Friday, 15 February 2019

Frostgrave Plastic Wizards

There is a rumour going around that a plastic wizard set is coming to Frostgrave. Well, the rumour is true! I actually received a 'test sprue' a couple of weeks ago. It was just a sample, and there was still some cleaning to do on the mold, but I just couldn’t wait! There are so many fun bits on the sprue, I just had to clip some out and have a play. Here is the result!

My new wizard, Nicholas Nicodemus and his apprentice Porthek!

Nicholas is made completely out of pieces from the sprue, including one of the four bodies. I gave him a staff in one hand and gem in the other. The gem is obviously some kind of power stone. I also glued on a couple of extra potion bottles, of which there are many on the sprue. For his apprentice, I used a body from the Ghost Archipelago Crew sprue, just to see how compatible they were. The head and the arms come from the wizard sprue. I gave him a magic wand, as I figure you don’t get a staff until you’ve made ‘full wizard’. I also attached a couple a pouch, a potion, and a scroll as well.

Oh, and that little familiar/imp thing? He’s on the sprue too!

The Wizard Box set is due out March.  It will retail for £15 and contains two sprues. Each sprue allows you to make 4 spellcasters with loads of customization options and extra bits!

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Battletech: Shattered Fortress

I am finally caught up on the Battletech universe! Which isn’t to imply that I’ve read all, or even nearly all, of its history. Only that I have read the most recent sourcebook that covers the furthest point that the Battletech history has reached (The year 3150).

Battletech:Shattered Fortress is another great addition to Battletech’s historical sourcebook line. Like the previous volumes I’ve read, this one gives you loads of information and really makes you feel like you are reading about a complex galaxy, made up of numerous sovereign states, locked in a continual political and military conflict. It is a goldmine of scenario ideas.

That said, there are a couple of things I found odd about this book compared to the previous volumes I have read. First, I felt there was a common pattern to how battles were discussed in the book. It seemed that a vast majority started with an overwhelming attack, then an unexpected gain by the defender, only for the attacker to win out in the end. Okay, there are only so many ways a battle can play out, and this certainly wasn't universal, but it almost started to feel like a rhythm to the book.

The other strange thing about this book is that the decision of the central protagonist, the move that kicks off most of the battles, doesn’t make a lot of sense. Essentially, ‘The Repulic of the Sphere’ which includes Earth and the nearest stars, has spent the last couple of decades hiding behind a ‘wall’ which prevented outside ships from jumping into any of their systems. Thus, The Republic was essentially untouchable. The story begins with the leader of the Republic turning off the wall and launching an attack in defence of one of the galaxy’s major states. But no reason is given for this move – in fact, the reason is intentionally obscured. That would be fine, except that in every other case in the book, the motivations of the leaders are expressly spelled out by an omniscient narrator. It was a little frustrating to have everything clearly presented except for the motivation of the main protagonist. Especially as the decision looks like a terrible one, as the Republic is immediately assaulted from several sides, and loses almost every battle...

Also, the book ends on a cliff-hanger. Basically, someone is attacking Earth, but the book doesn’t say who. This struck me as a little bit gimmicky, and again didn’t fit with the feel of the rest of the book.

On the whole though, those criticisms are minor. Overall, the book is extremely well-written (in fact the standard of writing in Battletech is noticeably higher than most gaming books on average). The artwork quality varies throughout the book, but is never terrible, and some of the pieces are excellent. The book contains very little game material (one new mech and some campaigns), but this isn’t what I wanted the book for anyway.

In the final analysis, it’s a nice volume that I’m glad to add to add to my collection. I’m glad to see the Battletech universe moving forward again as its ongoing history is what really sets it apart from most other games. If you are new to the setting, there is going to be a lot that is hard to follow, but if you want to get into it, I think the best approach is just to dive right in.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Tigger vs. the Fox

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk, typing something really profound, when I glanced out the window and saw a large fox staring at me from the end of the driveway. I slowly reached for my camera, but as soon as he saw it, he ran down the side of my house.

I dashed to the back window, and saw him trotting across the grass. Once again, I lined up a shot, when out of nowhere, our cat, Tigger, leapt at the fox and chased him in circles around the garden. Eventually, he cornered him under the little fruit trees. I was just able to snap this grainy shot, before the fox bounded on top of the fence and down the other side. 

Tigger did not pursue.

Although the two never came into contact in this altercation, the fox was sporting a nasty claw wound on its flank (just visible in the photo). So maybe that had met before.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Forthcoming for Frostgrave

Sometimes I am so focused on ‘the next thing’ for Frostgrave, that I lose track of what is actually going on in the present and near future. So, for my own sake, as much as that of my readers, I thought it would be a good idea to take a moment and see what is coming up in the world of Frostgrave.

Right at the moment, there is a Ghost Archipelago Nickstarter going on. This is mainly for the new plastic Tribals boxset that is about to be released. I was lucky enough to get a sample sprue of these guys, and it’s lovely.  I especially like that you can choose to put masks on all of them. Tribals are a necessary accessory if you want to play the scenarios in Ghost Archipelago: Gods of Fire as many of the scenarios either use Tribal allies, or, in a couple of cases, actually have one player playing as a tribe. The Nickstarter is about to reach its first spend goal of a free Greater Cortiki figure for all participants.

Later this month comes Frostgrave: Wizard’s Conclave. This is the first Frostgrave book that is mostly written by people other than myself, and includes scenarios written by some of the ‘big names’ in the industry, such as Alessio Cavatore, Andy Chambers, Alex Buchel, Daniel Mersey, Andrea Sfilgoi, Gav Thorpe…and others!

Coming out soon after Wizard’s Conclave is the much-anticipated Plastic Wizards Box Set!!! I also got an advance sprue of these and… well, it is awesome. It’s all sculpted by Bobby Jackson and includes so many cool bits (potions, scrolls, a mouse, a spoon, an owl, just to name a few). I’ve already painted up my new plastic wizard, and I’m just waiting for permission to show him off.

In June, it’ll be back to the Lost Isles, with Ghost Archipelago: Cities of Bronze. This one is all about the Dricheans and includes some really big monsters and deadly scenarios. Better bring your experienced Heritors for this one, and maybe round up a few Drichean soldiers to march with you. I have just read through the final proofs for this one, and I’m extremely happy with how it has all come together. It also includes maybe my favourite piece of ‘Burmak’ art to date. It illustrates the scenario ‘Palace of Chains’.

Then in October, comes something rather different – Frostgrave: Perilous Dark. I am just putting the finishing touches on the manuscript for this one, which is taking a little longer than I expected as it is the longest supplement I have ever written. This supplement focuses on playing Frostgrave solo or cooperatively. It is part ‘how-to guide’, giving lots of suggestions, ideas, and techniques for designing your own scenarios, and part campaign, featuring 10 loosely-connected scenarios. And yes, this book includes guidelines for playing the game in a randomly generated dungeon.

Oh and if you missed the news, don’t forget that the Frostgrave Tour of Tallinn is happening in 2020. Okay, it’s still a year away, but people are booking now, so sign up if you want a place!

Monday, 4 February 2019

Anarch by Dan Abnett

I just finished reading Anarch, the 15th and latest book in the Gaunt’s Ghosts series by Dan Abnett, and it blew me away! Seriously, this book is the payoff for so much that has gone before. While officially it completes a four book arc, many of the plots it covers and brings to a close reach much farther back in the series.

This book really takes off about 100 pages in, and from there, the poor Ghosts are sent running in every direction. At one point, there are no less than 4 major incidents going on simultaneously. It is gloriously unrelenting.

For me, Dan Abnett is at his best when combining military science-fiction with horror, and this book contains perhaps his best example.

Heroes rise and fall. Old faces return, while familiar friends are lost. It is, at times, gut-wrenching and tremendously sad, but for every loss there is a gain, and for every villain there is a hero.

After being just slightly disappointed in the previous book in the series, Warmaster, this book brings the series right back to its greatest heights. Were it to be the last Gaunt’s Ghosts book written (and I certainly hope that it not the case), I would be satisfied.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Mahud Princess

Several years ago, I started on a major miniature project called ‘The Voyage of the Glaurung’, which was kind of a retelling of the Jason and the Argonauts myth set in Middle-earth. I got several months into the project, painted up a ship, and the crew, created a big back story…  and then Frostgrave published, and my life, especially the hobby part of it, went a completely different direction.

I doubt I will ever get back to the Glaurung now. It has been too long, the impetus is gone, and I have my own fantasy worlds to play and tell stories in.

While going through some old figures the other day though, I found this miniature which I painted for the story, but which I never showed on the blog. She never got a name, but I knew she was a Princess of the Mahud. In the story, she was going to sort of play the part of Medea – the only ally the adventurers would have in the strange foreign lands, and a possible love interest for our hero.

I wanted to show it off now, partly for completeness sake, but also as a little example of what a difference a paint job can make. The figure is actually Galadriel, but with the red robes, the raven hair, and the dark skin, the original source is almost forgotten.

This figure is also a rare example of ethnic diversity in my painting, but that is a topic for another day.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Armies & Legions & Hordes by Dave Taylor

If you are a science-fiction and fantasy wargamer, and you like big armies, then do yourself a favour, order a copy of Armies & Legions & Hordes.

You can order it right now from Warlord Games.

Honestly, it has been a long time since a wargaming book, of any type, made me smile so much, and filled me with so much enthusiasm for the hobby.

Ostensibly, the book is a guide to working on wargaming armies. It’s not about points values, constructions methods, or painting techniques, although it touches on all of those. Instead it is a book about the thought process, the motivation, and the time commitment that goes into painting a hundred figures or more. While Dave Taylor and a couple of guest authors share their insights on this, the end result is less about gaining wisdom so much as being energized to get stuck in!

Apart from the text, which gives plenty of reading, the book is crammed with fantastic photographs of Dave Taylor’s numerous and varied armies. Most of these are from Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Fantasy (and readers may feel a pang of loss for the Old World when seeing his Artillery Train of Nuln and Army of Morr), but also includes several historical armies and a few smaller forces from other sci-fi/fantasy games.

The book itself is just gorgeous. A4, hardback, super-slick glossy paper, 170+ pages, with a ribbon. The interior layout is very clean, making it easy to read the text and drool over the photographs.

I could go on, but really, you need to see it for yourself.

This is one of the occasions that I am so happy for the existence of Kickstarter. It allowed a man who has given much to the hobby to produce a beautiful book that likely would have never been published by a traditional publisher. Thankfully, if you missed the kickstarter, you can now order a copy.

I’m sure a few people are wondering if I know Dave Taylor. The answer is yes, but not well. I honestly can’t remember where we first met, possibly a few years ago at Adepticon, although maybe before that. We’ve long moved in similar circles. We first really spoke last year, when I had the chance to sit and paint with him for an episode of GMT’s Painting Li’lHappy Minis show. I hope that someday we will have another chance to have a chat as his love of the hobby is truly infectious.