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. 

Friday, 12 January 2018

Oathmark Goblins Painted

The first unit of the year painted - these are the new plastic Oathmark goblins, plus a metal promotional figure as leader. My main aim when painting them was to do so speedily and to follow the same style and palette as my Mordor orcs. So these are mostly just a base coat and a glaze or wash to provide some easy shading. I wrote a more in depth tutorial on how to paint Mordor orcs, which I referred back to as a guide for these figures.

As stand alone figures they are good for adding bulk to your collection for a reasonable price. You can get a fairly good selection of poses and there are plenty of weapon options to choose from. As an addition to my existing Mordor collection I reckon they blend in pretty well. Stylistically, they are quite similar, and scale wise they are almost made for each other. The Oathmark figures are very detailed, if you look at the close up photo you can see that even the plastics in the background have very detailed chainmail and fine details in the faces. They are a little less dynamic than the GW figures, at least that's how I posed them, which is no bad thing in my book. As the photo below shows, they make very good Mordor orcs. Now we just have to see how well they do in battle.....

Monday, 1 January 2018


Happy New Year! Here's hoping that 2018 is a happy and productive hobby year.

For one reason and another, last year was not my best hobby year. In terms of painting, gaming and posting to the blog, it was poorer than many a previous year. I am happy to draw a line under it and look forward to the next twelve months.

Here's a little face to spread joy and happiness. Old timers will recognise this figure as a goblin doom diver from the early 1990's. He was one of my favourite figures from back when I started in the hobby. Whenever I see this figure, I am transported back to those happy days, those first faltering steps in the hobby. I have managed to collect a few orcs and goblins from that era in the past few weeks and will be starting the new year with a new project. Strap yourselves in, it's gonna be an exciting ride!
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