2012-05-21

Ink Wash Comparison

Devlan Mud is Dead! Long Live Devlan Mud!
Games Workshop's Devlan Mud wash has been a commonly used weapon in my painting arsenal since I got back into painting miniatures 3 years ago.  It works well straight out of the bottle, and produces reasonable results in areas where I'm not that interested in painting in highlights and shadows, but when I also don't want to dip the whole figure.

Unfortuantely, Devlan Mud is no longer available, since Games Workshop recently completely revamped their paint line.  When I was at Legions for Stoogecon, I picked up 3 possible replacements to try out:
  • Games Workshop's Agrax Earthshade wash, which seems to be their replacement for Devlan Mud
  • Army Painter Dark Tone Ink (not the Quickshade dip)
  • Reaper Master Series Paints Brown Wash
I meant to get Army Painter's Strong Tone Ink for a better direct comparison with the Quickshade.  Oops! That will have to wait for now.

I was painting a DBA Early Egyptian army, so on one stick of archers, I painted all of the figures identically but applied different washes to each.  On another stick, I used Army Painter Strong Tone Quickshade.  These figures are almost entirely flesh and white.  I liked this for comparison purposes because white is notoriously difficult to shade well, and it doesn't disguise the color of the ink wash at all.

I also used these inks and washes that I had on hand for more comparison:
  • Didi's Magic Ink, Brown
  • Games Workshop Gryphone Sepia wash
  • Games Workshop Ogryn Flesh wash
  • An old Reaper flesh ink with water added
Here is a comparison shot detailing the results.

Ink Wasy Comparison: Essex Early Egyptians. Army Painter Strong Quickshade on top, washes below.
And here are the results, left to right.

First, a comparison between Devlan Mud and Agrax Earthshade.  I think Devlan Mud is a bit less red/orange than Agrax Earthshade, but they're both very neutral.  My Devlan Mud was old, and probably doesn't work as well as it did when it was new, but the Agrax is doing a better job of staying in the cracks and not coloring the high spots and flat surfaces as much.  As seen on the red feathers, the overall tone of the Agrax-shaded figure is lighter than the Devlan-shaded figure.

Agrax Earthshade is also a much better direct replacement for the Army Painter Strong Tone Quickshade dip.  Overall, if it were my only choice, I'd be happy to replace Devlan Mud with Agrax.

Unfortunately, some of Devlan Mud's flaws are still apparent in Agrax Earthshade.  It still smells like a combination of distilled bong water and moldy coffee grounds.  It's still really expensive and comes in tiny bottles that let the liquid evaporate too much.  I've also found that all of the GW washes behave badly if they either dry out, or if you add water or just about anything else to them to thin them out.  This shortens their effective shelf life even further.

The new bottles prevent your local store's in-house painters from using the wash and then putting it back on the shelf, but I didn't find the new "keep your lid open" feature any better than their previous attempt several bottle designs ago.

Army Painter's Dark Tone Ink seems to work as well as their Quickshade does, but I bought the wrong color so I can't effectively compare colors with the Agrax.

The Reaper Brown Wash seems closer to the old Reaper inks than to GW's washes.  It looks more opaque in the bottle, and doesn't stay in the cracks as well as the other modern Wash products do.

I've been using Didi's Magic Ink for almost as long as the GW washes. It has two major benefits over the GW products: it comes in much larger, less expensive dropper bottles, and it smells nice.  Brown is a very good direct replacement for GW's Gryphone Sepia, but it's too light to replace Devlan/Agrax.  Didi's ink is much thinner than the GW washes, more of the consistency of water.  It stays in the cracks well, but it is hard to get it to darken things as much as you might like to.

Games Workshop's Gryphone Sepia and Ogryn Flesh wash are also no longer available in GW's new paint line.  They work just like Devlan Mud and Agrax Earthshade, but they're different colors.  I would be interested in testing their new replacement versions, but I haven't had a chance to do this yet, and I might not since I don't run out of these colors as quickly.

The old Reaper Flesh Ink is not a modern wash.  My bottle is probably about 10 years old, and may not be available anymore, I'm not sure.  It requires thinning with water and your favorite additives to flow properly and fill in the cracks.  Here, I applied it using only water to thin it out, and it worked fairly well.  However, at this point I wouldn't bother using this product unless I was doing something like airbrushing.

Overall, Agrax Earthshade is the clear winner of this exercise, with one caveat.  If Army Painter Strong Tone Ink works as well as the Dark Tone, I would probably prefer it due to its superior dropper bottle and price point.

I hope this helps someone else in the market for a replacement for their precious supply of Devlan Mud.  In the future, I'll try to do some more comparisons including Army Painter Strong Tone, as well as various black/almost-black washes.

2012-05-20

Tournament Report: Stoogecon 2012

Stoogecon was last month, but I haven't found time to post a report until now.  I didn't bring my camera this year, so I only have results and no pictures.

The first event was a DBA 2.2 Open tournament, with 8 players.  I brought my Italian Condotta, IV/61.  I plan to use it at the NICT at Historicon, but I had never used it in straight 2.2, so I thought I'd give it a try.  Overall, I really enjoy playing this army a lot more than I think I ought to.

In the first round, I faced Mike Naughton, who fielded the only other Medieval knight army in the tournament: Teutonic Orders (IV/30).  I beat him 2G-1.

The second game was a tight contest against Jim Naughton's Middle Imperial Romans (East).  I ended up losing 3-4 after we each had several opportunities to break the 3-3 stalemate with a good combat roll.  This was the first loss for my previously undefeated Condotta.

In the last round, I faced Rob Torres and his Later Pre-Islamic Arabs.  I beat him 4-2.

Jim Naughton won the tournament with no losses.

The second event was Matched Pairs, using the February 14th DBA 2.2+ Beta rules.  We hoped to play 4 rounds, but unfortunately some players dropped out to play DBM, so we only ended up with 6 players and 3 rounds.

Just like last year, I brought Later Achaemenid Persians with the Auxilia and Psiloi options, and Early Bedouin.  After last year's experience with these armies, I decided the pair wasn't actually very well matched.  However, I think DBA 2.2+ has improved the matchup in several ways.

In 2.2, the Bedouin camels suffered against the Persian foot, but was a bit better against its cavalry.  Their ability to play in the dunes was minimized by their high aggression, and not very useful because of the camel's deficit against enemy foot.

In 2.2+, Camels are now 3/2 and don't recoil against Cavalry (but quick-flee them).  This gives them at least even odds against Persian Auxilia, and works fairly well against enemy Cavalry.  Also, the Bedouin's greater number of Psiloi benefit from 2.2+'s Psiloi group move through bad going.

Overall, I expected the matchup to be much closer than it was in 2.2.  In practice, I only really played one game with this army, and it didn't provide any corroborating evidence.

In the first round, I faced Mike Naughton again, using a Matched Pair I've seen him play before: Scots Irish versus Picts.  I chose the Picts with their new Light Spears, and lost 3-4.  Mike went on to win the tournament.

Next, Frank Popecki chose to use my Persians against my Bedouins.  He beat me 1G-0 in the first few turns of combat, so we decided to play it out for fun.  In the rest of the play through, he beat me 4-1.  So, score one more for Persians against my Bedouins.  I won't believe the Persians are truly better in this matchup for several more games.  With this many low-factor troops, a few winning combats early on can cascade into a quick win.

In the final round, I fought Rob Torres again.  I chose his Palmyrians, with lots of Cataphracts, against his Later Pre-Islamic Arabs.  I beat him 4-0.  I remember really liking the look of the Palmyrians and enjoying playing with Cataphracts.  Since I don't have a Cataphract army yet, I may have to look into picking up the figures for these guys.

Over the course of the day I won as many games as I lost, which is pretty good for me across multiple events.  More importantly, I enjoyed playing DBA.  I still prefer 2.2+ over 2.2, which is good since it's the future.