Friday, December 30, 2016

Ending 2016 on a High Note

I haven't gotten much done on the painting front lately - I'm waiting on a set of magnetic bases to attach my Teutonic Knights to before I go whole hog painting them up.  I did get two more figures assembled since last post - my general and Army Standard Bearer.  I've got some paint on them now too, but I'm holding off on showing them until they're complete and I can post them to the Painting Challenge.

general on the viewer's left, Standard Bearer on the right.

All I'll show you is the freehand I've done on the general's shield, as well as my reference image:

While I haven't been doing much painting, I did, however, fulfill a long-time dream of mine this week, and I'm going to count that as ending 2016 on a high note.

I played a full, army-level wargame for the first time ever this past Wednesday - something I've wanted to do since, oh, I started high school, back in the Olden Days of Yore.  At the time we had a Games Workshop store and Warhammer 6th Edition was rolling out - I had no idea there were other games besides Warhammer and 40K, but it didn't matter because back then I had so little income that I couldn't afford to build an army.  

Wednesday I got to play Warhammer Ancient Battles (second edition) at one of the local game stores - not my primary locale of Just Games, but Boldo's Armory, a smaller store catering more to wargamers.  They have a Warhammer night every other week and I was invited to come experience a demo game.  

I borrowed a medieval Polish army and sat down across the table from Daniel, who had brought a Holy Roman Empire force.  Boldo watched over us, pointing out useful tactics to me or explaining points of the rules.  I didn't think to take any pictures so this won't be a full AAR, but let me just say that my dice were hot that night - and Daniel's were decidedly not, especially when it came to Panic Tests.  Enough of his army routed off the table to give me the victory.  All in all, the game - with 2800 points and around 100 miniatures on each side - took about two hours to play through to its conclusion.  

Unsurprisingly, I'm eager to play again, and my big project for January and February is going to be finishing my Teutonic Knights army so I can play with my own figures instead of borrowing off someone else longer than I need to.  Currently my plan is to end 2016 with the assembly of my second unit of mounted knights and maybe ring in 2017 with a unit of dismounted knights.  For anything less than a 3000 point game I just have two more units left to purchase, so I'm feeling pretty good.  

And with that, I'm going offline until 2017.  Hope everyone has an enjoyable New Year's Eve and see you next year.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016

Merry Christmas to all, and strongest possible wishes for your continued health and good cheer in the new year ahead.  I hope everyone was able to spend time with loved ones, eat well, and received every bit of gaming loot their hearts desired.  I made out like a bandit this year:

Three boxes of Fireforge plastics and one of Perry Brothers - apparently my mother picked up some in London and then bought more on Amazon when she got home.  The box of Teutonic Infantry and one of the boxes of Knights (damn army list composition restrictions!) will form the basis of a Teutonic Order army for Warhammer Ancient Battles, while the Perry Wars of the Roses infantry will likely become the basis for a retinue for Lion/Dragon Rampant.  The second box of Teutonic Knights I'll hold on to in case of very large games of Warhammer Ancient Battles.

Finally, the board game "Elder Sign" was a gift from my sister, knowing my interest in Lovecraftian gaming.  Gina and I may give that a go later tonight.

We're in for a small bit of unseasonably warm weather, so I've begun assembly in hopes of getting some priming in tomorrow while I'm off work for the holiday. As of right now I've got a unit of 10 knights with command assembled and ready to go:

Monday, December 19, 2016

Challenge Eve

Tomorrow morning the 7th Annual Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge begins.  I've got a figure set out and ready to start applying paint to once I wake up in the morning, and I believe something like 60-70-odd 28mm figures assembled, primed and ready to go, plus some Reaper Bones figures, most of which are large enough to count as 54mm figures for the purposes of scoring.  Plus on Saturday I'll be seeing family for Christmas and my mother has made no secret of having bought more figures for me to work on, so I should be in good stead to accomplish my goal of 500 points even without the bonus rounds.

I suspect I may be using some Christmas money to buy *even more* figures, as I've been invited to join a group that meets at one of the other gaming stores in the area to play Warhammer Ancient Battles.  I'm going to attend their next meeting and observe, and if I feel good about it, start putting together an army, likely either German knights of the Baltic Crusades or a War of the Roses force.

Friday, December 9, 2016

New Acquisitions & General Update

I recently added two more collections of Call of Cthulhu scenarios to my library, at long last; De Horrore Cosmico, a selection of Roman-era scenarios (i.e., "Cthulhu Invictus") inspired by Lovecraft stories, and Tales of the Crescent City, a selection of Jazz Age adventures set in New Orleans.  Both of these have been released by Golden Goblin Press.  De Horrore Cosmico was my early Christmas present to myself; Gina "purchased" Tales of the Crescent City for me, but between some store credit I had at Just Games and my accumulation of customer loyalty points it only ended up costing her $1.39.  De Horrore Cosmico I've read through and found the adventures thoroughly enjoyable just from a reading perspective, and I hope to run some soon enough.

I spent this morning reading through Tales of the Crescent City, and while I tend to feel a little out of my element with Hastur-centric scenarios (of which this book contains two), overall I like what I'm seeing with this book, I'm looking forward to adding the New York companion, Tales of the Sleepless City, to my collection as well.

In other news, my parents have been in England for the past two weeks, visiting London, Leeds and York.  My mother requested some information about game stores and miniatures I was interested in for the purposes of Christmas shopping.  She has proceeded to stop at every miniatures and hobby shop she sees in the UK and send me photos from them.  She's apparently become fascinated by my hobby and how widespread it seems to be in the UK.  To quote one of her emails, "The Brits sure love their miniatures. There must be a whole industry of just making and painting these."

Mom was really impressed by the painting contest this store in York is having, and frankly, I am too - I may suggest something similar to Matt at Just Games for next year.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Converted Cyclops

I'm really proud of this piece.  This began life as Reaper's "Kagunk, Ogre Chieftain" from their Bones line, which I decided to convert into a cyclops for use with Broken Legions or Dragon Rampant.

I shaved down the brows of Kagunk and filled in the eye sockets with Green Stuff before building up a central socket, bulging eye and heavy brow ridge.  I've never done any sort of sculpting like this before - the only things I've ever made out of Green Stuff before are stalagmites, which are pretty easy.

Kagunk painted up nicely: I really like the blue of the kilt and the leather straps came out especially.  His skin tone came out a little lighter than I'd originally intended; I had originally been trying for closer to James Earl Jones' complexion, since I do have a figure of Thulsa Doom to paint down the line, but the highlights kept coming out very chalky-looking, and I ended up having to go a shade lighter to smooth them out; this may have been down to the brush I was using or the broader expanse of muscle I was painting; the original combination might look better on a 28mm human figure than it does on this hulking slab of muscle.

The camera also makes this look lighter than it is.  I might go back and redo his eye - it's hard to tell here because of the shade of blue I used, but he does have a defined iris and pupil.  Redoing it with a lighter blue might look better and make this more noticeable.

All in all, I'm really happy with how he came out and I'm looking forward to seeing him in action on the tabletop.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Progress on the Home Front

Greetings, readers, and to my fellow Americans, happy Thanksgiving! I certainly had a pleasant one this year, spent with friends rather than family, and more importantly, I've taken some time off work to give myself a five day weekend, during which time I'm hoping to get some serious modeling work done.

Going through the rules for Broken Legions, I'm finding myself not wowed by them - certainly not the immediate, viscerally-positive reaction I felt during my first read throughs of Frostgrave and Lion Rampant.  I think I'm going to have to give them a play-through or two to really see if they're for me or not.  That being said, I'm revisiting Lion Rampant (I might be getting Dragon Rampant as a Christmas gift, which is the only reason I've held off thus far on buying a copy) and I downloaded the PDF version of Wargaming Soldiers and Strategy magazine issue 82, which has a Bronze Age variant, "Chariot Rampant." As some of you may recall, back in 2014 I made a rather large order from Wargames Factory, before they went belly-up.  Among what I bought were a box of Greek Hoplites, a box of Fantasy Amazons, and enough Achaemenid Persians to choke the Hot Gates.

Digging out the box of Hoplites the other night, I assembled a unit of 12, based on round bases for skirmish gaming, for use with Lion/Dragon/Chariot Rampant.  I can also draw from this pool of figures to create an "Argonauts" warband for Broken Legions.  I opted to model them with kopis-style short swords rather than spears, in part to make them easier to store and less likely to break in storage, and in part because the default Argonaut in BL carries a hand weapon, not a spear.

Shields will be glued into place after they're painted.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to get out the box of Amazons and assemble a unit of them; in a game I'd probably field them as Fierce Foot or similar in Lion/Chariot/Dragon Rampant.  After that I'd like to start on a couple units of Persians, but we'll see how much free time I end up having this weekend.  I'm envisioning them as the backbone of a "fiery sorcerer from the eastern deserts" type Dragon Rampant retinue, supporting an elemental-summoning sorcerer and backed by things like cockatrices or manticores.

The weather should be nice enough to prime this weekend too - I'm looking forward to painting these guys once the Challenge begins.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Challenge Accepted!

Ready your brushes, restock your paint, examine your leadpile, because it's almost time again for the Annual Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge! This year it's the 7th Painting Challenge, and in the spirit of the Seven Men of Glascony, the Magnificent Seven and the Seven Samurai, this year's theme is "camaraderie."

I've already sent in my enlistment email to Curt, and looking over the list of bonus rounds begun considering my options.  

Perhaps the most interesting twist this year is in theming the Curtgeld - the miniature painted as price of entry - around camaraderie; painters must work together to provide their Curtgeld.  Should be fun!

You can learn more about the Painting Challenge here.  

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Carry(ing Case) On Up the Appian Way

Good lord that's a tortured mixture of pun and pop culture reference in the title of this post, isn't it? Terrible.  But it's the best I could do to appropriately title this post.

Yesterday marked my six year anniversary with Gina, and in keeping with her tendency to be incredibly thoughtful and generous, she bought me a new carrying case for miniatures, Reasoning that I'm looking at building all these warbands and armies for various games and my stated desire to run demo games at the store, she decided it would be a better gift to buy me the carrying case I'd been eyeballing rather than more miniatures.  This is the unbranded "Sword Bag" from Battlefoam, with pluck-foam trays rather than precut.  It came with a 3" tray, a 2" tray, 2 1.5" trays and a 1" tray, which will cover all my needs admirably.

Atticus thinks this is for him.  

Additionally, we bought it from our local FLGS, rather than ordering it online, in the interest of supporting our local gaming community with our purchase.  Just Games was running a Thanksgiving promotion this week, meaning by spending more than $40 in store, we got to select a free game off a pile by the register, and we walked out having added "Nitro Dice," a card/dice racing game, to our collection.  It is a game that can be played with 2 players (unfortunately, a number of games we've bought require 3 or more players to run), so we'll possibly be checking that out this weekend.  I've played a couple very fun racing games in the past, and this one looks like it'll also appeal to my fondness for women in tiny shorts.


Moving on...

I also picked up a copy of Osprey's "Broken Legions" skirmish game yesterday; for those unfamiliar, the premise is that Greco-Roman Mythology is true, and Roman's continued survival rests not on the backs of its legions, but on small teams of "special forces" fighting a covert war to claim and protect relics of divine might from those who would use them to undermine the Empire Without End.  On the first read-through, I'm inclined to agree with Richard Rush's assessment in the comments on my last post, that it doesn't look like it really does anything that Frostgrave doesn't do as well or better, but I'm willing to give it a run-through in play and see if that changes my mind.

Either way, I think I only need to buy something absurd like three or four more figures to be able to field four 150 point warbands - a Greek, Germanic, Egyptian/"Cult of Set," and a Parthian one.  I don't have any Roman figures handy; truth be told I'm eyeing Foundry's line of Imperial Romans for this somewhere down the line.  I have a ton of Wargames Factory plastic Greeks and Persians that I bought on sale two years ago sitting in my closet that will fulfill the Greek and Parthian warbands, and the "Cult of Set" and Germanic warbands will mostly just repurpose the Cult of Set and Valkyrie warbands I've assembled for Frostgrave.

I think the only figures I don't have readily on hand are a werewolf for the Germans, an Oracle for the Greeks and a Prince and Magus for the Parthians, and those will be fairly easy fixes I think.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Change of Plans; Rolling with the Punches

If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you may have realized I tend to flit from unrealized project to unrealized project, doing lots of planning but very little actual doing on many of them.  Sometimes it's a matter of time/money, sometimes it's recognizing that a project is going to require a big expenditure on my part with very little return, sometimes it's just plain short attention span.  Sometimes it's about other projects muscling in to claim my attention.

It looks like Kings of War is going to be a big focus for my painting and modeling time and energy in the foreseeable future; my friend Tom bought the 2-player starter box, and I'm just waiting to pick up the undead from him next time we meet.

*childish grabby motions*

I'll also be doing a second army, a Kingdoms of Men force using Perry Miniatures' War of the Roses line.  This began as a means to give my mother a list of miniatures I would like for Christmas that aren't all skeletons and ghouls, but I've honestly become really excited about the tactical flexibility that the Kingdoms of Men list allows for.  I've been spending a good amount of time toying with different combinations of lists - how much artillery do I want to bring to the table, what role do I want cavalry to play, how many units of armor-piercing "can openers" can I get away with, et cetera, et cetera.  Gina bought me a Reaper Griffon yesterday to help me recuperate from a particularly stressful day, which will become the mount of my General on Winged Beast in higher point games.  Truth be told, I'm so excited for this army that I may put the undead on the back-burner and focus on the Kingdoms of Men list.

I might be able to buy myself a regiment at the end of this month, even with taking care of Christmas shopping and putting money into savings, which would be exciting, but I may still hold off even if the money's there - we're firming up plans to do a little bit of holiday traveling and are also hosting Gina's brother for Thanksgiving, so I may not actually have the money handy to spend on foot knights and archers.  Which is fine, I should probably wait and see what sets my mother finds for me in London before I buy anything anyways.

This doesn't mean that I'm putting away Frostgrave - I may shift towards a focus on playing, rather than painting, when it comes to the Frozen City, but I will finish the warbands I have started.

What I think I would ultimately like to do is position myself to run demo games of both Frostgrave and Kings of War at Just Games, my FLGS - Matt, the owner, has mentioned that he'd love to stock Mantic products but he needs evidence that the demand is there before he pulls the trigger on investing money and store space in Kings of War.  I'm hoping running demo games would inspire people to want to play; this is a bit of an iffy proposition, as when a Frostgrave store league was attempted a while back, it quickly fell apart as people decided they'd rather play at home than at the store, and I think the Warhammer grognards in the area have either gone Oldhammer or switched to Age of Sigmar, and at any rate I'm fairly certain most of them hang out at one of the other game stores in the area.

All in all, I think I need to adopt a bit of a "wait and see" attitude while trying my best to get all this off the ground.  And, of course, doing lots and lots of painting wherever I can.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Hobby Shop Recommendations in London/Leeds/York?

Over lunch this afternoon, my mother reminded me that she and my father are going to England on vacation at the end of the month, and mentioned wanting to buy wargaming materials for me while she's there, since she'd noticed so many wargaming companies are based in the UK.  Since I've found some good friends in the UK who are wargamers, she asked me for recommendations for hobby shops in London (especially around Piccadilly), Leeds and York.

So I ask you, fellow wargamers and miniatures-painters - where do you shop in London, Leeds and York?

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Dance of the Vampires

Well, not so much dancing as stalking, lunging, hunting! I finished my Vargheists today, completing the unit of them to serve as Werewolves for Kings of War.  I'm really glad I decided to elevate the center figure on the altar; otherwise there was going to be no way I was going to get these bad boys lined up on their bases.

Bodies are basecoated Reaper's Ghoul Skin, highlighted with Moldy Skin followed by a final highlight of Bloodless Skin.  The wing membranes got a base coat of Reaper's Dark Flesh, followed by a highlight of Dark Highlight, and a final highlight with Tanned Shadow.  The altar was basecoated in Stormy Gray, highlighted with Cloudy Gray and a final highlight of Misty Gray.

All in all, I'm really very happy with how they came out, and they provide a nice standard for me to try and maintain through the rest of the army.

Bela has a posse.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

You've Got Some Red On You

I had a very productive day today.  I got my three Vargheists assembled and primed, possibly to paint tomorrow; I also bought and assembled the Altar of Evil, and by assembled, I mean "added a back to it, because the darn thing was hollow and the back was open." All I did was cut a rectangle of plastic from the packaging and glue it over the opening; it's the back, so it's not like anyone will really see it, but it would have bugged me to leave it open.

I also got four figures painted today, though I'll only show you three of them now; I'll explain later why that is.

First up, two test pieces for Kings of War; these will be a pair of Necromancers in play.  "Satheras, Elf Warlock" and "Strumpet" are both Reaper Bones pieces.  For my purposes, they are Bela and Erzebet, a bickering brother-and-sister pair of grave robbers and necromancers who aren't afraid to acquire fresh corpses by less friendly methods.  I wanted to see how the dark red and off-white would look together before I started applying it en masse, and I'm pretty happy with the look here.  I found the casting on Satheras/Bela's face to be a little soft; I may go back and try and pick out the detail with a wash.

Next up, Wargames Illustrated's "Flash Harry," a clear allusion to George MacDonald Fraser's unique Victorian antihero Harry Flashman; I found the detail on the face a bit light again - I'll go back and try to pick out the eyes later.  This is a Christmas present for my father, who is as fanatical a Flashman fan as I am; I introduced him to the series years ago and he immediately went out and bought the entire series, with the intent to read them in chronological order - including splitting up "Flash and the Redskins" as it's narrative is split between two points in time.

While the sculpt (and the paint job on Wargames Illustrated's website) are clearly based on Roddy McDowall in the film adaptation of "Royal Flash," I've opted to paint him with the black hair and whiskers described in Fraser's novels.  And I've just now realized that what I've painted as cavalry gloves are in fact cuffs and bare hands.  So I'll be going back and fixing that!

The fourth figure I painted today is another one in Wargames Illustrated's "Giants in Miniature" line, but as I painted it as a gift for someone who may occasionally read my blog, I won't be posting it here until after they've received it.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Bats Out of Hell

I purchased the first regiment for my Kings of War army today at Just Games - a box of Warhammer 8th edition (NOT Age of Sigmar! Yay not having to buy 40mm square bases to put them on!) Vampire Count "Vargheists." These were not a unit that existed the last time I looked at Warhammer Fantasy Battles (which was, I believe, during 6th edition), but they're some darn fine models and they proxy perfectly as a regiment of Werewolves in Kings of War, the official models for which I'm not a fan of.

I started assembling the first of my Vargheists, the fellow on the viewer's left on the cover of the box, sans wings - I'll glue those on once painting is completed, because otherwise there's no damn way I'm getting the spray primer in there, let alone my brush.

I have to admit, I'm not the biggest fan of the "one wing up, one wing down" poses but I understand that they're designed to be able to line up three of them without significant overlap.  I'm planning on going back to Just Games tomorrow (shhhh!) and picking up Reaper's "Altar of Evil"  scenery piece to include on the rightmost Vargheist's base - with him perched atop it, looking like he's just landed.  I think the elevation will help with getting the models to align nicely and not be swatting each other with their wings, and add a little more visual interest to the group.  Plus, the metal "Altar" comes with a female victim - exactly what every vampire needs!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Order Vespertilio - A Kings of War Undead Army

[Note: I have not read the official fluff for Kings of War.  This is me looking at models I have, models I know I'm getting in the very near future, and models I'm hoping to get further down the line and figuring out a theme that ties them all together nicely.]

Baron Vitellius, a vainglorious man, never failed to leap at an opportunity to have praise heaped upon his name.  Thus did he volunteer to lead a Crusade, to bring by fire and the sword the True Faith to the benighted heathens of the cold moors and shadowed forest of the northern region known as the Dark Country.  His host was marshalled - rank upon rank of pikemen, the mages in their peaked caps, and most importantly, the flower of chivalry, resplendent in their polished armor, the knights of the realm - and set off on their glorious crusade.

They were never seen again.

Well, that is not entirely true.

Ten years later, an army emerged from the Dark Country.  Rank upon rank of weatherstained skeletons, still clad in the tattered remnants of once-fine jerkins, marched in lockstep, the original heraldry of Vitellius still faintly visible on their battered shields, painted over with a new, crudely-daubed sigil - an image of a bat in flight.  Running, sometimes on two legs, sometimes on all fours, besides them, came hordes of crazed, naked cannibals, deranged by their appetite for undead flesh.  Behind these ranks came the horsemen - skeletal steeds, their barding now hanging in shreds, astride which sat cruel, skeletal or sallow-skinned mockeries of heroic knights.  At their head, the Baron Vitellius, his flesh pale and his eyes burning behind the eye-slits of his helm.  The signs of the True Faith had been effaced from his hauberk and shield, replaced with the symbol of the bat.  Gone was the once-proud knightly order - what remained was the Order of the Bat.


Mechanically, the way I think I want to go about doing this is to create a series of army lists, growing in 500-point increments.  Once I have a 500-point army, I can start playing small games while I assemble and paint the next 500 points, and then I can play in 1000-point games while working on the third 500-point block, etc.

So I'm starting off assembling a 500-point "Scouting Column," which I'm hoping to have everything I need for within the next week or so.  It may require a miracle, but there's part of me hoping I can assemble and prime everything for this before it really gets cold, because then I can make them a part of my entry in this year's Painting Challenge.

The Scouting Column is probably going to consist of:

  • Horde of Skeletons
  • Troop of Ghouls
  • Regiment of Werewolves
  • Necromancer

The 1000-point mark will be the "Advance Force," and the second 500 points will very closely resemble the first 500, with a unit or two swapped out for something new.

Here, we add:

  • Another Horde of Skeletons
  • Another Troop of Ghouls
  • Regiment of Revenant Infantry
  • Another Necromancer
  • Standard Bearer

At 1500 points, I'll have an Expeditionary Force, which will add some heavy hitters to the line-up.  This is going to be where the heavy cavalry, things like that come in.

At this point, I'm thinking:

  • Another Regiment of Revenant Infantry
  • 2 Troops of Revenant Cavalry
  • Revenant King

Finally, 2000 points will be the entirety of the "Dark Host," Baron Vitellius' entire army from the lowliest ghoul to the Baron himself.  I think the final 500 points will be largely about cutting loose and going for broke on character models.

The only thing I think I have set more or less in stone here is that I want the Baron to be a Vampire Lord mounted on a Zombie Dragon.  I could add another Horde of Skeletons if I wanted to here as well, or a Regiment of Mummies, which in this case would not be the bandaged, dry Egyptian mummies but would be done up as Bog Mummies.  I could even add a full regiment of Revenant Cavalry if I wanted.  I think I may cross that bridge when I come to it.