Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Dwarf Hammers WIP

It's been a while since my last update. I spent a week on holiday, with no models and no wifi, for a complete recharge of the batteries. On return, I started work on the next unit for the Dwarves army. These are plastic models, though with limited options to build them as is more the norm these days. I don't mind so much, as most of these are really nicely posed. I particularly like the more relaxed poses of the front two rows, they look calm but menacing! It would be nice to have them painted by month end, but that might be optimistic. We shall see.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Dwarves Archers and Ballista

The past few months have been a bit lean in terms of hobby output, so the other week I took myself to one side and had a little chat with myself. I wanted to get something done in a relatively short time. I set myself the goal of painting for half an hour per day. Over a couple of weeks I managed about ten sessions and during that brief period was able to get these stout little warriors added to my army. Little and often, as a wise friend told me.

You will note that these are Dwarves of Middle Earth, not Warhammer Dwarfs. They are all metal figures, no longer available unless you hunt them down on ebay. There's only three poses each of the archers, and that's pretty obvious in this photo, but my idea is to eventually add in some plastic archers to increase variety in the unit. The ballista is a nice model, I have seen something almost identical to this at a Roman (historical re-enactment) camp. Though I seem to have stuck the front piece on backwards - not sure I would make it as a dwarf engineer!

The kilts tie them into my existing dwarf units, though I am unsure about the green and wonder if I should have stuck with blue. My thinking at the time was that archers would be creeping through the undergrowth to sneak up on their enemy and so would be more camouflaged than flamboyant. From that point I decided that all my missile units would be green clothed. All my warrior units wear blue kilts, and perhaps all my elite units will wear red. We shall soon see, because more dwarves are on the way.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Skaven Warlord

This is Skaven Warlord Spinetail, from Games Workshop of course. I wanted to paint a metal model and was pleased to see that some of the range is still available online.

He is a birthday present for my brother. Years ago, it was with my two brothers that I first started playing Warhammer. We started with fourth edition, plastic elves and goblins, but then we all developed our own favourites. My brother collected quite a few orcs and goblins, and a number of skaven. It's hard to track down the older models, which would have been nice I guess, though I think this sculpt is a real beauty. In twenty years time this will be a sought after classic!

As neither of us really game that much these days, I built the figure on a little display base. This is a piece of oak timber given to me by a neighbour, cut down to size and sanded. Originally it was varnished so that the grain was showing, but it didn't really suit the figure, so now it's painted. It's been a nice change of pace to the usual regiments I paint.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Victrix Vikings second render

I am quickly becoming a Victrix fanboy - a Vicboy, a fanrix? I grabbed the image of the second viking render from their facebook page. A good dynamic pose which works particularly well with the axe and spear, in my opinion. It's nice to see a plain and simple tunic to build those bondi.

There was also some news released by Games Workshop about their Strategy Battle Game. It seems that the title will finally be re-released and renamed Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game, opening up possibilities for lots of non-film related content. And they are also releasing "something big", entitled Battle of Pelennor Fields. The full press release here - scroll to the end - though it's a bit cryptic at the moment. Guessing hats on.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

War of the Dwarves and Orcs

Hobby time has been neglected recently - good weather is a rarity in the north of England and a particularly fine May has seen me out and about in the local woods and mountains rather than hunched over a paintbrush like a proper nerd. I have also failed to find something to really inspire me, until now that is....

Lord of the Rings was my way into the world of fantasy. Many, many years ago I read the trilogy when I was still at school. It was one of the reasons I drifted into the world of fantasy gaming, though predominantly this was a Warhammer adventure. Lately, I have come to like the aesthetic of the Middle Earth miniatures more and more. I have a fairly haphazard collection of orcs, uruk-hai, Rohan and Dwarves - and enjoyed a few games of Strategy Battle Game and War of the Ring, as well as using the figures in games of Dragon Rampant. Now, I am developing a little ruleset of my own, and am building the system around a piece of lore that fits my collection. Welcome to this short article on the War of the Dwarves and Orcs.

The conflict started with the arrival of Smaug the dragon at the Dwarf kingdom of Erebor. Thror, King under the Mountain and his dwarf warriors were no match for the serpent and were forced to flee their stronghold, wandering the wilds until finally settling in Dunland. After twenty years of living in poverty, Thror set off with his friend Nar, to look upon the ancestral hold of Khazad-Dum, also known as Moria. Fearing it was occupied by orcs, Nar pleaded with Thror, but the old king was adamant and entered the former stronghold. For days, Nar kept watch at the east gate, until finally his worst fears were realised. Azog the Orc Chieftain had captured Thror, branded his head with his own name and tossed it out the gate. He allowed Nar to live, to return to his kinfolk to warn them to stay away from Moria. Nar delivered this message to Thrain, Thror's son, who brooded for a week before deciding his father should be avenged. And thus the war started, a simple tale of revenge and bloodshed.

Thrain travelled to the other six great dwarf houses, mustering a huge dwarf army over a period of three years. They then marched to war, systematically sacking and destroying every orc hold they could find in the Misty Mountains, from Gundabad in the north, to the Gladden in the south.

After six long years of battle, the War came to a climax at the Gates of Moria, where it had all started. Known as the Battle of Azanulzibar, it was here that Thorin gained his name Oakenshield, forced to use an oak branch when his shield shattered. It was only the late arrival of a contingent of dwarves from the Iron Hills that swung the battle for the dwarves. Nain the king of the Iron Hill dwarves was slain by the orc chief, Azog. It was Nain's son, Dain, who finally brought down the hated foe, swinging his red axe to decapitate the great brute. The orcs fled the battlefield. And thus the war that had started with a dwarf losing his head was ended with an orc decapitation!

The victory was bought at great cost to the dwarves. They had lost at least half of their force. There were so many dead that they were unable to bury them in tombs as was their tradition. Instead, they cut down the trees in the dale to build huge pyres to burn their fallen.

Thrain wanted to enter Moria to retake the fabled dwarf stronghold, but his companions had suffered too many losses. The dwarves returned home to their holds. Thrain and his son Thorin returned to wandering Dunland, while Dain returned as the new king of the Iron Hills. Their paths would meet again at Erebor in the Battle of Five Armies, as told in The Hobbit.

What a stirring tale! Epic in nature, with so many tales untold, so many battles to ponder over. This has really got my imagination fired. The hobby lull is most definitely over. Expect more dwarfish activity very soon.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Victrix Vikings

News has been trickling out over the past few weeks that Victrix Miniatures are moving into a new era - the dark ages. It seems that the first range will be Vikings. I have also read that Saxons and Normans are to be produced.

Now we have a little more detail announced on the Victrix facebook page. The box will contain a mix of armoured and unarmoured warriors, four of each on a sprue. There's usually six sprues in a set, plus extras on a command sprue, so about 50 models in a pack. Enough to man a viking longboat!

The release date is sketchy, I suspect that they are not even sure themselves as yet. I might have read late 2018 somewhere. This picture shows one of the body sculpts coupled with different head and arm options.

For me, this is just the ticket. I can look forward to well sculpted, affordable minis. If the rumoured Saxons and Normans are anything like this first view, I will be knee deep in dark ages minis.

Friday, 4 May 2018

May The What?

Incident at Hab Zone 161
May the Fourth Be With You. It's a thing, apparently.

I am not really much of a Star Wars fan, but I do like a good pun. To celebrate this great day for geeks everywhere, I put my sci fi collection together with my newly painted  rocky outcrops for this little image which I have grandly titled Incident at Hab Zone 161.

The figures are from the (long forgotten?) Sedition Wars range. They painted up really nicely and would make a great little force for a skirmish game. I really should get some more of them painted.

This is the kind of sci fi look I prefer, less Star Wars or 40K, more Moon Base Alpha.* The base in the background is the start, potentially, of a little side project, just primed at the moment. I really should not get distracted, this is what happens when you tidy your garage!

*from the series Space 1999, with hair styles courtesy of UFO

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Rocky Outcrops

Having a tidy up in the garage, I came across these random shapes. I had made them some time ago, from gap filler foam - the stuff used by builders and plumbers to fill in holes. It comes in a tube and I just sprayed a few blobs on to greaseproof paper (baking parchment). When they were dry I peeled off the paper and removed some of the weirder lumps with a hobby saw. Then I partly brush primed them white, fearing that solvent primer would simply melt them, then left them to dry. And then found them again several months later. With renewed resolve I speedily painted them, using army painter primer and some cheap craft paints. The primer did not seem to affect the foam as I had feared. Quick and easy rocky outcrops to add to my desert terrain collection. Now I just need some figures to explore this new wonderland!

With shrubs and (real) rocks

With spaceship wreckage

Battlefield in a Box - ooh catchy, somebody should register that name

Monday, 23 April 2018

Shadespire : Magore's Fiends

Regular readers will know that I have a small collection of Khorne Chaos Warriors, mostly plastics from the newer Age of Sigmar range. The latest set of the red armoured, axe wielding maniacs is designed for the skirmish game, Shadespire - and that's how these are shown here. Straight from the box I have painted them for ebay. If you know of anybody who might be interested, please share the link to the auction.

The figures would also make a nice addition to my square based force. The three chaos warriors should slot in easily - though ranking up would probably be an interesting challenge. The bare headed figure makes a nice change, good to see the crazed warrior under the mask. The hound could well be a useful filler figure or possibly added to a cavalry unit. It would be nice to think that at some stage we will see a plastic set of the hounds released. Having just sweated over the intricacies of the painting of this set, I won't be adding it to my collection too soon, but certainly may do so at a future date, maybe in the winter when it seems more appropriate to paint my snow based army.

If you crave more images, there are many more photos on my facebook page - Nord's Painting Saga.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Viking Bondi WIP

Over the weekend I built some more of the wonderful V&V miniatures. For me, these are the absolute best historical miniatures available on the market. They are so well proportioned with really fine details, top notch sculpting and casting, really easy to clean up. Assembly is generally straight forward, with lugs and sockets on all the joins making it idiot proof. I did have some difficulties with the spears and replaced a couple with metal rods. I also swapped out the supplied resin bases for my usual two pence coins - they add a little heft and stability to the model, and are magnetic. I cannot wait to get them painted, they are just so nice!

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Berserker Brace

What could be more scary than a viking berserker rushing headlong toward you with a huge axe? Two of them, of course.

These are V&V figures. I have previously reviewed them on my blog, but it's worth repeating that they are rather splendid. If you like your soldiers to be realistically proportioned and finely detailed, then check out the V&V website.

I wanted a nice little project to tinker with over the Easter weekend and turned to four bereskers I had already assembled. I concentrated my efforts on these two - the other two have shields and I have not yet worked out what to do with those.

The topless warrior wielding two axes is particularly imposing and I added some simple tattoo effects on his skin. They are not designs as such, just random squiggles to suggest intricate inking. He also has a Thor's hammer necklace which I though was a nice touch. The skin is very pale and the bases are sparse and cold looking, to reflect their northern European roots.

With a little luck I will soon get the other two berserkers painted, then there will be four ready to charge into action in Saga games. I have never used them before, it will be interesting to see if I can keep them alive long enough to smash them into the enemy. No doubt the opposition will be very keen to loose their bolts and arrows at the idiot who came to battle with no shirt on.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Krom the Paunch

Krom is the Packmaster of the Hounds, leader of the Blood Hunt. From a young age he found he preferred the company of the camp dogs to the human members of the tribe, though he learned early on that they were not to be tamed, losing his hand in that harsh lesson. Over the years he came to understand the pack mentality of the beasts, learn their language of gestures and growls. Gradually, he became accepted as a member of the pack, living, eating and sleeping with them, rising to become  the alpha hound, the packmaster. Krom and his pack roam far and wide over the snowy wastes, tracking prey and scouting out potential raids for the tribe to undertake. 

This is the Bloodstoker from the Age of Sigmar starter set. It was the obvious model to lead the hounds, with the whip and the prodder attachment to his arm stump. There's even a pair of jaw bones trophy attached to his helmet, the previous alpha male of the pack? It really is a lovely sculpt and looking at it, I was thinking about just how far ahead of the pack that Games Workshop have become in the production of plastic figures. I was struck by how far they had progressed when comparing the current marauders to some old school models, but these character sculpts are just in a different league. I reckon this model could stand proudly next to any classic metal sculpt of yesteryear.

It feels good to be painting chaos warriors again after a break of about two years. I have another unit underway and have been sorting through my old collection for more ideas. Three is not Khorne's number, but it is my favourite, so hopefully I will be adding a trio of units to the army.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Chaos Hounds

The recent Arctic vortex weather had me thinking about my snow based army, the Chaos Warriors. I felt inspired to paint up a unit or maybe more, so I started with these chaos hounds - mini beasts from the East. They are relatively quick to stick together and paint, the time prolonged a little by my decision to not use the provided ears but fill the holes with a little sculpted fur.

When it came to painting I googled a few images for inspiration, with half a mind on them being useable as hell hounds/flesh hounds in other settings - unlikely given the snowy bases but there you go, forever optimistic. I settled on a ruddy skin colour, with black fur and glowing eyes. I primed black rather than my usual white, thinking it would save time with the fur. But then I seemed to spend a good while recoating the skin a light colour before applying the flesh colour. In hindsight I should have stuck with the usual white primer.

I used nine of the ten figures, this gives me enough for games of Saga and most other systems we tend to play. Most of my units in the chaos army are either five or six wide, so two ranks of five will suffice. No doubt the mathematically talented have spotted a flaw here. Yes, there's a spare slot in the unit, now who could possibly fill that space?.....

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Chaos Marauders Spot the Difference

Can you spot much difference between these two marauders? They both have very large axes, horned helmets and a pair of trousers. And they are both built from the plastic bloodreavers kit, right? Well, almost.

The figure on the right is 100% pure bloodreaver kit - apart from the mdf base of course! The figure on the left has head and arms of the same origin, but the body is the older marauder kit. The reason I have this one built is that I picked up a sprue of bloodreavers, built all ten but wanted twelve for a unit, so had to improvise a bit using some old bits. He's a bit scrawny looking and the shoulder join is not perfect, but lurking at the back of the unit, who's to know?

As you can see, the unit champion is no shrinking violet hiding from the limelight. He towers above his compatriots, even if he is cheating a bit by standing on a handy pile of skulls. I have them arranged here in an old move tray, that I use when assembling to make sure the unit ranks up. WHFB lives on in my dreams.....

And here is the unit in a more contemporary formation, just milling about in random fashion, hoping for a game of Saga perhaps. I like the ranked up look, really must try to get in a game of Warhammer again sometime soon.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

A little interlude

It's been a quiet month on the hobby front, with nothing to show for my meagre efforts. So here's a little filler post, something I painted up for Mierce Miniatures last year. And when I say little, I mean about nine inches high! There's a special offer on the site at the moment, buy one monster, get one free, so if you want to add this beast to your collection now is the time to get him. Smaller monsters are available.

More pictures on my facebook page. And hopefully a return to more productive hobbying very soon....

Monday, 12 February 2018

Stone troll

A Stone Troll, from the days of yore. I have recently started to collect greenskins from 1992, the year I started playing Warhammer Fantasy Battle. I got a bit nostalgic over the Christmas period when I re-discovered all my old White Dwarf magazines in the loft with the xmas decorations. Then I discovered the Middlehammer group on facebook, and it escalated quite quickly from there! Now I have about a dozen each of the orcs and goblins, plus a few other models. I couldn't resist picking this model up too and started to paint it up just as soon as the old paintwork had been stripped away.

I was torn between painting it in the old school style or giving it my own interpretation. It started as grey skinned and evolved from there. It was a real blast to paint, pretty easy too being so large. It was mostly glazing and shading up from white as I usually do, with lots of areas roughly stippled for speedy progress. The bulging eye I never really liked, so I painted it as blind to divert attention to other areas.

There are more pictures on my facebook page, more angles to view.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Saga 2 First Game

It's time to try out the new version of Saga, with my Vikings taking on Matt's Anglo-Saxons. These are two of the simplest factions to use, perfect for a first game with a new ruleset. We skipped terrain setup and just launched straight in, not being particularly competitive types.

The game looks and feels and plays very like the previous version. Changes have been made to streamline gameplay, there's less fiddly measurement involved and far more action. I would describe the changes made as subtle, none game changing on their own, but they all add up to a slightly different game.

The first change of note is generating Saga dice. All units now generate one Saga dice, though warriors and levy cease to do so once they fall below a certain size. No more single warriors hiding in woods generating dice! You can also leave Saga dice on your battle board and not affect the number of dice thrown, useful for building up a cunning plan.

Movement has been tidied up, again not in a major way for casual players. Units can activate for free if they are more than L from enemy units, which allows stranded units to get back into the thick of the action without spending Saga dice. There's greater explanation on how to charge units.

Melee has been tweaked a little, again not by much. There is a clear step by step guide on how to execute combat, generating combat dice, using abilities and fatigue, withdrawals and such like. Defenders get the chance to close ranks, losing half their attack dice to benefit from a better chance to cancel hits. Again, it's not a major change and you will find melee tends to play out as before. This lone viking would have struggled in the previous version as he did in the new game!

Probably the most significant change is the way Warlords operate. They still gain a free activation, and can gift a nearby unit with one. They now generate eight dice in combat, but must fight alone, there's no more With Me rule. When he takes wounds he can spend fatigue to ignore it, or pass it on to nearby hearthguard. If you keep your Warlord and his bodyguard close by you will not notice a huge difference to how it pans out.

The fatigue system has probably changed the most. All units now take three fatigue before they are exhausted. You can spend enemy fatigue in the same way as the previous version, but there's also the opportunity to spend two fatigue to cancel an activation.

I think that's the bulk of the most noticeable rule changes. We got along fine given our previous experience. The game was more action packed as it's easier to keep units in the thick of things. I found it a little smoother, no more fiddling with VS measurements in combat which was always a bit laborious. It's too soon to say how the factions have fared after just one game, but those Anglo Saxons sure seem to have picked up a few melee moves, my vikings were slaughtered. They are keen to exact revenge, maybe for the next game I will switch things around a little, teach those Saxon dogs a lesson!

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Saga Age of Vikings First Impressions

As it's Thorsday, it's a good day to have a first look at the new Saga source book, Age of Vikings. As with the new rulebook, I picked this up over the weekend at the Vapnartak wargames show in York. I have had a brief flick through, looking particularly at my own two factions, the Danes and Vikings. These are just my first impressions, an overview of what you get for your hard-earned danegeld.

The book is hardcover, A4 size, 72 full colour pages. In addition you get twelve faction battle boards, printed on stock card, which is possibly a little thinner than the original dark ages boards. These follow the standard design of basic activations along the top, with more advanced activations below. They are clear and easy to read.

After an introduction, each faction gets four or so pages of commentary. This is usually one full page colour photo of some minis, then factions rules and force selection, followed by a question and answer page on the abilities. Coverage of the twelve factions takes up the bulk of the contents.

There is then a section on Friends and Enemies, in which more obscure factions are highlighted and how they should be used - for example, Germanic peoples can be included by using the Aetius and Arthur Saxons battle board. A one page explanation of War Banners follows in the section on New Equipment.

Swords for Hire is, as you might expect, a section detailing the mercenaries available to each faction. Here you will find units such as shieldmaidens, Breton cavalry and Flemish mercenaries. There is also a list of various personalities and  troops you might hire - scouts, a priest or a personal champion perhaps.

Finally, there is an optional section on relics and artefacts, detailing items such as the sacred banner, the ancestral sword or the famous steed.

At first glance, the battle boards have not changed drastically. I have mainly looked at the two boards I am familiar with, Danes and Vikings. On the whole, the abilities are named as in the previous version of Saga and work in the same or a similar way. It will take a few games with the new rules to see just how much (or little) this aspect of the game has changed in conjunction with the updated rules. I have a game coming up over the weekend so will be able to make a better appraisal then. In the meantime, here's how a typical faction is covered in the book.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Saga 2 First Impressions

I managed to get my hands on an early release copy of the new Saga rulebook at the Vapnartak show in York at the weekend. I am a huge fanboy when it comes to Saga. It's the best skirmish game I have played - the rules are easy to pick up, but there are levels of complexity in how it can be played. If I could only ever play one game, it would be this one. Here's my first impressions on this update to my favourite game.

The rulebook is softback, 50 page A4 size, with good quality full colour pages. They get a bonus internet point from me for featuring Yggdrasil on the cover. It's certainly improved in layout since the first version. Everything is well laid out in a logical sequence. The contents progress from what you need to play, to the basic rules on orders and activations, more on activations, special rules and terrain rules, a scenario, a glossary and a reference section.

Each section is well explained, it's mostly very precise and unambiguous, with little waffle or history or fluff interrupting the explanation of the rules. If you have played before you will breeze through this book, purely looking for changes from the previous version. If you are new to the game I suspect you may well have appreciated more examples of gameplay. Like I said at the start, Saga is an easy game to learn, but explanations and walkthroughs for beginners are never a bad thing. Perhaps these will appear online at some stage.

Veterans will still have to read the book completely, there are plenty of small but significant changes from the original version. There is no summary of these revisions, maybe this will be released online at some stage? Reading through the lovely book is certainly a pleasant way to spend an evening or two, but if you want to dive straight in with just a cursory glance you may come unstuck.

There is one scenario to try out your newfound knowledge of the rules. It's a basic clash of arms - line up your troops, swing your axes and kill as many of the enemy as you can. I would have liked to have seen a little more than this. Three scenarios would have been nice, especially for completely new players. There is a Book of Battles mentioned, which will include more scenarios, so I understand the desire to hold back on this content. It keeps the rulebook clean and concise, but nevertheless one scenario seems a bit sparse.

That minor quibble aside, I am really impressed  by the new version of Saga. It's a nice looking book with great production values. From what I can gather on a first read through, the revisions make sense and will streamline an already good set of rules. An extra four pages containing two more scenarios would have made it an even better product, especially for newcomers.

I am really looking forward to trying out the new rules. I did also pick up the new Viking Age book in Yorvik (sorry, in York) - my Danes and Vikings are eager to test out their new battle skills. More to come on the new Saga, when dice have been rolled in anger.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Dwarf Warriors

After racing through the Oathmark goblins, I was keen to keep the momentum going. I wanted to speed paint more, but different models. Out of the drawer popped these dwarfs - I had assembled and primed them at the start of last year then done nothing with them. It was time to put that right. As with the dwarf rangers that were painted (shockingly) more than three years ago, I wanted to give them a Highland Warrior vibe, so leather armour and tartan robes was uppermost in my mind.

These are plastic dwarf warriors from the old Lord of the Rings range. I was never that sure about the figures in the past, but they paint up easily and look good in regiments like this. I was lucky enough to get some of the old metal command groups too, which I will be adding at a later stage. In fact, there's a lot more to add to this army, but I wanted to try my hand at basic warriors before moving on to the more exotic troops (if dwarfs can ever be considered exotic). Plenty more beards to come.......

And now a couple of comparison shots, one with their comrades in arms, and one with their foes.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

X.VIII - Cold Warriors

As the snow gently falls outside, it's a reminder to once again visit a past project, in celebration of my decade of blogging. It was 2015 and quite an easy year to choose a highlight from, as I focussed on just two main projects. The first of these, at the start of the year, was painting a Wars of the Roses force to play Lion Rampant. I made really good progress and painted the whole lot in about three or four months. Billmen, archers and men at arms.

As pleased as I was with my historicals, it was fantasy once again that took the crown for best of the year, in the shape of a Khorne force based around the Age of Sigmar starter set, with a few classic metals from my collection added in for good measure.

I don't consider myself a particularly talented convertor, but I was really pleased with a couple of these figures. The ogre in the marauder unit was built from plastic bits, a rat ogre and an ogre kingdoms head. The khorgorath (daemon beast thingy) from the starter was a more complex job, adding an old metal bloodthirster head and a little basic greenstuff work. Compared to the work of other talented hobbyists, it is beginner level, but I was happy with the results. 
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