Saturday, June 2, 2018

Chariot of Chaos (not Fire)

Well I'll be darned.  My plans for a Kings of War Abyssal Dwarf army seem to be going on hold again, and instead I'm returning to Games Workshop's Age of Sigmar.  I'd initially put the game and my army in the closet and stopped attending events because I was getting disappointed and frustrated with the lack of interest in narrative play or scenario-use in my local area, but with the second edition preparing for release, interest has returned at my preferred local game shop, Just Games, and the focus does seem to be on using scenarios, victory conditions and narrative play.  So I dusted off my Chaos Warriors and Pink Horrors, and finished assembling and painting one of the units I'd started but was left unfinished last summer, a Chaos Chariot. 

The only conversion I did, besides sculpting some tentacled runestones on the base, is I swapped out the helmets that came with the Chariot for the rider for one off the Chaos Knights sprue that I liked the look of.  I don't know that I'd build another of these - the kit was a bit fiddly, and I still don't think I have the yoke on quite straight.  Both horses are fairly small (or at least seem that way) and each only has a single hoof resting on the base, not exactly conducive to balancing and gluing them into place. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Happy Birthday to Me

I turned 31 last week, and as befitting the age, only my better half Gina and I got me presents.  All wargaming-related this year, and some lovely new toys among them.

Here's what I purchased for myself:

Two rollers from Green Stuff World (plain and "Dark Runes") as well as a pack of "Blue Stuff" thermoplastic which can be used to make molds and cast copies of pieces.  Then the latest issue of Miniature Wargames magazine; I would normally get this sort of thing digitally but I wanted the sprue of "Gun Dogs," steampunk artillery contraptions, from Wild West Exodus that came with the physical mag. 

Since I've decided to start up with Kings of War again, Gina gave me $100 and told me to buy myself the beginnings of an army; having been in love with Games Workshop's Chaos Dwarves since my first start in wargaming back in 2003 or so (naturally, after GW stopped producing them even semi-affordably), I decided to start on a force of Mantic's "Abyssal Dwarves," which share much the same tone and aesthetic.  $100 was neatly taken care of with the purchase of two regiments of "Abyssal Halfbreeds," Mantic's answer to the classic Bull-Centaurs of Games Workshop, and a package of movement trays to fit them.  When she saw what I'd bought, Gina told me that if she'd known I was going to buy movement trays, she would have given me an extra $20 to make sure I got some more fun stuff.

Moral of this story is always discuss purchases with your spouse. 

I've also dug my Age of Sigmar stuff out of the closet where it's languished for the better part of a year; I packed it up because I wasn't enjoying playing at the local Warhammer store, but a new guy wants to get Age of Sigmar started up at Just Games so I figured out an easy 1000 point list; all I have to paint is the Chariot I've had sitting primed and in sub-assemblies since last summer.  Unfortunately, it looks like the methods I used to try and clean up frosted varnish on my "Gaunt Summoner" have damaged his paint job, so I'll need to strip and repaint him at some point.  I'm not totally certain I want to get back into Age of Sigmar; I definitely don't want to be spending the kind of money Games Workshop thinks I should be, but a game or two couldn't hurt. 

I decided to get out some Green Stuff and give the Dark Runes roller a try on the chariot's base; I ended up creating two "eruptions" of runestones out of the ground that then sprouted tentacles, in keeping with the style of Chaos. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Dragon Rampant Update - Giant and Billmen

Over the past week I've managed to finish off (mostly) two more units for my "Men of Albion" Dragon Rampant army - a Hill Giant, by Reaper Miniatures, and a dozen Perry plastic War of the Roses billmen.  These will be a single model unit of Bellicose Foot with the "Fear" special rule attached, and a unit of Offensive Heavy Foot, respectively.

In my thinking as to the story of this army, the giant was either press-ganged or sufficiently bribed (a daily ration of whole cow, maybe?) into joining the army; the mismatched gear he had accumulated - the shoulder pad, the shields strapped to his midsection - were painted with the colors of the army to show he was "theirs."

I chickened out on painting half his body as heavily tattooed; once the skin was finished I liked the way it looked too much to risk mucking it up.  And while I've seen a number of people paint his fur kilt as having been stitched from different color pelts, the uniform fur texture throughout made me think it's pieces of hide from multiple examples of the same critter; in this case, I opted to paint it as grizzly bear fur, with a dark brown basecoat and building up alternating drybrushed layers of a slightly lighter brown and a pale, silvery gray, probably three drybrushings of each color.

I still need to make a flag for the unit standard bearer and get these guys varnished; I had left my priming box in the hallway outside my apartment door overnight to air out and it got picked up and thrown in the trash while I was at work.  So I need to get another box; I've got a big Reaper order coming in on Tuesday that will hopefully work, if not I'll be grabbing one of the envelope boxes from work.

the whole army so far

After this, just a unit of archers left to paint; once they're done, I'm actually going to be going back to Kings of War and doing rank-and-flank fantasy and hopefully finishing a 2000-point army in time to play with it at a tournament in November.  I had always wanted to collect a Chaos Dwarfs army in Warhammer Fantasy; alas, Games Workshop had nuked the army shortly before I discovered miniature painting.  So I'll be building an army of "Abyssal Dwarfs" for Kings of War in search of much the same aesthetic.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Dragon Rampant Update - Elite Foot Finished

The first unit for my Dragon Rampant "Men of Albion" warband is complete - Lord Edward and his bodyguards, comprising a unit of Elite Foot.  Lord Edward himself shares a base with his standard bearer, and counts as two Strength Points in DR; his four men-at-arms are each a single Strength Point for the unit total of 6 SP. 

The figures are from Front Rank's War of the Roses line, and I recommend them highly; the figures arrived very neatly and securely packed, and had only the most minimal of flash to trim away.  The sculpts are good (though I admit I did basically buy two copies of two sculpts - the knights with similar weapons are the same figure with a different helmet) and the standard bearer came with the choice of a standard pole or a poleaxe.  I liked the idea of a command base with the army leader and a standard bearer on it, so that's what I went with here. 

Since the men-at-arms weren't wearing much cloth to carry the warband's color scheme of red and blue on to, I opted to paint their helmets as having been painted or lacquered before going into combat.  The men in the open-faced barbute helmets have their helmets split in half color-wise, with blue on the right side and red on the left.  The two knights wearing closed visors had their helmets painted blue with red visors. 

This was my first time making a paper flag from scratch, and I think I did alright; I drew it out on a piece of graph paper to get it nicely square and then painted over it in the army colors of Reaper Deep Red/Blood Red and Ultramarine Shadow/Ultramarine.  Once it was dry I cut it out, painted some white glue on to it and wrapped it carefully around the flag pole, bending it a little to give it a sense of fluttering.

Color choices, so I don't forget them when I go to paint the next couple units, are as follows:


  • basecoat black
  • drybrush Reaper "Tarnished Steel"
  • wash Citadel "Nuln Oil"
  • very lightly drybrush Reaper "True Silver"
  • basecoat either Reaper "Deep Red" or "Ultramarine Shadow"
  • highlight either Reaper "Blood Red" or "Ultramarine," respectively.
  • picked out in Reaper "Dark Flesh." 
  • basecoat Reaper "Tanned Shadow"
  • highlight Reaper "Tanned Flesh"
Bases are painted Reaper "Earth Brown" and flocked first with Army Painter brand brown basing grit, followed by GF9 "Meadow Flock." I didn't finish them early enough to get them varnished today but I'll have them out in the primer/varnish box tomorrow.  Next I'll be splitting my time between the giant and the unit of billmen and then finally take care of the archers.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2018


I got a very nice package in the mail today; Bob Murch of Pulp Figures had a contest on his Facebook page and I was fortunate enough to win a free pack with my next order.  Naturally, it was time to make an order! Not having any particular project in mind, I grabbed a few packs I'd had my eye on for a while and shot Bob an email letting him know what my choice was for free pack. 

I opted for:

  • Upper-Crust Swells, from the Gangland Justice range
  • Sinister Spies, from the Personalities range (which includes likenesses of Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre!)
  • Rugged Sons of Empire, more Personalities (fabulously British ones, in this case)
  • Count Casimir's Trans-Siberian Renegades, another set of Personalities, this time a bulky Russian count, his family and entourage.
Still no real plans for these, except possibly as palate-cleansers between other projects (or units of other projects).  I've been a huge fan of Bob's sculpting style for years now, with my first introduction to his work being RAFM's line of Cthulhu miniatures.  I really like the clean lines of his sculpts, the expression and animation in each one and the little details - monocles, cigars, the row of medals across Count Casimir's chest.  Beautiful work.  

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Rampanting the Dragon, Again

I need to start a project; I've got nothing really sitting half-finished (at least not anything I'm likely to pick up again), and I think having something to work on would help my stress levels.  I haven't bought the book yet for Gaslands, though I probably will, but my frequent opponent Tom has begun work on a Dragon Rampant army.  I have 24 points of undead but I'm not really feeling them; I decided to start a fresh army.

Last November I'd assembled a box of Perry War of the Roses plastic infantry, giving me a unit of billmen (Offensive Heavy Foot in Dragon Rampant terms) and two of archers (Light Missiles).  I'd picked up some foot knights with poleaxes (Elite Foot) and with just those, I could field either a Lion Rampant retinue for the War of the Roses, or a very mundane human force for Dragon Rampant.  I started brainstorming and playing around with list ideas over the past two days, and got the unpainted figures out of the closet.

The metal foot knights I'd bought were not good clean casts, unfortunately; they'd had a ton of excess metal and the butt-ends of the poleaxes were all malformed.  I did my best to get them cleaned up and presentable but ultimately I couldn't get them to a place where I felt happy with them.  They've been binned and replacements - six dismounted men-at-arms from Front Rank's War of the Roses line - ordered.

The next step was fantasy elements.  I started thinking about legendary or mythological creatures
from the British Isles, and hit on the idea of a Giant; I removed one of the units of archers from the list and added in a giant (treating it as a single-model unit of Bellicose Foot, with either the Terrifically Shiny Armor or Fear special rules applied).  This would be not only a hard-hitting unit that emphasizes the fantastic nature of the game, but also provide a visual centerpiece to the army, towering over the remaining troops.  I'm picturing the giant as having been rounded up and press-ganged into service; I think I still have enough pieces left over to make a couple more billmen to model prodding the giant forward on a big diorama base.  I selected Reaper's "Krug, Hill Giant" to serve as my brute, favoring the $8 Bones figure over the $40 metal version.  I'll probably have to put a steel pin in one of his legs to keep him from leaning and possibly do the same with his club to keep it straight.

I'm tempted to paint the giant as having Pictish-style tattoos; we'll see how ambitious I get when he's actually in my hands.

So my list at this point looks like this:

  • Foot Knights (Elite Foot, Leader) - 6 pts
  • Billmen (Offensive Heavy Foot) - 6 pts.
  • Archers (Light Missiles) - 4 pts.
  • Giant (Bellicose Foot, Fear, Single Model Unit) - 6 pts.

This puts me at 22 points, 2 points short of a standard game.  I could throw "Enchanted Weapons" on the Foot Knights, or upgrade the Archers with "Sharpshooter," which would make them activate (to Shoot) on a roll of 4+ on 2d6, or I could boost the Giant's armor to make him harder to kill.  Or, I could pick up some Halflings/Hobbits with bows and add a unit of Scouts.

Ultimately, I think I'm going to add a minor spellcaster, or "Wizardling" in game terms.  While a full "Spellcaster" costs 4 points as an upgrade and can cast any spell on the list in the book, the Wizardling costs 2 points and can have three spells, selected before the game starts.  Rather than the pointy-hatted wizard with a floor-length beard, I decided I wanted a more subdued-looking, utilitarian figure.  After doing some digging, I settled on an older figure from Reaper's Dark Heavens line of metal miniatures, #2306 "Lor Gorna of Kjord." I like the shorter beard, the simpler staff and the open book.  I definitely get a "hedge wizard convinced to help the army before returning to his hermitage" vibe off this figure.

I'm on the fence as to whether I want to add him to the Elite Foot unit as an adviser to the warband's general, or put him with the billmen to bolster them with spells like "Sharper Swords!" or "Stronger Shields!" If we end up doing larger game with higher point values, I'll probably separate him off as a single model unit of Light Foot, but for now he's mixed in with the troops.

So this is what I'm going to be working on for a bit.  The weather is finally nice enough to where I can spray-prime, so a dozen archers and the billmen are going in the priming box today.  Hopefully I can start painting tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A Pyrrhic Victory/Justice or Vengeance? (Frostgrave Mini-Fiction)

The bloodied remnants of the mercenary company dragged themselves slowly through the drifting snow still eddying through the ruined city of Felstad.  Their leader, the diabolist who called himself "Belphegor," was feeling his age as he trudged forward, refusing to glance back at his followers; refusing to see the questions and fears in their eyes.  They'd beaten back that Enchanter's warband and seized a far amount of treasure on this first foray into the depths of the Frozen City, it was true; but they'd also left three of their own dead in the snow, their blood steaming as it pooled across the ancient cobblestones.  The brutish thug Big John had been peppered with arrows and fallen off a ledge, the sickening crack of his spine breaking echoing through the ruins.  The burglar Deladrin had likewise been shot down, an arrow catching her as she darted from one shadow to another.  And most distressing, the half-goat, half-man that bleated its name as "Black Phillip"...hacked into bleeding chunks by his own comrade, the knight Vaeloth - ensorcelled by a "Mind Control" spell, he'd been forced to attack his own fellows - including Belphegor.  The half-fiend's horned head hung in shame, his sword cast away somewhere on the battlefield; he dragged Black Phillip's heavy, two-handed axe behind him, leaning against his sister - the thief Tiviel - for both physical and moral support.  

As you can probably tell, my last game with Tom was a bit of a Pyrrhic victory! I think at the end of the game all I had left on the table was my Wizard, Apprentice and a Crossbowman, and during the recovery phase at the end of the game, three figures bit the dust for good, including, to my infinite disappointment, the Infantryman "Black Phillip." The goat-headed beastman mixed nicely with the humans and half-fiends and emphasized the "traditional diablerie" theme I have going with my Summoners.

But, the nice thing about a game like Frostgrave or Mordheim is that it encourages the development of a story through the medium of the dice.  And this set me up very nicely; three rounds stuck under a mind-control spell and forced to kill his comrades means the knight Vaeloth now has a vendetta against Tom's Wizard, which will change the way I run him on the table next time we meet.  And since, when it came time to roll up treasure, I discovered I'd found a "Banner of Courage" (which gives a bonus against spells like Mind Control) which I immediately equipped Vaeloth with - and that meant converting a figure to represent him carrying the Banner into battle!

Fortunately, Vaeloth was a Reaper Bones figure; #77120 "Vaeloth, Hellborn Paladin" to be exact, pictured in his original state to the left.  It was a simple matter to buy a second copy of the figure and slice away his sword (Bones figures lend themselves very well to conversion).  A 3" pin pushed through his hand provided the skeleton of a banner pole, and a little bit of Green Stuff thickened it out.  A spare banner from a Games Workshop Chaos Warriors box (along with a horned skull from the same) completed the Banner of Courage.  But this left Vaeloth without a weapon! So I cut away his right arm just above the elbow (at the edge of his scalemail sleeve) and cut apart a Chaos Warrior's right arm so that I had a gloved hand holding an axe.  A little bit of Green Stuff became the sleeved arm between the scale armor and the hand, and Vaeloth was ready to be painted.

I copied the color scheme from my first Vaeloth pretty closely, though I brightened his armor a little (drybrushing a bit more Tarnished Steel over the Blackened Steel base coat) and highlighted his red tunic a little bit brighter.  I kept the banner as simple as possible; an ordinary inverted pentagram in white (a color I haven't used in this warband) looks very striking against the dark red of the banner.  I still need to decide if I want to glue a grass tuft or two to his base, and then add snow flocking.

Belphegor weighed the pouch of golden crowns in his hand, mentally calculating how much of the treasure their last foray had brought in remained.  He'd hired a second crossbowman to help counter the archers he expected to encounter on his next trip into the ruins, and recognizing the value of a combination of skill at arms and heavy armor, he'd hired another knight, the albino Lady Cassiata; she had brought with her a pair of enormous warhounds.  He hoped the slavering brutes would make quick work of rival spellcasters. 

"When do we return to the ruins?" grated a barely-human voice behind him.  Vaeloth.  The armor-clad half-devil hefted the axe to his shoulder - he'd cut the haft of Black Phillip's battleaxe down so that he could wield it one-handed.  Its edge gleamed, freshly sharpened. 

Belphegor smiled thinly beneath his cowl.  "Soon, my impatient friend.  Your axe will taste blood ere long."

"When?" Vaeloth insisted.  "That wizard is still out there.  I will not allow him to control me again - I swear by the Pit! Black Phillip's axe will drink deeply his lifeblood - let me find him and exact justice!"

Belphegor could not help but chuckle.  "Justice, my friend? Or revenge?"

Vaeloth howled with rage, unable to refute the diabolist's suggestion.  Behind them, seated on a crate as she mended the straps on her shield, Lady Cassiata could not suppress a snicker.  The red-eyed woman made no attempts to hide her contempt for the half-devil's explosive temper and demonstrably weak will.  Vaeloth turned and snarled at her, and almost immediately her slim, single-edged sword was drawn and at his throat.  

"Settle down, both of you!" Belphegor demanded, allowing arcane energies to crackle between his fingers.  "Stop this at once or I'll consign both of you to the Pit.  Save your energy for Felstad.  We re-enter the city soon enough."