Thursday 31 December 2015

Chaos Lord of Khorne

Just in time for year end, the Chaos Lord of Khorne and his flesh hound. For some reason I kept putting off painting this mini, I think I overdosed on red and brass a little and could not face it. I did enjoy painting the hound in particular, but the rest seemed a chore. Still, it's good to strike it off the list.

Most of the time I will field this model in skirmish games, but it can be combined with the standard bearer and chosen warriors to represent a "unit of 12". Most of my chaos units are six wide, so it's good that this unit follows this format. Notice that there's a blank base in there, just to fill up a space.

That's my final unit of the Khorne Warband, for the time being at any rate. I may come back to it at some point as I still have marauders left over from the starter set, plus some hounds and bloodletters from years ago that I could add. But in the short term I want to get some games with the fully painted warband - Dragon Rampant, Fanticide and Fantastic Saga are all games I am looking forward to playing.

Tuesday 29 December 2015

The Dragon Has Landed!

A late xmas present arrived in the post today - my copy of Dragon Rampant. I picked mine up for an absolute bargain on Books Etc, less than £7 including postage. Other sellers are available, such as the publisher website Osprey, and quite a few indie web sites sell it too. As with all new books, I flipped it open and flicked through the pages. It's similar in style and layout to Lion Rampant, the usual Osprey fare which is solid and serviceable, if a little old fashioned. One big surprise, and a very pleasant surprise at that, was the inclusion of some full page art spreads. These are very nice indeed, I include my three favourites below to give a taster. Best fantasy art I have seen in a good while.

I look forward to delving deeper later in the week and will give a better, more detailed review at some point in the new year. In the meantime, just enjoy the lovely art. The pictures are posted without permission, in the unlikely event that this causes a problem with the author/publisher I will of course remove this post.

Saturday 26 December 2015

Xmas Goodies

Readers of a certain age will no doubt recognise my awful pun in the picture here, but younger viewers will have to rely on google and youtube to get up to speed. At the very least, watch the opening credit for a flavour of 1970's fun, before even warhammer were a lad.

Anyway, on to the main event, what goodies did Santa leave under my tree this year? Quite a lot as it happens, he had a lot of help from a friendly, wargaming elf (I picked for myself this year).

Blood Rage arrived back in September, it was that rare beast, a kickstarter project delivered on time. I put it to one side as officially it was a xmas gift, so I will enjoy looking through that in the coming days. The Order 1886 was a gift from my son, I have already played chapter 1 and it is oozing with atmospheric inspiration for steampunk style mini gaming. The Star Wars snowspeeder is a 1/52 scale kit, roughly the right scale for 28mm figures so might come in useful if I ever get into hard sci-fi gaming, but should be a nice kit just to build and paint. And the little plastic bag was a gift from Matt's dungeon stash, I'm not quite sure what to do with a naked Lady Godiva but I'm sure something will come to mind.

The books are a diverse lot. Fanticide I picked up for just £5 in an online sale, skimming through it reminds me of Muskets and Tomahawks in a card activation way, and IHMN in the mechanics. It's based around small (30 ish) bands of fantasy forces and includes rules for designing your own factions, so another fantasy game set to try. The Dracula book contains some lovely art and hopefully will provide some ideas for steampunk/gothic scenarios. The Nordic tattoo book contains some nice ideas for shields, banners and skin art. Finally, hidden under the pile is a book on Art Deco, again a useful source of inspiration for palettes. Plenty to keep me busy, I will return to some of them in more detail in the new year.

Thursday 24 December 2015

Converted Khorgorath

When I first saw this model, I thought it was messy. Too many bits sticking out the top of it, and a very silly looking head. But I liked the solid rhino like body and thought it had potential. After a brief search through my bits box I found an old metal bloodthirster head which was just about the right size. I had to use my limited greenstuff skills to add some hair braids to blend it in. I also removed a couple of skulls that pop out of the skin, and simply cut out or left off the snake tentacles on the shoulders. If I possessed better sculpting skills, I would have completely redone the shoulders to omit the gaping maws and the emerging skulls. One little problem I was able to overcome was the metal head toppled over the figure, so I counterbalanced this by adding lead weights to the base - hidden under cork rocks.

When it came to painting I had decided early on not to go with the usual red skin. At first I thought black skin, with fiery innards, balrog style. But I also wanted to include some blood, which doesn't really show up well on dark skin. So eventually I just started painting and hoped for the best. I stippled on pale flesh colours and then some shading in greys and blue. I was hoping for a mottled appearance. The rhino legs I glazed with greys, blues, green and purple. The muscles under the skin I painted pink, with brown thin lines, then glazed a couple of times with rusty red for a fairly quick and easy flesh effect. Lots of glazing, stippling and just going with the flow, I think it worked out in the end.

Hopefully I will get plenty of games with the beast. It will join my Khorne contingent for skirmishes using the Fantastic Saga and Dragon Rampant rules, and maybe a couple of other rulesets I will be unwrapping soon. I took quite a few close-ups of some of the details, so here's some more gory details.

Saturday 19 December 2015

Another Game of Fantastic Saga

For our third game of Fantastic Saga, it was a real treat to dig up my Undead army. I have been painting it sporadically over the past two or three years so was very happy to take them round to Matt's dungeon for a game against his pesky elves. Once again we played a Rampant scenario, each army started in opposite corners and had to get as many units into the enemy zone as possible. Most of my troops are multi-based, so we had to use dice as wound counters, but we managed to get by.

The Undead move slowly, but there are a few abilities that allow extra movement, so the whole army managed to get to the middle of the board en masse. The elves were slower and far less shooty than I expected. A treeman lumbered through the trees (obviously) and I fully expected my unit of zombies to be mulch, but somehow they survived a couple of rounds of combat. The necromancer brought a few back to life and eventually they unexpectedly overpowered the behemoth. There was no victory cheer, just a satisfied groaning noise in the forest. Ghouls tussled indecisively with swordmasters, archers fired ineffectively at skeletons.

The hour was getting late as the banshee stirred in the graveyard. The high pitched scream had little effect on elven pointy ears, but in combat it turned out to be quite a monster, easily the equal of a unit of swordmasters. As midnight approached, the elves suddenly galvanised and an eagle swooped into combat with the vampire countess. With average dice rolling it would have been an equal match, but a string of 1's and 2's had the fiend on the floor, clutching at her gashed throat. The undead slunk away into the night while the elves searched in vain for the body of the vampire, ominous laughter echoing in the distant graveyard.

All in all it was a good game, we probably should have started on a smaller board, and maybe we need some house rule for 10 point games to allow more Saga dice, but I certainly enjoyed it and look forward to trying out more of the undead troop choices.

Sunday 6 December 2015

Chaos Marauders of Khorne

The chaos marauders of Khorne are finally painted. They seem to have taken a good while, even with my speed painting techniques. But they are definitely worth the effort, looking awesome ranked up like this, especially with the special guest lumbering through the ranks. This is chaos enough for me, there's no need for foot high figures with three heads and two tails.

These are quite possibly the finest fantasy figures from any of the starter sets. For my money, it's a toss up between these models and the beautiful high elves from the Island of Blood set (another on my to do list). I was careful to ensure they ranked up in a number of ways, with and without the big guy, even though I generally play skirmish games at the moment. These figures are based on 25mm mdf squares. I am still hoping to try a game or two of Kings of War, and we have been talking about learning Hail Caesar for a couple of years. Maybe one day we will actually get round to it!

Monday 30 November 2015

Marauders.....Almost Done

I was hoping to have the whole unit finished by month end, but there's still a few details to be finished off. Well, when I say few, the models are absolutely bristling with extras - belts, bags, straps, ornamentation, shackles and a liberal sprinkling of the good old warhammer skull. I am calling this first half dozen finished, though there are areas I could continue to work on. The rest should (hopefully) be along next weekend.

Saturday 28 November 2015

Dwarf Woes: A Gentle Stroll

Dwarfs trundle up on to a low hill
It's been a whole month since my last game, but last night I was finally able to roll some more dice. Once again I met up with my old adversary in his wargaming dungeon. Having got to grips with the rules in the first game of Fantastic Saga, we decided to borrow steal a scenario from Lion Rampant and plumped for Gentle Stroll. The dwarfs start in one corner and have to traverse with at least half of their force to the diagonally opposite corner. The enemy forces start in the remaining two corners and have to stop them, by slaying half of their opponent's force. A simple enough scenario, though possibly not ideal for the slow moving dwarfs.

Tinned dwarf for lunch?
From their vantage point on a low hill, the dwarf gunners were able to shoot at both incoming chaos forces. Each of these contained a giant beast of some kind, which from the past game I knew were very potent in combat. They also contained Chaos chosen troops, which are possibly even better at killing dwarfs. With the dwarf warsmith supporting the gunners, they could fire further and with more accuracy, but even so they made little impact on the incoming enemy. A couple of chosen warriors were downed, but most of the shots thudded into the giant beasts. Roaring with pain and anger, they closed in on their tormentors.

On my left flank, chosen warriors charged into slayers, who had moved forward to protect the main dwarf line. Luckily I had saved a Saga dice to enhance their combat and they fought to a Glorious Death. Six of the eight were slaughtered, but they did take down the chosen warriors. One of this surviving pair was then squashed under a rock thrown by a troll, leaving a lone slayer facing a Chaos Lord and Troll in combat! Needless to say, the slayer fulfilled his sacred oath and fell in battle.

Trail of Destruction
On my right flank, the giant moved forward and stomped on a whole unit of dwarfs. Barely pausing for breath, he charged headlong into the gunners who had annoyed him earlier in the game. Maybe he tripped on a dwarf corpse, but somehow he was brought down, just two unfortunate gunners crushed under his fallen bulk. There was no cheer from the dwarfs though, as their elite ironbreakers were charged by chosen warriors and completely butchered. The Chaos Lord too was slowly making his way up the hill, a trail of bloodied and crushed gunners in his wake. With over half of the dwarf forces dead, the game was over. Another tale of woe to add to the Book Of Grudges.

Yet again I felt as though the chaos forces had won the game with just half of their troops. The chaos chosen and giants are killing machines. The marauders, hounds and ogres simply stood back and cheered them on. The giant in particular caused me all sorts of problems again. I probably should have used my Lord and his bodyguard to take on these elite units. After just two games we are still at the foothills of the learning curve. For the next game, we will be trying out the two remaining boards, Elves and Undead.

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.

EDIT : You can see the final result of the fully painted unit in this post.

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.
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