Archive for great hobby resources

From the Warp – a blog sorely missed

Posted in 40k, Conversions, DIY, Pointless ramblings, Totally worth it with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2013 by krautscientist

Today I would like to talk about one of my favourite hobby blogs as well as one of my favourite hobby artists. So what is this about?

It has been almost exactly one year since Ron Saikowski last updated his blog, From the Warp, and told the community he was taking some time off from blogging. And even in a hobby scene as full of amazing hobby blogs as this, the absence of new content on FTW is still very keenly felt — at least by me.

FTWbanner

But why? And what was/is so great about FTW in the first place? Allow me to elaborate:

When I got back into the hobby in 2010 after a longer hiatus, I was amazed and cowed in equal parts by the quality of the hobby content that could be found online: While I had been away, it seemed like everyone and their cousin had become expert painters, wielding superior techniques and baffling creativity. The presence of such a treasure trove of hobby related content proved to be equally exciting and intimidating: How was I to get back into all this and hope to build an army that I could truly be proud of? In any case, it seemed like an even more daunting task than it had been during my teens.

And then I discovered FTW, and things started to fall into place.

You see, like many other hobby blogs on the internet, FTW is full of beautifully painted models and valuable hobby advice. But while I love many blogs and read them regularly, no other site has come close to FTW when it comes to actually helping hobbyists, to teach them new stuff and to encourage them to step outside their comfort zone. At the same time, if you are simply in it for the pretty pictures, FTW should be right up your alley: Ron’s style of gritty realism is one of the most effective and elegant approaches I have seen in our hobby. And I’ll just take the liberty to intersperse my ramblings in this post with pictures of some of my favourite models of his — it goes without saying that none of these were built and painted by me. I own none of this stuff. Credit must go to Ron Saikowski.

This Cataphractii Terminator showcases one of Ron's trademark conversion recipes, using cardboard-turned-into-plasticard to transform standard plastic terminators into Pre-Heresy individuals before FW ever released their own versions and before "Cataphractii" was even a word. Model built and painted by Ron Saikowski.

This Cataphractii Terminator showcases one of Ron’s trademark conversion recipes, using cardboard-turned-into-plasticard to transform standard plastic terminators into Pre-Heresy individuals before FW ever released their own versions and before “Cataphractii” was even a word.
Model built and painted by Ron Saikowski.

It’s hard to pick my favourite part of FTW, as a matter of fact: The stunningly effective, yet surprisingly simple, recipes for achieving certain painting effects? The clean and seamless conversion work? The useful reviews of hobby products (and the mention of possible alternatives) or the insightful commentary about the hobby at large? All of these were reasons for why FTW still seems like such a great blog.

A fantastic converted Astartes chaplain, based on the pose of GW's Gabriel Seth Model.  Model built by Ron Saikowski

A fantastic converted Astartes chaplain, based on the pose of GW’s Gabriel Seth model.
Model built by Ron Saikowski

But at the heart of it all lies Ron’s own approach to matters: When posting on his blog, he was always, in the truest sense of the word, a scholar and a gentlemen: always helpful and willing to explain every step of his work until everyone was content and carefully addressing comments and suggestions made by the readers. And while Ron’s work taught me countless neat things, his posts never seemed like he was trying to lecture people of convert them to the “right” way of doing things in our hobby.¬† In fact, there has probably never been a nicer, more pleasant blogger in our particular neck of the woods..uh webz ūüėČ

Space Marine Commander on Pre-Heresy jetbike by Ron Saikowski

Ron’s stunningly effective Pre-Heresy jetbike conversion: I have used the same approach to build jetbikes for my small Custodes force.
Model built and painted by Ron Saikowski

Another great thing is that Ron’s recipes and techniques are so great precisely because they can be used by normal people. Now we all enjoy looking at some GD level painting from time to time, but when it comes to getting our armies painted, we are happy enough to find a recipe that works and stick with it. FTW has always been a perfect resource in this respect, featuring countless wonderful painting recipes without the need for twenty extra-thin layers of paint in order to build up a certain hue. No freehanding under a microscope with a paintbrush the width of a horse hair here, but rather a way of doing things that produces awesome results with a modicum of work.

Ron's Alpha Legion recipe is an example of a fairly simple approach that still yields awesome results. Model bult and painted by Ron Saikowski

Ron’s Alpha Legion recipe is an example of a fairly simple approach that still yields awesome results.
Model bult and painted by Ron Saikowski

In fact, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that Ron remains one of my favourite painters for the reason that his pieces are perfectly realised: Poe described a thing called “Unity of effect”, arguing that all parts of a literary work should work towards the intended effect in an interlocking pattern. And this is very true of Ron’s paintjobs: While there may be painters who can pull of even more amazing stunts when it comes to blending, glazing, freehands or what have you, Ron’s models always look completely realised: All of the different colours and effects work together to create a model that looks like a perfect little slice of the 40k universe. Nothing detracts from the overall effect. The models seem like they could just step down from their bases and lay waste to your desktop. I cannot, for the life of me, think of a more successful way of painting!

The Novamarines' colour scheme always seemed pretty gimmicky to me. But given Ron's "unity of effect" approach, it is transformed into something that seems quite plausible. Model built and Painted by Ron Saikowski

The Novamarines’ colour scheme always seemed pretty gimmicky to me. But given Ron’s “unity of effect” approach, it is transformed into something that seems quite plausible.
Model built and Painted by Ron Saikowski

And while the blog is mostly about Space Marines, not only will non-Astartes players find much to like about the recipes and tutorials featured on FTW, but Ron is also sometimes at his best when he isn’t actually doing Marines. Take a look:

A fantastic DKOK model built using second party bitz. Model built and painted by Ron Saikowski

A fantastic DKOK model built using second party bitz.
Model built and painted by Ron Saikowski

A very successful attempt at kitbashing an Eversor Assassin from nothing but plastic parts: This guy inspired me to build my own "Operative Sigma". Model built and painted by Ron Saikowski

A very successful attempt at kitbashing an Eversor Assassin from nothing but plastic parts: This guy inspired me to build my own “Operative Sigma”.
Model built and painted by Ron Saikowski

A very evocative and "Blanchian" Imperial Mystic, unfortunately Ron's only foray into the wonderful world of INQ28. Model built and painted by Ron Saikowski

A very evocative and “Blanchian” Imperial Mystic, unfortunately Ron’s only foray into the wonderful world of INQ28.
Model built and painted by Ron Saikowski

If all of this reads like a gushing love letter to you, that’s because it it: To date, FTW remains one of my favourite hobby resources, and I think it’s a crying shame that it isn’t updated anymore. In fact, I still regularly check whether there are any new updates — just in case…

The good news, though, is that all of the existing amazing content is still there for you to check out and discover. Ron’s tutorials are still every bit as helpful as they were when he first posted them. And the models are still inspiring and beautiful, a testament to effective painting. In fact, I would argue that From the Warp is still one of the most important hobby resources for those active in the hobby or just getting into it, and a priceless treasure trove of hobby knowledge.

Oldies but goldies: Ron's own "Lustwing", an army of Emperor's Children Terminators. Just check out that awesome lord in pre heresy armour! Models built and painted by Ron Saikowski

Oldies but goldies: Ron’s own “Lustwing”, an army of Emperor’s Children Terminators. Just check out the scratchbuilt Pre-Heresy armour!
Models built and painted by Ron Saikowski

So, Ron, if you’re reading this: Thanks for all the amazing work! We owe you big time! And here’s hoping that you’ll eventually get back to updating your blog! And to you readers: FTW should really be part of your regular hobby diet, if only to check out all of the great ideas and tips. So head on over there right now and bookmark that page! And if you’ve been a regular reader of FTW before, well, you know what I am talking about anyway, right?

In closing, while most of the content on FTW is truly amazing, here are a couple of personal favourites of mine that I think you should check out:

Ron’s Pre-Heresy Jetbike conversion

Converting a skull helmet for chaplains or Dark Apostles

Ron’s very own “Lustwing”, a counts as Deathwing force consisting of Emperor’s Children Terminators.

Truly heartwarming: Ron’s Chaos Daemon based on a sketch by his daughter

How to make your Space Marine Captain stand out

His collection of advice on basing is still essential reading for every hobbyist, if you ask me.

So what’s your opinion on FTW? And has anyone been hearing from Ron, perchance? Let me know what you think in the comments!

And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

A Dark Vengeance Chaplain painted by Ron: One of his most recent models, and possibly my favourite! Model painted by Ron Saikowski

A Dark Vengeance Chaplain painted by Ron: One of his most recent models, and possibly my favourite!
Model painted by Ron Saikowski

Totally worth it: The Inquisitor Rulebook

Posted in 40k, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, old stuff, Pointless ramblings, Totally worth it with tags , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2012 by krautscientist

Well, I’ve been meaning to kick off this series for ages, and now it’s finally time! So welcome, dear reader, to Totally worth it, where I share my opinions on rightly remembered classics, undeservedly forgotten almost-greats or just the odd tale about my personal hobby socialisation.

Today’s subject was pretty much a no-brainer, though. This time on Totally worth it: The Inquisitor Rulebook.

image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

Let me start by saying that something like Inquisitor was, at least for me, totally unprecedented at the time of its release.

To understand what made Inquisitor so special, let’s take a look at the somewhat “lopsided” 40k narrative in the early-to-mid 90s: Fascinating as the 40k universe may have been for yound tabletop geeks like us, you couldn’t help but wonder what actually living in this world would look like: Sure, there was the endless war and the huge armies clashing all the time, each with their discreet backgrounds, but at times, it really didn’t feel like a lived-in universe, but rather like something that was only there to provide a backdrop for tabletop battles and winked out of existence as soon as the battle was done — which, in all fairness, was probably the truth of it. It would still take a couple of years for authors like Dan Abnett to flesh out everyday life in the Imperium of Man. So we didn’t have all that much to work with.

But then Inquisitor came along, and suddenly it was possible to imagine the Imperium of Man on a day to day basis. For Inquisitor is not a game of sweeping battles with thousands of soldiers: As the caption on the cover on the rulebook states, Inquisitor is about the Battle for the Emperor’s Soul, a shadow war waged in the darker corners of the Imperium, in the places in between.

And the world between the cracks is often far more interesting: Inquisitor’s narrative is populated by countless strange and fascinating archetypes, and the rulebook does a fantastic job of fleshing out some of these, while giving the hobbyist just enough information on some of the others to motivate him to get creative himself. Anyone browsing through the Inquisitor rulebook will quickly notice the wealth of narrative potential, with lots of little snippets of background and lore to pick up on.

All of this is supported by the book’s great design and production values: From the lavishly illustrated pages to the barcode on the back in the shape of an =][= symbol, the book just oozes style. And while we are on the subject of the artwork: This is where Inquisitor truly shines! All of the character archetypes are accompanied by a wealth of artwork, and even some of the more outlandish character concepts get their own illustrations courtesy of the great John Blanche, who really goes to town on some of the archetypes. I realise that his artwork can be a bit of an acquired taste for some, while others are prepared to state flat out that they don’t like it, period. Make no mistake, however: The man has shaped the 40k universe into what it is today and provided the most compelling and truly original parts of its aesthetics: The gothic madness, the fusion of man, machine and strangely religious iconography.

The Inquisitor rulebook brings us a game firmly set in a world that (RT days aside) had previously only ever been hinted at in the background of 40k artwork. So in case you ever wondered what the story behind those strange cherubim, robed figures and demented creatures lingering in the background was, Inquisitor provides the answers you seek – or at least gives you some rather unsettling ideas. Always remember, though, that everything you have been told is a lie!

Towards this end, Inquisitor is not just a game system, but a veritable treasure trove of concepts and ideas. There is much talk of the “old” versus the “new” GW, and I usually tend to find such arguments rather tedious – there’s always more than one side to things, for one, and the same, evil capitalist structures transforming GW into the devil incarnate for some hobbyists have also brought us a slew of fantastic and versatile hobby materials that the “old” GW could never have put out on this scale. Plus there have been some marked changes in GW’s policies of late (the new WD, 40k’s return to a much more narrative-driven game) that fill me with a certain optimism.

But if there was something the “old” GW was great at, it was putting out whimsical projects like Inquisitor, games that seem to be saying “This rocks! Let’s just do this” at every turn, and¬† where the authors’ and artists’ passion is plain to see on every page: It is very obvious that Inquisitor was a project that Gav Thorpe and John Blanche where very much in love with — and it shows! What’s more, Inquisitor is so great precisely because it does not try its damnedest to appeal to everyone and their cousin. And it is entirely possible to play the game without ever using a single Space Marine – gasp!

Of course, Inquisitor is just as fascinating from a marketing standpoint: GW introduced an entirely new scale for the game, and Inquisitor is markedly different in tone and execution from 40k proper. All of this begs the question: Did the game ever make a lick of sense from a business perspective? And would it have fared differently, in the long run, if it had been conceived to work with GW’s well-established 28mm scale in the first place? One can only wonder…

In any case, GW later tried to capture some of what was great about Inquisitor with the codex releases for Daemonhunters and Witchhunters, porting (or rather: reintroducing) the eclectic and slightly¬† demented aesthetics to 40k proper. The respective army books are quite fascinating, as are many of the models released alongside them. Alas, it didn’t last: The¬† Inquisition today seems to be defined by Codex: Grey Knights more often than not, while the Witchhunters seem to have been let slip under the carpet in the (rather slipshod) Codex: Adeptus Sororitas. In general, it seems that the gothic horror angle has been somewhat pared back in GW’s materials for a couple of years, though the new 40k rulebook shows a certain return to form: Will future releases bring back some of the spirit of Inquisitor, even in regular 40k? I, for one, certainly hope so!

In any case, Inquisitor as a game at both ranges is still going strong, being kept alive by places like the Conclave, the Ammobunker or Dakka and by people like Commissar Molotov, PDH, Jakob Nielsen,  the Spiky Rat Pack and migsula, to name just a few. And there are lots and lots of fantastic scenarios, character concepts and fanmade sourcebooks for you to discover (most of them at the places I mentioned above). The Inquisitor Rulebook, then, is really just a point of entry to a fascinating hobby world! In case you are interested, my own exploits in this strange and fascinating universe have been collected for your viewing pleasure right here.

Now whether this post has made you curious and you want to delve into this thrilling and demented world yourself, or you’re just a fan of reading everything about the 40k universe in order to give your games more context, the Inquisitor Rulebook is, of course, totally worth it. And the best thing: A digital version of it can be freely downloaded from the GW website here. Still, the original print version is also very much worth tracking down: It’s a beautiful book, and the extra colour pages detail the creation and painting process for GW’s own 54mm miniatures (as an aside, it is very interesting to see how the ideas behind the defining features of the original Eisenhorn model are completely different from the explanations that later appeared in the novels…) and feature some very interesting conversion ideas. In any case, I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

Want to share any insights or remarks about Inquisitor and the rulebook? I’d be more than happy to read from you in the comments section!

In any case, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!