Review: Ryse: Son of Rome – Crytek – XBox One (2013)

Over my time off during the Christmas/New Year’s break, as well as doing a lot pf painting, I also traditionally try to play through a videogame that I’ve been meaning to get to for awhile. On Black Friday, I purchased an XBox One X and a PS4 Pro, followed by a 4k TV on the following day, but with life events snowballing in the subsequent timeframe I didn’t set them up until a couple of days before Christmas.

I was thinking about finally playing Horizon: Zero Dawn since I was holding off on it until I got the Pro, or Assassins Creed Origins on the X. So what have I been playing?

Ryse: Son of Rome.

W.T.F?

Well, it was a game I picked up when Marouda and I first got our (regular) XB1s so we could play the co-op. There wasn’t a huge library at the time, and it seemed intriguing. Because Gladiatorial fights are awesome. In fiction, anyway. Not quite so awesome for the actual participants. (I should probably get around to watching that Spartacus TV series, I guess.)

In many ways, the game is absolutely beautiful. I mean, it’s clearly not running at 1080p (900p!), but the design and environment is a lovingly designed facsimile of ancient Rome. Unfortunately, the framerate is horrible – so bad that I needed to stop playing every few minutes because it just runs terribly. Unless it runs worse on the XB1X? That’s possible, I guess, though I was hoping for a performance boost, if anything. Unfortunately, during fast movement, it’s janky as fuck. I haven’t played a lot of fast action games on this setup yet where the environment moves quickly, but I have played a few (on PS4P) and they don’t suffer in the same way, and the TV is a 100hz refresh rate model with a game mode, so I doubt the problem is there.

I mean, despite the low resolution and janky framerate, I still constanly wanted to stop and admire the scenery. Except it was janky, and therefore unpleasant to do, and the game basically wants you to RUN your way through the beautiful “corridor” path.

Combat was surprisingly decent. It’s not especially nuanced, but I found it enjoyable enough in it’s simplicity. Block being mapped to A (X on PS) threw me off for awhile since the combat feels inspired by Arkham, so I kept wanting to hit Y (Triangle on PS) to block, which resulted in me doing a lot of shield blows and getting whacked a lot. I’ve read that on higher difficulty levels that it becomes more challenging as enemies become more difficult, but that’s different to more nuanced. It’s not a deep combat system is what I’m saying.

The “Executions” that come up frequently provide a method of refilling your health bar, or giving you some bonus exp, or refilling your focus bar (I also continued to struggle with the similarities and differences from the Batman/Mordor buttons, probably due to some muscle memory). The executions continue to go off even when you choose the wrong colour from the very simple “Simon Says” prompts, and the canned executions start to be a bit tedious after you feel like you’ve seen the few on offer 10,482 times. Still, the combat system remains simple fun for the most part.

What is not fun is anything outside of the core swordplay. Throwing pilum is terribly clunky and there are segments of the game where it REALLY WANTS you to throw pilum. Since I didn’t find that fun and wanted to stab the barbarians instead, I found myself at odds with the game on a couple of occasions where it punished me for that choice. There are also some points where the game wants you to throw pilum while dodging arrows. Also not fun. At all. A good example where a design document overrides good execution. On that same note, using Scorpion ballistae provide the game’s turret sections – something that I actually often do find fun in games despite their formulaic nature. Not here, though. Loose controls and poor visual feedback make them once again, something to endure until you can get to the next stabby sequence. Oh, and there’s Kinect-voice sequences scattered throughout the game, where you can either bark out orders to your Kinect to have archers fire or whatever, or hold the LB button for a *really* long time. I do actually have a Kinect, which I got for Marouda in one of our initial machines because Just Dance, but it hasn’t been used in a couple of years now probably, and the XB1X doesn’t even support the thing without a special adapter. Which I do have here, but I’m hardly going to connect the thing up just for shouting at the odd sequence in this game.

The story is… well, it’s a story at least. It’s not the best videogame story I’ve played through, but it’s far from the worst. I mean, it’s *there*. It’s an incredibly predictable revenge story, presumably written for twelve-year-olds who can’t understand any other motivation besides revenge, “duty” and “honour”. As a snarky aside, I had no idea it was so easy to swim while wearing a Lorica Segmentata, but then, I’ve never tried it myself, so what do I know? I don’t think it’s too spoilerific for a 2013 game to mention that the game attempts to add in a “Normandy Beach Landing” sequence, and while it again looks good, the devs clearly chose cinematic over gameplay. But as can be expected from “2013 videogame”, the treatment of history is a right mess. To be fair it’s no worse than, say, Braveheart, though I was disappointed by the game’s initial milquetoast treatment of Bodicia followed by her ridiculously over-the-top later depiction. I’m surprised that they didn’t throw Hannibal into the mix as well, although, they kinda did… On a brighter note, the cinematics are very well done indeed, as are the facial models and animation. No Mass Effect Andromeda “my face is tired” mannequins here at least!

Now this might sound rather nit-picky, and perhaps it is, but I really would have liked the camera to be a little further back from your character as you play through the campaign. This is – again – because the environments are so nicely put together and executed, but your character (well-rendered as he is) blocks much of the scenery as you move through the game, and with the camera so low, it further amplifies this. I guess it *does* work to reduce the draw distance required to render. While it’s true that the player model’s size looks awesome in stills, it does restrict your view of these beautifully realised environments. Really though, I’d love to see a sequel or remake of this game using today’s technical know-how (yeah, I know it’s only a 2013 release, but in the past 4 years, devs have *really* learned to optimise this generation’s machines compared to launch titles!) Back to the remake point – it just seems a waste that all of these beautiful art assets were essentially wasted on this game, which does have it’s moments of fun, but was by no stretch of the imagination a commercial success.

Naturally, the game has a whole bunch of pick-up collectables of different types scattered around the stages. They don’t really do anything of note or interest as far as I can see, but after I figured out that they’re there after a little while I did attempt to collect any that I saw. One annoying thing about this is that there are quite a few places in the game where the path forks, and it’s not immediately obvious which one has the collectable in it and which one continues the story. These paths are often followed by, say kicking in a gate or vaulting a fallen tree or pillar. That’s fine, but when it then becomes obvious that the path you chose was the “story path” while the collectable was the *other* way, the game often then does not allow you to backtrack to get the pickup. I know it’s a memory/area loading limitation on one hand, but it’s poor level design on the other.

Oh, and there’s also multiplayer. Most types are co-op gladiatorial battles, though you can also go in solo. I think that might have been one of the draws of this game initially – the idea of playing co-op gladiators with Marouda. I doubt that the combat system would be for her, though – we played it a couple of times back when we first got the game, but, well, clearly it never stuck. There’s a solo mode, but frankly, I don’t have the time nor inclination to grind through it. It was also a lovely surprise to see that multiplayer features loot boxes for gear, bought with “gold”, a currency that can be earned in-game, albeit slowly – or purchased for real monies though the XBox store. Legislation can’t come fast enough.

To sum up. I actually kind of enjoyed Ryse – in spite of itself. The fact that it’s quite a short game helped it not to outstay it’s welcome, since the simple, repetitive melee combat isn’t especially great, and the non-melee aspects of gameplay suck hard. The art direction and graphic quality (when the background wasn’t moving much) were outstanding, despite the relatively low resolution and janky framerate, and also despite a trite and predictable story, the cinematics actually managed to add more then take away from the experience. Again, this was helped by the fact that it’s quite a short game, and the fact that I’m a fan of the Ancient Roman theme (despite the game’s mangling of actual historical events). I played it on Easy, and have no regrets about having done so. I experienced all I wanted to from the game, and so I’m happy enough – having played it’s short campaign in short sessions over about four days. I wouldn’t advise purchasing it, unless it was on deep, deep discount, but I believe it was an XBLG freebie some time ago (I didn’t need my disc to play!) so if it’s sitting in your library, it might be worth the few hours’ investment to experience.

Rating: 5/10 – Thoroughly Mediocre! (Yet, kinda worth playing)

Now. Do I play Horizon, or AC Origins, or finish something half-done like Wolfenstein: The New Order – or repeat the mediocre-but-fast game experience by playing through The Order: 1886?

Hmmm…

A New Year…

For what are obvious reasons to any regular reader, I didn’t post a “Merry Christmas” last week, and I’m not really up to a “Happy New Year” one either. Not that I wish a shitty time on anyone, it’s just… well, you know.

For much the same reason, I’m not really up to doing a whole big reflection post for 2017. (Fun fact – I started one for 2016 and never finished it – it’s still sitting in my drafts folder, half-written!)

However, I’ll do a simpler one. I do keep track of what I paint each year – have done so for a few years now, and for what it’s worth, this year was my most productive yet. Of course, my list counts each individual bit of scatter terrain (like boxes) as a figure, but then, so a Dreadnought is only one figure by the same token. With the resurrection of Warhammer 40k via 8th edition, I got a lot more 40k stuff completed this year than… ever before, though I still got a reasonable number of Fantasy and a few LotR models done as well.

Anyway, here’s the list for 2017:

 

1x Viking Musician
2x Viking Daneaxe
1x Foundry Viking Berserker
1x Stonehaven Female Dwarf Thief
1x Stonehaven Female Dwarf Warrior
4x BFSP Dwarf Musicians—> 4th January
Day 4
10 Models

——

4x BFSP Dwarf Leaders
2x BFSP Dwarf Standards

—> 5th January
Day 5
16 Models

——

40x Dragon’s Teeth/Tank Traps
30x BFSP Dwarf Warriors

—> 6th January
Day 6
86 Models

——

11x Legions of Steel Nightmares
3x BFSP Dwarf Cannon
10x Conan Wolves
5x Conan Barrels

—> 16th January
Day 16
115 Models

——

12x Sedition Wars Sci-Fi Crates
12x Sedition Wars Barricades
16x Renedra Tents
1x DUST Drop crate

—> 24th January
Day 16
156 Models

——

4x Mantic Mars Attacks Street Signs
1x Oldhammer Orc
3x Iron Warriors CSM

—> 11th January
Day 42
164 Models

——

4x Mantic Mars Attacks Benches
2x 4th Ed Orcs
3x 4th Ed Orc Big’Uns
1x Heartbreaker Orc

—> 23rd February
Day 54
174 Models

——

3x Marauder Dwarf Slayers
1x Zoat
1x Stonehaven Dwarf
1x Dwarf Runesmith
1x Heartbreaker Black Orc/Big’un

—> 24th February
Day 55
181 Models

——

2x Viking Axemen
2x 40k Booby Traps
1x Ruin Objective Base
1x Bones Fountain
2x Dark Elf Assassins
1x C15 Orc “Cyclops” (1985, Perry)

—> 4th March
Day 63
190 Models

——

3x Oldhammer 3rd Ed Orcs
2x Black Templars
1x Marauder Goblin MM30/3a
1x Witch King Mounted

—> 9th March
Day 68
197 Models

——

2x Oldhammer 3rd Ed Orc Crew
1x Black Templar
1x Black Templar Standard
1x Ninja
8x Iron Warrior Legacy models
2x Marauder Dwarf Slayers

—> 11th March
Day 70
212 Models

——

2x Oldhammer Nick Lund Black Orcs – Standard & Musician (renovated)
1x Bones Hydra

—> 23rd March
Day 82
215 Models

——

16x Uruk-Hai Siege Ladders
4x Uruk-Hai Bombs
8x Confrontation Ruined Walls

2x Empire Flagellants
1x Marauder Dwarf Slayer
6x Descent V1 Hellhounds
1x Descent Hellhound Unit Base
1x Moria Dead Dwarf Scenery

—> 8th April
Day 98
254 Models

——

2x Marauder Dwarf Slayer
1x Giant Slayer Musician
1x Giant Slayer Standard

—> 15th April
Day 105
258 Models

——

1x Askosha Croc-Man
1x Bloodbound Bloodreaver Champion
6x RT Black Templar Terminators
1x Ruin Objective Base
2x Giant Slayers

—> 14th May
Day 134
271 Models

——

12x Legion of the Damned (renovated)
12x LotR Harad Abrakhân Guard
8x Vikings (Cannon)
1x Runestone
1x Fallen Dark Angel
6x RT Black Templar Terminators
1x Jokaero
1x Space Wolf Wolf Base

5x Space Wolf Wolves (basing upgrade)*********

—> 11th June
Day 162
318 (313) Models

——

***??
—> 30th June
Day 181
318 (313)*** Models <—————– check photos and newish models
—–
3x Foundry Perry Vikings
8x Dark Angels Assault Marines (rebased)
7x Dark Angels Tactical Squad 3 (rebased)
7x Dark Angels Tactical Squad 4 (rebased)
2x Russian Alternative Chaos Dwarf Berserker Slayer-heroes
—> 1st July
Day 182
345 (340)*** Models
—–
 
8x Foundry Perry Vikings
1x Callidus Assassin (rebased)
—> 20th July
Day 201
354 (349)*** Models
—–
2x Black Templars
—> 22nd July
Day 203
356 (351)*** Models
—–
5x Dark Angel Tacticals
—> 4th Aug
Day 216
361 (356)*** Models
—–
7x Ork Boyz
2x Dark Angels Assault Marines
1x RT Dark Angels Librarian
5x Minotaurs Devastators
—> 19th Aug
Day 231
376 (371)*** Models
—–
7x Ork Boyz
1x Fallen Dark Angel
5x Minotaurs Devastators
—> 3rd Sept
Day 246
389 (384)*** Models
—–
3x Ork Boyz
—> 10th Sept
Day 253
392 (387)*** Models
—–
1x Minotaurs Apothecary
1x GM Slaver Ork
1x Asmodai
3x RT Orks
1x Narik Dreygur
1x RT Fallen Angel
2x Obliterators ****** (upgrade)
1x Dark Apostle ****** (upgrade)
7x IW Plaguemarines
6x Ork Slugga Boyz
1x FW IW Dread
1x IW Warsmith
—> 27th Oct
Day 300
418 (-8 = 410)*** Models
—–
4x Ork Boyz
1x Calth Dark Angel
1x Objective Marker
1x Mentor Legion Dreadnought
1x Technobridge
1x Pine Bunker (Update)
3x Teleport Homers
—> 19th Nov
Day 323
430 (-8 = 422)*** Models
—–
5x Deathwatch Squad
2x Mentor Legion Primaris Lieutenants
—> 31 Dec
Day 365
437 (-8 = 429)*** Models

 

 

Deathwatch Squad Edinorog: Pt.2

Deathwatch Space Marines

Here’s the completed squad. I managed to get outside today to retake the blurry photos, so here we go:

Deathwatch Space Marine Librarian

This is Librarian Edinorog. He originally hails from the “Monokera Rampant” chapter of Space Marines (both names subject to change). He took fucking forever to paint, because he’s so covered in so much fiddly bling. I painted his eyes in white, and used Nihlakh Oxide to give them that glowing “caster about to do something psychic” look.

Deathwatch Space Marine Librarian

Again, the figure used here is an old one. A Librarian model “Lexicanium 1” from 1995/6, he’s another model who had had a long journey in getting started (around 2006) and another decade on top to be complete (end 2017). Though these days a Librarian would not be a leader (or member) of the squad, so I’ll have to build and paint another Deathwatch Veteran to make this little group legal. Or another six.

Deathwatch Space Marine Librarian

The sword was painted with the bluish teal shade I’ve been using for power swords, but I was unsatisfied with it. I tried to fix it by subtle criss-crossing it with thin lines of silver, but then it just looked messy. So I added a thinned down coat of Transparent Green from Warcolours to try and give it a different look that still fit a power sword. It turned out darker than I’d wanted, but I still think it turned out quite decent.

Deathwatch Space Marine Librarian

Once again, the Deathwatch parts added to the model are the metal shoulder pad and bolter from the original metal add-on bits, along with a current Deathwatch backpack. On this and the other models in the squad, I’ve attempted to very subtly shade the shoulder with a touch of blur, and the arm with a touch of brown. You probably didn’t notice that on any of these models before I mentioned it, but you have now. So job done, I guess.

Deathwatch Space Marine, Flesh Tearer

Here’s another one of the models that started blurry. This model was originally going to be a Crimson Fist, and actually had the Fist icon attached to his gut-plate, but I decided that his armour was a little too feral looking for a Fist, and pried it off, replacing it with a Flesh Tearer icon. The chest and legs both come from the old Khorne Berserker kit and the head comes from the metal Deathwatch parts from the mid-noughties.

Deathwatch Space Marine, Flesh Tearer

I somehow lost the original right arm, and the pad was to be a metal Fists one, so I simply used both parts from the modern kits. All the parts fit in well enough with one another, so it works for me. I also hazard-striped the cable since painting it metallic or dark grey would have been too boring, and dark red is already the weapon colour.

Deathwatch Space Marine, Flesh Tearer

Rear view isn’t especially exciting. Aren’t you glad I took this photo?

Deathwatch Space Marine, Flesh Tearer

The chainsword arm is just standard 3rd ed parts while the shoulder pad is taken (I think!) from the Marine Command Squad sprue. It’s a good example of the way that GW’s plastic technology has moved forward in the past decade, moving from smooth sides here to the sculpted script in the current ones.

Deathwatch Space Marine

Last of all, we have this dude with a heavy bolter. Once again, the weapon is a reflection of the original rules and available models of the day – both arms, the weapon and the backpack are metal while the megs and torso are plastic. Yep, he’s from the days of plastic-metal hybrid kits! The shouty head is the metal one from the old Deathwatch sprue of the day, and obviously the Deathwatch shoulder pad again comes from that conversion set. I think I actually had to use clippers to cut the original right ahoulder pad off so I could mount that Deathwatch pad onto it. Fun!

Deathwatch Space Marine

Despite being such pain in the arse to assemble (I had to do that as part of the recent work, as he’d almost completely fallen apart over the years), he’s come together quite nicely. Even if his weapon isn’t a blinged-out combi-weapon of the modern type.

Deathwatch Space Marine

The shoulder pad had a feline head icon from Shapeways added to it. I do like the effect of sculpted detail of this type on my marine models. Steel Panthers sound ok for a Chapter name? Good. Done. And now that I see this pic, I notice that I forgot to paint a name onto his scroll. I’ll have to bring him back inside and sort that out. Tomorrow. I think I also missed the lights on his backpack as well. And huh. Look at that. Red cable. Ah well.

Deathwatch Space Marine

Finally, the reverse shot. I’m out of interesting things to say about this model. So let’s just admire the work that his powered armour needs to to to carry all that crap around!

While the squad might not be table-legal for the current edition of 40k, I’m still quite satisfied to have taken another group of marines out of that old case and actually finished them off. With only a single marine to sort out to make them legal, I’ll hopefully be able to work around Painting Decembuary to get one done by the end of January. Any more will have to wait until a bunch of other stuff is completed and out of the way, I’m afraid!

Deathwatch Squad Edinorog: Pt.1

Deathwatch Space Marine, Celestial Lions

I’d be showing off the whole squad, but some of the photos turned out blurry. So… half of them it is.

This squad of Deathwatch Space Marines were started sometime after their rules were first published in White Dwarf 306, back in the mid-noughties. As with so many of my projects, I got a certain way through before getting distracted or what have you, and like many of them, I’ve dug these models out of a figure case a few months ago and gotten them finished in the last week.

Deathwatch Space Marine, Celestial Lions

I needed something to work on after completing the pair of Celestial Lions recently, as I needed to have something to continue working on. These had been sitting on my desk for ages, mostly forlorn after being rebased onto 32mm bases, and so they have been my focus in the last few days. And now they’re done.

Deathwatch Space Marine, Celestial Lions

This model originally had a chapter badge from …some transfer sheet or another. A skull with crossed lighting bolts or some such. It was pretty generic, but at least it worked for some Space marine chapter that wasn’t one of the big, well known ones. This model is from 1995/6, known at the time as Veteran Sergeant 1 with Bionic Eye, he’s been given a metal Deathwatch Shoulder Pad and Bolter added onto a 2nd Ed plastic marine arm, and a 3rd ed plastic backpack. The Lion-head icon again comes from Matrillo Y Cola on Shapeways.

Deathwatch Space Marine, Celestial Lions

Given recent events, when I came to try and finish this guy off, he was an easy induction into the Celestial Lions, especially given that his face and hair were already done. In a sense it furthers the tribute but more importantly it makes what was a pretty generic marine a little more meaningful to me – and I’d always liked how his face and complexion turned out, most of which is unfortunately lost in these photos. (It looks pretty average in that top photo!)

Deathwatch Space Marine

This next guy is the first of my Deathwatch that I completed. He was even kinda-completed when I fished him and his brothers out of that figure case, but he then needed rebasing, some additional work on his weapon and re-highlighting on his armour using Vallejo Panzer Aces 309 Periscopes – which is an idea I stole off a guy on Dakka (sorry, forgot the name! 😦 )because his Deathwatch looked great with it as the highlight colour instead of the usual greys.

Deathwatch Space Marine

Periscopes works especially well for me, as I’ve got a few different types of black-armoured marines going now (Legion of the Damned, Black Templars, plus more to come) and it allows for black armour with a very different feel, rather than more of the same. The model here is simply a 3rd Ed plastic marine using the metal Deathwatch parts (head, bolter, shoulder).

Deathwatch Space Marine

As with the Lion above, this guy was originally to be from some unknown, unnamed chapter. I may have come up with chapter and character names, and some fluff for these guys, but as I’ve said, the models were conceived a decade ago, and so that kind of stuff is now lost to time. While I’m able to paint at the moment, thinking up imaginative background isn’t my forte at the best of times, and right now I have no chance of concentrating well enough to create any…

Deathwatch Space Marine

So here we are. If anyone has an interesting chapter name for me to slap onto this guy, I’ll certainly consider it. I’ll try and get some more photos taken of the other three tomorrow, without any blurriness.

Once again my apologies to all who have written responses to my previous two posts. I’m still not up to reading them yet. I tried earlier, but it was …too much for the time being. Still, know I very much appreciate it.

The Epilogue

As was expected, Mum passed away late last week. Fortunately, Marouda, my father, my sister and myself were able to be there for the final moments of her passing.

I’ve been doing lots of the paperwork since then, and trying to keep as busy as possible to avoid the cracks showing, though the grief and rage bubbles just under the surface. Just got to keep it in check.

I’d like to thank everyone who posted kind thoughts and messages to the previous post. I haven’t read them yet. I tried, but it was too difficult – and I’ve got to keep those emotions under control while there’s work still to be done! I would like to especially thank Orez and Pyro, who have been here, helping myself and Marouda with distractions and also helping us to help my dad.

 

I’ve been doing a little bit of painting since finishing the Lions, and managed to finally do the finishing off on a small squad of Deathwatch (Irony!) that I started a decade or so ago, putting the final touches literally minutes ago. I’ll try to get them photographed and have a “normal” post up in the next day or two.

 

 

Celestial Lions: A Parting Gift

Celestial Lions Primaris Lieutenant Space Marines

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that I’ve been a bit cryptic recently, regarding some real-life unpleasantness. Well, here it is. It’s a long one, and it gets pretty dark in places.

That’s a thumbs-up from her, there.

This is my mother. She is in her late 70’s, and she will most likely be dead before this week is out. It might be next week, but it’ll be soon, regardless. She sadly has a terminal condition, which I have no intention of going into in any detail, but she’s weaker and weaker each passing day. She’s been pretty much immobile for 3+ weeks now, and has been in and out of hospital over the last month+. She reentered hospital at our urging a couple of weeks ago, and she will not be returning home. Ever.

So far, so fucking depressing.

Anyway, while I was sitting next to her last Thursday evening after work (yes, I kept going to work until the end of last week, in an attempt to get shit sorted out for the end of the year and to retain some of my own sanity in the circumstances. I’ve finished for the year now, using a combination of carer’s leave and what will soon be bereavement leave. hm.)

Sorry, lost my train of thought, and fuck it, I’m going to write this one as more of a stream-of consciousness and less carefully edited as I usually do.

So anyway, I was sitting next to her, and a thought came into my head. I should paint something for her. Now we take a brief tangent of an equally depressing nature:

Anyone who has been around this blog for some time may remember this post from last May. In it, I talk about being on the phone to my sister, spotting them on the shelf and not really being up to painting zombies at the time. I was on the phone talking with her about the recent (at the time) death of my oldest brother when I spotted the slayers. The growing horde of slayers in a sense became a tribute to my brother. Fitting really, since he was a bad-tempered prick of a drunk with a ginger beard. We canonise our dead, but that description is the truth. We never became friends as I grew older, which was a shame, but by the time that friendship might have been possible, he was too much of an uneven and unpleasant drunk, and frankly – fuck that noise. I’ve got no tolerance for that level of bullshit, and I haven’t been willing to tiptoe around other people’s stupidity for quite a long time now. Still, he was my older brother, and his influence is still strong in me with an interest in WWII, history, as well as musically. Try to take the good and leave out the bad, basically.

So that’s one brother.

Then there’s my other brother. Also an older brother, just a touch younger than the oldest. Without any risk of overstatement or exaggeration, he was the single biggest influence on me in my life. He was the cool older brother that you wish you had. He introduced me to fantasy role-playing at around the age of five in the 1970’s via a mixture of make-it-up-as-you-go-along storytelling, and Tunnels & Trolls solo dungeons, which he’d read to me and act as “DM”. He gave me a copy of Lord of the Rings which I read in Primary School/Grade 6. As the years progressed, he went from older brother to best friend. He was also the one who got me into miniatures, with his collection of Fantasy and medieval-history Minifigs which were eventually given to me shortly before I discovered Warhammer 40,000. My Humbrol enamels came along with the Minifigs, and in turn they were used on my first Space Marines and Imperial Army and Space Orks.  We played T&T for years together with a few others until we ended up segueing into computer games, playing games like EverQuest and Battlefield 1942 together for years. This finally came to an end in 2005 one Saturday evening, when I went to his place to see why he hadn’t been answering his phone and found his dead body on the floor of his kitchen.

Yeah, I said this one gets dark.

He apparently had a congenital heart condition, and he wasn’t the best at taking his meds. Not sure if that’s why he had the massive heart attack that killed him, but at this point it hardly matters now, eh?

At the time he passed, I was painting Orks. For that 500-pt combat patrol as per 4th or whatever was current at the time. These Orks. For reasons that should be obvious here, when that happened, I downed tools for quite some time – and it took until recently for me to be able to face the Orks again.

So what I’m saying here is that the resurrected Ork army is both a group of models that are hopefully cool and good looking as well as a tribute to my departed brother. I had planned to write this up in its own post sometime in the near future, once I completed the “original” force I was working on in 2005, but I guess my mum has forced my hand on that account, eh? Thanks, mum!

So back to the story. While I sat next to her in her hospital bed last Thursday, I had the idea of painting something for her as a tribute – in the same way that the Slayers and Orks had unintentionally turned out to be. Well, except intentionally this time. So I told her the stories that I’ve recounted to you all above. About the phone call and the slayers. About the Orks and downing tools and them sitting in a case for over 10 years before I could get back to them. And then I told her that I’d like to paint something for her as well. Obviously, you already know what I chose to paint for her, but not the why – because Space Marines? Really?

Yeah.

As the regulars around here know, I like to paint different Marine Chapters. Celestial Lions are one of the many who have been “on the list” to do at some stage. I chose them for her because:

  1. The colour scheme looks good.
  2. They have an “African” flavour to their background, and my mum has always liked African people (and African-Americans, Māori… )
  3. Celestial – because, well, she’ll be gone soon. And while I’m not religious, I appreciate the connection between looking at the sky/towards the heavens and respecting my ancestors.
  4. Lions – the most important, actually. My mum is a Leo. And while she’s never been “into” horoscopes or any of that stuff, she’s always really loved lions.
  5. I’ll find an appropriate actual lion model at some stage. I’m sure Reaper or someone like that has something. I can even incorporate a lion model in with the Celestials as a pet.

Celestial Lions Primaris Lieutenant Space Marines WIP

Overnight, I had another idea: Why wait? If I really pulled out all the stops, I could try to have a model painted for her before she goes, so she could see it. Touch it. Hold it. When I woke up on Friday, I went outside to the War Room, found the open sprues of Primaris Marines from the 8th starter box, came inside with the one with the Lieutenants on it, clipped both of them off and bagged them, and took them to work – trimmed the flash during my breaks – went straight to the hospital from work for a few hours, and she was much worse – tired and not all there – when we left, we stopped to see my dad for a couple of hours on the way home – and then once home I assembled them, let dry, and spray primed over several drying-breaks until about 1am. Woke at 6am on Saturday and got to fucking work.

Celestial Lions Primaris Lieutenant Space Marines WIP

If I had more time, I might have replaced the bare head with a different one, or added some “flavour” parts from my Warlord Games Zulu models. But no time for that. Standard builds – just get the paint done! Turns out that they’re “supposed” to be on 40mm bases as well, rather than 32mm ones. I guess it works to distinguish them on the table. Ah well, tough luck on that one. These models aren’t being rebased.

I didn’t get them entirely finished in time, because as the hours ticked by on Saturday, so my anxiety level raised – I desperately wanted her to see them before she went back downhill. So when they were a good 80% done – finished to the point where I was satisfied that they were good enough to show her, it was time to go to the hospital. I also took a few of the Slayers and a few of the Orks. I started by mentioning the models I’d talked about the other day, and showed her them, one by one. Because a model in the hand to look at is obviously much better than a photo on a mobile phone’s browser.

Once she had looked at the Orks and the Dwarves, I showed her the almost-finished Lions. Naturally, she loved them. She’s my mum, so what else is she going to do? But she also knew well enough that if I didn’t think they were up to scratch that I would not have brought them to show her. She said something about her living on forever through them, and while “forever” is a long time, the figures should certainly outlast my own existence, so good enough.

Celestial Lions Primaris Lieutenant Space Marines

And here we are. The completed figures. Final details done less than an hour ago. The next step is to pack them up again and head out to the hospital so she can see the final completed models.

Celestial Lions Primaris Lieutenant Space Marines

I’ll throw some painting notes in here, just because, and because I’ll paint up a bunch of these at some stage in the future – and I’ll really want these models to be consistent. Base coats were all sprays, followed by an all-over wash of Reikland Fleshshade Gloss. Armour drybrushed with Retributor Armour then Liberator Gold and then a tiny bit of Model Air Gold mixed in. Blue panels painted with Vallejo “Ultramarine” blue coloured surface primer, washed with thinned down Vallejo Game Air 72.720 Imperial Blue, then re-highlighted with Vallejo Game Colour Ultramarine Blue, then highlighted with thinned VGA 72.724 Electric Blue.

Celestial Lions Primaris Lieutenant Space Marines

Aquilas done with Vallejo Model Colour Dark Grey, then highlighted with a couple of greys, washed with Nuln Oil Gloss then highlighted again on the edges with Army Painter Warpaints Ash Grey. Weapons done with Dark Grey, then edge highlighted with Citadel Incubi Darkness, washed with Nuln Oil Gloss, then re-highlighted on extreme edges with Incubi Darkness again. Probably too subtle to actually see, but it is what it is. Leather done with VMA 71.042 Camo Black Brown spot washed with Nuln Oil Gloss, then highlighted with That VMA brown I use for everything and the code and name have worn off the label. I know which one it is, though.

Celestial Lions Primaris Lieutenant Space Marines

To designate the models as Lieutenants, I used VII Legion decals from the Imperial Fists HH transfer sheet on their right kneepads. I also added tiny “Fists” shields to their left pauldrons, along with a Maltese Cross on the right pauldron of one, and the backpack of the other, to represent their brotherhood with the Black Templars. The Lieutenant’s helmet stripe I left without the white bars to show consistency with the Crimson Fists style of helmet stripe.

Celestial Lions Primaris Lieutenant Space Marines

The lion-head Chapter icons came from Matrillo Y Cola on Shapeways. They’re not nearly as detailed in hand as they appear on the webpage, so I had to paint in the dividing line between the lion’s chin and their mane, and also the eye. Still, they work well enough and give consistency better than freehanding the icons would.

Celestial Lions Primaris Lieutenant Space Marines

Since I have also been painting Minotaurs, I wanted to ensure that the Celstial Lions were as easily distinguished from the Minos as possible. To that end, the gold here is much brighter and “oranger” – and washed with Fleshshade than the pale brass of the Minos, which is made from sepia washes over silver, later washed with green. The “dark grey” aquilas could easily have been done in metallic tones, but again I went with non-metallic greys as the Minos have theirs in metallics.

Celestial Lions Primaris Lieutenant Space Marines

I’m out of words on the painting process and thoughts behind it, so I’ll just leave the final images to speak for themselves.

Celestial Lions Primaris Lieutenant Space Marines

Celestial Lions Primaris Lieutenant Space Marines

Celestial Lions Primaris Lieutenant Space Marines

Now, I don’t usually share much in the way of my personal details on here, and I’m completely aware of how much of an infodump this is. So why?

Well, my mum is dying, and I’m trying to cope with that. Painting is my Yoga, my Gardening, my Zen. It’s what I do to relax. This has given me something to work on, concentrate on over the last few days. I’m also completely powerless to do anything about her situation, so again, this is something I can do for her. Blogging about it all? Like I said, I’m trying to cope with what’s going on, and we’re past the “hope” stage of medical intervention, so now it’s just a waiting game.

In the end, this is a thing that we all go through – We bury our parents. Unless your parents end up being the ones to bury you. I’m working through the process in my own way, and since I paint, this is part of my process. I just hope these models are good enough as a personal tribute.

Painting Decemb-uary 2017-18: Part 2

Sorry about the lack of updates. I’ve got shit happening IRL of pretty much the worst kind. I’m also not keeping up on other people’s blogs properly, nor am I much good at replying. I’m just dropping in and out almost randomly depending on how I feel at that exact moment on both reading and commenting. I’ll talk about the situation later, but for the time being, I’m trying to stay sane by working a lot and doing a little bit of painting.

Working on Mamon Transfigured from Forge World, and a little on the metal GUO.

I’m not especially happy with the rusted barrel. It looks too much like a red barrel rather than a rusted one. I’m aware that the WIP lighting is kinda shitty, though – so you can’t see it properly. I’ll see how it looks once more of the daemon is done, and tweak from there.

Others doing the Painting Decembuary thing are:

Imperial Rebel Ork aka IRO.

Working on a converted Ogre/Ogor/Mournfang Stonehorn.

 

Zergsmasher on Dakka is painting Mortarion.

We’ve had a few other people (both on WordPress and Dakka) pledge to start, though IRO and Zerg are the only ones I know of that have started posting so far. I’ll include people’s updates in the above form when I do new Decembuary posts.