Thursday, 17 October 2019

Tunnel Fighter and War… Goat?

I’ve been continuing work on my new Frostgrave warband, and recently added two more figures. The first is my Tunnel Fighter. The miniature comes from the Rangers of Shadow Deep line, and I have painted it before, but it is such a great mini that I decided to use it again. I did, however, want to paint it completely differently to the first one.

I have decided that my warband is going to be a better-dressed than the untidy thugs and thieves that often accompany wizards into the ruins. With that in mind, I pulled magenta, one of my least-used paints, off the paint rack and got to work. I’m not sure I got the blonde hair quite right… it looks a little too vibrant, but otherwise, I’m happy with how it came out.

The rules for the tunnel fighter can be found in Into the Breeding Pits. It’s a rarely used soldier as its special ability (it’s better at finding secret passages) only comes up if players are specifically using the secret passage rules, which is uncommon outside of dungeons. That said, the soldier is no slouch in combat, and carries a pair of hand weapons, which is just cool.

The other figure is going to represent my warhound. I couldn’t find any dog models that caught my fancy, but I did have this Ghost Archipelago mountain goat laying around. I figure that not only will he do, but he actually matches the setting well. I must admit, I didn’t spend a lot of time working on him. That said, after originally painting him all white, I thought he really need some contrast, so dry-brushed on some black and grey.

Four members of the team are ready for action, six to go!

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Painting Lesson 2: Rainbowmane

A few weeks ago, I invited my daughter to have her first miniature painting lesson, which she enthusiastically accepted. I have been waiting for an opportunity for a second invite, but time has been hard to find during the busy school year.

I had a go this past Sunday afternoon, as we were all at home with no plans. In retrospect, this may have been a poor decision as we had gone swimming that morning, which generally leaves the kids exhausted. It’s probably a better time for reading stories than trying to teach painting, but I was excited to give it a try, as I had planned something special.

After our first session, I decided to find my daughter a miniature that would really excite her. She’s really into unicorns at the moment, so I figured that would be perfect. I knew Reaper did a good one in their Bones line, so it wouldn’t cost too much. As it turned out, it proved a little tricky to find one in the UK, but I eventually did with Spirit Games (great service by the way, and extensive Reaper selection).

So, I invited her to come paint with me, and when she accepted, I presented her with the miniature. She greeted it with mild excitement, and we sat down to get to work. My plan was two-fold, to continue with a main focus on care of the brush, but also to see if I could engage her imagination by asking questions about the unicorn – what is its name? what adventures has it been on? My wife is very good at inspiring this kind of creative play with the kids.

As it turned out, the whole session was a bit of a failure. She spent about ten minutes painting the unicorn. She destroyed the paint brush (well, for my use anyway, it’ll probably still work for her), and she wouldn’t really engage with my questions. We did name the unicorn ‘Rainbowmane’, but that was my suggestion. Then she said she was done and left the table. She immediately went and joined her mother and brother in the zoo they were creating in the living room.

It is perhaps worth pointing out that this is a girl who can happily colour, or do crafty bits with paper, all on her own, for an hour or more.

I sat there for a few minutes, looking at her unicorn abandoned on the table, and my own miniature that had only had a colour or two applied, and ruminated on the challenges of parenthood. I knew my daughter was tired, and I think she did actually enjoy those ten minutes, but I was so hoping for more – more time – more connection.

A lot of the time, when you are a parent, you feel like you are treading water - just trying to survive the day, keeping the kids protected, fed, and clean. For the most part, you don't expect any thanks for these things, and perhaps none is deserved. But, when you go out of your way to set up something fun, and really put some care and attention into it, in the hopes it will lead to some quality time, it hurts when it falls flat. 

I cleaned up and put the paints away.

The next day she did ask if she could put grass (flocking) on her unicorn, like I did with my miniatures. We couldn’t do it at that moment, but I told her we would the next time we painted…

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Monday, 14 October 2019

Entering the Perilous Dark

I haven’t spoken much about Frostgrave: Perilous Dark here on the blog for one simple reason – I’m nervous. Really, for the first time since the game was originally released, I’m actually worried about how a book will be received. 

Why? Well, Perilous Dark is a very different kind of book than any that have gone before it. While it’s got a lot of the same stuff – new scenarios, monsters, and treasure – and a hook – solo and co-operative play – it is presented in a very different manner. A good half of the book is ‘discussion’ of the various methods, mechanics, and ideas behind playing a wargame solo and co-operatively. Although there are rules, these rules are less about ‘Frostgrave’, than they are playing any wargame in this fashion. So really, it is sort of half supplement, half ‘how-to’ guide, and I’m just not sure how that is going to be received.

At any rate, I don’t have long to wait now, as the book will be out in a week or two. In preparation, I wrote an article for Miniature Wargames that talks about my personal thought- process for designing such a scenario, and then presents an exclusive solo or co-operative Frostgrave scenario. It even got the cover! (Though that probably has more to do with the amazing Burmak artwork that accompanies the article than the article itself!).

So, if you think the 10 solo and co-op Frostgrave scenarios presented in Perilous Dark aren’t going to be enough, and you might need another before you start designing your own, you might want to pick up the new issue of Miniature Wargames.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Captain, My Captain!

Having finished the wizard for my new Frostgrave warband, I got straight to work on his apprentice… And got very frustrated with the miniature in question before giving up and throwing it away. So, instead, I painted up my captain! Actually, I can’t afford a captain in my starting warband, so he’s going to start out as a Man-at-Arms, and hopefully get upgraded after the initial campaign day.

This figure comes from the Oathmark range, and while he’s a little short compared to the wizard, he’s got loads of character. I love the hair. I love the pose. I love the attitude. He just radiates tough. I can see he’s going to be my wizard’s right-hand man.

That said, considering he’s going to be such an important figure, in such a high-fantasy setting, I thought he needed a little more of the fantasy about him. At the same time, I was struggling with how to paint his shield. Then I hit on the idea of having the shield being covered in runes, almost like a scroll…

This actually gave me an idea for a magic item that will be appearing in Frostgave down the road, and highlights one of the reasons why I think it is so important for me to continue to paint miniatures, and play games – both are breeding grounds for creativity. [Insert justification for painting and playing games in 'work' time].

So, in some ways, this figure has more of a future than a present – someday he’s going to be a captain with a cool magic shield. For now, he’ll take charge of the soldiers in the warband while the wizard is busy working his magic and worry about his apprentice (should I ever paint one!).

Please forgive my rudimentary photoshop skills. It's useful, but not something I have a lot of interest in.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

The Varnish Wars

Last month I suffered a major hobby-related disappointment, when I discovered that my prefer varnish, Testors Dullcote, wasn’t available anywhere in the country! After a couple of days of moping, I set out on a quest to find a new varnish. As the painted minis crowded my shelf, waiting for their protective coat, I ordered half-a-dozen different varieties of varnish, including both sprays and brush-ons.

My biggest problem with most of the varnishes I tried was that either they were too glossy (I like a satin finish) or that the level of gloss seemed to be inconsistent from figure-to-figure. Several minis suffered extremely glossy coats during my experiments!

Thankfully, the last varnish I tried from my orders is giving me some great results. I’ve separately sprayed half-a-dozen minis so far, and all have a resulted in an even, satin finish.

So, for the moment, I think my search has ended. I’m still ready to go back to Testors should a supply become available, but I’m happy to use the Humbrol at the moment.

The can suggests spraying at a distance of 20 – 30cm, but, if you try it yourself, I suggest giving it a bit more distance than that, as it is a very powerful spray.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Gyer Gimblefoot

I just finished painting up this little guy, and while I’m extremely proud of the paint job, I can’t seem to capture him well in photograph. Please forgive the small photograph - anything above actual size massively shows off the imperfections in the paint job!

I bought this Reaper miniature because I was re-reading The Hobbit, because it was sculpted by Bobby Jackson, and because it just looked really fun to paint. I admit, I had no specific need for it. Now that I’ve got him though, I think he might get the call the next time my Ranger (of Shadow Deep) needs a thief companion or maybe even a recruit.

I’ve christened him Gyer Gimblefoot because I think it’s a great name for an adventuring Hobbit!

I actually wanted to buy both the metal and the Bones Black version at the same time and try painting them side-by-side to see how much of a difference I felt between the two materials while I painted; unfortunately, Reaper was sold out of the bones version when I ordered. I may try the experiment with another figure later.