Friday, 1 September 2017

Finished Skald

Finally, the skald is finished, along with his boss, the Warchief Hagar.
Hagar is made up from Gripping Beast's Viking Hirdmen sprue.  I am not entirely happy with his shield design, but I can get back to it at a later date, as he was rushed somewhat.

The skald, details of his construction can be found here

From this angle the shield appears too big, but in real life it looks more appropriate.


Next up are a Berserk and a Veteran.  The former is a converted Wargames Foundry metal mini.  So old that I remember it as an old Citadel miniature back when they had a small historical range.

I have also been looking at a completely fantasy Viking band made up of Reaper Bones, horned helmets and all.

In the search for the perfect skirmish system I have recently looked at A Song of Blades and Heroes. I have heard much about this system, and it does have some appealing aspects, but I have yet to actually play, and it may lack some of the detail I expect.  Please comment if you have any experience of the game, either good or bad.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Opening of the Ways

Last night I pitted my Kingdoms of Men army against T'Other One's Undead in the Opening of the Ways; the fourth battle in Mantic's Edge of the Abyss summer campaign.
The armies assemble with the strange old tower and the petrified wood in between them.  Already the portals are beginning to glow in anticipation.

The Undead army (looks lovely, if that's the right word)

The Kingdoms of Men

The Undead advance.  
The men largely stay where they are, realising that if they can hold on to the portals nearby, they only need to grab one more.  Archers take the top of the hill in the hopes of peppering the mummies before them.

The knights on the left flank rise to the bait of the wights and zombies, meanwhile the cannon crew mutter about stupid cavalry blocking their path.
The wraiths have already taken out the handgunners (without them firing a shot, oh well), and then tackle the shieldwall.

Th mummies have eliminated the archers, and then charge the spearmen.  Meanwhile the knights have wiped out the wights and sneaked past the zombies.  In an impressive display of dressage, the scouts shift to their right to expose the zombies to the cannon.  Unfortunately the crew were less accurate with their shot.
On the right flank (and only partially visible here), the other knights fight a series of battles with the fast moving werewolves.
Excitement (and lateness) took over and the last phases of the battle aren't shown.  After the final Undead turn I was ready to quit, having lost all my objectives and seeing little hope.  However, T'Other One persuaded me to fight on, and my knights on the left flank destroyed the zombies, simultaneously denying him the objective and claiming it myself.  The cursed pharaoh managed to hold up my knights on the right, wavering them and preventing them trying for the objective behind the tower (already removed in the above photo, along with the soul reavers holding it).  Afterwards I realised I forgot to use their Headstrong rule, which might, possibly, have got them moving and allowed them to charge the pharaoh, and maybe even, with luck, over him and into the soul reavers.  Lesson learned.

So an undead victory.  Which might hasten Mantic to make the Nightstalkers army, as that was what was lurking behind the portals.

The game was great fun, my army performed well, hindered by some poor choices in deployment. The battle necessitated a broad deployment to control objectives, but that meant many of my units were unsupported.  The woods didn't help either, and the tower proved a challenge for maneuvering. 

Prior to the battle I debated taking an army standard rather than a second wizard.  In the end the wizard played, largely because he was painted.  Both wizards kept up a useful barrage of spells.

I'm always surprised at how fast the undead get into contact.  The combination of fast troops like werewolves and wraiths, and slower zombies and skeletons (but watch out for Dark surge) I find hard to counter.  Their Lifeleech (boosted in this scenario) also helped.
Fortunately, the men proved resilient and Very Inspiring is an excellent thing. They just couldn't quite make it at the end.


Tuesday, 29 August 2017

KoM on Down

As Granny Weatherwax used to say "I Ain't Dead".  I am still plodding on with various projects, probably too many at one time.  Some of them are projects I'd rather the players see first, so I'll keep them in reserve.

Anyway, I'm dusting off my Kingdoms of Men army (one time Warhammer Empire) for a battle against T'Other One's undead tomorrow.  We are playing one of the Edge of the Abyss scenarios, with my humans taking the place of elves.  I just have to decide which of two builds to go for.

Pictures and a report afterwards, and looking through the boxes, I really must get these finished.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

A Teller of Tales, Blood Eagle Skald

Inspired by my first couple of games of Blood Eagle, I have started my own warband.
I am using the Viking Raiders list for now, partly because I used it in the trial games, and partly because it gives me the chance to use one of my favourite saga characters, Egil.

One figure that impressed me in the first game was the skald.  A lore master, teller of tales and user of wyrd powers.  The Second Sight power was particularly useful in the first game, and I wish I had kept it.
The borrowed skald was a robed type with a staff; very Dark Ages wizard looking, but I wanted something that emphasised a youthful wanderer, quite able to take care of himself in the wilds if need be.  He also had to have the equipment listed (leather byrnie, shield and short sword).

Digging around I found the following;

Conquest Games Medieval Archers provided the body and the arms, the head was from the Gripping Beast Dark Age Warriors set, the scabbarded short sword was from Wargames Factory, though any sword would do, I liked this one as it was noticeably shorter than the ones on the Gripping Beast Vikings sprue.  Mantic Games' elves provided a (slightly anachronistic) harp.

All stuck together with green stuff to aid the position of his left arm and provide a neck; Gripping Beast and Conquest bodies and heads don't play nicely together without assistance.



Once everything is set and dry I'll get round to painting him.  He will get a shield slung across his back once he has been painted.

I am particularly pleased with his pose; not fighting, but proclaiming something.  No doubt he has just played a chord on his harp and is telling the saga of his lord.


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Quest for the Perfect Skirmish

I have been searching for a long time for the perfect skirmish system.  By that I mean something that gives a fun, fast game, and ideally something that is adaptable to many different settings and backgrounds.
An experience or advancement mechanism would also be great (I have fond memories of the old GW Battle Systems in Middle Earth, specifically the Battle companies variant).
Recently I tried Savage Worlds' skirmish game called Showdown (available free on their website here).  I tried a game against my good friend 'Merlin' in North Yorkshire on one of our irregular gaming days.  He came up with the scenario and I brought the rules.  His elves were trying (ultimately futilely) to prevent my orcs desecrating a sacred well.

Elves and orcs face off across the forest glade

Elven bowfire initially seems ridiculously effective, wiping out a whole unit of orc archers.

The two forces clash

Now the orcs love of the fight comes to the fore

Eventually the elves are slain or driven off.  the death of their leader is the final blow, and the rest fade away into the woods.

The game was fun, and the scenario was excellent as it forced the elves to move to contact the orcs rather than just stand back and shoot, while the orcs had to stay close to the well rather than chase elves down in the forests.

However, the game took virtually all the allotted playing time, partly due to unfamiliarity with the rules, of course, but also there seemed to be a lot of overly fiddly bits.  I suspect this is due to the system's birth in the Savage Worlds Role Playing Game (an excellent system, by the way).

Somehow, it wasn't quite for us, and every time one of us thought of a way of simplifying the rules, the other decided it wasn't quite right.

Fast forward a few weeks, and we got another gaming day.  This time, at Merlin's suggestion, we tried Blood Eagle from the Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare.

This ruleset is an adaptation of In Her Majesty's Name from Osprey.  This is a Victorian era Steampunk game, and one I bought some time ago, but have never got round to really looking at.  IHMN is itself an adaptation of In the Emperor's Name, a skirmish game set in the WH40K universe.

Blood Eagle uses (as far as I can tell) the same rules engine, but is set in the Dark Ages and focuses on small warbands with a basic alignment towards either Christianity or Paganism.

Merlin provided the figures from his collection, and I provided the table (and lunch).  We managed two games, both great fun and full of cinematic moments, such as the lone Saxon in the first game who just would not die, or my skald using his Wyrd powers to shatter a huscarl's shield.
Both games were simple 'slog-it-out' battles of Saxons vs Viking raiders. Honours even at the end of the day.  While we forgot some things (like Run, doh), we learnt more as play progressed.

Vikings advance through the woods towards the waiting Saxons, while the berserk flanks around the mead hall.

The Saxon archer takes aim while his colleagues wish they had known they could Run.  The rather overweight priest was the first to remember this.

More Saxons hiding in the fir trees.

The Saxon view of the invaders.

As the two forces clash, a Saxon Fyrdman is slain at the foot of the (obsidian, definitely not only undercoated) monument to Thor.

The second game was just as much fun, even though I got tabled.  I misplaced my camera for most of the game, hence only the one pic.

In conclusion, Blood Eagle provides us with a fast, fun play experience.  The rules are simple enough to learn, but complex enough to reward tactical thinking.  The force sizes are about what I was looking for, and the upsurge in plastic figures recently is great for this kind of 'wysiwyg' game.  

I will definitely dig out IHMN and some of my old EoD figures.  I am also thinking this might be the ruleset on which to base my ideas for a Boarder Reiver skirmish campaign.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

What? More Bones?

Yes, Reaper launched their Bones 4 Kickstarter campaign yesterday.

As usual it was funded in moments, and already the total has climbed to a very respectable amount.
This time they have included one huge mini (a dragon) in the base pledge right from the start.  There is some very nice stuff in the core set, and the giants as add ons are definitely on my want list.

I suppose I should paint some more of Bones 1,2 and 3 before I get too excited about this though. Nah, reading the comments is far too much fun.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Bones III at Last

My Bones III order has finally arrived, nearly two years after the completion date and following some production issues in China.
I had forgotten the details of what I had ordered, but I thought the box would be bigger.  

Nevertheless, there is a lot of stuff carefully packed in here.

Here is everything set out while I check its all present.  Everything bar the expansions and Mal-Drakir that is

And a run through the core set, some very nice minis here.

This leads me to ponder what to paint next.  Actually I have some KoW  stuff on its way which should hit the painting table first, but I can see some of these getting paint on them soon.

I can't say which is my favourite mini yet, but the Froghemoth is certainly in the top five.  It might get a field promotion up the painting queue.

Bones IV starts next month, so now I have this lot (and once I have posted some off to others who joined in the fun) I'll start looking forward to that one.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Happy Heroic Birthday

As you may know if you follow this blog, I am quite a fan of Heroic Maps' work.  Three is just enough detail in them to provide an interesting play experience, and they build up to make fine terrain pieces, as I did here, for example.

Well they are having a birthday sale until Monday 11th July, so now is the time to pick up a bargain.


Sunday, 11 June 2017

5E Compliant Goblins

I've been painting some of the great Reaper bones goblins ready for future 5E D&D.
However, a quick browse through the Monster Manual shows that goblins are armed with scimitars and short bows, not spears and spiked clubs as on the minis.

Of course, it doesn't matter, but I do like to keep them as close to the book as possible.
So after painting three of the twelve goblins as a test colour scheme I decided to convert the remaining club and spear armed goblins.  I made scimitars and short swords out of the bonsium spre that the goblins were molded on.

Here is the process for making short swords; scimitars are just a slightly different shape.
Basic shape for the short sword blades.

The sprue is thick enough to make two blades.

Sliced in two to make two blades (I didn't make the halves quite equal, but for goblin blades it doesn't matter)

Two thin slices make the cross guards.  the guards are drilled through, and a hole is drilled into each blade.

The guards are threaded onto a thin brass wire, super glue added to the end and the blade attached.  The guard is then slid into place.

The original weapons are removed; with care the handles can serve as the pommels to the swords.
For some reason I cut the club off one of the painted goblins, never mind.

In case your'e wondering why the choice of weapon matters, in 5E goblins have a low strength, thus armed with clubs or spears they suffer a penalty to hit and damage, scimitars and short swords (finesse weapons) allow them to use their high dexterity giving them bonuses to hit and damage.  Win - win (as far as the goblins are concerned anyway.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Conan's Mummies

A long while back I got Monolith's conan board game.  After teasing you with some pics of the contents I promised a better look at some of the miniatures.
Well, I recently finished most of the mummies in the game (still four more to go) as I needed twelve human mummies for the current D&D adventure.  So here they are.

First pose (there are eight of these in the game)

and rear

Second pose (there are four of these in the game)

and rear


Third pose (and four of these)

and rear

Group shot of 12 of the 16 mummies in the game.


Its unusual for me to manage twelve similar miniatures without getting a little bored, but these were a joy to paint.  I kept the paint scheme simple, the bandages were khaki, the skin, where it shows through, was a purplish grey, and the cloth was a muted shade of green, red, yellow or blue.  I tried being clever with this, as the game organises monsters into groups by colours, but a closer reading of the rules suggests my idea isn't quite right, though it still gives a bit of variety.  Everything was washed with Army Painter strongtone ink, before drybrushing and highlighting and a bit of extra attention on the details like the jewelry and the rust on the sword blades (I'm particularly pleased with how this worked out).
I might base them on clear bases eventually, but this was about getting them ready for the game.
Detail wise they are very good for what they are.  As I said in my earlier post, I think they have the edge on Dungeon Saga, and about equal to the detail on The Walking Dead; All Out War.  they make great monsters for roleplaying.  I just have to decide what to do next.  I suppose I should finish the last four mummies, but there are some nice skeletons, great pirates, and the Picts (who have had an unpainted appearance in the D&D game) are full of character.

By the way, this is another photo-shoot using the home made light box.  I still don't think I've got the light levels right, but its an improvement on some of my earlier pics.


Friday, 12 May 2017

DS Furniture

To go with the doors, here is a sample of the Dungeon Saga furniture.

 The lighting isn't the best, I'm still experimenting with the lamps, but you get the idea.

Both shelf units are lovely pieces, very versatile and they paint up nicely.  The table is good, and I look forward to putting some of the pieces from Terrain Crate on it when that arrives next year.  I've used the barrels more than anything else, they provide interest, and cover, and in one game they were 'spawn points' for undead rat minions.
Painting was a simple overbrush of dark brown over black undercoat.  A further, lighter overbrush of a lighter brown, followed by drybrushes of Khaki and then bone.  Details were picked out in the relevant colours, usually with one highlight.  I might add a bit more shading with selective washes, but they will do for now.


DS Doors

I have (finally) got round to painting some of my Dungeon Saga furnishings.  I thought it was a good time to show them as Mantic's current Kickstarter, Terrain Crate is doing well and is close to ending; the stuff in there should fit very nicely with the DS stuff.

Double door about 2" wide.  I find this the most useful as I am currently using them with the Heroic Maps Ancient Dungeons set.


The doors were first washed then undercoated black.  I used the Vallejo black undercoat.  Its designed for airbrushing (and works great for that) but it also works well when brushed on.  The planks were basecoated with light brown.  I picked a few planks out on each door to paint lighter or darker, I think this gives a more naturalistic look; after all, they were presumably all made by hand (or claw), so I try to avoid too much uniformity.  A quick wash of sepia and the wood was just about done.
The bulk of the stonework was painted dark grey (VGC Charcoal?) then a few stone picked out in lighter colours.  The whole lot was drybrushed in light grey to tie the different colours together.  I'm not sure this works quite as well as the planks, and I'll try and tone it down a bit next time.
The ironwork was first painted in black, then picked out in chainmail.

I'll get some pics of the furniture up later today.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Moar Kickstarter Temptation

Well, it's been awhile, loads happening, not all game related.

I'll get back to posting more regularly, but I've not had much worth showing recently (at lest, that I can show before the players see it).

I'll just mention the following Mantic Kickstarter for RPG terrain, Terrain Crate.

The style seems similar to the 3D stuff included in Dungeon Saga, which has seen a lot of table top use in my D&D games, and it hasn't even been painted yet.

If it's at least as good as that, then I recommend it.  The Kickstarter price is certainly very good; you might not have an immediate use for everything includes, but it's well worth it if you use minis and like the 3D element.  I've found that the more you use this kind of prop, the more the players respond to it and use it within game.

I have just started painting the DS stuff, and it paints up very well.  I'll post some of it as soon as its finished.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Sponge Painting Deadzone Part 2

Last post I started sponge painting a building for Mantic's Deadzone game.
The building should be looking reasonable, but just a bit more effort will make it look a lot better, and this time we get to use a brush as well.
Firstly the stripes.  I can't remember where I first saw this idea, but painting the raised vertical bands on some of the panels really helps by adding a bit of colour.  The test building was yellow, for this one I chose blue.  I try to go for different colours on the board, I think of it as individual owners adding a touch of personality to their otherwise quite drab and uniform buildings.

First mask off around the bits you want to paint.  Masking tape is cheap enough; for this you don't need the really good stuff, save that for airbrushing.  Just make sure it sticks down next to the area to be painted, but if its a bit loose towards the edge, that helps when you peel it off.  If you're careful you can even re use it.
For this I used my Vallejo Game Colours, a dark blue than a lighter blue to catch the edges.

Finally I mixed some VMC Oily Steel with black and painted the bits I wanted to look metal (with a brush!).  These were then highlighted with pure Oily Steel.

Other steps to consider; run very watered down black into the cracks to emphasise the shadows, Sponge (or drybrush) a sandy/dusty colour around the lower edges.
Add posters and/or graffiti.