Dec 26, 2018


This fall, I made the decision to quit my PhD, and I couldn't be happier.

Looking at the past few end-of-year blog posts I've done, the themes have been the futility of trying to engage with society and politics, and the hopelessness of my attempt at an academic career. I've finally been able to draw the appropriate conclusions from this, and I've pretty much stopped trying to be in any way politically active, and faced facts on my PhD project.

There are two principal reasons why I've quit: I believe the postgraduate system is completely unfair, but even if it wasn't, working conditions are so bad that I'd much rather do something else.

For background, it's vital to understand that the Finnish academic system has no transparency at all. Decisions on who gets grants and salaried doctoral candidate positions are totally opaque to those of us on the receiving end. The only obvious thing is that they're not based on any kind of publicly visible merit like publications. The same goes for decisions like which doctoral candidates get to participate in publications, research groups or teaching.

After several years inside the system, my impression is that from the beginning, doctoral candidates are divided into those whose careers will be advanced, and those whose won't. I don't know what the criteria for this selection are, but the split seems to me to be fairly clear. If you're in the first group, you will get funding and opportunities to demonstrate your abilities, and a way up into the academic hierarchy. If you fall in the latter group, you will get nothing, and nothing you can accomplish on your own will matter. I'm very much in this second group, which I believe means that in practice, even if I went on to finish my PhD, I would have no chance of getting any postdoc work or funding. More than that, though, I believe the current system is unjust and wrong, and I don't want to be a part of it.

The other reason is that even if I did know the right people and I had an opportunity to advance my career - which would probably effectively blind me to the nature of the system - working conditions are so bad and employment so precarious that I don't want to do it. Under some definitions of the word, people my age count as millenials; I was more skeptical of this until I realized that one of my fondest dreams right now is to get a steady job with a monthly salary. I don't think that's at all a realistic possibility if I pursue a PhD.

So I've officially quit the PhD, and next year, I'll be doing something completely different with my life. And I'm very happy with my decision. I taught a university prep course and a lecture course at the adult education center this year, and I've got some more teaching work lined up for next year. I'm also getting back into programming, so we'll see if anything will come out of that.

To conclude, I'd like to wish all three of my readers a very happy new year, and a succesful 2019!

Dec 10, 2018

Rogue Trader: Let's Play Warhammer 40,000

It started with Star Wars: Rebellion. It's a great, great game, and I loved painting the miniatures. The trouble was, it left me wanting to paint more, but I never really felt like painting for the sake of painting. Then the Fallout board game came along, and like I explained before, I built a Chaos Space Marine figure for a friend to use as the Brotherhood Outcast due to his predilection for charging and stabbing things.

That got me thinking that I might actually enjoy getting back into Warhammer 40,000, but I don't know if I could ever really muster the energy to actually play it. The ugly specter of painting the well over 200 War of the Ring figures reared its head. Luckily, I had a better idea.

John Sibbick: Rogue Trader cover, 1987


Back in the summer of 2014, we started a Rogue Trader campaign that I've occasionally blogged about here under the Rogue Trader label. It's still ongoing, even if the cast of characters has changed somewhat. The campaign is set in the Acheron sector, which I've invented myself and set in the northernmost reaches of Segmentum Obscurus. One of the major events in its recent past, which makes an appearance in several characters' back stories, is the Ignatian Rebellion, where governor Ignatius Virius of the agri-world of Derbe declared independence from the Imperium. Eventually, he threw his lot in with Chaos, and Imperial forces invaded Derbe and restored order.

Because several of our player characters have backgrounds that involve the Ignatian Rebellion, we've actually detailed several units that fought there. So it occurred to me: why not build a Warhammer Imperial Guard army based on those units? We can even have specific models for those of our player characters who fought there. What's more, we can fight out battles they were involved in in Warhammer, and hell, I can give my players experience points for doing it. In other words, I can use my position as GM to bribe my players into playing Warhammer with me, and I get a good reason to build an Imperial Guard and Chaos army.

I think this is brilliant, so I'm doing it. The first objective is to round up some models and figure out how to play. The last time I played Warhammer 40,000 was third edition, so to put it mildly, it's been a while.


My first mini-army is going to be an Imperial Guard patrol detachment. The Guard get bonuses for fielding detachments that are entirely from the same regiment, but I have two problems with that: our characters are from different regiments, and only painting models from one regiment would be incredibly boring. I'm sure I could fudge this by saying they're all from the same battlegroup that's functionally a regiment or whatever, but I won't: the role-playing aspect matters here.

To start, my patrol detachment needs an HQ unit, and while I was going through my old Warhammer stuff last summer, I found this absolutely wonderful old commissar model.

I painted it back in the day when I was very bad at painting, but I've done my best to touch it up. Because of that pose and especially that coat, there's no way he isn't Lord Commissar Zhukov. He's got a bolter, too: it's under his coat.

165th Ophir Highlanders

At the outbreak of the Ignatian Rebellion, the recruitment and training of the 165th Ophir Highlanders had barely started. The regiment was rushed to full strength so it could be deployed to suppress the insurrection on Athir. The Highlanders' youth and lack of training led to them being nicknamed the 165th Children's Crusade by the more experienced troops. Here, the 165th are represented by a unit of 20 Conscripts. Their tunics are German Camo Bright Green, the armor is Luftwaffe Camo Green and the trousers are Dark Blue Pale.

The green conscripts are accompanied into action by Brother Malachi, a Ministorum priest who will later become a Missionary in our Rogue Trader campaign. The model is a Games Workshop Warrior Acolyte.

76th Chirikov Rad-Guards

The Rad-Guards are recruited from the death world of Chirikov, a human colony ravaged by all-out nuclear war in its past and dominated by irradiated wastelands. Its inhabitants make motivated recruits for the Imperial Guard, as anywhere else is better than there! The Rad-Guards are represented by an infantry squad featuring a missile launcher team and a grenade launcher. Their coats are Dark Red, with Dark Blue Pale pants and gas masks.

This all adds up to the following army list:

Lord Commissar Zhukov - HQ, 30 pts
power fist (10), power sword (4), boltgun (1) = 45 pts

Ophir Conscripts (20) - Troops, 80 pts

Ministorum Priest Brother Malachy - Elite, 35 pts
autogun (0), chainsword (0)

Chirikov Infantry Squad (10) - Troops, 40 pts
missile launcher (20), grenade launcher (5) = 65

Total: 225 points


That's the Imperial Guard, then; they're going to need someone to fight.

Athir rebels

While the center of the rebellion was on Derbe, an insurrection also broke out on the nearby death world of Athir. I'm including a contingent of these rebels as autogun-armed Chaos Cultists.

The models are GW Chaos Cultists, with the heavy stubber built from Genestealer Cult bits and a head from Brother Vinni's Female Punk Heads sprue. They're led by a rebel.

Iconoclast Chaos Space Marines

The Blue Bolts were an Ultramarines successor chapter of impeccable loyalty - until they came across something so blasphemous and depraved in Segmentum Obscurus that it shattered their faith. What it was, no-one in the Imperium knows, because shortly afterward, the entire chapter was corrupted by the Word Bearers and fell to Chaos, taking the new name Iconoclasts.

The models are plain old Chaos Marines, with some Berzerker and old loyalist bits; the missile launcher operator and aspiring champion's heads are from the same Brother Vinni sprue as the cultist machine-gunner's. Their original armor color is Dark Blue, but I've shaded it into Medium Blue and Black. The original armor trim was Silver, but I've added details in Copper and given many of the surfaces a red wash.

Since I'm playing Word Bearers, obviously my Warlord has to be a Dark Apostle, to be represented by a Chaos Dark Prophet model from Wargame Exclusive, but proxied for the moment by my Fallout World Eater.

Dark Apostle - HQ, 72 pts
power maul (4) = 76 pts

Chaos Cultists (10) - Troops, 40 pts
heavy stubber (4) = 44 pts

Chaos Space Marines (6) - Troops, 78 pts
power axe (5), Icon of Excess (10), missile launcher (25) = 118 pts

Total: 238 pts


For this very small initial battle, we set up 2'×4' of my old Necromunda terrain, picked sides and set up our mini-armies. Since my players' characters fought in the Imperial Guard, I'll be playing Chaos.

We were playing the Only War scenario, and after we placed the objective markers, we rolled the version where you remove all but one randomly determined objective. Of course it ended up being the one on the bridge.

My opponent took a very Imperial Guard approach to securing it.

While the Highlander conscripts swarmed over the bridge, the Rad-Guards were shooting the shit out of my Cultists. This was one big lesson in 8th edition 40k: cover does nothing!

Since this was our first game, I decided what the hell, and had my Marines and Dark Apostle charge the conscripts on the bridge.

Soon enough, the Rad-guards wiped out my cultists, but in the battle on the bridge, my Marines were routing the conscripts. The Rad-Guards also charged in.

Eventually, the sheer weight of Imperial numbers wore my Chaos Marines down, and Lord Commissar Zhukov finished them off by defeating my Dark Apostle in hand-to-hand combat.

The game ended with my entire Chaos force wiped out!


So, we played a game of Warhammer 40,000 that basically amounted to one huge melee. What did we learn? Mostly that it was damn good fun. We'll be doing more of this!

Dec 3, 2018

Let's Read Tolkien 51: The Voice of Saruman

They passed through the ruined tunnel and stood upon a heap of stones, gazing at the dark rock of Orthanc, and its many windows, a menace still in the desolation that lay all about it.

The second breakfast gang head into the ruins of Isengard to meet the king's party and talk to Saruman. While the rest of Isengard is wrecked, the tower of Orthanc still stands. Gandalf leads Théoden, Aragorn, Éomer, Legolas and Gimli to Saruman's door, where Gríma speaks to them. Gandalf commands him to fetch Saruman, who eventually appears at a balcony above them.

Saruman works his powers of persuasion on Gandalf, Théoden and the others, but they resist him. Gimli and Éomer speak bluntly against him, and Théoden denounces him completely. Saruman briefly loses his cool, but then turns his full charm on Gandalf. It fails, and Gandalf expels Saruman from the order of wizards. Saruman's staff breaks. As he retreats into Orthanc, a heavy globe is thrown from a higher window: it smashes the rail where Saruman was standing, and falls to the foot of the tower, unbroken. Pippin grabs it, but Gandalf quickly takes it away from him.

It is prudently decided to withdraw from globe-throwing range. Beyond it, the King's party meet the ents, who undertake to guard Saruman. He is left to his own devices.


The focus of this chapter is obviously Saruman, formerly the White, now a prisoner in Orthanc. I already talked quite a bit about Saruman in the Council of Elrond, where Gandalf first revealed his treachery. Because of the ludicrous charge of fascism levelled at Tolkien, it's worth looking at what Théoden, who clearly comes away as the moral winner here, has to say to Saruman.

Even if your war on me was just - as it was not, for were you ten times as wise you would have no right to rule me and mine for your own profit as you desired - even so, what will you say of your torches in Westfold and the children that lie dead there? And they hewed Háma's body before the gates of the Hornburg, after he was dead.

What Théoden specifically refuses is what Tolkien's detractors always blame him for: submitting meekly to the rule of the "wiser" old men. As I've said before, too many of Tolkien's critics share Gimli's problem in Fangorn: they can't seem to tell two wizards apart.

Even though Théoden decisively rejects it, Saruman's rhetoric is described as tremendously powerful and persuasive. By the Tolkien Society's account, Tolkien only invented Saruman in August 1940, well into the Second World War (see Letters, 163), and it's difficult to escape the idea that the most direct inspiration for Saruman was Hitler. Tolkien was a committed anti-fascist and hated Hitler with a special passion because of his attempts to connect Nazi ideology with the same Germanic/"Northern" mythologies that inspired Tolkien (Letters, 45). Despite his opinions on Jews, which I've argued are fairly antisemitic, not to mention his ideas of blood heritage and racial decline, Tolkien strongly disapproved of the Third Reich's antisemitic "racial" laws (Letters, 29 and 30). He memorably referred to Hitler as a "ruddy little ignoramus" (Letters, 45).

Luckily for us, Tolkien didn't make Saruman into a caricature of Hitler. I talked a bit about Tolkien's notion of analogy versus applicability in the context of Tom Bombadil, and the same applies here: in his aspect of a demonic orator, Saruman certainly resembles Hitler, but in other ways they're clearly dissimilar. For starters, if the War of the Ring was a direct analogy of the Second World War, then surely the great orator would be Sauron? But we barely hear Sauron speak at all, and when he does, it's hardly memorable or persuasive.

Saruman's appeal as a character lies exactly in the fact that he is, so to speak, more broadly applicable. Consider this part of the first description of Saruman's voice:

Mostly they remembered only that it was a delight to hear the voice speaking, all that it said seemed wise or reasonable, and desire awoke in them by swift agreement to seem wise themselves.

This hits home, not just as a description of persuasive political rhetoric in general, but it specifically captures the neoliberal orthodoxy of our times: an expert is talking, and they know best. This is especially so in Saruman's address to Gandalf, where he directly preaches exactly the techno-gerontocracy of old wise men that Tolkien supposedly advocated. Again he does so in fully 20th-21st century political rhetoric, even including a fauxpology: he doesn't apologize for imprisoning Gandalf, but tries to talk around it and "regrets" it while trying to blame his victim. Saruman's rhetoric hasn't aged one bit since Tolkien wrote it, and its modernity is one of his most succesful deliberate anachronisms. The juxtaposition of Saruman's glib smoothness with Théoden's archaism and Gandalf's down-to-earth directness is very powerful.

In the end, Saruman's powers of persuasion fail him. It seems fairly clear to me that Gríma was trying to kill Saruman with the palantír, specifically when he saw or heard Saruman humiliated by Gandalf. One suspects that the only loyalty Wormtongue ever had to anything was to strength, and seeing Saruman suddenly weak must have made it amply clear to him that his treason had been a complete failure. In confronting Saruman, Gandalf broke his spell, which must have been his plan all along.

Next time: a special rock and a fool of a Took.

Nov 12, 2018

LotR LCG: Thy kinsfolk wander afar

John Howe: Descent into Rivendell, no date given


Back in 2016, we had a couple of friends coming over to try the Lord of the Rings living card game for the first time, and I wanted to build them some decks to choose from. One of them was a Dúnedain deck I pretty much threw together on the spur of the moment from cards we had that nobody was using at the time; I'd used Beravor before in my first deck ever, but other than her, I had practically no experience with the Dúnedain archetype. This was what I came up with:

50 cards; 31 Leadership, 16 Lore, 3 Tactics; 21 allies, 17 attachments, 9 events, 1 side quest. Starting threat 30.

Amarthiúl (TBoCD)
Halbarad (TLR)

Allies: 23 (14/6/3)
Eldahir (TTitD) x2
Dúnedain Watcher (TDM) x3
Guardian of Arnor (TBoCD) x3
Son of Arnor x3
Weather Hills Watchman (TLR) x3
East Road Ranger (TWoE) x3
Sarn Ford Sentry (TLR) x3
Dúnedain Hunter (TLR) x3

Attachments: 17 (11/6)
Heir of Valandil (TLR) x2
Dúnedain Mark (THfG) x3
Dúnedain Quest (AJtR) x3
Dúnedain Warning (CatC) x3
Forest Snare x3
Athelas (TLR) x3

Events: 9 (6/3)
Descendants of Kings (EfMG) x3
Fresh Tracks (TLD) x3
Expecting Mischief (OHaUH) x3

Side quests:
Scout Ahead (EfMG)


This deck actually made its first outing at the hands of a new player, and I was surprised at how succesful it was. We breezed through Passage through Mirkwood, but a four-handed attempt at Into the Pit turned into a grueling, multi-hour slog through a gigantic pile of locations and an even larger horde of goblins. After a near-disastrous initial staging, we got much further than I ever expected before threating out in the second quest stage. In both quests, the Dúnedain more than pulled their weight, so I think I managed to accidentally create a working deck!

Now that I'd actually seen the deck in action, a couple of thoughts struck me. Seeing as how they need to stay engaged with enemies and therefore have to defend regularly, at least until you can get some enemies snared, it occurs to me that A Burning Brand might be a really good idea, along with Song of Wisdom, which would also add some resource smoothing. I've also got a spare copy of Armored Destrier hanging around, and since every hero is a ranger, Wingfoot would also fit in quite nicely.

53 cards; 32 Leadership, 15 Lore, 3 Tactics, 1 neutral; 23 allies, 22 attachments, 6 events, 1 side quest. Starting threat 30.

Amarthiúl (TBoCD)
Halbarad (TLR)

Allies: 23 (14/6/3)
Eldahir (TTitD) x2
Dúnedain Watcher (TDM) x3
Guardian of Arnor (TBoCD) x3
Son of Arnor x3
Weather Hills Watchman (TLR) x3
East Road Ranger (TWoE) x3
Sarn Ford Sentry (TLR) x3
Dúnedain Hunter (TLR) x3

Attachments: 23 (12/10/1)
Armored Destrier (TotD)
Heir of Valandil (TLR) x2
Roheryn (TFotW) x2
Dúnedain Remedy x3
Dúnedain Warning (CatC) x3
Rune-master (ASoCH)
Forest Snare x3
A Burning Brand (CatC) x2
Athelas (TLR) x3
Wingfoot (TNiE) x2
Song of Wisdom (CatC)

Events: 6
Descendants of Kings (EfMG) x3
Fresh Tracks (TLD) x3

Side quests:
Scout Ahead (EfMG)


In this form, the deck was succesfully employed by a new player on, of all places, a Sweden boat, where I introduced two new players to the game with Passage Through Mirkwood.

It was a success, in that we beat the quest, but also in that as near as I could tell, everyone enjoyed themselves. So both new players I gave the Dúnedain deck to liked it. I guess the theme of engaging enemies is easy to take to, but I also enjoyed playing it, so maybe this is just a good deck type!


So that's the lesson here, I guess: Dúnedain decks are fun! Try one.

Nov 5, 2018

Let's Read Tolkien 50: Flotsam and Jetsam

Gandalf and the King's company rode away, turning eastward to make the circuit of the ruined walls of Isengard.

As the Riders of Rohan leave, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas stay behind at the gate-house, where Merry and Pippin serve them a meal from Saruman's captured supplies, and they catch up. There's even pipeweed, and Pippin wins Gimli's eternal gratitude by giving him his spare pipe - because of course a hobbit has a spare pipe.

The hobbits and the Three Hunters exchange stories of their pursuit, and Merry and Pippin tell about their time with the Ents, and narrate the Ents' attack on Isengard for our benefit. The hobbits had watched as Saruman commits a rookie War of the Ring error in emptying out Isengard even though there are Companions in Fangorn, and while the Huorns - like feral Ents - went after the orc army, the Ents smashed their way into Isengard and drove Saruman to hide in the tower of Orthanc. Once Isengard has been wrecked, Gríma Wormtongue shows up, and Treebeard sends him on to Saruman's tower. The hobbits are then left at the gate-house to await the King.

Finally, Aragorn, bothered by the barrels of pipeweed from the Shire, makes a prophecy: "Wormtongues may be found in other houses than King Théoden's."


Geez, 50. Back in November 2013, when I was a second-year theology student, I wrote about a very proper gentlehobbit having his house crashed by a party of dwarves.

As it happens, this chapter is also a meal featuring dwarves and hobbits, and not really that much else. One of the problems of reading a book you know by heart is that it's difficult to judge how effective some of the literary gambits are; much of the effect of Tolkien's changes of perspective is lost when everyone knows the story. Still, the reunion of the hobbits and the Three Hunters in the ruins of Isengard is memorable, and the pacing of the story works: this is a little interval between the climactic battle of Helm's Deep and the following chapters, which begin to set up the next major section of the plot.

In my mind at least, there are two reasons why Tolkien chose to tell the story of the Ents' assault on Isengard through the hobbits: it fits with the lowered tension of the story, and preserves a little more of the mystery of the Ents. Hearing everything at second hand leaves them at a bit of a distance, and I think it works.

Finally, Tolkien's theology of luck also rears its head here, in a remark by Gimli. I mentioned the concept way back when Bilbo met Gollum, and discussed one sense of it in Chapter III: luck as providence, Eru/God intervening in the world. Here we have a glimpse of his other idea of luck: one where luck is something you make or at least grasp for yourself. A northern theory of luck, if you will.

"The cutting of the bands on your wrists, that was smart work!" said Gimli. "Luck served you there; but you seized your chance with both hands, one might say."

This idea is a complement to the notion of luck as divine intervention: whether God stoops down to arrange matters for you or not, what's important is that you grasp the opportunity. This is a similar idea to Richard Simpkin's concept of luck management, and even has shades of the New Age-y idea of affirmations peddled by cartoonist Scott Adams in the Dilbert Future - one of the first strong signs that he was going round the bend. In this context, it's another tension between the Christian and pagan elements of Tolkien's creation.

Next time: a parley.

Oct 8, 2018

Let's Paint Star Wars: Rebellion

They had more than a hundred ships in their following when they sailed into the harbor of Aldiranborg, and the entire harbor was full of Norwegian warships as far as men could stretch their eyes.
- Tattúínárdǿla saga, Chapter 28: Concerning the Burning of Aldiranborg

I previously talked about how much we enjoyed Star Wars: Rebellion. One of its attractive features is the miniatures, which really contribute to the feel and theme of the game. Below are all the models from the base game and the Rise of the Empire expansion (as well as some Armada models, but ignore those), and, well, there are several.

I'm going to paint them! Or at least some of them.

Painting miniatures isn't just an aesthetic thing: it's a lot easier to tell different miniatures apart and spot them on the board or table if they're even rudimentarily painted. The Rebellion board is mostly black, like our TV table above; the white rebel miniatures stand out quite well, while the grey Imperial models tend to blend into the background and each other, forming a grey mass where it can be difficult to tell how many and what kind of miniatures there are. So if I'm going to paint something, I should start with the Imperials, and especially the smaller models.

Another angle is figuring out where you get the greatest return on investment. Most of the Imperial starships are grey, and you could paint them... well, grey. I think my last priority would be painting the Death Stars, as it just doesn't seem necessary. However, it's almost miraculous what you can do to a drab plastic model if you make it a nice base! So infantry models with bases tend to offer the best return on investment; I'm especially looking at the stormtroopers here. However, I also read a very clever blog post on how to paint TIE Fighters easily, and that also represents a considerable return on investment, since there are 24 of them!

So, based on this logic, I'm going to start by painting the stormtroopers and TIE Fighters. Because I've got the expansion unboxed as well, I'm also throwing in the TIE Strikers and assault tanks, because the same painting logic should work for the Strikers as for the Fighters, and I like tanks.

So here's what I did!


1. TIE Fighters and Strikers

I'm trying r2eq's method, which seems wonderfully simple - something you want when painting two dozen tiny models!

Phase 1: black primer

I used Army Painter matt black primer, and did the Death Star bases while I was at it. The primer was excellent; I highly recommend it.

Phase 2: drybrush the hull with Neutral Grey

Apart from the spray primers, I exclusively use Vallejo paints. A Neutral Grey drybrush paints the hull while leaving the cockpit windows and engine exhaust black, which is perfect.

Phase 3: paint the "spokes" and edges of the panels Neutral Grey

And that's it! Spray on varnish and it's done.

2. Stormtroopers

Phase 1: white primer

The Army Painter white primer is every bit as good as the black. Very satisfying finish.

Phase 2: bases

Like I said, bases are an easy way to make models look so much better! I knew from the outset that I didn't want to paint up 30 identical stormtroopers, so I went trawling through Wookiepedia for different paint schemes, and figured out appropriate bases for each. I did about half in Basalt Grey, which I think is a neutral enough color that can represent, say, rock or the deck of a starship. It's dark enough to be a good contrast for a light miniature, but not black enough to look like the poor guys are standing on empty space when you put them on the board. The sand-colored bases in the middle are German Camo Orange Ochre; the light green ones are, well, Light Green; and finally the dark green bases are German Camo Bright Green.

Phase 3: black details

You can do all sorts of complicated things with inks here if you want, but I just straight up painted the eye slots, guns and leg joints black. You can apply paint fairly liberally, as it can be painted over in the next phase.

For one group of stormtroopers, black details meant literally everything except two dots of Fluorescent Green per model: Krennic's Death Troopers.

Yes, they have black armor and black guns. Yes, it will be impossible to see them on the board. No, I was not in charge of wardrobe for Rogue One, so it isn't my fault. I liked the movie, so I wanted the Death Troopers to be represented among my models.

Phase 4: paint the armor your chosen color

For your basic stormtroopers, this simply means giving the white armor parts a coat of white paint, and you're done! If, like me, you suck at painting, this is a perfectly acceptable level of detail to shoot for.

Or choose a different color! I also painted up some crimson stormtroopers because apparently they canonically exist; I chose them to evoke the (in my mind nonsensically named) Emperor's royal guard. The color is Vallejo Scarlet.

Finally, going through stormtrooper subtypes on Wookiepedia taught me that such things as forest troopers exist; as a published forest history researcher, how could I resist? Instead of painting the armor white, I gave them a coat of Luftwaffe Camo Green.

Phase 5: apply armor markings

Like I said, I wanted variety in my stormtroopers and looked through Wookiepedia for some paint schemes. Below are two simple ones: the guys with red markings (plain Vallejo red) are Imperial shock troopers, and the ones with blue shoulder pads are stormtrooper snipers (Deep Sky Blue).

Phase 6: finish bases and varnish

When all the various paint schemes were done, I gave all the stormtroopers a coat of Gloss Varnish, and then set out to finish their bases. The basic stormtroopers, snipers and crimson stormtroopers got a simple Basalt Grey base, which I think kinda works for contrast.

The shock troopers' bases are German Camo Orange Ochre, with sand stuck on and painted Tan Yellow.

The forest troopers' bases were simply flocked.

For the Death Troopers, I wanted to evoke the scene at the beginning of Rogue One where they're fetching Galen Erso from Lah'mu, so I glued some larger flock to their bases, and I think it worked all right:

So here they all are!

I am just absolutely delighted with the way these turned out.

3. Tanks

I took the easy route with the tanks: I primed them white with the stormtroopers, and then painted two of them Neutral Grey. Two others got a coat of Luftwaffe Camo Green to match the forest troopers, and the last two were done in Tan Yellow to go with the shock troopers' sand bases.

I'm unsure whether to do more with them or not; in my opinion, a simple coat of paint makes them look like combat vehicles.

4. Captain Phasma

Apart from painting up different kinds of stormtroopers, I also knew I wanted to do something special. Now, I didn't particularly like the new trilogy, but it did have some excellent characters, and even though I'm sure it's a horrible anachronism, I wanted to include my favorite: Captain Phasma. I mean basically, she's a stormtrooper with a cloak. So I found some antique green stuff I had lying around, and made a cloak:

I rolled out an approximately cloak-sized chunk of green stuff and tried to make it look like it flows off her shoulders like her cloak does in the movies. She was then primed white with the other stormtroopers.

I gave her a Basalt Grey base and painted the edges of the cloak with Red.

The rest of the cloak, the armor joints and eyes were painted black.

Here's a view of the cloak from behind; I think it looks great!

Finally, the armor was painted in Natural Steel (whatever that is!), which I think turned out to be absolutely perfect. Here she is hanging out with the Death Troopers, because I was finishing them at the same time. The armor was varnished with Gloss Varnish, and the cape and gun with Matt Varnish.

I couldn't be happier with my Phasma! I've done my share of conversions on 28mm models, but never on anything this small, and I've rarely done anything with green stuff - never anything this substantial. So I'm absolutely delighted. I think this is the best model I've ever made: certainly it's the one I'm most proud of.


So that was the first batch of models!

They've made a significant dent in the sea of grey that is the Empire, but there's still lots of work to do!

I was working under a time constraint when I painted the first miniatures: everything had to be ready to be packed away by the time we left to spend Midsummer in the country. I think the stormtroopers and TIE Fighters looked great!

For the next batch, however, there's no rush at all, which means I could look into painting some rebel infantry. The rebel troopers are the biggest group of unpainted models left, and while I'm at it, I might as well paint the vanguards from the expansion too.

The next most common model remaining is the Y-wing, which I accept is a thing that exists in the Star Wars universe, but that's pretty much the extent of my feelings towards it. You can see why I started with the Imperials. Speaking of whom, there are also ten AT-STs.

Finally, in recognition of the glorious victory of Malastare in our first game ever, where the Emperor defeated the revolution using only a single assault carrier, I'll be painting the assault carriers as well.

Therefore, batch 2 consists of 21 rebel troopers, 6 rebel vanguards, 12 Y-wings, and 10 AT-STs and 8 assault carriers; everything's getting primed white.

5. Rebel scum troopers and vanguards

I was kind of struggling to come up with ideas to paint my rebel troopers, other than the basic Alderaanian consular security look. The Rogue One visual guide was a great help and inspiration here; I quite liked the ramshackle but very military look of the rebel troops in Rogue One, and it inspired me to put in a little effort with my troopers. I therefore painted up a bunch in their mixed greens, browns and blues. The blue is Dark Blue, the greens variously Luftwaffe Camo Green, Medium Olive and German Camo Bright Green, and the browns include German Camo Orange Ochre and Stone Grey.

Of course, I did some Alderaan guys as well. The shirts are Dark Pale Blue (surely an oxymoron?), the pants Neutral Grey and the helmets Ivory. I also painted two figures as rebel honor guards, with Luftwaffe Camo Green uniforms and Ivory helmets.

Another group was modeled on the Endor strike team from the movies; the green is USA Uniform drybrushed with Light Green, and the vests Neutral Grey.

To add a little color, I painted three figures as rebel pilots, with Orange flight suits and Ivory helmets and vests.

Finally, I wanted to do something a little special with my rebel troopers as well. One paint scheme for the troopers that suggested itself was the Hoth snow camouflage; but if I was going to do that, what do I do with the base? Plain white doesn't usually look great on a base, as it just tends to look unpainted. Then it occurred to me that a friend of mine has glitter paint! Or to be specific, pearlescent acrylic, but y'know, it glitters! So I had to try it.

And it worked! The mix of ink and Matt Medium doesn't glitter much, but it does give the bases a kind of, well, pearlescent hue that's easily the best snow effect I've ever managed to produce.

6. Y-wings

The Y-wings ended up becoming the testbeds for my rebel paint scheme ideas, and I think they turned out all right. First, I painted the engine bays and cockpit window black.

Then the hull was given a coat of Ivory, and the rods on the nacelles were painted Gunmetal Grey. I then did the squadron markings: three Y-wings each from Red, Blue, Green and Gold squadron.

I wasn't entirely happy with the Gunmetal Grey, as I think it ended up being too dark, so I gave those bits and the protrusions on the rear part of the hull a little highlight in Natural Steel, and painted the cables (?) coming off the nacelles with Copper. I also dabbed just a tiny amount of Natural Steel on the front of the nacelles. Finally, the whole model was given a wash of thinned-down Smoke to give it a slightly dirty, worn look.

I absolutely love the way these turned out! I wanted them to be a kind of slightly dirty off-white color to really contrast with the clean grey of the Imperial models, and the Ivory-Smoke combo worked brilliantly. I'll be painting all the rest of the rebel small craft with the same scheme.

7. AT-STs

These guys were easy to paint: I painted the legs with Dark Seagreen, and then did the top bit in Neutral Grey and gave the legs a light drybrush with the same. They were based to match the various stormtrooper bases, plus a pair in white and glitter.

8. Assault carriers

These are some of the easiest models I've ever painted. First, I gave them a coat of Dark Seagreen:

Followed by drybrushing with Neutral Grey.

I quite like the end result, so I'm sticking with it. I'm kinda tempted to just do the star destroyers the same way.


So here's batch two in its finished glory:

I actually got through these figures so fast that I still had time for another batch before our next trip to the country. Now that I have a paint scheme for the rebel fighters, I feel like I have to paint up the X-wings as well; after all, they blew up a Death Star for me! While I'm at it, I might as well do the airspeeders and U-wings as well, to finish all the rebel small craft.

On the Imperial side, the AT-ATs are the last unpainted Imperial ground units, and I'm going to try the assault carrier paint scheme on the Interdictors because we haven't got as far as using the expansion yet, so if it doesn't work out I'll have time to fix it. Finally, I think I discovered the perfect blues for a super star destroyer? Only one way to find out!


9. X-wings, U-wings and airspeeders

I used the same method as with my Y-wings, starting with painting the cockpit windows, guns and what have you in black.

I then did the metal bits in Gunmetal Grey, painted the hull Ivory and added squadron markings:

And finally, a wash of watered-down Smoke ink.

10. AT-ATs

These big boys got a base coat in Dark Seagreen, and I then painted the large surfaces on the hull with Neutral Grey. It's a bit dark grey perhaps, but I'm happy with it.

11. Interdictors

To test the assault carrier scheme, I painted the three Interdictors with Dark Seagreen, and then drybrushed with Neutral Grey. This, I think, turned out too dark.

Drybrushing with Light Grey, however, worked!

12. Super star destroyers

My super star destroyer paint scheme was very simple: basecoat in Dark Blue, followed by drybrushing with Dark Blue Pale. I think it's perfect.


So, with the Interdictors set aside for the moment, here's the finished third batch of miniatures.

The big picture is also starting to look a whole lot better.

At this point, I set off for the country again, and I can't go on without praising the Feldherr foam trays my friendly local game store sold me. Look at them!

Everything fits brilliantly and travels safely.

There's even spaces for all the cards, counters and dice.

These were fairly cheap where I got them, and I definitely recommend them, especially if you have to move your game around at all.


That's what I've managed so far! I'll be finishing the starships and ground installations over the winter, so hopefully by next year, I'll have a fully painted set of miniatures. These models have been lots of fun to paint; I have a feeling I'm going to need another painting project when this is done...