Tuesday 25 February 2014

Er, no postie......

......it doesn't fit through the letter box!

The seal is broken, hopefully just from the inept posting.

Phew, the contents are good, thanks to the tough plastic box. 

Xmas finally arrives! Full and proper review in the next few days. 

Sunday 23 February 2014

Belegar Ironhammer Painted

Now that I have painted Belegar Ironhammer, I have to say it's one of the best GW have produced. The detail on the armour and weaponry is superb. Even the back banner, which I was a little uncertain about at first, fits the model well. The beard and hair, being plastic, are lacking a little detail, but it's not overly difficult to add this with the paintbrush.  If I was going to play Warhammer Dwarfs again, I would be happy to have this model in my army.

The short, bearded ones are back on my radar. I might pick up another of the plastics if I pass by a GW shop in the next few days, the runesmith would make a good project. In the meantime, I have prepped a handful of the stout ones and will be happily slapping on the paint in the next few days, thought they are very different in style to this model.

Also in the early planning stage is a series of games pitching the dwarfs against an Empire army. Nothing too groundbreaking there you might think, but the idea is to play the game using the usual WHFB rules, then replay it with other rulesets, just as a little experiment. I am looking forward to that.


Thursday 20 February 2014

Foundry Dwarfs

Dwarfs are flavour of the month, so I have been scouting around the old mines and came across these few stragglers. I must have picked them up at a show about 10 years ago, the painted example led my dwarfs into battle when I first started a Warhammer Dwarf army. They are quite rotund, even for dwarfs, which is probably why I used just the one figure. He just about fits on to a 20mm square base, but the others would be almost impossible to rank up.

I knew that they were Foundry dwarfs because I have a couple more still in their blisters, marked as prototypes. However, I could not find them on the Foundry website, so I had to do a little further digging. The excellent stunties website (a must view for all dwarf fans) came up with the answer, they are indeed Foundry Norse Dwarfs and Foundry Swashbuckler Dwarfs. I have no idea if they are still in production.

What to do with them? I don't think they would fit into my warhammer army. They are similar to some of the old school metals, and my army does include metal longbeards and ironbreakers, but the Foundry figures are bulkier and slightly more whimsical. In fact, they remind me of a children's TV program I can just about remember, Michael Bentine's Potty Time! Maybe I could put them to use in a skirmish game, there are plenty around and it might give me the impetus to paint up some of the oddments in my collection, like these stout little chaps. But with all my energy going into Saga and Lord of the Rings, I should really just put them back into a dark corner somewhere, to prevent distraction.

Saturday 15 February 2014

Playing Lord of the Rings using Saga rules

Last year I enjoyed many a game of the Lord of the Rings strategy battle game. It's not a complex ruleset, there are few stats to memorise and just one chart in the rulebook. So it's simple to learn and provides a couple of hours of relaxed gaming, especially suited to scenario driven encounters. It works well at about 30 or so figures per side, though in theory it can be more than this. A couple of times I fielded my orc horde of about 70 figures, which slowed the game right down. The main problem is that each combat is treated separately, there is no aggregation into units, so it can get a bit bogged down into endless dice rolls when your horde starts swinging their rusty weapons. In summary, it's a nice easy system for small skirmishes, but struggles a little with bigger encounters.

Saga is a similar game to Lotr, it's a dark ages skirmish game (and let's face it, Lotr is basically dark ages warfare with a little extra magic and the occasional monster). Saga is primarily designed with six point warbands in mind, which translates into 24 elite warriors, or 48 average warriors, or 72 levy (poor) warriors - obviously most players take combinations of these, so a typical warband is around 40 or 50 figures. A game can be easily fought in an hour or so and there are half a dozen scenarios and four distinct factions to battle with in the basic game, with about another dozen in the expansions.

While the Saga rules are very, very simple, with no real stats even, the clever bit is that each force is made unique by the special abilities that can be called on using the Saga dice. The vikings, for example, have many abilities that allow them to boost their combat potential, while the Welsh faction are more suited to hit and run guerilla tactics. Each faction has it's own flavour and fighting style, more fantasy-historical than historical, which suits me down to the ground.

Inevitably, gamers across the web have designed their own Saga boards to field their own factions. There are historical factions, from ancient Greeks and Thebans to Crusaders. There are also fantasy battle boards around, I have seen discussions on Game of Thrones battle boards, but of course my main interest has been in the Lord of the Rings. I found a great blog, Figures and Stories, which not only has battle boards for the main Tolkien factions but also some quite fantastic painting and pictures, well worth a viewing. I have downloaded most of the pdfs and hope to give a few of them a trial in the coming months. The Saga continues!

Thursday 13 February 2014

Belegar Ironhammer review

As a long time dwarf collector, but lapsed Warhammer player, I was fairly ambivalent about the dwarfs release. My army is pretty much complete as it is, and the recent drive to bigger, dumber looking models has not been to my taste. The first wave of releases is, by now, pretty much old news and opinions can be found all over the web - good, bad and indifferent. I like to see the models in the flesh before I make up my mind, so I selected what looked to be the best of the bunch, Belegar Ironhammer.

As you would expect, the detail is (mostly) quite superb. The metal scroll work, the carved runes on the oathstone, the embroidery on the cloak are all lovely and crisp and should paint up a treat. Click on the image for a decent sized view and see for yourself. You might notice that some detail is lacking - the teeth for example are not sculpted and as usual the hair of the moustache is just two or three giant strands. But this is nitpicking, overall it is a very solid sculpt and one that I would consider using in my army.

I have seen some criticism of the pose. A better battle-ready stance would be to hold the shield at the front to protect the body. The shield would be more visible, but of course most of the beard and face would be obscured. I reckon the decision on the pose is a good one, it allows the maximum detail to be easily seen and thus should be easier to paint. It's also possible, as the second photo shows, to exclude the oathstone and have a more traditional base. Leaving the back banner off is also a possibility, there is a little groove in the rear of the armour that could easily be filled, or overlooked if the player wants to swap the banner in and out between games.

As a big fan of dwarfs and Norse imagery, this sculpt is a winner for me. Now, to see how it paints up.

Friday 7 February 2014

Tanatus Saxon Archers Review Part 1

When I first started playing Saga, I did so by buying two boxes of plastic figures for a Saxon warband. It allowed me to quickly assemble six points at relatively low cost. In fact, I could probably double the force with the bits I have left over from the plastics. I really wanted to make up a unit of bow armed levy troops, but they are not that convincing when assembled this way. What to do?

I started to look around at metals. There are some decent figures around, though I do find a lot of historical metal ranges to be far too chunky. I was beginning to think I would never find a suitable range, when I stumbled across Tanatus Miniatures. As you can see from the link, they are distributed by North Star Military figures. I thought they looked very well proportioned from the pictures, but balked a little at the price - a unit of 12 metal levy troops, the worst in the army, would cost the same as a whole box of hearthguard, the best in the force. Put another way, twenty pounds can buy you one point of metal mediocre troops, or ten points of plastic superior troops. It's easy to see why many stick with the plastics. For me, however, the aesthetics are as important as performance on the gaming table. Having spent so much time looking for decent figures, I decided to take the plunge. I have recently sold off some excess vikings on ebay, so the funds had been raised anyway. I ordered on Monday and they arrived on Thursday.

When you tip the figures out of their plastic bag, they look like this. The excess metal bits are easily clipped away and, after a couple of hours of tedious filing, I had removed the mould lines. The casting I would class as very good, with no obvious flaws to be seen. There are no bases included, but this is no problem as most historical gamers have their own preferred way of basing. For me, this means glueing them to pennies, then adding a sand/pva paste mix.

After a white primer and a thin guiding wash, they are ready to paint. You can see that they are quite finely detailed, with good proportions, not too clunky or chunky, which has been the main stumbling block with most historical metals I have experienced to date. I have a ten point Saga game planned for next week, hopefully they will be ready by then. I am playing my vikings, but I think a few Saxon slaves with bows being pressed into service is not an unreasonable thing to do. When the figures are fully painted, I will take a few comparison shots to show them alongside my other Saga troops.
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