the vast majority I like – there is one particular section of the new edition that disappointed me. The Star Players. Now, I would like to say first that I like how the various teams are categorised by new league keywords and this is how you know which Star Players are recruitable by which teams.

However, in a move that does not surprise me but still disappoints none-the-less is just the sheer number of Star Players that were cut from this edition. To my count, we went from around 75 Star Players in BB2016 (post-Spike! Magazine #9) all the way down to 23 in BB2020 at launch.

That really sucks, but I get why it happened.

RIP Madcap Miggz

It’s no secret that Games Workshop over the last 5-10 years have very much stripped out unit options for their main game Warhammer 40,000 – due to how third-party miniature companies have increased in that timeframe, and obviously the big GDubbs doesn’t want them capitalising on their IP. Blood Bowl itself was mostly unsupported by Games Workshops during that time (albeit there was the Fanatic / Specialist Game releases in the early 2000s), so it left to the community to continue updating the game via the Living Rulebook Book. Naturally, since Games Workshop were no longer making Blood Bowl miniatures, let alone selling their old ones, this is where the third-party companies came in to support the game. Blood Bowl and Necromunda for that matter are probably the only games that are currently supported in which a large number of character options didn’t have a model in-range – that was until now anyway. As I said, I get it but it does take a lot of the fun of out of hobby side of Blood Bowl for me personally, which was thinking about and creating suitable conversions to proxy for various Star Players.

Having said that, I think there’s a lot of interesting analysis to do but looking at the Star Players we have remaining, so I’ll cover that in a later post.

THE FUTURE OF STAR PLAYER BREAKDOWN

Naturally, with a thorough gutting of the Star Player rosters across the board, that leaves far less material to work with as I did for BB2016. When we now only have (as of writing) 23 Star Players and only 4 of them without an official miniature, that really takes the wind out my sails when it comes to the hobby and conversion side of my Star Player Breakdown posts.

It’s a real shame to have to admit that I don’t have any real reason to continue with these for the foreseeable future. I actually had a two-parter nearly done for Underworld Denizens, (written before the BB2020 leaks) but that’s become somewhat redundant now.

SO, WHAT NEXT?

What I think I’ll do instead is turn that focus onto a series of articles showing my hobby progress for some of the various teams I own. To count, I current own (in various states of non-completeness): Chaos Renegades, Chaos Chosen, Dark Elves, Halflings and Underworld Denizens.

I would love to have a couple of teams painted and ready for when the next boxed set drops, probably looking around late November or early December if rumours are true.

One of the good things about how more teams have been given positionals that they didn’t previous have in BB2016 (or ever before!) is now it’s easier for me to create small-themed league collections that could fill out several team’s worth – so for example a Chaos League collection with models that could cover both Renegades, Chosen and even Nurgle in some cases. I’m definitely going to do that with all the Underworld and Skaven models that I have, as well as potentially using the Halfings I have as well as a starting point for a Human / Old World Alliance collection.

You can take Helmut Wulf on any team now, so that’s something? *chainsaw noises*

Having said all of that, my current short-term plans for Blood Bowl are:

  • Paint a Dark Elf team – currently batch-painted half of them and realising just how much detail are on these. Once I’ve done the 12-elf plastic box, a pair of Assassins and maybe a Star Player or two then these are done. This will be my main Tier 1 team. Nice and simply and a bit stabby on the side, lovely!
  • Continue converting my Underworlds team. This is my conversion-heavy team, with lots of sculpting. I’m so happy that Underworlds get their own little gaggle of Snotling players, as they will be a treat to convert with various Mutations and warpstone growths. This will be my first Tier 2 team, and probably the one I will invest the most time into (both on the hobby desk and hopefully on the pitch!)
  • Speaking of which, buy the Snotling team on release. I need them! Ticks off that Tier 3 checkbox, and also gives me suitable opposition for the Halfings I also own and have totally not finished yet.
Mutated Underworld Goblins just bring me joy. Aren’t they adorable?

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Overall – mostly positive changes for the new edition of the game, but the Star Players really have taken a gutting in terms of the hobby potential they bring (for me anyway). Naturally a new edition has changed / accelerated my existing plans, but that’s just part of being heavily invested in a Games Workshop game.

On a side-note, I’m also going to take down my various posts discussing the leaks as I feel that they have done their part now. Whilst it was fantastic to have some of those literally get a thousand-times more views than my normal content, I feel better going back to what I do best and that’s some good ol’ hobby and ill-informed gaming advice!

If you took the time to read this, thank you for sticking around. In fact, let me know if you have any hobby plans in the lead-up to the new edition of Blood Bowl?

Thanks,

Daniel / Circus of Paint

I Actually Painted Some Black Legion!

Hi again all! Like the totally-not-clickbait title suggests, I have actually finished painting the first handful of minis for my burgeoning Black Legion for 9th edition. If you have no idea what I am on about or if this is the first time you have heard of this, click here for my previous ramblings on the matter.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Greater Possessed (like Possessed, but bigger)

Following on from the test model shown off last time, this Greater Possessed model from the Start Collecting! box was really the first model to be completed. It also served as the benchmark for the high-tabletop painting quality I wanted to hit for my growing forces. As well as being a wonderful sculpt in itself, it features a plethora of different textures which helped me develop a more cohesive look for my Black Legion colour scheme.

Although I won’t go into precise detail of how I painted it, there are some bits I wanted to share as I go along in this feature – more out of my own learning experience than anything.

Daemonic Flesh – I achieve the overall colour quite easily, with a Lahmian Medium-diluted coat of the Blood Angels Red Contrast paint. This went over a roughly-equivalent mix of what looks like Kislev Flesh. From there, it was really about the quick layering and highlights.

Overall, I’m rather pleased with the finished result for the achievable batch-painting standard I wanted to hit. Also, a fairly easy 65pts to knock out fairly quickly!

Chaos Space Marines (Those basic Bolter boys)

Ah yes, your standard hum-drum Chaos Space Marines. I hear from a competitive gaming standpoint that they are a bit naff, but from a lore perspective they are the heart and (corrupted) soul of any worthy Heretic Astartes warband. Including the test model from last time, I initially went in with batch-painting 5 of them. Then I realised that I will also need an Aspiring Champion, so the fellow from the Start Collecting! box got chucked into the painting line as well.

Of this initial batch, I only managed to finish three of them with the other trio very close to being completed. That’s what I get for spending time painting a fancy Power Axe head than concentrating on the basic troopers! Speaking of which;

Plasma / Power Weapons – I knew quite early on that I wanted a fiery glow to the various plasma and Power weapons across the warband, like the artwork below. The overall colours for my Black Legion are quite muted and dusty, with their charcoal black armour and dry, arid basing. Naturally the decision to have the spot colour be various shades of red was not a surprising choice, from the deep reds of the various cloth scraps to the eye-popping oranges of the weaponry.

Look at this mad lad in the middle – he’s positively glowing!

The paints used for the plasma and Power weapons were as follows;

  • Evil Suns Red – basecoat
  • Wild Rider Red – layer
  • Fire Dragon Red – layer
  • Lugganeth Orange – final layer
  • Lugganeth Orange (plus a pinch of Corax White mixed in) – edge highlights
  • 2:1 mix of Lahmian Medium to Blood Angels Red Contrast – glaze over for shading
  • 2:1 mix of Lahmian Medium to Iyanden Yellow Contrast – glaze over entire area(s) for glazing

I did a load of tweaking as I went along to fix areas, but that list above gives the general idea of the painting process!

Flesh – Of the non-daemonic variety, used in particular on the pair of bare-headed Chaos Marines. This was a more recent discovery that a mix of Gorthor Brown and Deepkin Flesh makes a wonderful burnished caucasian skintone. I already adored Deepkin Flesh as a paint for it’s smoothness, but mixing in Gorthor Brown made for a wonderful basecoat. Since both are Layer paints, shading down with increasing amounts of Gorthor Brown (with a pinch of the ever reliable Dryad Bark) then highlighting back up with added Deepkin Flesh to the base mix worked really well. A careful glaze of Blood Angels Red Contrast (as described earlier) provided that subtle angry tint around the brow and to give the eyes a really evil look.


Closing Thoughts

That’s all for now folks. I hope you have enjoyed reading this article (of which will be doing fortnightly onwards, mainly for my own sanity and also to give me more precious free time to paint). I’ve got a two-part Blood Bowl feature lined up, whilst I finish off the first of these Chaos Marine troops as well as dabble with some Chaos Cultists conversions!

In the meantime, take care and keep screaming unholy praise to the Chaos Gods!

Daniel / Circus of Paint

Blood Bowl Star Player Breakdown – Chaos Teams (Part 3 – Renegades 2020 UPDATE)

It seems that the Chaos Renegades team has once again been brought kicking and screaming into the Blood Bowl limelight, with the surprise release of the latest edition of Spike! Magazine.

Longer-term readers may remember a couple years back that I started a series here on Circus of Paint about the various Blood Bowl teams, as they were officially updated for the current (6th) edition of the game. You may even recall that I’ve already rambled on about the Chaos Renegades team, as part of the collective Chaos-themed Spike! Magazine released around that time. To my complete surprise, Games Workshop recently announced that the latest team to get an update for Blood Bowl was not just one team, but three (hybrid / mixed-race) teams! To be completely accurate though, two of these (Chaos Renegades and Underworld Denizens) did have existing rules in the Death Zone Season 2 rules supplement released back in 2016. We have also been given yet another brand-new team, in the form of the Old World Alliance. However for this post, we’ll just be looking at the new crop of Star Players that Chaos Renegades now have access to, since the team’s main player roster has not changed in the update.

For completionism’s sake, you may find my previous thoughts on the other Star Players available for Chaos Renegades linked below. Aren’t I nice?

Lewdgrip Whiparm and Gobbler Grimlich (PART I – CHOSEN & RENEGADES)

Guffle Pusmaw, Withergrasp Doubledrool and Morg ‘n’ Thorg (PART 2 – NURGLE)

Note As Bob Bifford is a Golden Era Star Player who can play for any team, I will leave him for now and likely cover as a part of another Star Player Breakdown feature down the line.


THE FRESH BLOOD – NEW ADDITIONS

You’ll see from this list of new additions to the Star Player choices that Chaos Renegades can pick from, that they all have a common theme – Secret Weapons! Having said that, let’s jump in!

Bomber Dribblesnot – (Chaos Renegades, Goblin, Ogre, Orc, Underworld Denizens)

Another classic from the Blood Bowl annuls, Dribblesnot (unsurprisingly) is a Goblin player who throws bombs! For a mere 20,000 gold on top of the hiring fee of a standard Goblin Bomma, Dribblesnot also has both Accurate and Right Stuff. The first of those two extra skills speaks for itself really, as you really want Dribblesnot to actually lob his bomb and more importantly land in the right place! Accurate certainly doesn’t give this barmy bombadier any pinpoint precision, but a +1 on the throw is appreciated!

Interestingly, Dribblesnot also has Right Stuff, so he can be thrown as normal Goblin players are inclined to be (per the Throw Team-mate skill)! Normally Goblin Secret Weapon players (with the exception of Doom Divers) can’t be chucked across the field by a “friendly” Big Guy, so this marks a potential tactic for that risk-reward play. Conveniently, Chaos Renegade teams can take both an Ogre and a Troll, both of which have Throw Team-mate. If you take both Big Guys, have them lob both Dribblesnot and your standard Renegade Goblin player down the field – for maximum fun and/or success!

Hobby Thoughts: Aside from sourcing the classic Bomber Dribblesnot miniature from an online retailer, my suggestion would be to take the Goblin Bomma from Forge World’s Goblin Secret Weapon set and tweak the head to distinguish him a bit. It may be worth finding a suitably armoured or otherwise-covered face for him, or to add your own sculpted details (perhaps even something like the notorious Black Gobbo?). As an alternative, the Blood Bowl 2 video game adaptation features a rather pirate-y look for Dribblesnot – there’s a suitably eyepatch-clad head in the Scarcrag Snivellers team box!


Helmut Wulf – (Amazon, Chaos Renegades, Human, Lizardmen, Norse, Old World Alliance, Vampire)

The quintessential chainsaw-wielding looney! Well, when I say quintessential, what I really mean is Wulf was the first to have any real mainstream success with the vicious chainsaw, or certainly has had the longest career wielding one! There’s currently four Chainsaw Secret Weapon players available across most of the teams and Wulf is hireable by far the most – seven! Whilst I could sit here and talk about the mechanics of how the Chainsaw works in Blood Bowl, I’d instead recommend you go and read the skill entry. Basically, if you want an opposing player gone, you chuck in someone like Wulf and hope that he’ll take them down in a bloody, gruesome manner before he is ejected from the game! I will surmise what Wulf can bring to the gridiron (aside from the chainsaw) is that he has the Stand Firm skill, so he isn’t getting pushed around by any opposing Blocks!

Hobby Thoughts: Easy! Forge World has already released a miniature for Helmut Wulf, just really a case of choosing what team colours he will be clad in. One of my many Blood Bowl teams in the “creative process” (ie. half-done in a box somewhere) is a Chaos Renegades team in the colours of the Mongrel Horde, so pink and lime green. Imagine Wulf dressed in those garish team colours. Think about it.

I chose the unpainted miniature photo, so it’s easier to imagine Wulf in your own team’s colours.

Ulgroth “Ripper” Bolgrot – (Chaos Renegades, Orc)

Where you were looking at the aforementioned Helmut Wulf, and thought “I wish he was an Orc instead”. Maybe you thought your Renegade Orc Lineman looks a bit lonely out there on the field? Perhaps you are an Orc team coach and really want to field a Chainsaw wielder. Everyone else gets access to one right? This is why Ulgroth exists, who is certainly not to be mistaken with the infamous Ripper Bolgrot the Troll Star Player (there was a legal case, and spoilers – Ulgroth lost)!

In terms of comparison, for 10,000 gold less than Helmut Wulf, you get an extra point of Armour, but then again Wulf has that extra point of Movement as well as the ever-useful Stand Firm. Either are cheap-and-cheerful choices, neither to be expected to be on the field for long.

Hobby Thoughts: Take a plastic Orc Lineman and give it one of the chainsaw-style Choppas from the 40k Ork range. It’s an Orc with a Chainsaw, it doesn’t have to be complex!

However, if you were more inclined to build a more-buffed up Ulgroth then the Ironjaws Orruk Brutes could work well – with some modification to the arms and an appropriate weapon swap as suggested above. The best candidate for this conversion would be one of the Brutes carrying a two-handed weapon. The bonus of going down this route is that you also get a few more bodies to convert up some addition Black Orcs or a (rather buff) Renegade Orc Lineman.


Zzharg Madeye – (Chaos Dwarf, Chaos Renegades)

A Chaos Dwarf Star Player of all things, quite the rarity! Chaos Dwarves have yet to be officially supported in current-gen Blood Bowl (the 2016 version). I will admit my grasp of Chaos Dwarves in Blood Bowl is limited at best, so I can gather from what little I know of this Star Player is that he literally brings blunderbuss to the gridiron, akin to a twisted reflection of the Dwarven Star Player Barik Farblast.

A bit like this angry-looking fellow, but with a blunderbuss!

Let’s breakdown Madeye’s skill set. Since Dwarf teams of either kind lack any dedicated Thrower positionals, Madeye combines elements of a Chaos Dwarf Blocker (Tackle, Thick Skull) with a Dwarf Runner (Sure Hands). Due to his signature blunderbuss, he also comes with Hail Mary Pass, Pass and Strong Arm. This trio of skills means that Madeye brings the opportunity for some passing play for two teams (Chaos Dwarves and Chaos Renegades) that usually steer away from those tactics. The combination of Pass and Strong Arm gives Madeye improved chances of success when it comes to Short, Long and Long Bomb Passes, whereas Hail Mary Pass allows home to fling the ball even further should he wish (the caveat being that Hail Mary Passes are always inaccurate and scatter three times).

In the context of a Chaos Renegades team, Madeye can be hired (for fairly cheap at just under 100K) to support short-to-medium range passing play – especially if you’ve got a up-skilled Renegade Dark Elf (or Goblin) ready to receive the pass and score a touchdown!

Hobby Thoughts: Unless you are lucky enough to be able to track down one of the classic Chaos Dwarves with Blunderbuss from ages gone, this one is going to be tricky! There is of course third-party proxies like this one from Willy Miniatures, but when it comes these sections I like to see what we can with existing Citadel miniatures and bitz!

Since we do not yet have a Chaos Dwarf plastic team kit to source the basis for our proxy conversion, we’ll have to get creative! I will give the caveat now that I feel that the classic “big nose” Chaos Dwarf aesthetic is a bit problematic for today’s standards, but your milage may vary. Therefore, let’s dig into the Warcry range for some modern Chaos Dwarves to find a starting point.

Luckily, Warcry has graced us with not one, but two wonderful Chaos Dwarves sculpts. Personally I think that the Iron Golem Armator would be the better starting point, as it’s heavy plate better reflects the solid Armour stat (9) that Madeye has.

Here comes the tricky bit though, sourcing a blunderbuss! I’ll admit I’m stuck at this point trying to think of a good source for a dwarf-sized blunderbuss in current Citadel ranges. Do you have any suggestions? If so, comment below!


THE CASUALTY BOX

Now into the section I was tempted to call “Whatever Happened to….?”. Keen readers of my previous Star Player Breakdowns (if any of you exist) will notice that I have not mentioned Max Spleenripper at all (who you say?).

Spleenripper who?

Strangely, it seems that in the Spike! Magazine update, this Star Player has been omitted from the list. At time of writing it remains to be seen whether this was a mistake or a deliberate change. If Spleenripper was removed from the roster, at least it could be justified by the inclusion of the ubiquitous Helmut Wulf, as they both basically fulfil the same niche. At least with Spleenripper, Chaos Chosen teams still have access to a Chainsaw Star Player!

As a quick comparison between Spleenripper and Wulf, the former trades in a point of Movement and Stand Firm for an extra point of Strength – for a total of 20,000 gold over Wulf’s hiring fee. The more you know!


There you have it folks. Hopefully you enjoyed my little dip back into our favourite violent fictional sport! Next time, I’ll likely be delving into some murky caverns to talk about Underworld Denizens!

Til next time,

Daniel / Circus of Paint

Chaos Mutiliator Concept Conversion

(I couldn’t think of a clever title for this post, hence you just get a plain but descriptive one instead)

Welcome back! As this is a continuation from last week’s ramblings about how I think how under-rated Chaos Mutilators are in the lore, if you haven’t read that first please do so and then come back here. OK? Cool.

Assuming you are still here, let’s jump straight in with a quick turn-around and a size comparison too:

From left-to-right: Obliterator (converted), Mutilator concept, Chaos Terminator (stock build)

I chose the Obliterator and Terminator to use in comparison because of one of the core ideas with this Mutilator concept was to create something in-between the two – something that was evidently of the same daemonic ilk as Obliterators, but still clearly showing their Terminator roots.

Anyway, let’s have a look at the different parts and chat about my thought and modelling processes as I went along.

[INSERT JOKE ABOUT LEG DAY HERE]

Without a doubt the longest and most challenging part were the legs. The very first thing I knew I needed to address first was that awful squatting post that the stock Finecast miniatures have. I cut the legs into separate calves and thighs, then hacked off the feet as well (which needed a partial re-sculpt, as I was straightening up the legs).

Repairing the structural damage to the armour wasn’t too difficult – I used a 2:1 mix of standard Milliput (with a pinch more of the grey than the yellow) and Green Stuff. I’ve discovered this mix is really good for me for this purpose, easy enough to shape as the putty got slowly firmer the longer I worked with it. When it’s dry, it files down really easily (an oddly satisfying part of the process)!

I also completely removed and re-sculpted back the armour joints, can’t say I’m particular pleased with the results but in my mind I was doing to disguise them a bit with some fleshy strands and odd cables. I also added some of those thigh plates as a later addition, to mimic the ones that the Chaos Terminators have as part of their corrupted Indomitus-pattern suits. Again, I was still not completely satisfied with my sculpting efforts, so I didn’t complete the baroque trim on them either.

THE BIG CHUNK OF RESIN THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE TORSO

Pre-conversion, I knew I needed to remove the bulk of the detail on the top. For some reason, the sculptor decided to make the top of the model covered in vague fleshy and twisted cable nonsense. Naturally, I chopped a lot of that off and smoothed down the top of the torso. I was planning on replacing the details on top with something else, but had paused on working on the miniature at that point.

I also noted just how much of a pain it would be to replace the head with a more modern one – was likely to do with either a trimmed-down Havoc head, or some a snarling bare head from my bitz box. I knew though to be able to do that properly, that I would have to drill away a significant part of the front half of the torso. At this point, I was starting to doubt whether all this work would be worth it or not at the end, but we’ll come back to that later on.

ARMS, BIG STONKING ARMS

One of the (many) alterations that I wanted to make was to repose the arms, have them in a more open, aggressive pose. Unfortunately, in the end the shoulder pads had to go too. Initially I was juts going to all the spikes and poorly-rendered fleshy details off of those, but in the end like many parts of this kit – it would have been significantly easier just to start again from scratch.

You have probably also noticed that one arm is a bit further along the reconstruction phase than than the other, but I think it shows well how I had to completely build the shoulder and upper arm on each one. I did a rough ball shape and stuck it on the end of the now-smoothed off chunks of resin, then when that was dry it was filed down a bit, then I created a second ball for the starting point of each shoulder. Then, it would have been a case to finalise the arm posing, stick the two putty ball bits together and start to properly re-do the muscles.

Naturally during the whole Mutilator conversion process, I had a plastic Obliterator on the desk as well for visual reference. Out of curiosity, I wanted to see what my mutilated Mutilator’s arms would look like on the Obliterator’s body, as seen below;

Just imagine it didn’t have the honking great big Reaper Chaincannon barrel growing out it’s back!

At this point, it became painful obvious that my initial concept piece was a tad too ambitious, for my skills and patience. If it wer the case that we were still able to take single-model units of Mutilators (like back in 6th edition), then maybe I could continue to justify the mini-project as I originally intended. However, unlike their gun-toting brethren Mutilators are still forced into units of 3, which in retrospect was not a commitment that I was eager to follow through with. It took the best part of a week’s worth of hobby time just to get to the stage I stopped at.

This was the stage where I stopped the work on the concept model. On a positive note, I got the idea that was stuck crawling around my head out, which was nice. Overall, it was fun if somewhat laborious process. I find part of the more engaging parts of the conversion-side of the hobby is not just finding a combination of bitz that work really well together (although that is very satisfying!), it’s also about the experimentation and refining those initial ideas.

What did I learn from the CONVERSION process?

In retrospect, if I were to attempt another go at an updated Mutilator (or three, because that’s how many I would need to fulfil a legal unit choice) I would probably go along the lines of this;

  • Aquire a trio of current-gen Obliterators, those lovely plastic ones. Yes, I already have a pair of them, but I would rather finish those off and use them as intended.
  • Lop off the Obliterator’s arms – oh wait, those are separate pieces! Regardless, I would still need to remove all the guns and other ballistic details (ammo feeds, ejection ports etc..)
  • Raid my hobby supplies for some spare melee bitz, things like chainswords, odd lightning claw blades and other stabby bitz that I could use to add detail to the arms, without them just looking like swiss-army knives.
  • Also grab / sculpt some spikes (some big and some not-so-big), to artfully adorn the top of the torso and to add some visual interest to the legs as well. Since I would be hacking off all the big guns that the Obliterators originally had, I would need something other than the arms to help give these Mutilators more of a distinguished visual profile.
  • Definitely new heads – most likely either bare ones or perhaps even some malformed Chaos Terminator ones (with those big ol’ tusks!).
I also posted this last week, but this is still very much the look I would aim towards. I like the spikes growing out of it’s calves, like a big angry hedgehog.

I think this will suffice for now, so once again thank you for reading. I would love to hear what you think, if you were trying to update Mutilators with more modern kits how would you have done it?

As at the time of writing I’m currently away from my hobby space, I will have something a bit different for next week’s post. I think you’ll like it!

Til next time,

Daniel / Circus of Paint

How I Stopped Worrying and Love the Mutilator

Chaos Mutilators… You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more maligned or just plain-disregarded Heretic Astartes unit in recent years. Originally introduced in the 6th Edition of the Chaos Space Marine codex back in 2012, Mutilators were added as a new addition as a melee-focused variant of Obliterators.

Speaking of Obliterators, sure they’re slow as anything, but they’ve got big guns and that’s what counts. Mutilators on the other hand, let’s take away their big fancy and rather deadly fleshmetal guns and replace those with some not-so-fancy close combat weapons of a similar techno-viral kind. Already, you are probably thinking something along the lines of “slow lumbering melee specialists with no ranged attacks at all? That suck.” You would be right there. Strike one for the Mutilators.

Then, we look at the models.

To be fair these were mostly based on the second iteration of the metal (then “Finecast”) Obliterator sculpts of the time. Therefore, a lot of the problems the sculpts have originate from those Obliterators. Alas, the more popular gun-wielding Obliterators were tolerated by players (especially Iron Warriors!) because on-the-board, they were damn good! Mutilators on the other hand, didn’t just have poor rules, the miniatures themselves were, even though done a number of years after those Obliterator sculpts, had gotten worse…

WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS? DON’T YOU WANT ME TO LIKE YOU? *heretical sobbing*

That’s strike two…

Now in some defence of these sculpts (which have not been been updated in the 8 years since their original release), I kinda like their weird daemonic-mechanical weapon arms. The list of things I like about these sculpts ends there. The faces are awful and bloated (a serious downgrade from the Obliterators of the same-era) and for some reason the sculptor had decided the best way to add detail to the models was to jam big spikes all other them and drown most of the armour surfaces in hastily-done stretched skin.

As fun as it is to sit here and make fun of these rather outdated sculpts (which are still on sale online!), why am I even talking about Mutilators anyway? I’ve got to admit, I have a soft spot for them! Let’s have a look at the current Chaos Space Marine Codex [note – I have the original 8th edition codex released in 2017 to hand, not the updated version that came out last year – but the lore is still the same in both. You just don’t get the pretty Mutilator artwork in the 2019 version].

Turning to the lore entry (we’ll try and forget the rules for a while), it begins with;

Mutilators are the high priests of the blade and the maul. It is believed that the first of their number were originally Traitor Legion Terminators who specialised in close-quarters fighting, but as with all who harbour an obsession within the warp, they grew to become the incarnation of the murderous desires in their hearts…

Codex Heretic Astartes: Chaos Space Marines (2017 / 2019)

Taking this out of the context of everything I had said up until this point, that is bloody cool in my eyes! There is a nugget of hope for these lumbering hamfisted rejects after all. I would like to think that most Heretic Astartes fans will be already quite familiar with the lore around Obliterators, what with their Obliterator techno-virus and the Cults of Destruction. One thing that I always found a bit odd was that their actual origins were never really explained, or really hinted again (correct me in the comments with sources if I am wrong here!). On the other hand, with just this initial paragraph about the Mutilators, we have already been given some vital context as to what these creatures are, or at least what they used to be – Chaos Terminators. Certainly for me, a big appeal of the Heretic Astartes as whole is not just their current-day aesthetics or lore, but also how they have gradually twisted and transformed and twisted into the cynical, murderous veterans that they have become in the 40K setting.

See this? This is what I want. Can I have something like this please Games Workshop?

As one reads further into the lore page, it explains more about the gradual apothesis from obsessed Terminator to something more akin to a full Daemon-Astartes hybrid. It’s good stuff, and great fuel for the creative machine trapped inside my noggin.

Where was I going with this?

For some reason, I though as yet another thing to do for the Black Legion I have recently started (you did read my last post here right?) figured it would be fun to pick up a set of these maligned melee monstrosities and push my conversion / sculpting skills – could I make Mutilators not look terrible? At the end of the day, I had a creative itch I just needed to scratch, and some lovely new clay shapers to test out as well.

Next time, I’ll be posting how far I got into the conversion and sculpting process, talking a bit about the challengs and thought processes as well as what I learned from all this. Did I even learn anything at all? I guess we’ll find out next time.

Note-to-self: Ruddy-brown flesh looks better for these brutes than caucasian tones.

Thank you for reading, it’s always appreciated. Links to my Instagram and Twitter are on the right-hand side of the page (in desktop view), should you wish to have a look if you aren’t following already.

Til next time,

Daniel / Circus of Paint

In Black and Gold, Reborn

Black Legion. Honestly, growing up as a Chaos Space Marine fan (particularly through the 3.5 codex and Eye of Terror campaign era), I mainly saw them as the generic “poster boys” of Chaos, just as many folks see Ultramarines as are to loyalist Space Marines. I always felt that some of the other Legions and warbands were so much more interesting (Alpha Legion, Red Corsairs, to name a few of my favourites…).

Like many hobbyists, that changed when I read the Black Legion series by Aaron Demski-Bowden.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you why you should read these two books, if you haven’t already (plenty of other people could do a much better job!). What I will briefly talk about is why I found them to be a fascinating look at the Black Legion, both from an origin and “current day” lore perspective.

For me, the better-written Black Library books tell us something new about their subject matter, being an individual character, a squad / unit or even a full Legion. It adds new context to a subject matter that has already been covered in quite broad strokes through the main Games Workshop gaming publications, like the Battletomes and Codexes. Although there are several, I think the main thematic beat that ADB really sets out well (which to my knowledge was not something set into the 40K canon until this point) was the idea that the Black Legion were not just the remnants of the scattered post-Heresy Sons of Horus. They were more than just that, as all the codexes and White Dwarf articles in my youth led me to believe. The origins of the Black Legion as a cohesive entity didn’t just start with Abaddon. It also was in conjunction with a number of other Legionnaires (and here’s the interesting bit) who had left their original Legions to form the Ezekarion. Before I started reading both Talon of Horus and then the eponymous Black Legion book, I did not realise that these outcasts drawn from other Chaos Legions has such an influence on the turning point where the last Sons of Horus became the Black Legion. The fact that the books primarily follow not Abaddon (although naturally, he takes up a significant part of the story) but a former Thousand Sons sorcerer was not something I expected. I always knew about the Black Legion being split into many parts of a whole, a significant number of those warbands drawn from other Legions dedicated to a particular god of the Chaos Pantheon. What really hit home for me was the significance this composition had on my understanding of the Black Legion. That, and the objective of the Black Legion being set in stone, to be a a completely new Chaos Legion apart from the scattered remnants of the others, united in purpose and creed. It really did pique my interest in those black and gold poster boys!

So, why am I telling you dear reader all of this? Well, not too long after I’ve finished reading the series (to date), then Games Workshop only go and announce the 9th Edition of Warhammer 40,000! To think, when I started the hobby, 3rd Edition had just come out *nostalgia*. I have a long-time friend who got into the hobby last year (all those games of Warhammer Underworld paid off!) and he’s been collecting the starter sets (Dark Imperium, Shadowspear) and has been nagging me to get a 40k army of my own for some time now. I’m sure by now you’ll all pieced together where I’m going with this.

Black Legion for 9th Edition

We’re in a great position for 9th Edition when it comes to Chaos Space Marines (Heretic Astartes, if you prefer the current faction terminology. I don’t mind it myself.) We had a load of new releases April last year, in the form of both new shiny things and (finally) updated kits for the staples like your standard Chaos Marines as well as Terminators. Even new, plastic Obliterators! – of which I have one sat on my desk being lovingly given some extra details at this very moment. Rules-wise, we got an update to the 2017 codex, in the form of an “8.5 codex” as well as new rules for the Legions and other Renegade warbands in the Vigilus books and some of the Psychic Awakening ones too!

Funnily enough, another co-incidence where new releases follow fiction. I had more recently picked up the Fabius Bile series, to date; Primogenitor, Clonelord and now capped-off as a trilogy with Manflayer. Games Workshop only goes and releases an updated Fabius Bile miniature, now in lovely plastic! In addition to that, the most recent Psychic Awakening book released (as of writing) didn’t just update Fabius Bile for games of 9th Edition, it also gave us a very characterful sub-faction for Chaos Space Marines in the form of the Creations of Bile.

Behold the horror that is me! Also, Fabius Bile novels

All of these things added up, my main hobby project for the foreseeable future will be a Black Legion army, with interchangeable elements of the Creations of Bile list (basically an alternative “Chaos Legion” sub-faction keyword, with their own unique rules, Artefacts and Stratagems). So many modelling opportunities!

PAINTING

The most important thing I need to do first is paint up the Start Collecting! Chaos Space Marine set. The aim is to keep the basic stuff like Troops choices simple and easy to batch-paint. I can concentrate on fiddling with the more elite units and characters afterwards.

CONVERTING

In addition, a large drive of this project and something very important for many Chaos fans – the conversions!

Therefore, I also with be explore some modelling / kit-bashing opportunities with the Creations of Bile list, by doing some thematic takes on some of the standard Heretic Astartes units and characters. Already, I have started on both a Chaos Sorcerer and an Aspiring / Exalted Champion, the former very much inspired by a conversion featured in a recent Warhammer Community article. The latter I imagine could very well fit as part of the Consortium from the Fabius Bile series; a loose alliance of outcast Apothecaries from the Chaos Legions, drawn to Fabius Bile to learn more from the greatest fleshcrafter humanity has to offer.

For those interested, the bitz breakdown;

Chaos Sorcerer: Torso and legs, staff and arm (current Chaos Sorcerer mini), right arm and geneseed-preserver (Primaris Apothecary), right Shoulder Pad (Chaos Space Marines, current kit), head (Blackstone Fortress) backpack (OOP Chaos Chosen from Dark Vengeance) and finally the spindly wraithbone construct is from the Drukhari Wracks kit. Note – I did have to cut away some of the backpack and the wraithbone to pin them together, but it wasn’t too hard a task.

Aspiring / Exalted Champion: Torso (minus the geneseed-preservers), legs and left arm (Primaris Apothacary, unsurprisingly!), right arm, Bolt Pistol and both shoulder pads (Chaos Space Marines, current kit), head (Master of Executions) Power Sword (Raptors / Warp Talons kit, modified at the wrist joint) The backpack (with servo-arm) is again from the Primaris Apothacary, but one vent has been replaced from the Master of Executions, and with some twisted wraithbone sprouting out of it (again from the Drukhari Wracks kit – a must-have for Creations of Bile conversions!). Note that I didn’t use the left-hand servo-arm, so have stored that away for future use!

Closing Thoughts

I think that’ll cover things for now, still so much hobby to do in the lead-up to 9th Edition’s release! I’ve got a few more related bits that I’ve been tinkering away at, but I’ll leave that for next time as I feel it justifies it’s own post. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, trying to take a more introspective approach to writing these articles, to get those thought processes out onto the page. If you would rather just look at the pretty pictures though, feel free to follow me on Instagram, and I’m also on Twitter.

Till next time, heretic.

Daniel / Circus of Paint

Review: Kite-Man and Killer Moth (Knight Models)

(There’s a reason this review took two months to write, you’ll find out why later on…)

Holy smokes Bat-fans! It’s a review for Knight Model’s rendition of two of the the Caped Crusader’s most feared, most notorious, most deadly rogues…

…joking aside…I would consider myself a Batman fan with a particularly penchant for the campier, sillier characters of the Silver Age. Therefore, Knight Models surprising us with two of my favourite D-lister Bat-villains to kick off their new “Legends of the Dark Knight” range is superb! It looks like Knight Models are really starting to delve into the trove of back-catalogue comic stories with this new line, which is a direction I’m very happy with. I’ll talk about that a bit more later, but right now you’ll want to know what you get with these two miniatures and my thoughts on those!

Packaging

The Legends of the Dark Knight range is exclusive to Knight Model’s webstore, so I had to order direct from them, rather than the usual UK-based suppliers I rely on. I mention that primarily as it seems the plastic packaging on this dastardly duo has seen better days, but I suppose you would too if you had been shipped in an oversized box from Spain (via Germany for some reason) to the UK. Good thing is that the contents seem completely unaffected by the rigourous journey, but still worth mentioning!

The back of the packaging. I like the overall design of the insert, incorporating the classic red and black and the cover to Batman: Year One. As well as a summary of the contents (always helpful!), Knight Models have also included a little cover picture of the debut comic for each villain. Nice little touch there!

UNBOXING KIte-man

First impression, quite a bit of flash on the kite (and I ain’t talking about the speedster!) but nothing I can’t manage. Aside from that, seems like an average amount of the usual cleaning-up prep to do.

I’m really pleased with the quality of the details overall. Kite-man’s joyful happy-go-lucky demeanour from the comics has been reproduced really well here. The kit also includes a decorative basing piece that the kite is attached to. On another look at the sprue of smaller parts, it seems the secondary sprue attached is just for the extra bits that attack to the base, like the fluttering plastic bag and paper being blown away. Great little details!

UNBOXING KILLER MOTH

Now, let’s crack open Killer Moth!

First impressions, that’s a lotta flash (even more than Kite-man)! Even though it’s nothing I can’t manage, still I would have preferred a bit more quality control. I am pleased to say that the detail is still good though, such as the mandibles on Killer Moth’s mask, the wiring coming out of the broken concrete and especially the banding on the tights – I’m glad I won’t have to freehand the classic orange and lime-green banding by eye!

I think at this point it would be good to point out that for the 3rd edition range for Batman Miniatures Game, it seems Knight Models have stuck the the light grey resin. I have some of the 2nd edition miniatures when Knight Models made the switch from metal to resin, and some of the miniatures I have of that era are in a darker grey, which I am not a fan of. I’m also currently assembling some of the Dark Multiverse / Nightmare Batmen and the ones in dark resin seemed to be of a worse quality than the light grey one I got. Perhaps it’s just a visual thing, but I much prefer the lighter grey and I hope Knight Models stuck to that going forward – it makes it a hell of a lot easier to see what I need to to clean up and what is intended detail!

Assembly

At this point, so far so good up until I started cleaning the material up and hence the reason why it has taken me so long to finish writing this review. First thoughts – I hate the material these miniatures are cast in! I don’t know what Knight Models have swapped to, but this new material is very rubbery and flexible. It was very difficult to work with (although I will admit swapping my used knife blade out for a fresh one helped a lot!). This material is strange, when you try to file it like a standard plastic / resin miniature, the texture tears and rips. If you’ve ever tried to sand down Green Stuff before it is fully cured, you’ll understand what I mean by this. I found it very frustrating to clean up both miniatures, as it was especially difficult to get a nice clean edge on any part of it. Really not impressed at all!

Naturally, as when I need answers for many things in life, I turn to the internet for answers. I enquired about this material on one of the bigger Discords communities dedicated to Knight Models (although I don’t know how many there are out there, so assuming that this particular server is one of the bigger ones!). I’m deliberately choosing to not to name said Discord community, because whilst there were certainly some helpful suggestions, I kinda got the overall impression of “deal with it” and “at least it’s better than the resin they used to be produced in”. As you can imagine, I wasn’t particularly pleased with said answers, or implied answers anyway. I did what any rational-minded hobbyist would do in this situation, I bought more models! Specifically, I scouted out some of the older models from 2nd Edition due to the fact that they were cast in the previously mentioned resin material. I don’t have any pictures of those, but whilst the resin certainly was a bit of a hassle to clean up, it was a significant improvement over whatever strange flexible plastic garbage these 3rd Edition miniatures have been cast in. The best Games Workshop comparison would be to clean-up a less-than-perfect Forge World miniatures, then attempt to clean up a *shudder* Finecast that was even more rubbery than usual. Anyone who was a hobbyist during the Finecast era of Citadel Miniatures will understand this perfectly…

Oh how the Finecast memes used to flow like water. “Failcast” this, “Finecrap” that…

I can’t say I particularly enjoy slating our dear hobby, there’s enough people out there that bitch and whine about it online as it is. However, it would be quite a disingenuous review of mine if I didn’t really try to get across how much this “material” (whatever it is) has completely put me off from any future purchases of Knight Model’s wares. I mean, this is really disappointing because during the process of writing this review they have since released a lovely looking update on the Batman Who Laughs, newly joined by some of his corrupted Robins. Alas, if they were released in resin or even metal, I would have snapped them up, but because they are being released exclusively in a material that I find very user-unfriendly to use – I shall be skipping those.

CONCLUSION

Closing thoughts time. Do I think these miniatures (Kite-man and Killer Moth) are worth the cost? If you just want to get some cool looking villains on the board and you’re not too fussed about cleaning up mouldlines or filling gaps, then sure.

As for the likes of me thought – it’s a hard pass I’m afraid. I’ve been in this wonderful hobby for over 20 years now (I can’t remember exactly if it was ’96 or ’98 when I started, so that’s probably a long enough time ago!). I certainly don’t want to come across as some form of hobby elitist here when I say this, but with the amount of time and money I’ve invested into all these little toy soldiers, I’m going to make the effort to make sure that they are cleaned up and painted to a pretty decent standard. Unfortunately, I am unable to cleanup these two miniatures to a satisfactory enough level, without an unnecessary amount of completely re-sculpting large parts of said miniatures to get them to an acceptable enough level. Yes, I really did start going down that route, then got really bored of it and moved onto other projects…

As I said previously, if fully prepping miniatures is something that you’re not too fussed about and you just want to get them on the gaming table with at least amount of extra effort as possible – then give these two a go. Batman’s more notoriously jokey villains always could do with a bit of attention.

I hope you’ve found this review informative, or at least worth the time to read. I really didn’t plan for it to take two months to finally get the motivation to finish it, but oh well. There’s bigger priorities in the world at the moment!

+++

Next time I will be taking a sidestep, back into the grimdark future of 41st Millenium. I’m not sure if I’ve ever really done much hobby content on Warhammer 40K for this blog (certainly not in recent years anyway), so this should be fun to do with all the current excitement around the release of 9th edition!

Take care,

Daniel / Circus of Paint

An Update, and Things to Come (Hopefully)

Hi all. You’ve probably notice the world is in a very strange place right now, with the growing impact that coronavirus (COVID-19) is having across the globe. Myself, I’ve been quite lucky in that I’ve been able to start working from home and as such, I’ve got a lot of time which I would usually be in the office. Instead I can chip away at various creative projects and hobbies, including getting around to adding new content for a certain neglected blog. 😉

One of the things I hope to start doing soon are more reviews, as I like to think I keep a fairly steady beat on the pulse of the hobby. I’m actually waiting for a couple miniatures I ordered from Knight Models, will be a good opportunity to talk about the similarities / differences between the newer and rather cinematic 3rd Edition models, and the older but still serviceable 2nd Edition releases.

Please allow me to give you a very unsubtle clue as to one of these new minis…

…in the meantime take care of yourself and keep painting!

Shelf of Shame: Warhammer Underworlds (Sept 2019)

What’d you mean I have a blog? Oh yeah, should probably get around to updating it or something…

Welcome back! As we are mere days away from the release of Beastgrave, the third and most recent season of Warhammer Underworlds – what better time to reflect and look at what I’ve managed to paint so far for (in my opinion) Games Workshop’s most innovative new property in a long time…

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