Getting close to the finish line now. Last few metallics, washes, plus transfers to do tomorrow.

— #Warhammer #WarhammerCommunity #AgeOfSigmar

Miniatures from the Cities of Sigmar range, by Games Workshop. They are partially painted, and surrounded by paints and tools on a nest bench

My Cities of Sigmar are finally starting to come together. Really only got the heraldry, some more metallics, and small details to do. 🤞🏻I might get them done this weekend.

— #Warhammer #WarhammerCommunity

Warhammer Age of Sigmar miniatures from the Cities of Sigmar faction. They are partially painted, on a messy desk, surrounded by paints, brushes, and tools.

I’m not saying it’s been a long time since I last worked on my Cities of Sigmar box set, but I did have to brush some cobwebs off of these miniatures before I could do a little lunchtime painting…

12 Cities of Sigmar miniatures that are partly painted

The new Dark Angels upgrade sprue is even better now I’ve seen it in person. There’s enough shoulder pads on each sprue for 10 Intercessors, 5 Heavy Intercessors, 3 Aggressors, 3 Bladeguard, and 5 Terminators. Then there are loads of heads and trinkets too. Plenty of bits to customise a project!

Gamifying the Miniatures Backlog

I’m sure that, like many hobbyists of a certain age and level of disposable income, my backlog1 of “models to paint” goes up faster than my ability to work through it. It’s been this way for a few years now, and it’s honestly becoming a bit of a mental burden to have so many unfinished projects lying around.

My estimably better half is doing a thing this year where, for every book she finishes, she adds £1 to a savings pot and that’s her budget for buying future books. I’m thinking I might do something similar for a “Warhammer fund” that will encourage me to bring my backlog size down first and foremost. For every miniature I complete, I will save an amount relative to the size of the miniature (see the table below), and seeing the number go up will turn the process into a form of reward. On the flipside, there will be a simple rule in place: future purchases can only come from this savings pot, which means I’ll have to work to grow the pot to buy the models I want

Model Size Amount to Save
Infantry (25mm - 40mm base) £1
Large Infantry/Cavalry (~50mm/oval base) £2
Small character £3
Vehicle or Monster ( <= 110mm base) £5
Centrepiece (>110mm base/Special Character) £10
Bonus: finish all models in a project £15

The exact figures are still to be fully worked out, but this feels about the right level to start at. As an example, if I finished the Aeldari Combat Patrol on my painting desk then I would put in:

  • £11 for the Guardians,
  • £12 for the Skyrunner jetbikes,
  • £5 for the Wraithlord,
  • £3 for the Farseer (regular character models might need an adjustment…)
  • £15 for finishing the project

For a total of £46 into the savings pot. Any further purchases can only come from the pot, making it important the pot goes up at a rate that ensures I can’t refill the backlog faster than I’m completing things - which is why it’s not a 1:1 mapping between how much a miniature cost and how much goes in.

If I were to start this today, backdating to the beginning of the year, how much would be in the pot? £26. So if I want to add those lovely looking new Dark Angels Inner Circle Companions that are upcoming then I better get painting!

  1. Feel free to substitute backlog with “Pile of Shame”/“Pile of Potential” or whatever descriptor you use for this :) ↩︎

Not me desperately trying to free up space and get organised because I found out I’ve got two Deathwing boxsets arriving in the next few days…

New miniatures previewed by Games Workshop (clockwise): Armand Callis, in light plate armour and wielding 2 flintlock pistols; Lyssa Revenya, in thieves garb and carrying a grappling hook; Mistress Verentia, the Weaver of Secrets, wearing nobles regalia, a metal glove with a magic stone in it, and a walking cane with a sharp metal point, and accompanied by a hairless cat wearing a prominently bejewelled collar; Valius, a Stormcast Eternal in heavy golden warplate, and accompanied by a gryph-hound; Hanniver Toll, in witch-hunter's uniform, carrying a lantern and a pistol with an underslung wooden stake.

Of all the previews coming from the Las Vegas Open, it's only really the new miniatures of Callis & Toll (and friends) that have caught my eye. I enjoyed watching their short animated story before Christmas, and was thinking just the other day they'd make a great "Black Library Day" release. These miniatures would also go great alongside the other "Agents of Azyr" I've painted recently!

I really need to get around to reading to their previous books, to get caught up on their story!

A cardboard box filled with a large selection of Vallejo miniature paints in dropper bottles, haphazardly piled on top of each other. There are a wide range of colours.

Paint deliveries are the best deliveries.

I’ve had these various Witch/Vampire Hunters from Games Workshop sitting unpainted at the side of my desk for over a year in some cases; I had such big plans, before running out of “oomph”… not wanting them lingering around any longer I gave them a batch speed paint using the “slapchop” method.

a miniature painting log, represented as a table. The contents show I have completed a total of 9 miniatures this year, all finished today. The miniatures are: Jelson Darrok, from the Cursed City boardgame, plus Hexbane's Hunters and Galen & Doralia Ven Denst from Age of Sigmar.

I'm kicking off #PaintSlam24 with a bunch of Witch Hunters. Proper pictures coming once the bases are fully dry/I find a good backdrop 😊

What is Age of Sigmar: Spearhead?

Box art of the Spearhead: Stormcast Eternals box set. It depicts the contents as 16 miniatures: Yndrasta, a Knight Vexillor, 3 Annihilators, a Stormstrike Chariot, and 10 Vanquishers.

This new "Spearhead" box for the Stormcast Eternals strikes me as an odd one. I get why it exists - it makes it easier (and maybe "cheaper"?) to get hold of some otherwise harder to get/expensive models - namely Yndrasta, the push-fit Annihilators, and the Knight-Vexillor - which are were only available online via, and were previously only available in the Age of Sigmar 3.0 launch box. With AOS 4 coming this summer, all that makes sense. It's the "Spearhead" distinction that's got me scratching my head…

Conceptually the new box looks a lot like the Vanguard sets each faction apart from Stormcast Eternals already have: a character, a big unit of Battleline troops, a smaller unit, and a support piece or third unit. The contents here are somewhat dictated by Yndrasta and friends coming on a single sprue, giving an extra character but that's by-the-by. The Kruleboyz Orruk Warclans Vanguard box has the same limitation (and other similarities) but is still a Vanguard box. And other factions are getting Spearhead boxes too, according to the article:

we’re reliably informed that plenty of other factions from across the Mortal Realms will be getting their own Spearhead boxes in due course

Warhammer Community

I am noting the conspicuous use of "plenty" and not "every"… we'll come back to that later.

So, what do I think is going on? Well, I think there are 2 main options*, and for both we need to look at recent 40K developments.

In 9th Edition Warhammer 40,000, Combat Patrol was the smallest game size officially supported by the rules; it used a smaller board and a points limit of 500 points. Each Combat Patrol box set was supposed to be a roughly 500 points starting point for a faction that would fit into this game mode, but you didn't have to use the boxes, any valid 500 point army was usable. As sets were released the "idea "roughly 500 points" idea kind of went out the window as Combat Patrols kept ramping up in power - the Custodes set was approximately 1300 points at the time, if memory serves. When Age of Sigmar 3 launched the summer after 9th edition, Vanguard was introduced as a comparable game size and range of "starter" boxes.

Fast-forward to 10th edition last year, and Combat Patrol was completely reworked. It's no longer "just" a 500 point game of 40K. Instead, it's a completely distinct game mode, using the same core rules but different faction rules. There are no points limits; each Combat Patrol box acts as a "pre-made" force, similar to pre-made decks in some card-based games, with no variation in units or wargear allowed. You play Combat Patrol only with the contents of a Combat Patrol box as depicted on the front of the box** - other units are not permitted. The faction rules are written in an attempt to balance each box against the others, despite the apparent disparity in power between sets.

Finally, we have this cryptic opening line to the article:

There will soon be an even easier way to muster the immortal warriors of Sigmar for tabletop battles against the worst the Mortal Realms can throw at you.

Warhammer Community

All this is to say, I think Spearhead is the Combat Patrol for AOS4. Why ditch the Vanguard name? Honestly, I'd suggest it's "naming congestion"; Stormcasts have an entire sub-range of "Vanguard <whatevers>". Space Marines have a new Vanguard <something or other> set that's not a Combat Patrol.

But I said there were 2 options, so what's the second?

In the run-up to 10th edition there was a narrative series called Arks of Omen. It brought with it a new game mode to 9th Edition***, called Boarding Actions, that was accompanied by box sets for most/all 40K factions called Boarding Patrols. In terms of list-building, Boarding Actions was a fusion of 9th Edition Combat Patrol and 10th Edition Combat Patrol, played on a special game board to represent the inside of a ship. It was still 500 points of 40K, but lists were chosen from a pre-determined subset of units, and the faction rules were different to "main" 40K. The Boarding Patrol boxes weren't necessary to play, they were just a thematic selection of units. There was a lot of auxiliary material published in White Dwarf, and basically it was a fun addition to the 40K side of the hobby.

Arks of Omen kicked off around about January last year, so the timing would be more-or-less right for an AOS version, if it were coming. But it would have to land this month. There's already a narrative event underway for AOS - Dawnbringers - which could then flow into whatever the Spearhead boxes are for. It would mean that Vanguard boxes aren't going away (probably), though I'd still put money on a similar revamp as Combat Patrol received. I even remarked at the time - on my now deleted Twitter account - that I'd love to see an AOS version of Boarding Actions, perhaps representing the inside of a Stormvault or something. But despite that I think this is the less-likely option of the two.

The tenuous reason I think there might be a slim chance it's this "Boarding Actions for AOS", is the fact the article didn't say "every" faction was getting a Spearhead. If I remember rightly, some 40K factions didn't receive a Boarding Patrol box - Imperial Guard spring to mind (Imperial Agents got a box instead), so we could see something similar here.

If there is a similar small-scale game mode coming to AOS to bridge 3rd and 4th editions, I don't think it's going to be as comprehensive as Boarding Actions - certainly not with a new game board or terrain, otherwise we'd have seen some sort of teaser for it. Arks of Omen was teased months in advance of release. Fitting that in before the summer, in a way that's satisfying to players, feels too much this late in the cycle. It's with that in mind that I think it's most likely the first option of a Combat Patrol-style revamp of the existing Vanguard boxes.

But GW have been known to completely surprise us on occasion, so I guess we'll have to wait and see?

* There is a 3rd, boring option - that it's just a random name given to a new set of "value added" box sets, with no interesting link to the game or narrative. But that's no fun to speculate about!

** some sets, like Custodes and (I think) Grey Knights require you to choose from a predetermined subset of the units in the box, for balance purposes.

*** It's technically still compatible with 10th Edition too.

I’m slowly but surely making progress on my Eldar; I’m a little behind where I wanted to be, as I’ve been fiddling with my blog, but I’ve only got a few models left to build.

A collection of partially assembled plastic models and tools arranged on a cutting mat

New Year, New Project

The Warhammer 40,000: Combat Patrol Aeldari box set of miniatures by Games Workshop, displayed on a cutting mat. On top of the box are clippers, a hobby knife, and Tamiya extra thin plastic cement

In the 30+ years I’ve been in the Warhammer hobby, I don’t think I’ve ever painted an Eldar/Aeldari miniature. Time to make that right!

Some loose aspirations for 2024

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, which means that, naturally, thoughts turn to the coming year and what we might like to achieve during it. I generally don’t make resolutions, as I find them confining and life too messy to be sure of completing them, but I do like to list some vaguely prioritised aspirations. If I get through one or more of them, fantastic; if not, oh well.

The bigger ones

There are a couple of bigger goals I’d like to work towards:

  1. Paint all my Space Marines,
  2. Paint my Stormcast Eternals.

I have a lot from both these ranges. Space Marines are, and always will be, my favourite faction in 40K. I likely have hundreds of Space Marines, and very few of them painted. I’m hoping to change that. I’ve come up with a colour scheme that’s interesting and relatively quick, I just need to get on with it and paint them all.

Stormcast are a little different. They’re not my favourite AOS faction, but I do really like the most recent design overhaul. More importantly, I’ve had a vision for a particular army rattling around my head that I would like to see realised -- mostly so I can move on!

The middling ones

Less grandiose plans include:

  • Work towards my goal of painting one of every Combat Patrol during the life of 40K 10th Edition. I’ve got 3 done sofar, with another 2 not far behind. My worry is GW are going to re-do each Patrol as they release codices. I picked this goal as I realised I had the parts for approximately half the existing boxes, bar the odd kit.
  • Paint up my Dark Elves for The Old World. Not too much to say here; I’ve already built and started on most of the core regiments. A little bit more work and they’ll be tabletop ready.
  • Paint the Flesh Eater Courts that we’re going to be my “New Year, New Army” project in January 2023. Whoops.
  • Finish my Cities of Sigmar box set. I’ve got a solid start, I just need to knuckle down and get it finished…

The minor ones

I keep having ideas about retro/oldhammer projects, and I’d like to get them done… some time… so I can say I did them. There’s a few knocking around the old brain pan, but the main two are:

  • Rogue Trader inspired Crimson Fists or Mentors Legion Space Marines, using modern MK VI kits. This was going to be my Armies on Parade entry about 6 years ago 😬
  • Second Edition 40K inspired Ultra Marines. I don’t want many, just a few. Maybe a Kill Team. Goblin Green bases and all.

Summing up

Obviously this is a lot of stuff. There’s not many bullet points, but when you stop and think about it, many of these are pretty big projects. That’s why I’m not putting much pressure on myself to get them done in one year. Incremental progress will be fine, so long as I don’t add even more to the list!

What about you? What are you planning to work through in 2024?

Harder & Steenbeck Airbrushing Videos

Over the last year or so, Harder & Steenbeck have noticeably started focusing more on the miniature painting market, and have been putting out some great airbrushing videos on YouTube. Some of it obviously talks about how great their airbrushes are – and they are, in my opinion; I own 4 – but there’s still a lot of great information to be had. Particularly as it’s direct from an airbrush manufacturer who know how these things work and not just some guy who read something on the internet one time!

Even though I’ve been using an airbrush for over 10 years, I’m making my way through their “Need To Know Basics” series to see if there’s anything I should start (or stop!) doing, but any of the videos from the last 3-4 months in particular are worth your time.

1 thing I’ve started doing off the back of watching these videos, is check the distance at which I’m spraying from more often. In general: a fist’s width away for base-coating/priming, and 2 finger’s width for highlighting, occasionally going down to 1 finger width for very small highlights. So far it’s working out pretty well and I feel a bit more in control. I’d been airbrushing less often over the last 9 months or so, so these have been good tips to help me get back into practice.