Monday 28 September 2015

Dwarf Rangers Captain

The first dwarf of the new army! This has always been a favourite model of mine, the last time I painted it was a rush job that failed to do it justice. This time around I was keen to give it some attention, even though it's destined for a unit. For me, dwarfs really suit earthy palettes, anything too vibrant just distracts attention away from their most glorious features - their large noses and flowing beards. The risk with a figure that's mostly brown is that it will end up looking dowdy. Luckily, dwarfs tend to wear plenty of armour, a chance to brighten things up with some shining metallics. All in all, I am very happy with this effort. I won't be putting as much work into every figure, it would take too long for a whole army, but I now know where to concentrate my efforts and which areas I can give less attention.

Sunday 20 September 2015

Lion Rampant Fantasy Gaming

The old dwarf army returns
So old it's black and white!
It's been a while, but in the past week I have rolled dice in a couple of games. Both times it was Lion Rampant being used with fantasy figures. In one game I used my Lord of the Rings figures to play a two-thirds game of Rohan vs Orcs (more detail on this here). In the second game it was the more standard full size game, pitching my obsession of the moment (dwarfs!) against some marauding beastmen.

In the first game I was teaching a complete newcomer the rules. As ever with Lion Rampant, they were very quickly picked up and the game rattled along at a fine pace. I gave each commander a single reroll per turn for a failed activation, to remove some of the randomness that can be frustrating and unbalancing. The game played well, swinging one way and then the other, until my opponent lost his general in a combat (he rolled the dreaded double 1). From this point it was much more one sided, as the Rohan forces under my command found it much easier to repel the leaderless orcs.

In the second game I fielded my ancient Warhammer dwarf army, it must be 3 or 4 years since they have seen any action. We played a convoy scenario, the dwarfs attempting to escort three crucial barrels of beer across beastmen territory. It played reasonably well. Centigors were very effective, galloping around and hurling spears to great effect, while dwarfs hunkered down into shield walls, thunderers blasting the depraved ones from afar. It seemed that the dwarfs were going to get two of the three barrels home safely, but after a lengthy trek overground, harried by centigor spears, they finally succumbed and dropped the barrels over a small outcrop, just yards from safety (failed activation roll in the dying moments of the game). No doubt the centigors were even more drunk than usual that night!

Using Lion Rampant to play with fantasy troops allows gamers to play with the minimum of fuss. It's quick and easy to map the troop types from the rulebook on to your fantasy forces, the game moves at a fast pace and there's little need to refer to the book. On the downside, the limited troop types can lead to forces feeling a bit samey, which is not necessarily a bad thing, it just seems to lack a certain something. It does not (by design) have the same level of detail that WHFB had, so when my dwarf slayers ran from the board after suffering a couple of spear wounds, it felt wrong. Similarly, when bestigors clashed with ironbreakers, and both sides were using the same profile, it felt a little flat. There are extra layers in the WHFB rules that are missing from Lion Rampant, which is not a good or a bad thing, it's just a thing that needs to be borne in mind.

There is an official fantasy version of the rulebook due for release around xmas time, the aptly named Dragon Rampant. From preview material on the author's blog, it sounds like Lion Rampant with extra rules for flyers, monsters, undead and a very basic magic system. From what I can gather it allows more troop upgrades (and downgrades), so I will certainly be giving it a whirl at some point. I don't expect it to provide rules and troop differentiation to the same degree that WHFB did - the game is not designed to be that way. I may well have a tinker at some point to produce something a little more akin to the old game, HammerRampant or some such. I have also discovered a fantasy mod for the Saga game, but that's a story that requires more investigation on my part. Fantasy gaming is alive and well, just different to days of old.

Thursday 17 September 2015

Dwarf Rangers WIP 2

As with so many of my new projects, I got a bit obsessed with the dwarfs -  I  had to get the skin painted after the rejected test model of the previous post. I was intending painting just the champion as my new test subject, but ended up painting the whole regiment. I am more happy with this scheme, it's ruddy without being too pink or too orange. My plan now, if I can keep to it, is to paint the champion by the end of the month and the whole regiment by the end of October. It would be nice to keep up the pace on the chaos warriors too!

Monday 14 September 2015

Dwarf Rangers WIP

Over the weekend I made a decent start on the first regiment of the new dwarf army. These are dwarf rangers, they patrol above ground, keeping watch on the mountain passes and the borders of the dwarf territories. There's a mix of old metals and some newer plastics, plus a couple of non-GW figures in the unit. I have plenty of the metal rangers but wanted to avoid a too regimented look.

The bases are 50mm mdf squares. I decided against individual bases for a number of reasons. I already have a few Lord of the Rings dwarfs that I can use in skirmish gaming, such as Fantasy Saga or Dragon Rampant, so it seemed pointless in repeating that exercise. Choosing a dimension for the multi-base I looked through many options. In the end I went for this size as three bases gives a decent sized regiment for games like Hail Caesar, while just two is big enough for games like Kings of War. Flexibility of use in many systems is a key factor, but I also think it will look good when the base textures are applied.

I started to paint a test model, to try out some new techniques and to get a feel for the palette. I am aiming to keep the colour scheme fairly muted, but I want to increase the contrast, something I struggle with. Mainly I was trying out a skin recipe, having got this far I think it's too pink and needs a little more tan/orange in the mix. Not a waste of time by any means, often we learn more from our mistakes than our successes. In true dwarf style, this little guy will be rejected as not good enough, there's plenty more where he came from. Once I nail down the method, I can start to churn them out at a decent rate.

Friday 11 September 2015

Art of Trudvang Book on Kickstarter

There's a lovely looking art book on kickstarter, just in the last couple of days. I have been watching it since it started about a month ago. On the plus side, if you like art, or Norse mythology, it looks absolutely wonderful. If you like both, it's doubly wonderful. On the negative side, it's quite expensive - the book itself is quite reasonable, but shipping nearly doubles the cost. At current exchange rates it's nearly £50 for a picture book! That's a lot of cash. One thing that might sweeten the deal is that the latest achieved stretch goal has upped the page count from 120 to 192+ pages. Some serious thinking for me to do over the weekend, I am completely spent up on hobby with Blood Rage, elves and dwarfs purchases, but these things come along so infrequently that I am desperately trying to see where I can conjure up the cash.

Sunday 6 September 2015

Dwarf Invasion

In the past few months I seem to have acquired more and more Warhammer Fantasy figures, just as the game was taking it's final few breaths before being snuffed out forever. I picked up some metal archers and spearmen for my elf army, figures I had been hunting on ebay for years. And then I picked up the chaos section of the Age of Sigmar starter set and am busily painting those figures as my current project. But both those acquisitions have been dwarfed by this, my latest forum purchase. A complete Dwarf army!

My existing Dwarf army sees little action, in fact I have not played Warhammer for over a year. I had switched my attention to a Lord of the Rings dwarf force, to play in Saga or Dragon Rampant. And yet, when I discovered this lot for sale, I had to have it. It contains a mix of old metals, more recent plastics and some resin figures, plus lots of scenic elements, including a huge dwarf statue which will just have to be incorporated in to some kind of terrain piece. In truth, I have little idea as yet what to do with the horde, just a few vague ideas. I want to get the chaos forces painted up before I get distracted, but I could well make a start on these before the month is out. Of course, that's the time I expect to have received the Blood Rage game, with dozens of vikings being added to Mount Unpainted. And I have a few steampunk figures to paint too. Plenty to keep me occupied as the days grow shorter and we look forward(?) to the winter months.
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