Monday, 21 January 2013

Tournament Gamers Painting Masterclass 7: Michael Bolton – Necrons

Tournament Gamers Painting Masterclass 7: Michael Bolton – Necrons

Michael Bolton. A famous American singer songwriter renowned for his soft rock ballads. He’s not however known for his painting prowess. His name sake however is! Michael is a veteran of the tournament scene having been around for year and years. We crossed paths in the Master open tournament in January 2011. I was told before my first game ‘Expect to see something wacky’. Of course what this person meant by this was expect to see 27 ogryns…. He recently placed in the painting for the GT heat 3 and so i got in touch. Michael plays around the Nottingham area going to as many Mansfield and Nottingham tournaments and if your there say hi to him!have a look at his own blog here but for now just read his amazing story!

1. Tell me about yourself and how you got into Warhammer

I’ve been playing with toy soldiers ever since I can remember. In the mid 70’s I discovered D&D and Citadel miniatures and then with work and family the Eighties became a game free Zone! In 1990 I went along to the October War-games Club, then based in the building that has now become the Mailbox in Birmingham, and my competition career began. For the next five years I played all kinds of historical games at competitions all over the country - WRG 6th and 7th edition, DMB, DBR, Fire & Fury and more before moving to the USA. For another five years I lingered in a games desert before returning to the UK in 1999. One of the things that had started to concern me before I left Blighty was the way games had become predictable. Armies would all be the same as the best build was quickly apparent and there was little change to the meta game as the rules were not updated and new lists not produced. Why should they be? The historical lists were correct. Hundred years war English SHOULD beat its contemporaries!!
I also didn’t want to play Fantasy. For me this was pseudo-historical gaming and the comparative tactical arguments were inane. Warhammer 40K on the other hand was completely mad and no one even tried to overlay contemporary tactics or explain what was happening using historical examples. 40K had its own internal logic and, as it happened, one of my closest friends, Pete Haines, then got a job as a senior games designer at GW and we started to live, eat, walk and talk 40k. I liked it and I quickly painted a Salamanders Space marine army. My first 40K tournament took place in 2000 at the home of the Troll Slayers in North Birmingham. Since then I’ve played mostly 40k but along the way I have collected some nice Warmaster armies as I did some play testing on the system. I’ve also got Salamanders Epic army, and I dallied with Warhammer Ancients and with Flames of War before realising that I could only devolve enough time from my life to do justice to a single system, and that had to be 40K.

2. Why Necrons?

I own a Marine army – my own chapter called the Martyred Angels; a Guard army that for some reason contains 24 Ogryns called the Night Devils, and of course my newest army Necrons – The Tempest Legion. I like the Necrons because they are easy to understand. Everything is initiative 2, everything is leadership 10, and I don’t have to bother with all that pesky Psychic power malarkey. I hate the way players have spammed the army into ‘Cron Air’ and I refuse to use flyers, wraiths or tomb spiders; it makes the army more challenging and, yes, it means I lose a lot. But I like to theme my armies and the Necron is a teleporting army. Three units tend to bounce around with Gauss weapons and shoot things. It’s risky, it doesn’t always work, and serious tournament players will never use it because it is too unpredictable and at the mercy of random scatter dice! For me however it delivers some terrific moments of suspense and madness and sometimes, just sometimes, it works magnificently.

3. How did you go about painting the army?

For the Necrons I tried to limit my painting palette to just a very few colours. It’s easy to get carried away with colour so I decided on a dusty ceramic look for the Necrons themselves, bright glossy silver for the mechanical parts and a cream/gold crackled effect for any armour plates on vehicles or the larger models. I highlighted with some yellow and some green but that was about it. The one thing everyone asks me is ‘how do you achieve the cracked look?’ It’s easy. I buy a two part spray product from a local hardware store and finish the job in a couple of minutes. It produces a great effect very quickly with minimal effort – there I’ve said it and my secret is out!

4. Are there any tips/techniques you’d like to share?

I know I will never be a great painter but I can produce reasonable table top standard models. I have little time to paint now so I spend a lot of time figuring out how to generate the maximum effect from the minimum painting effort. As I’ve already mentioned the crackle effect on my Necrons is one such technique. Another is to spray my Necrons grey (a cheap grey undercoat from a national chain of car accessory shops) and then dry brush it BEFORE adding a wash.

This covers up a lot of errors and means I can get away with a lot when I put on the key colours. Finally, basing makes models look great. I try to make mine both thematic and durable because my troops get a lot of knocks. If I was to give anyone some painting advice to help them generate painting scores at war games events it would be this: subtle detail is great for serious painting competitions, but to win painting scores for an entire army you need a few units or vehicles that catch the eye. Reasonably well painted bright colours or contrasts, on monstrous creatures and vehicles will win any day over expert, but subtle, shading on 200 guardsmen – even if you can see their teeth and every eye is painted! As I model and paint armies to use on the table rather than display I need to take care that the models are robust.

This does not affect my painting style, other than as described earlier, but it does mean that I shy away from serious conversions or models that are difficult to transport. Some of the Forgeworld models are great but with a dozen slender tentacles they will be smashed to bits before they get to fight on the table top. I do like to gloss varnish my models and then give them an additional coat of matt varnish as I really believe this helps protect them, but to be honest the older metal figures will chip no matter what one does.

5. What painting project is next for you?

I have always limited the effectiveness of my armies. My Guard army has no flyers, and my Marine army has always been pretty well balanced with a bit of everything. The Necrons are the most extreme example of avoiding the ‘good stuff’ and I’m now even thinking of adding Tomb Blades – not because they are any good – but because one never sees them at tournaments! My next project is a Thousand Sons army.The theme here will be Psychic powers and I figure I can get around seven to ten powers per turn if I try very hard. I’ve had the metal in my garage for years and I bought a lot of second hand Chaos stuff on EBay before the new codex was published. (Dettol really does remove paint without melting plastic, but don’t try and save money by buying cheaper products because they don’t work). I picked up a Defiler and a Land Raider and a bunch of Terminators for about £25 so there’s nothing stopping me now except....I can’t decide on a basing style! Really, what a silly reason not to paint the rest of an army. I really need to get over myself and get cracking.

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