Thursday, September 1, 2011

Magnetizing Miniatures

Welcome to my first beginner tutorial. Here I'm going to show you some tricks and ideas regarding magnets and your miniatures. This tutorial is intended for beginners or those returning to the hobby after a long pause. There are many benefits to magnetizing your miniatures, hopefully I can cover most of them.

First you will need some magnets!

This type of magnet is easily obtained at any craft store, usually under 10 dollars too. It's flexible and easy to cut with scissors. It comes rolled up in a mat and is intended for refrigerator art. It makes a great movement tray magnet since you can cut it to fit your trays.

These rare earth magnets are available on the web through many different online stores. I bought mine from K&J Magnetics at the recommendation of a friend. I would also like to recommend them myself. These magnets are very strong and come in all shapes and sizes. They make great magnets to go under your miniature's base. They are also small enough to use for attachments to vehicle sized models.

One of the many benefits of magnetizing your models comes from games like warhammer fantasy where you will use a  large formation of plastic miniatures. They seem to get knocked over when bumped or shake and fall off of your movement tray while you are moving them around. Even a loose sleeve brushing the top of your unit while you grab your dice can disrupt the flow of a game. Here is how we fix the problem. Take your movement tray, primer and paint the edges how you will like them to look, then cut a piece of magnet to fit it. Spread some glue on the tray and set the magnet in. I like to use a large miniature base to flatten the magnet out while the glue is drying. Also, I find that using regular super glue works pretty well. Stay away from the elmers type glues, they take too long to dry and squeeze too much excess out from under the magnet. Another tip; make sure the magnet part is facing up. 

Next we need some of our rare earth magnets, our miniatures and some greenstuff. Any modelling putty will probably work just fine, I used greenstuff with mine and it worked very well. 

I like to set my magnets up in a stack on any metal object close at hand. This way they are all facing the same direction and I can pull them off one at a time. If you are using these magnets in a fashion where they will be contacting each other then you must keep them going the same direction.

Here is the bottom of one of my rank and file miniatures. I started with a blob of greenstuff that I rolled into a long rope. From that rope I cut off a tiny amount and stick it to the bottom of the base. I then take one magnet off the top of the stack and stick it to the putty. From here I carefully press the miniature down on a flat clean non-metallic surface like this fake wooden desk you see in the picture. Pressing it down slowly doesn't warp the putty and flushes the magnet to the table top. I let mine dry like this, no glue needed.

 And there it is, strong enough to hold the miniature upside down. I've done this with many plastic infantry, metal infantry and some plastic cavalry. For the metal infantry one magnet is still enough to hold your figure in place on the tray and even hold it upside down if you don't shake. I would recommend two magnets, one on each corner if you intend to handle the tray roughly. For plastic cavalry I used two magnets on opposing corners to firm them up as the models are quite a bit larger than infantry.

The next benefit of magnetizing your models is probably one of the best things you can do with your larger models. Making swappable parts. Bought a tank that comes with multiple different turrets? How about that valkyrie you bought that you wish was a vendetta? This will save you lots of money if you like to change your equipment a lot.
These rare earth magnets are very strong so even the tiny ones are of great use in miniature wargaming. Here is a picture of missile pods, lascannons and multilasers for the  valkyrie/vendetta. Instead of gluing one option together then buying another kit for the second option you can attach magnets to their contact points. Given how small these are you can even drill or carve out a spot to sink the magnet into your part. Just make sure they are all the same direction and will attract to the magnet you want to stick them to.

Here you can see I've filled the back of the weapon compartment with greenstuff and stuck a magnet on it. In the photo above the multilazer and lascannon both have magnets glued to their backs that match up with this compartment. I can swap them out as I see fit, no need to buy two kits. In order to make everything flush I first filled the compartment with putty then glued a magnet to my weapon. I then stuck a second magnet to the first. Then I carefully pressed the weapon into the compartment and let it dry. After it was dry I pulled the weapon out of the compartment and that was it, one magnet stuck in the putty the other glued to the weapon. To add a different weapon just stick a magnet on the one inside the compartment and dab a bit of super glue on the back of it. Then stick the new weapon into the compartment and wait for it to dry. Once dried it should come out and have the glued magnet stuck to the back of it.
 These last two photos show the weapon pods hanging on the wings. I used one magnet for each item on this miniature as it is strong enough. An added benefit of having one magnet is that your hanging weapon pods can rotate 360 degrees. If you want them completely fixed you need to put two magnets on them or devise something to keep them in place. Mine don't swing around on their own however, so the option is nice to position the model in different directions for pictures or dioramas.
A few other nice things about magnetizing your vehicles is when you have operational doors, turrets, arms, hatches or guns that you want to keep operational after painting. Instead of choosing a pose, fixing it then painting it you can just magnetize and paint then reposition to your heart's content. This model for example has all the weapons you have seen, two side doors that open allowing door gunners to pop out and a ramp that pops down on the back. Also in warhammer 40k you can easily keep track of weapon destroyed results on the vehicle damage chart.

Some of the other ideas I have seen or heard of include making magnetic counters for various reasons. Perhaps you have some pretty cool spell counters specific to certain units (throne of vines anyone?), while the spell is active you have some cool thing stuck to part of the miniature. Or perhaps you are using a multiple wound model and hate having to keep a dice next to it at all times. You can magnetize some counters to keep track of the number of wounds it has remaining. If these are cleverly tied into it's base then all the better. Just make sure your opponent can easily see how many counters are left. Another idea was for transportation of your armies. Take something like a metal filing cabinet drawer and stick your figures all to the walls. As long as you don't drop the box and keep your metal figures on the bottom they should be perfectly fine when you get to your destination. That is all for now, hope this helps.

Bretonnian Tactics

"Military tactics, the art of organizing an army, are the techniques for using weapons or military units in combination for engaging and defeating an enemy in battle." (Carl *Clausewitz: On War, 1832)

I posted this tactica up on about 3-4 months ago. Since I'm trying to showcase my army painting and progression I felt it appropriate to post up here too. I've put together some of the units I use and a few tactical points to go with them. This is just my take on building lists with what I have available and like to use. I don't presume that these combos can handle every situation either. Just thought someone might be interested in seeing how I use the army. Maybe this will help some beginners, maybe not.

My thoughts on bretonnia...

The first thing I like to do when getting into a new list is get a feel for the tactics of the army. The big three being; shooting, magic, and close combat. The real gems in my opinion are the lists that can mix all three aspects. For bretonnians we are blessed with a solid choice in all three. This gives us a lot of flexibility when building a list and opens up more tactical options than some other army books have available. I believe that mixed lists that can capitalize on every phase are the best lists. If you have no magic, then you have no magic defense. If you have no shooting then you are forced to race across the battlefield to minimize casualties. If you are poor in close combat, well that's going to break any army. Magic is a bit too random and power dice are too limited to make an all magic list. All shooting armies are at a disadvantage now with the increase in movement (no march blocking, larger charge distances). All combat lists can be effective but may suffer from big nasty spells and artillery fire, and your opponent forcing you to come to them. Any two of the big three can be combined to make a solid list, I prefer to try and mix all three.

When selecting units to use I first think about what their primary role will be, what they will excel at. Then I think of a secondary role, something they will have moderate success with. When looking through the entries in the book it quickly becomes apparent that in order to excel at anything a lot of our units need specialized characters to join them. They may also require other units to support them. Some of my units and combinations:

The horde anvil of men at arms. I like to take a big unit of men at arms with their starting equipment. Their primary role is to be an anvil for my hammer units. Their secondary role is to be a steadfast breaker. I add a paladin with crown of command (for stubborn), and a damsel with the prayer icon of quenelles (wissans and blessing). The stubborn allows me to form up as a horde without needing to rely on steadfast. Horde formation increases my frontage and number of ranks attacking without compromising their primary role. The damsel adds magic resistance, a ward save and the beast signature spell for increased toughness and strength, all help my role. The formation also allows me to place my damsel on the corner of the front rank, this means she will hurt me less if she blows up, and she will most likely be out of base contact with the enemy, increasing her survivability. The unit champion and paladin are both available to accept challenges to save her as well. My secondary role of steadfast breaker can easily be achieved in combat with a combat reform, or out of combat with swift reform. This can be pretty situational but the option to go ten ranks deep is something I like to have available.

Groups of twenty archers. Their primary role is to shoot the advancing enemy, and with their long range they will be forcing the enemy to move. Their secondary role is flanking. I like to give them flaming attacks and a musician. I've thought about adding banners and most likely will very soon. These guys deploy ten wide and two ranks, this really maximizes their line of stakes and depending on the terrain can be very beneficial to your overall strategy. The flaming attacks are handy when "painting" targets for your trebuchets. I find that units designated to take these guys out are generally small but very mobile. That is where swift reforming into a five wide four deep facing the enemy (with standard) gives you a static 4 combat resolution and you can still stand and shoot. Against small groups of fast cavalry or fliers this can be enough to keep them at bay. Against a bigger combat unit these archers will die fast but then I will be happy my opponent is dedicating so much resources to take them out. A lot of games merge into melee fests quickly, reducing the archer's ability to shoot, and standing around is a waste of points. This is when it's time to swift reform into five by four and flank the enemy. You will want to stick to flanks only as it reduces incoming damage, and certainly avoid anything that will seriously shred you (multiple attacks) as it will end up giving your opponent more combat res than you get from flanking. But I like having a use for my archers after the shooting game is over.

Lance of knights errant. Their primary role is to hammer monsters and other tough targets. Their secondary role is hammering everything else. I give these youngsters the errantry banner, added strength (and fluff) is nice. In order to make them more controllable I add a paladin with a monster slaying set up (their are plenty of examples in the stickies). He will be more suited to sustained killing while the knights add the big punch on the charge. I try to avoid putting important characters in this unit due to the fickle nature of the impetuous. So no generals, damsels or battle standard bearers. Just hard hitting killing action. They will pick out the nasty targets and hit em hard. They can ignore psychology on the charge too which is no where near as good as it used to be but still nice in certain situations (the enemies they will be facing typically cause fear/terror). As a secondary role these guys will act as a standard hammer unit, hitting enemies that are tied up with anvil units, or combo charging with other hammer units.

Lance of knights of the realm. Their primary role is a hammer unit that adds a lot of static combat resolution. Their secondary role keeping my army from routing. This is where I like to put my battle standard bearer. I give him virtue of duty and the enchanted shield. I like the shield on him because it add so much armor given he can't have a shield normally. The unit itself has a war banner, and I like to have twelve total for three ranks. That's seven static combat resolution before charging and flank/rear. The knights themselves can dish out some nice damage on the charge, with the static res you should win the first round. The problem will be breaking steadfast. If my lance's ranks can't break the steadfast after expected kills then I have a good chance of continuing to win combat on resolution alone, giving me time to combat reform my anvil unit into a long ranks deep formation and subsequently breaking the steadfast on the second round. Another option these knights have on the second round when used in combination with a ranks deep anvil is to reform six wide. You will still count ranks from your anvil and you now can use all of your knight's attacks, another benefit is reducing your flank size. The secondary role of this unit is to provide the all important battle standard bearer radius of influence. This unit will go where leadership is needed most in conjunction with performing it's primary role.

Small squadron of pegasus knights. Their primary role is to fly behind enemy lines and take out or tie up artillery and lone wizards. Their secondary role is to rear and flank charge engaged enemies. These guys can take a beating from missile fire with skirmishing, higher toughness and multiple wounds. They get across the battlefield really quick too, they vanguard and fly. At most your opponent should have one turn to shoot at them. These guys achieve their primary goal weather they make it to the enemy or get shot to hell. If my opponent spends all his shooting efforts on my pegs then the rest of my army is free to close the distance. I like to give these guys a musician but no standard bearer. I find that the standard is rarely ever needed to win the combats I put them in, and the risk of breaking and loosing the flag is too many points to justify. The musician helps to rally if needed, and war machines don't have musicians giving the pegs the advantage in the event of a tie. A nice security blanket if you roll badly. The real beauty with these guys is that when they finish performing their primary task they are perfectly lined up to flank and rear charge the enemy.

Five mounted yeomen. Their primary role is to pull enemies out of formation thus exposing flanks. Their secondary role is to harass enemy flanks by shooting and threatening to charge. I give these guys a shield and a musician. The shield is there to add armor so they don't die as quickly to arrow fire. The musician for the rally bonus as these guys will primarily be doing feigned flight maneuvers. The tactic has been explained in many articles. For those unfamiliar you move up and position yourself in a way that when your target charges you his flanks will be exposed to the rest of your army. You opt to flee and if done correctly he will have no one to redirect to and is forced to complete the charge. On the following turn your yeomen will hopefully rally and continue about their business. Since so many people will see this for what it is you will rarely be able to capitalize on it (unless your enemy is frenzied). That brings us to their secondary role of harasser. Stay on the flanks or behind enemy lines and shoot when you can. These guys are also great at chasing down fleeing enemies, or coming in on the flank or rear charge. As a bonus they can even charge and destroy artillery, or at least tie it up a bit.

Lance of grail knights. Their primary role is to bodyguard my prophetess. Their secondary role is to provide magical and flaming melee attacks where needed, in flanks/rear. I go for a musician and standard bearer with banner of eternal flame on these guys. The prophetess is a life wizard to minimize miscasts, regrow units, heal other characters/peg knights, and blast baddies with dwelers below. She also provides my main magic defense with dispel scroll or mirror and level four (magic resistance for the grails as well). The ability to accept challenges with every knight is a big benefit since the only way to kill the prophetess in close combat would be a challenge (she hides in the middle). She also benefits the look out sir rule so she can't be easily kill by missile fire. Aside from just keeping her alive this unit also packs magical and flaming attacks to bear against ethereal or regenerating units. The beauty is their high initiative, they hit with flame before our other units strike, thus removing regeneration.

The king of battle; the trebuchet. Primary role is to decimate elite enemy units and monsters. Secondary role is to decimate everything else. Easily the single most devastating thing in our army, the field trebuchet can put serious hurt on enemies. If facing armies that have really big nasty creatures that my army can't handle I turn to the trebuchet to try can take them out. The center of the blast template is enough to kill almost anything in one hit. If it regenerates just soften it up with flaming arrows first. Another important use is killing enemy elites. They will slice our infantry/cavalry up in melee, but if you can wipe out a lot of them with a trebuchet shot it can equalize the fight before it starts. Added bonuses include; the enemy will pay a lot of points for those elites, this thing will almost always cause a panic check.

Vicar of Dirz

Time for some fresh work! Here is a vicar for my Alchemists of Dirz collection. I finished him yesterday. I started off with a white primer then a citadel codex grey base coat on the cloth and citadel boltgun metal on the metal bits. From there I painted in the model color dark red on the tubes and model color cam. pale violet brown on the leather. I painted up the bone parts on the helmet using my preferred bone method detailed in a previous post. Three washes were added to different parts of the model; citadel badab black, citadel gryphonne sepia and citadel devlan mud. For highlights I used citadel mithril silver on the metal and citadel astronomican grey on the cloth. I watered down the greys quite a bit to try and layer the highlights up. For the goggles I went with the gem technique starting with model color prussian blue. The bottom highlight is model color andrea blue and the top a dot of citadel skull white. At this point the model was basically done but I wanted to add some weathering effects. I tried to age the metals using a heavily watered down wash of citadel tin bitz. I concentrated most of it on the cracks and bolts. It came out pretty light which is fine with me, I didn't want him to be covered in rust. I then drybrushed some model color US tan earth along the bottom of his robe to dirty it up a bit. For his base I went with desert sand and a bit of dead grass. I've recently ordered some weathering powders from forge world, so I may have to come back to this guy when those get here.