Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Mr. Lulu

My son (3 years old) wandered into my office, pointed at my bookshelf and said:

'Can I have Mr. Lulu.'

I had no idea what he was referring to. The dinosaur? The mech? The Chimera? After a little bit of trial and error, I discovered he was referring to the knit Cthulhu doll that sits on top of the shelf.

Considering my daughter (5 years old) calls him 'Mr. Squidface', I'm not sure how he got that close to the name...

Mr. Lulu was hand-knitted by my sister. No she doesn't sell them... we'll, I guess if you offered her enough she might.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

In the Wargaming Mags!

It was a bit of a quiet summer on the Ren. Troll. Partly this was due to a lack of hobby activity on my part, but also because I ended up writing a slew of magazine articles, which kind of fulfill the same writing urge as blogging. This wasn’t something I set out to do, it just sort of happened. Well the first fruits of those labours can be seen in the newly released issue of Miniature Wagames (#438).

I’ve actually got two pieces in the issue. The first is a couple of pages discussing my starting point in designing a wargame, namely a game’s ‘Core Mechanics’. If you are interested in game design, you might want to have a look. I also get ‘The Last Word’ in the issue, where I write a bit about the rise of 3D printing in wargaming. This piece also features a very large photo of my face (not sure how that’s a selling point, but there you go).

Actually, the issue feels a bit like an Osprey Game Designer party as it also features an interview with Ash Barker about his new expansion for Last Days – including a new scenario, and an interview with Mike Hutchinson about Gaslands Refuelled – also including a new scenario.

My stuff aside, it’s an interesting issue that also includes a couple of cut-out card bunkers, a long interview with the Perry twins, and even a set of rules for historical battles in the Renaissance (no trolls though).

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Catching Up on Star Wars

I received an email recently stating that my Star Wars geek-accreditation was due to expire. As I deem this important to both my professional and social life, I figured I had better brush up and get recertified. I mean, I can tell my Trandoshans from Zabraks, but what’s this about Darth Maul surviving The Phantom Menace?

So, I

This is the only one of the feature films that I hadn’t seen, and, in truth, I hadn’t heard any glowing reviews. Still, I went in with an open mind. I enjoyed it, but I doubt I’ll remember much about it in a few weeks. It just seemed to lack a bit of heart. In truth, while I’ve enjoyed some of the Disney movies, and parts of others, their main accomplishment has been to demonstrate how rare and difficult to duplicate the original trilogy was.

This was, I think, the first Star Wars novel released under Disney. It was a fun read, a fast-paced adventure novel. I like that it didn’t feature any of the movie characters in a major role. Although it is the first book in a trilogy, it pretty much stands alone. I will likely read the others at some point, when I feel I need a Star Wars fix, though I’m not rushing out to get them.
            I do love the way that Disney restarted the Star Wars universe. They apparently said everything in the films was canon, everything outside of them was not. Then, they stated that everything in their new books, comics, cartoons, etc. was canon and have then slipped some of the old stuff back into the new universe (such as Grand Admiral Thrawn).

This four-series cartoon has gotten a lot of good press. I watched the first season and really enjoyed it. It’s a kid’s show, but that can be enjoyed by adults. Although it’s broken into 25 minute episodes, its 15 episode seasons means it can spend more time on character development. In truth, I think it has more of the feel of the original trilogy than any Star Wars media I have seen since. I will definitely be watching the rest of the series, which I hear gets even better.

Bought and painted some Star Wars: Legion figures.

I was a bit miffed when Star Wars: Legion came out. The figures are something like 35mm, which means they are incompatible with all of my other figures, including the Star Wars: Imperial Assault figures I’ve collected. Since I wasn’t particularly interested in the game either, I ignore them.
            Then I saw some of the new Rebel Pathfinders in the shop and decided to give them a go. They are extremely nice figures. Although they are cast in a somewhat bendy plastic, the detail is very sharp - as good as most metals. Although they need super-glue to assemble, they fit together perfectly.

Monday, 9 September 2019


The Chimera has always been one of my favourite mythological monsters, but for a long-time I never found a miniature of one that completely satisfied. Then, not too long ago, I came across this one from Atlantis Miniatures. It’s absolutely huge. It’s also very expensive. I loved it, but I couldn’t justify it.

Well, a couple of months later, it was given to me as an overly-generous birthday present from a friend.

I must admit that the ‘miniature’ is so big and so beautiful that for a while I was too intimidated to paint it, fearing that my paint job could only make it worse. But minis need paint – it’s just a natural law.

The miniature is composed of a very plastic-like resin. There wasn’t a single air-bubble to be found. The pieces fit together perfectly, except for the tail/serpent-head which gave me a little trouble.

Painting it began as a bit of chore as it took awhile to get the base coat down; however, once that was in place, the body was just six layers of dry-brushing. Then I spent a few hours on the two big heads, before quickly painting the serpent-head and the base. All-and-all, I probably spent between 6 and 8 hours on it.

It’s truly a centrepiece figure, and while it comes at a premium price, you really are getting what you pay for here. This may not be the last Atlantis Miniature to join my collection!

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Occult Investigator

I finished painting the last figure in the Dracula’s America Hired Guns II pack that I bought from North Star. I had a lot of fun painting all of three of the figures, and I can definitely see myself getting a few more.

This last one is some sort of paranormal investigator, and frankly would probably fit just as well into a Victorian game as an Old West one. With my renewed interest in Deadlands and now Sagas & Six-guns, I can definitely see him getting onto the table at some point.

I also painted one of the wizard shades from The Maze of Malcor. The paint job for this figure isn’t particularly remarkable, it is literally just blue highlighted all the way up to white, but the circumstances of its painting make it special.

This is the first figure I have fully painted while sitting and painting with my five-year-old daughter. I gave her a plastic Frostgrave figure to paint, which she ‘finished’, in about five minutes. She went on to paint several paintings (all of them masterpieces) while I worked on this one figure. Since the paint job didn’t require much attention, I was able to chat with her the whole time, which was wonderful.

I should get the other four wizard shades based up and ready to paint just encase we have another opportunity!

Monday, 12 August 2019

Rangers of Shadow Deep: Ghost Stone

Ghost Stone, the latest book in the Rangers of Shadow Deep series is now available as a PDF and print-on-demand!

If you are unsure if you need this is your life, I have included the introduction to the book below to help you make up your mind.


Welcome to Ghost Stone, the latest supplement for Rangers of Shadow Deep. This book is divided into two main sections. The first section presents a new mission with four scenarios. Unlike previous missions, this one is designed to be played by two different ranger groups of differing levels. Scenarios 1 & 3 are designed for level 0–5 rangers, while scenarios 2 & 4 are designed for rangers that have reached levels 10–15. Each of the scenarios has an effect on future scenarios, and the whole mission is structured to show how different ranger groups sometimes work together to complete a task that is too complex for one to handle alone. I did, briefly, worry about writing a mission that would force players to create a second ranger, as I know how people get attached to their characters. However, I figure this mission gives players a chance to use their main ranger in the higher level scenarios, while creating a new ranger for the lower level ones. Plus, I’ve come to realize that most players take the need for a new figure as an opportunity! As an added bonus, the mission potentially gives players the chance to bring back some older companions that may no longer have a place in their main ranger’s party and use them to support the new ranger. One of the scenarios also calls for the rangers to work with a unique companion, who can potentially be used in future missions, assuming she survives…
The second part of this book is called ‘The Weapon Hoard’. Not long ago, I went to the British Library to see a special exhibit on the Anglo-Saxons. The exhibit mainly contained ancient manuscripts, but there were a few other items as well. One of these was an Anglo-Saxon seax. The word means ‘knife’, but most people would call such a large weapon a sword. What was peculiar about this seax was that it had bronze wire beaten into the blade so that it spelled out a name. No one knows if the name belonged to the creator, the owner, or was actually the name of the blade. Looking at that beautiful ancient weapon, I realized how important a unique weapon can be to a legendary hero. King Arthur, Roland, Strider, the Grey Mouser, they all had their own named weapons that accompanied them on their adventures.

I decided in that moment that I wanted to give Rangers of Shadow Deep players the opportunity to find unique weapons with their own special abilities and their own mysterious pasts. After all, the Shadow Deep has existed at least as long as recorded history, and in that time it has swallowed an unknown number of lands. Many of the weapons of those lands will likely have survived, either left buried in the rubble, or recovered by the minions of the Shadow Deep. So, ‘The Weapon Hoard’ is essentially a list of 52 unique weapons that can be found during your adventures. Hopefully, this will bring a little more narrative, a little more mystery, and a little more fun to your games.

As I’ve continued to work on Rangers of Shadow Deep, I’ve come to realize that there are two types of supplements, or, at least, two types of missions: those that carry forward the main narrative, such as the main rulebook and Temple of Madness, and those that are part of the greater war but not driving the central narrative forward, such as Blood Moon. Ghost Stone fits more into this second category. While it covers some large events, it really serves more as a side-quest. It keeps us in touch with the ongoing conflict, but can essentially slot in anywhere during the story. Going forward, I hope to continue writing both kinds of missions, to keep the story rolling, but also to provide players with adventures that they can work into their stories at any time.

Once again, a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who has bought the game and otherwise supported my work. I continue to get a huge amount of satisfaction out of developing and experimenting with the game, and my ability to do so is largely due to your support. I hope you enjoy this new supplement, and, if you get the chance, please share the results of your adventures on the Rangers of Shadow Deep Facebook page, on Board Game Geek, or on one of the great miniatures forums.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Starfire Elemental

It’s a well-known fact that artists often have a hard-time sticking to the brief. Such was the case for Bobby Jackson when he came to sculpt the starfire elemental for Maze of Malcor

Basically, a starfire elemental is just a big ball of floating fire. Instead of that, Bobby sculpted a floating metal sphere, burning with internal fire, and smoke pouring out of it. I love it. It doesn’t match the description at all, but it’s just such a cool figure.

In the end, it was decided to use this figure and sculpt the more accurate version and include them in the same pack. I think it was the correct decision.

The starfire elemental is technically a creature, but in truth, it acts more like a spell effect. Soon after it was released, Games Workshop saw the model and stole the idea for their entire range of ‘EndlessSpells’. (Okay, that’s almost certainly not true, but I figure a little GW controversy might help sales!).

It was a fun, quick paint (except for trying to paint in the small, flaming cracks in the sphere), and it looks fantastic on the tabletop!