Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fred's Painting Fred, or not

This is more a motivational blog for myself than anything actually useful.  Hopefully, you're as motivated as I am from this (or more so).
So I've been chatting with a whole lot of my buddies these last few days, specifically about paint schemes and just hobbying.  As I'm well known for being fast and effective, on top of being ridiculously passionate, people come to me to talk about their own projects.  So far this week, I've helped with Space Wolves, Ultramarines, Dark Angels, Blood Angels, Imperial Guard (specifically Cadian), and even Chaos Space Marines.  Which all got me to thinkin'...

Where's my projects at?  I made a resolution at the beginning of the year to complete a unit a week.  So far, seven weeks into the year, I have finished three (five if you count the vehicles as separate).  So while I'm helping all my buddies, through the many media-forms at my disposal, I myself am getting nothing done.

Is it because they're taking up all my time?  Gosh no.  Cell phones have a speaker function and my computer is on a desk with some room to spare.  Is it because I'm more interested in their armies than my own?  Maybe a little.  After all, I just spent a decade helping people.  It's what I know how to do and like doing.  Is it because I'm lazy and just don't like painting?  Ding Ding Ding!!!

I've spent years and years and years on painting.  Before that, it was years and years of gaming.  So I wondered what about painting was it that I didn't like?  After all, I used to like painting when I was a gamer.  It could be because I did it so much  that I'm burnt out.  But if that were the case, why am  I so passionately jumping onto other people's armies?  Maybe it's because I've already painted so much.  After all, I'm on my sixth Ultramarine army, plus uncounted Ultramarines for the shops I worked in (if anyone doesn't believe the Ultramarines are legion, it's only because they haven't painted the legion already.  Twice.)

And then the answer hit me.  It actually occured to me, as epiphanies tend to, in the middle of my last rant, er, blog.  I go to the game shop and I see other people painting.  I talk to my buddies and they paint.  I already have so much stuff that I'm in no hurry.  I don't have a mission.  I have a resolution, but it's non-binding (the same way that Chaos makes promises in their resolutions.  Sucks when the victim finds out that the bargain was only one way...)

So there it is.  These people here (and I truly have no idea who they are or what they're working on.  They're just pics I found and pirated online)  have missions.  They're getting ready for a tournament or getting ready for a compaign.  Or maybe they're finishing only their first or second army.  Regardless, they have a mission.

So my mission shall be stated:  To finish Ultramarines Task Force Talasar by the end of civilization (or Dec 21st, 2012).  The plan to accomplish this mission was to paint a unit each week.  This task force has around 25 total units (nearly 40 if you count vehicles separately).  That plan is realistic and achievable, unless I don't get to work. 

But I've already seen a fully painted Ultramarines battle company and support!  Many times!  However, I don't get to look at them anytime I want, because I don't have them.  But I've got enough armies to play and never be bored again.  But they're not the Ultramarines, the saviors of mankind for ten millenia.  But I have all the models already built and primed.  What's the hurry?

AHA!  I found the key:

Here's what an Ultramarine looks like without it's colors and badass-ness:

That's cool and all, but it's just another marine.  Right now, this is what my battle company (sans two squads) looks like (well, black-primed and nothing else).  Now, add some color and that imagination I'm always talking about, and this is the result:
Oh yeah, my imagination can work with that alot more.  And if I don't paint the models finally, I'll never get to see my own toy soldiers with this level of awesome.  Yep, that's the key.

Also, can I briefly mention that the game is more fun when both armies are painted?  I used to play often with unpainted stuff, and the games were fun and all.  But when I have the chance to play tournaments, against fully painted armies also, I spent as much time rolling dice as oggling their models.  My imagination always tries to run with the vision of painted soldiers.  But that was just a brief mention.  The paint-to-game mission isn't all that important to me.  It's the paint-to-imagination that is. 

So it's time to stop all the jabber-jawing and actually get my panzy-ass sissy-girl no-discipline-having lazy rear into gear and grab a paintbrush!  It ain't hard, it just requires some bootlace-grabbin' and pullin'-up.  So get to work!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Teachings from Ultramar

This was recorded for posterity in the Tome of Lectures by Adept ninth-class Gehenor Niles.  It was first iterated by the Philosophist Malxis Begerius, to the 11th class of Imperial Scholam, Hera, Macragge.  These students, at age 9, were starting their terms in the PDF.

  "Today I speak to you of your destiny.  I talk to you of the history, the glory, the guts, and the destiny of our kind.  If you understand, you may begin to appreciate your privelaged position at this time, on this world.

  When was the last time you gazed at the night sky?  I don't mean for astronomy or piloting.  I mean really just gazed at all the stars?  I know you can't tell me.  You all, as we have before you, stopped that when you were a child.  But there is more up there than you can ever know.  THAT is what I'm here to speak of. 

Each of the stars you gaze upon is a world.  A world much like the one we stand on now.  All of you have the honor to serve the armed forces, and may step foot on those worlds as you have this one today.  Just know that we are one in a million worlds on which mankind lives.  The unenhanced human eye can see a few hundred thousand stars on a clear moonless night.  And every one is most likely home to humanity.

You see, mankind has a destiny.  That destiny started in history.  In ancient times, humans only knew of Terra.  They made war upon one another.  Then, the Emperor arrived and taught them different.  He taught them of all the stars, and how there were humans out there.  And that if humans realized their destiny, they could all be united as one.  As mankind.  In all his glory, the Emperor banished the idea of civil war completely, and began the quest to conquer the stars.  Just as I tell you that every star you see is a human world, so too did the Emperor find that to be true and made war upon them.

At first, the humans fought Him and his armies.  They, just as the Terrans before them, were ignorant.  Once he abolished that with reason and force, the world was brought into compliance and the next world was chosen.  For decades, these worlds fought, and fell one by one.  For decades, the darkness of ignorance stained that destiny.  But as the Emperor enlightened people, his armies swelled.  Loyalty to him and the destiny of a united Mankind grew with each victory.  Soon, the new worlds stopped fighting Him.  It became only the alien that fought Him and his armies.  Soon, with the help of the angelic Primarchs, He conquered the galaxy.  All mankind was united, as one, in dominance of all you see and what you don't in the night sky!

But peace was not to last.  There are stars up there that aren't populated by humans.  The worlds are too toxic, the Biologis has quarantined it, the Ecclesiarchy has made it holy domain, whatever.  Sometimes, and much more than we can imagine, those worlds are inhabitted by the alien.  The xenos are insidious, and work to weaken the Empire of Mankind.  Worse is the fragile spirit of the ignorant man.  The darkness of ignorance creeps into the people on the furthest fringes of the empire.  Soon, worship of dark powers followed, and that ultimately led to the darkest times humans have ever known.  But all of this is for a different lecture.  Just know that it took the blood of millions of heroes and the unshakeable loyalty to the Emperor to keep the Imperium together.

You are blessed to live in these times.  For ten thousand years, the empire has persevered.  For ten millenia, humans have all shared that same destiny that the Emperor originally taught.  And it is because of the mighty defenders of mankind as well as the vigilance of our holy Emperor that we own the night sky.  It is a rich history of war that has led us through all these millennia of struggles.

During the times of the Great Crusade, countless generations ago, the Emperor was a general and a king.  He ruled his kingdom with his armies, and all owed loyalty to him.  But his kingdom grew to an empire, and became too large to rule alone.  He, as a god does, created his angels and made them his governors and generals.  But even then, the empire was too large and the Primarchs could not rule.  And so was born the society we know today.

You see, each of you is a citizen of Ultramar, and a citizen of the Imperium.  The Emperor has created the empire so that all humans may be united in the dominance of the galaxy.  Each of you must serve in the Ultramar Defense Forces in order to repay Lord Calgar and the Emperor for our blessed privelages.  It is the duty of each planetary governor to raise armies from the population to defend any human planet in need.  So blessed are we that our empire is usually free of conflict, and therefore our armies may march out amongst the stars and gain glory for the Emperor.
Lord Calgar raises mighty armies and leads his chapter in defense of you all and for the destiny of all man, as the masters of mankind have done for millenia.

Look up at that night sky again.  See the stars above, remember that Mankind probably holds dominance of all of them.  But right at this moment, as you stare at the stars, realize that half of them are at war.  Half of the worlds of humanity, at any given time, suffer the ravages of war.  In some sectors, deep in the center of the galaxy, war has not been known for millennia.  Ultramar is nearly as blessed.  But not most worlds, especially where your eyes can see.

Why is there so much war?  I know you're asking, but that again is for another lecture.  Today, I speak of Mankind, and it's history and destiny.  Ours is a history of war.  Remember when we warred against each other?  Remember when we conquered the galaxy one war at a time?  The Bell of Heroes on Terra tolls once for every soul lost in service to the Emperor, through his masters.  That bell has not stopped tolling in ten thousand years.  It will not stop tolling for ten thousand more. 

We are defended by the greatest heroes of Mankind- the Ultramarines.  Their master is our Governor, their mighty Chapter our defense force.  Our realm, the realm of Ultramar, is safe and secure.  Mankind thrives and prospers even here in the Eastern Fringe.  The Ultramarines strive to manifest the destiny of all Mankind.  Serve them as we must, as they are our righteous masters.  Strive to be like them, they whose master is the Emperor himself.  Serve Ultramar as the Ultramarines do, and honour the history of war that is ours."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Remember the good 'ol days?

Sadly, I've been unable to pull myself out of the house to go down and play any games in months.  Between laziness and certain parental duties, I've found every excuse to avoid simply going a few miles away to do something I enjoy muchly.  Why?
So I'm working on my Ultramarines right now.  I've had an Ultramarine army in some shape or fashion since 1993, and this one is my 6th.  I'm making sure that they are all appropriately done, with full iconography and squad markings where possible.  I've even gone so far as to pull out my 'Insignium Astartes' book to make sure that I have the markings placed correctly.

To me, the Ultramarines represent the best that humanity has to offer.  As I sit back and let my imagination run away, I imagine the worlds of Ultramar being safe, beautiful places.  I imagine their armies going out into the terrible galaxy and trying to give the rest of humanity what they have.  I imagine the heroic parades as the 2nd company comes home after another glorious campaign against the alien abomination. 
I also have Dark Angels, Blood Angels, a few different regiments of Imperial Guard; I even have Word Bearers, Tau, and Eldar all ready to play as well.  Each of those gets an equally in-depth imagining, complete with musings about their society and their motivations.  And then...

When I have gone to the shop and hung out for any amount of time (and I do once a month), I listen passively to the gamers conversating about the game.  When they talk, they don't talk about the beautiful stories, or amazing universe.  Oh no.  They talk about the stats; the rules.  They talk about how this army's special ability is inferior to this army's overall point cost.  They talk about how GW is only out to make a buck and their rules and prices reflect just that.  They talk and talk and talk, all while I just sit back and listen. 

So, to get away from that, I jump online.  And I read blog after blog about people complaining about how this army does this thing better, or how every army should have some specific kind of toy that another army does have, or how the stat comparison between this character and that one isn't fair according to the points.  I read on and on, hoping that I might see some light.

But I don't.  I don't hear the gamers ever talk about the coolness of the game.  I don't read about how gamers actually appreciate GW for what they do, alot of it quite well.  I don't get to 'wax poetic' with anyone anymore about something I love.  Why?
Back in the glory days of Games Workshop, it was all about the story.  The models and books were expensive back then too, it just doesn't feel like it today.  I remember. I couldn't afford this stuff when I was a teenager with a job.  And that was a long time ago.  The rules and gameplay were overly complicated and not realistic at all.  I remember.  It took me months to learn 2nd edition.  Although not hard, it was a set of conditional  rules.  Especially if you played Space Marines.  The paints and hobby supplies were few and poopy.  I still hear people saying that they miss the old 'pop-tops'.  I used them, alot.  They sucked ass.  Anyone heard of the new foundation paints?  Yeah.  Victory.

Back in the glory days of Games Workshop, it was all about the story.  Remember how Gazkhull demolished Armageddon?  Or how Calgar freed Ichar IV?  Or how the Iyanden were nearly wiped out?  The books and magazines used to be full of awesome stories and background.  Great pictures.  Wait, no they weren't!  Sketchy McSketcherson John Blanche was the only artist, and the stories were always three paragraphs long.  And the magazine?  Yeah, MORE advertisements back then.  And sometimes for stuff that wasn't even GW!

Let me be the Chaplain of the hobby here:  What's so good about rules?  What's so good about points?  What's so good about the old days?  I got into this hobby because the models are fun to paint and the storyline is really cool and the game is actually alot of fun, once you get past the whole 'my army is better than your army' mission.  I got into this hobby for fun.
Does this mean I hate tournaments?  Nope.  In fact, the only times I play are tournaments.  I don't have to hear people complain the whole time- they're too busy trying to win.  Does this mean I think GW is the niftiest, keeniest company that ever existed?  Nope.  I have a special version of antipathy towards them.  But that's a story not to be told here.  I do actually like the game, the product, and what the company gives me as a tool.  I enjoy this hobby.  And I enjoy enjoying this hobby.

Do what I do:  Set your army up.  Stare at it.  Imagine them talking to one another.  Imagine the last campaign they were on and what they must've seen.  Imagine how your little toy soldiers saw it in their imaginations.  It's fun.  Remember how you felt in the good 'ol days?