Monday, 23 November 2015

Black Chapel Miniatures Dwarfs

Here's a little snippet of news that may be of interest to dwarf collectors. Black Chapel Miniatures have announced a Black Friday sale this coming weekend. There are no price details as yet, but well worth keeping an eye on the website if you like this style of sculpt. It's a company I have only recently discovered, the miniatures are metal and scale well with GW figures, probably a little slimmer but around the same height. As a frugal gamer I will be checking out the sale, these prices are at the premium end of the market, so any little saving will be most welcome. I am tempted to get the complete set shown here (maybe if I write to Santa that could happen), but I would settle for a couple of my favourites, shown below. These would make excellent characters in my Fantastic Saga/ Dragon Rampant collection.


Friday, 13 November 2015

Painting Pale Flesh

I am currently painting some marauders and thought that some might find it interesting or useful to get a little insight into how I have painted the skin. For most of  my personal work, I am always on the lookout to improve my speed as much as anything, but without reducing the quality of the paintwork. I realised long ago that base coat, shade, layer, layer and more layers was not for me - it takes too much time, is technically difficult and gives (to my eye) a very false finish. Consequently, I have spent many hours experimenting with washes, glazes and other methods. That's exactly what I have done here.

A white primer was washed with a grey - this is the finish on the non-skin areas in this first photo. I then painted the skin with a pale flesh colour, mixed with water and a little matte varnish - this is generally how I make up a glaze. In effect, I am basing the skin with a glaze. When that was dry, I mixed in some grey/blue, and applied a second glaze, this time concentrating on the recesses, especially around the abdomen, chest and arms.

After painting in a few leather bits, I revisited the skin. I used a favourite wash of mine from coat d'arms, the super wash brown. Diluted (again) with a little matte varnish, I use it to pick out face details like the mouth and eyes - it also went on to some leather areas. The final step was to mix up a green grey glaze and apply the final "deep" shading and any lining I think is required. You can see this down the centre of the chest, on the join of the stomach and trousers, and in the mouths. It's quite subtle (view the photos full size) but it does make a difference. It's possibly above what is required for gaming figures, which after all are viewed from arm's length, but it's a short step that makes a noticeable impact. And that's it! One base coat of a semi glaze, one glaze over all, and two more controlled shading glazes. No highlighting at all. I might break this rule later and add a little light here or there, especially to the front rank, but it's practically done. I hope some of you find this useful.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Dwarf Rangers

The dwarf rangers are the first completed unit of my newest fantasy project. For the palette I wanted something earthy and rustic, as befits a unit that patrols the mountain passes and forests. There are touches of colour here and there, but it's mostly browns and leathers. Hopefully the characterful models overcome this "dull" scheme.

The models are a mix of metals and plastics. A couple of them are really old metals, one of them a heartbreaker model. The more stout (and sadly slightly mono-pose) figures are 1990's Bugman's Rangers - the command group is also from this era. The plastics are from the 1990's plastic range, with a few bits from my collection, I think most of these came from the more recent set of plastic miners.

Command group - the leader is waiting to be re-based

The figures are based on 2p pieces, to allow use in skirmish games like Saga or Dragon Rampant. To give me flexibility, I have also tried out some round-to-square movement trays, from the ever dependable warbases of course. Their aptly named 2p movement trays are available with a pre-drilled  hole to take a magnet. I don't happen to have the correct size magnets at the moment, another thing on my to do list, but it will be a simple job to glue one in the base and have my round based figures securely fixed into square regiment bases, if ever I need this configuration. I went for squares, though you can buy them in any size you like. These are 60mm square, slightly on the large size for games such as Kings of War I suspect, but these days I lean more towards flexible systems/players that don't mind such details. Two or three of these squares shunted together gives me a unit for War of the Ring, or Hail Caesar, or even good old WHFB against like-minded players who don't obsess over base sizes. If this does bother you, 1p trays are also available, I am unsure of the dimension of these but if you emailed warbases I am sure they would be happy to oblige.

Painting the unit has been tough going for me. I seem to have less patience as I get older, or maybe it's the knowledge that no matter how much I get finished, there's always something else that needs doing. I do love painting dwarfs, but I must admit to a sense of relief that these are now complete and I can move on to something new. What that is, I have yet to decide - maybe some more dwarfs or maybe go back to the chaos warriors for a while.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Fantasy Saga

Over the past couple of years I have enjoyed many a game of Saga, pitching my Vikings and Anglo Danes against Saxons, Welsh, Irish, Normans and other sundry dark ages types. Saga is a fairly simple game to pick up, but with extra layers built into the battle boards there is great replay value. While it appears to be one set of hairy men with spears fighting against an almost identical set of hairy men with more spears, the battle board mechanics ensure that the opponents are very different - the aggressive Vikings play a very different game to the wary Welsh. I have been thinking about exploiting this feature to design boards for my fantasy forces, but somebody has beaten me to it. Take a look at Fantastic Saga, a set of four boards to play Dwarfs, Elves, Undead and Chaos.

Behind the basic website lies a very professional looking set of add-on rules to the Saga ruleset. The free to download pdf is nicely put together, a better effort than many a ruleset I have paid for. The rules are nicely laid out, there's some good quality artwork and everything seems pretty well thought out - admittedly I have read through them just a couple of times and played only one game, but the signs are that it could be my fantasy skirmish game of choice.

Our test game took place in Matt's gaming dungeon, pitching Dwarfs against Chaos. We both took a variety of troops, just to see how it played. We stuck with the very simple Kill the Warlord scenario to ease ourselves in. The basic Saga rules are unchanged - roll Saga dice, activate units, give them abilities, accrue fatigue, that's all unchanged. There are additional unit types to cover more fantasy like elements - creatures and contraptions, warlocks, beasts and such like. So the dwarf force included a warsmith (runesmith) and a contraption (bolt thrower), while the Chaos force contained a giant, a troll, sorceror, hounds, ogres. The 10 point forces we used gave a good sized large skirmish/small battle game.

The game played out in classic Warhammer style. The dwarf right flank was loaded with missile troops. Buffed by magic from the warsmith, the thunderers and bolt thrower made short work of the hounds and marauders. The chaos forces sensibly switched to the other flank, where a unit of ogres and dwarf slayers butchered each other in one gruesome round of gory combat. A giant lumbered in and made short work of dwarf warriors, then set about cutting the dwarf lord down to size (of course there are size puns in a dwarf battle report!). The lord took a terrible beating, but fighting defensively and with his well crafted armour he was able to fight off the giant. His bodyguard flung themselves into the fray and toppled the great beast, though only a third of them survived the fight. In the final showdown the Chaos Lord and his bodyguard squared up to the Dwarf Lord and his bodyguard. It was very close, but the exhaustion from battling the giant told on the stout Dwarf and he fell, broken chaos and dwarf troops all around him.

The best thing about this is that the author(s) have obviously spent a lot of time thinking about the game. They clearly have Warhammer backgrounds, the boards really do evoke classic Warhammer Fantasy gaming. Added to that are the usual difficult decision making that Saga games involve. It's certainly a far, far better experience than Age of Sigmar. If you are looking for an alternative fantasy skirmish game, I highly recommend that you give it a try. It's given me an enthusiasm for fantasy gaming that I have not had for a good long while. And that's after just one game! I am eager to try the Elves and Undead boards, while the authors are planning even more boards. It could well be the start of a Fantastic Saga - watch this space.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Dwarf Rangers First Batch

The first of the dwarf rangers are complete. It seems like a long time since I started these figures, my motivation has flagged a little recently so I have found them tough going. This half of the regiment contains a representative selection of the whole unit - metals old and ancient, plus older plastics. Together with the ranger captain that's just half of the regiment completed. The second half  I might get finished over the weekend, though it's more likely to be next week. The bases are 2p pieces as explained in my previous post - I have some movement trays ordered so will be detailing those at some point soon.

The terrain on the bases was inspired by my local area. It is hilly, even mountainous in places, and I wanted my dwarfs to look as though they were trekking over land like this. This shot was taken in spring time, the dead grass of winter is still around, with green just breaking through.

I decided on spring because I have four main armies on my project list, one for each of the seasons. In order of most complete, they are the winter Chaos Warriors, the autumn Undead, the summer High Elves and the spring Dwarfs. Probably not the season most would choose for dwarfs, but it fits for me.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

2p or not 2p......

......that is the question. Admittedly, it's not that much of a dilemma, certainly not in the Royal Danish League, but it has been causing me to ponder a little. I originally intended to paint the new dwarf army and base them on multi bases, my thinking being that I already have an old dwarf army on single bases, and an upcoming Lord of the Rings dwarf force on round bases, so it would make sense to take a new direction. As you can see from the picture, I have changed my mind. Greater flexibility comes from these 2p bases, which can be used like this in skirmish games and popped into move trays for ranked up gaming, the best of both worlds.

With that decision out of the way, I can concentrate on the painting. I have been plodding along with them, in short sessions each weekend. The skin and some beards are pretty much finished, with mail and armour well progressed too. It's all the fiddly bits of boots, belts and kit that remain - these are the things I like to paint the least so inspiration is thin on the ground at the moment. Hopefully I can get them done for month end.

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