Friday 20 November 2015

Flash Fiction Challenge - Omen

So for shiggles I thought I'd participate in the flash fiction challenge thrown down by Mr Wendig over at terribleminds. I got the song 'Omen' by Crossfaith.

My thousand words is below for your perusal. Please enjoy/ignore/abhor at your convenience.


I entered the cell and glanced at its sole occupant. She looked utterly miserable. Cell wasn’t the word they had used to describe this room, calling it instead an “isolation ward”. I had been in enough prisons to know better. I glanced around the room, looking for somewhere to sit; naturally it was unfurnished. Just bare, grey walls coated in vinyl that would be slightly spongy to the touch. The door clicked shut behind me and I knew, without looking, that there would be no lock or handle on the inside face of the door; only a slab of timber offering no purchase or hope of escape. The thought sent a shiver down my spine; enough time spent here would shake the sanity of even the most rational soul.
                “Good morning Marie,” I said, taking a step forward “my name is Robert Williams, I’m a detective with the metropolitan police.”
                “Is it morning already?” The woman spoke softly, raising her eyes to meet mine. She was seated on the floor, one leg curled beneath her, the other sprawled out in front. I was shocked at the deep lines the last few days had carved into her youthful face.
                “Already past ten.” I tried to affect a cheery tone but it came out sounding flat.
                “Oh.” She responded listlessly, still gazing at me.
                “Marie, we need to talk about what happened at your apartment, two days ago.” I tried the direct approach. Marie’s face switched in an instant from an expression of abject misery to utter dread. Her eyes darted around the room as if looking for escape and she rapidly shuffled back until she was pressed against the far wall.
                “Can you see it?” She whispered.
                “See what Marie.” I tried to remain calm.
                “The writing…….on the wall.” She motioned with a crooked finger towards a blank piece of grey wall.
                “Marie, there’s nothing there.” My affected calm was beginning to waver. Marie began to mumble under her breath, just on the edge of hearing. Frustrated and concerned in equal measure I took a step towards her. As soon as I moved she fixed me with another stare, drew in a long breath and screamed at the top of her lungs.
                “IT’S AN OMEN!”

*12 Hours Earlier*
I trudged up the concrete staircase, familiar paint strips peeling from the familiar mouldering walls. It was the fourth time in the last fortnight that I’d paid a visit to The Lawn; an imaginatively named apartment block in one of the less desirable areas of town. As I reached the fourteenth floor I saw the yellow and black striping of police tape outside apartment 143. Passing the uniformed officer at the door, the scene inside was distressingly familiar. At a casual glance it was the same as the last three calls to this building. The dreary bedsit stank even worse than it normally would have; every available surface was covered with fluids that rightly belonged inside of a human body. I turned back to the uniform on the door.
“Any sign of forced ent…” I cut myself short. Ragged splinters of the plastic door were barely clinging to the frame. The majority of the door itself was lying on the stained carpet several feet away. Just as I was turning back to examine the room more thoroughly, the head of Met forensics, walked in through the remains of the doorway. I smiled half-heartedly.
                “What can you tell me Carla?”
                “Not much,” she knew me well enough to be honest “the apartment was leased by Mr Lars Anders, what’s left of him is now decorating the premises.” She made a vague circular motion towards the room with her pen. “Plenty of other prints and DNA throughout the place but none of it is immediately suspicious.” She paused and offered me a slight smile “Of course I’ll leave the conclusions down to you.”
                “It’s going to be the same as the others isn’t it.” I replied, trying not to sigh. Three other gruesome and suspicious deaths in this block in the last two weeks and not a scrap of useful forensic evidence.
                “I wouldn’t like to guess, but” Carla paused again “if I was a gambling woman that’s where I’d put my money.”

*18 Hours Later*
The phone was ringing, groggily I put out my hand, knocking the receiver onto the floor but handily answering the call. I scrabbled on the floor in the darkness before finally recovering the phone.
                “Hello.” I mumbled hoarsely.
                “Bob, it’s Sam from the station.”
                “Sam? What time is it? Why are you still working?” Surprise covered my annoyance at being woken.
                “Bob listen, I’ve figured it out, we need to get an armed unit over to sixteen-twelve immediately!” Sam said, feverishly. I was used to his eagerness, a young kid looking to prove himself. But being woken in the middle of the night was something new.
                “What are you talking about?”
                “The Lawn, The bloody Lawn Bob!” He drew a quick breath. “Listen, get down to the station right now and I’ll give you the details.”
So I found myself outside apartment 612 in the small hours with an armed escort from SO19. Sam had convinced me; he hadn’t found any new evidence, no groundbreaking forensics had turned up in the nick of time. But I was convinced just the same, he’d found a pattern in the apartment numbers, something so close to random that it would have been missed by anybody else. Suddenly one of the armed troopers spoke.
                “Contact, by the stairs!” There was a sudden glare of muzzle flash and the deafening report of a Remington shotgun; and then all hell broke loose.

*30 Hours Later*
“Robert, I’m detective Holroyd.” I eyed the guy suspiciously. A city type in a crumpled but expensive suit. From my seated position on the floor of the cell he loomed over me.
“Can you see it?” I replied venomously.
“See what Bob?” I could see the tension around his eyes.
“The writing on the wall,” I shook my head, suddenly exhausted “it won’t go away.” The numbers were crawling in my peripheral vision. I closed my eyes, it didn’t help.
“No Bob, I can’t see anything.”
“It’s…” I leapt to my feet as my vision clouded over “IT’S AN OMEN!”

Tuesday 17 November 2015

December Painting Competition

As the deadline for the next painting competition looms, I thought I'd share some very WIP photos of my Night Lords assault Sergeant whom I intend to enter.

Ave Dominus Nox!
This morning I had a stab (pun intended!) at painting the right lightning claw. I tried for a red to yellow fade and I'm pretty happy with the result. Hopefully it will really come together once the rest of the model is complete. Apologies for the bad lighting in the picture above, I was rushing out the door to get to work. Painting before work though - sometimes I amaze even myself! Anyway, the point is the lightning claw. Do you guys (gals?) like it? Any tips for improvement? By all means leave a comment below.

Also some random gold bits that I apparently splashed on.
I figure my only real chance at winning this painting competition is to go for some wow factor. A guy with big red claws and a skull faced helmet fits the bill for me! For those who don't know the deadline for the competition is the 9th December and will be held/judged at my FLGS. As usual I'm up against some stiff competition, in fact I'm anticipating more entries than ever before. As the competition is for a single miniature up to (approximately) Dreadnought size there's bound to be a lot of diversity in the field. Certainly people are talking about entering all kinds of weird and wonderful miniatures from a variety of different systems.

Lightning Claw!

MOAR Lightning Claw!!
I'll post some more photos as he progresses but probably not the finished article until after the competition. Don't want to give my competitors any more advantage than they've already got!

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Betrayal at Calth

Ok, so this isn't exactly breaking news, but I thought I'd write something about it anyway because GODAMMIT I'M JUST SO EXCITED!!! I've been out of the country for the last week or so and I missed all the breaking news; then I came back to see Betrayal at Calth splattered all over the rumour sites. 

I'm not exaggerating when I say I was on the phone to my local pusher immediately (ok, maybe pusher is a little harsh, perhaps dealer is more appropriate?!) I've simply got to have one of these, the miniatures would make splendid additions to my Night Lords and it would give me another GW board game to share with (infect) my local board games group.

Now much has been said about GW releasing one off, limited run type board games (although I'm hearing this won't be limited). I've read many complaints and disparaging comments about the quality of the games, the miniatures and the pricing of both. I for one, believe that the quality of GWs miniatures has gone from strength to strength in recent years. If you think that any manufacturer in the world can match the quality of GWs plastics for the same price point then I urge you to go and pick up a copy of Dark Vengeance. The detail and casting quality on those Chaos Chosen blows my mind every time I pick one up. Not only that but they're snap-fit models to boot! Anyway I digress.

The point is that I'm very excited to see the new Heresy plastics; I can only imagine that the quality will be sublime.

Moving on to the game itself, which it seems is playing second fiddle to the miniatures in the minds of most fans. Judging from my past experiences of GW board games I can say that I'm looking forward to this side of Betrayal at Calth as well. I am fortunate enough to own both the latest release of Space Hulk and Execution Force and I can say that I've enjoyed both games thoroughly. They both work well with two players but can be easily adapted to accomodate teams of players on both sides (IMHO the best way to play Space Hulk).

Now speaking of pricing, we all know it's going to be £95 (here in the UK). That's a lot of money, it really is. But is it good value? Many people have compared price points with the Heresy range from Forge World. Obviously it works out cheaper if you look at it this way (though estimates of exactly how much seem to vary wildly). For me, it was a no-brainer. The miniatures fit nicely with one of my fledgling armies and the fact that I can customise them with legion specific shoulder pads and trophies etc means that it will be easy to make them unique. Essentially, for anyone looking to start playing battles in the Age of Darkness, Betrayal at Calth should be an obvious starting point.

Whilst I'm on a bit of a pro-GW rant. Lets talk about the modern iteration of 40k, with a particular nod to rules writing and in-game balance. If you float around these here internets (like I do) then you're bound to have come across a swathe of comments, articles and general whining about game imbalance, codex creep and generally stuff just being OP or UP etc. Now I'm the first to admit that the game isn't balanced; I'll even go so far as to say that GW intentionally uses this imbalance to sell shiny new models. But I ask the question, has the balance of the game improved or worsened over the years? The overwhelming answer has to be yes, massively. I've played most editions of 40k (I missed Rogue Trader and 3rd Edition) including a lot of 2nd Ed (which I still play regularly.) Comparing the 2nd edition rules with 7th shows a clear improvement in terms of rules clarity, cross-codex balance and points values. Don't believe me? Dig out your old 2nd Ed stuff and get a couple of games under your belt without wearing your rose tinted specs. I guarantee you'll agree before the end of turn 2.

Alright, rant over, the message is this. Yay GW! Please keep making and improving shiny toys that I want to buy!

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Painting Blood Rage

I'm guessing you've heard of Blood Rage the new(ish) board game published by CMoN. If not, you probably expected this post to be about some sort of painting equivalent of road rage brought on (most likely) by an excess of grey plastic (or metal if you're one of those guys) and an inability to get those fine highlights looking just right.

Says it all really.
At any rate, it's a beautiful looking set of miniatures (vikings and creatures of mythology) which spend their time massacring one another over an equally beautiful board. Sadly, I don't own a copy of this game. Even more sadly, I haven't had a chance to play it yet.

Fortunately, my good buddy Dave has got himself a copy along with a bunch of other goodies from the kickstarter. A few weeks back I was salivating over the miniatures and he kindly offered to let me paint one of them. After the initial shock of being entrusted with someone else's precious miniature. Followed by the initial outrage of only being offered one of them. I was delighted! After some discussion, I chose/was given the sea serpent. You can see the final results of my finished work below.
Bursting up from the depths of my kitchen table.
I went for a fairly muted palette that involved various hues of (Citadel) Rakarth Flesh. Painting the water gave me some pause, in the end I went with my gut - painting it blue, washing down with Drakenhof Nightshade and highlighting up through turquoise and into white. After a goodly application of gloss varnish the result is quite pleasing.

Check out the detail, not bad for a board game!

I also used this as an excuse to experiment with some opalescent medium that I've had kicking around for a while. I mixed it with a purple glaze and used it on the weird tendril like things coming out of his head. The photos don't really show it, but the colour changing effect is quite nice. I hope to find an excuse to use it more often in the near future. Other than that, the paint scheme was quite straightforward; mostly a basecoat, wash down, highlight up sort of affair. Hopefully Dave will like it when I eventually get it back to him and perhaps he'll entrust me with more of his minis in the future (hint hint.)
Same teeth, different angle.
Oh, and on an unrelated note, I did finish my Dreadtober Carnifex before the end of October (honestly, I really did!) I'll put some pics up in the next couple of days.