Wednesday 30 October 2019

The Gateway

Everyone should have a ruined gateway in their terrain collection. They are just a great piece of scatter terrain. I ‘encouraged’ Frostgrave players to have one by making it a ‘red-herring’ in the Ulterior Motives expansion. Recently, when writing scenarios for the Frostgrave Immersion Tour, I wrote a scenario that requires every player to bring one.   

Of course, then I realized I didn’t have a gateway that fit well with my own Frostgrave terrain – so I set out to fix that. Rummaging through my stuff, I found a gateway that was sent to me by the guy who ran the Frost Collection Kickstarter a couple of years ago. I liked the piece, but the paint job didn’t fit with the rest of my terrain.

Having decided to repaint it, I thought I might also ‘spruce it up’ a little bit, by which I mean, make it creepier. I found a random animal skull and a bit of old chain in my bits box and glued them both on.

The painting process wasn’t the most exciting, except for the chain which is free hanging and flopped about as I applied the paint. There is actually something strange about having a terrain piece with a loosely moving piece! Anyway, after the paint, I applied a little bit of snow flocking and called it done. It is a simple piece, but I think its really evocative.

And, while I promise I won’t keep harping on about this, this is another result of the miniature clear out. As my miniature backlog kept growing and growing, I felt less inclined to do side-projects like this as they didn’t bring down the pile. That’s a real shame because little items like this serve as a nice break from the more intense concentration of miniature painting and make a real difference to the look and feel of a table.


Note 1: I have no idea if the items from the Frost Collection are currently available, but it includes some neat stuff, so might be worth dropping an email if interested.

Note 2: Looking at the photo above makes me think I should have painted all of the base-rims for my Frostgrave warband grey instead of brown...

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Knight of Dol Amroth

I wanted to show off this recently-finished figure because it is such a beautiful illustration of the point I was trying to make yesterday with my Deliberate Purchasing post.

This figure is one of the original, all-metal, Knights of Dol Amroth miniatures sculpted by the Perry’s for Games Workshop’s The Lord of the Rings game, and I think it is a stunning piece of sculpture. Despite the small role played by the Swan Knights in the book (and their disappointing absence from the movie), they have always been one of my favourite parts of the story. In a tale filled with heroes, these guys are the literal ‘Knights in Shining Armour’. They are the most elite warriors in all of Gondor’s army

And yet, despite all of that, this figure languished for years in my lead pile, gathering dust in its blister pack. Why? Basically, I was too scared to paint it. I knew it would be hard to assemble and difficult to paint. More importantly, I knew it would take a lot of time, and I didn’t have a lot of time. I had hundreds of miniatures to paint, I couldn’t afford to spend a great deal of time on any one…

Well, with the huge backlog of miniatures gone, this guy quickly joined the queue of miniatures waiting to be painted. Without the pressure to ‘get things done’, I was able to take my time, trying to enjoy every step. That’s not to say it was a complete blast (note to self, when painting a horse with caparison – paint the legs before gluing it together!), but instead of getting frustrated, I just took my time, savouring every little win.

I completely painted the horse first. I tried a couple of different decorative edges for the caparison before I was happy. Then I painted half of the rider before gluing him on to the horse to finish him up. I added the shield last, after many, many corrections to the white paint.

All-and-all it took me about 4 ‘sessions’, maybe 6 – 8 hours to get it from blister to finished model. If I was just going for numbers, I probably could have finished 3 or 4 other figures in that time, but I wouldn’t be near as pleased with myself.

I am proud that I have given it my all and tried to do justice to this incredible sculpt and to my love of the Knights of the Dol Amroth. I’m not saying that I’m ready to paint up four or five more right now, but I think there is a strong possibility that I’ll pick up another one down the line, and who knows, maybe one day I’ll have a unit. Or maybe not. I’m not going to worry about it. I’m just going to appreciate what I’ve got.

Monday 28 October 2019

Deliberate Purchasing of Miniatures

For several years now, I’ve struggled when it came to miniature painting. I found it harder and harder to motivate myself, and it seemed that too many of my painting sessions were ending in frustration. Don’t get me wrong, I was still pleased with a lot of my output, but I just wasn’t enjoying it as much as I knew was possible.

The problem was, I couldn’t figure out why.

The last time this happened, it was because I needed glasses, but I didn’t believe there was any physical issue this time around. So, I pondered. I do a lot of pondering. It’s practically a hobby in itself. I thought back to the times when I was happiest painting miniatures.

Eventually, I discovered the problem. I owned too many unpainted miniatures.

In this hobby we have an unfortunate tendency to glorify our hoard. Sure, we laugh it off, with jokes about ‘The Lead Mountain’ or the ‘Shelf of Shame (or Opportunity!)’, and yet we also revel in it, like Smaug on his pile of gold. We post photographs on social media, showing off our shelf that has more unopened boxes of miniatures than the local gaming store. We back Kickstarters that contain more miniatures than it is possible to paint before we die. And then we back another one. We spend more time lusting after the new and shiny than we do concentrating on and appreciating the miniature in our hands…

And that, I realized, was the root of the problem. I wasn’t concentrating on the miniature in my hands. Every time I picked up a miniature to paint, I would feel the weight of all of the unpainted ones behind it. I would paint fast, so I could get this miniature done and move onto the next one. I wasn’t an artist enjoying his craft; I was a human treadmill attempting to pump out painted miniatures as fast as I could. I wasn’t even painting the miniatures so I could play with them anymore. I was painting to remove the weight. 

In my pondering, I realized that I have been happiest painting miniatures when I had the least miniatures to paint. If I only owned a handful, then I would take my time on each one. I would savour them, doing my best to paint each one to my highest standard. When I finished, I would feel proud of my work, instead of relieved to tick another one off the list.

So I took drastic action. I counted the number of unpainted miniatures I owned. It was many hundreds. I then chose the 50 I most wanted to paint. I didn’t worry about what game they were from, what I would use them for, or even how much they cost. The only criteria was how much I desired to sit and paint them. Then I got rid of the rest of them. Sold or given away.

I’ve come up with a new system. I only buy miniatures if I plan to paint those miniatures RIGHT NOW. Seriously, if they aren’t going to be the next miniatures to come across my painting desk, then I’m not going to buy them. I’ll pick them up later, or not. In addition, I’m not going to buy more than 6 miniatures at a time (or one box if the box contains more than 6), and I am not allowed to buy any more until I finish painting those.

Does this sound like a harsh regime? It’s really not. Since I now buy miniatures in such small batches, I actually get to buy miniatures more often! Does it mean I spend a bit more on shipping? Sure, I guess, on a per-miniature basis – but actually since it so severely cuts down on miniatures I buy and never paint, I suspect I’m saving money in the long run. Am I missing opportunities for limited-edition miniatures? I guess, if that miniature is part of some huge kickstarter that comes with 100 other miniatures… but how much of an opportunity is that? Besides, there are so many new miniatures coming out, there is always something new and cool available.

I’m now down to thirty-something unpainted miniatures. My plan is get it below twenty and keep it there. I think twenty is a good number to keep in reserve, in case of a long winter storm (seriously, that’s about the only reason I can think of to keep any in reserve at all), especially if those twenty are all thoughtfully chosen so that I know I really want to paint them.

I am currently enjoying painting miniature more than I have in years, and I think my output on this blog kind of speaks for itself. In fact, ironically, since I'm painting more, I'm actually buying more.

Look, I make my living in the wargaming industry, and a small, but important part of my income comes from the sale of miniatures. People buying miniatures is good for me financially, both directly and indirectly. But I don’t believe that binge-buying miniatures is ultimately good for anyone. The cost in money is obvious, the other costs are harder to see, but just as real.

Each of us gamers needs to work out our own appropriate level of miniature buying. I mean, obviously, if you enjoy ‘Big Battle’ wargames, you are going to need to buy more, also if you want to play more games that have required miniatures. But, if you are spending more time thinking about which minis to buy, than you are enjoying the ones you have, then there is unhealthy disconnect, and it is probably time to step back and re-examine your hobby.

Most of us got into this hobby because we love the sight of painted miniatures on the table. Maybe it was a lone warrior holding a bridge against some orcs, or maybe it was a massive army of rat men and their associated death machines. These are the things that fire our imaginations!

None of us got into this hobby because we admired a shelf-full of unpainted, unassembled piles of plastic or lead. So why should we hold such things in value now?

Friday 25 October 2019

Werewolf III

Seriously, I didn’t need another werewolf. I mean, I’ve got a couple already and how often do you need more than two? But then I saw this gem-of-a-sculpt by Tre Manor, and I just couldn’t help myself. It’s just got such an awesome look of ferocity and power.

In truth, this is one of those miniatures that does most of the painting for you. The fur is so detailed and crisply cast that a few layers of dry-brushing and you are most of the way there. I then painted up the details to match my other wolves and werewolves so he’d fit right in. Well, not quite. This guys is obviously ‘the boss’.

One of these days I’m going to have to write a scenario set in Tol-in-Gaurhoth (The Isle of Werewolves from Tolkien’s First Age stories), just so I can use them all at the same time.

Thursday 24 October 2019


You may be forgiven, dear reader, if you think this figures comes from Games Workshop’s official Middle-Earth line of miniatures. In fact, it is an old Reaper figure sculpted by Sandra Garrity, and it almost exactly fits my mental image of Legolas.

He’s armed with bow and knife, just like in the books. He is dressed in practical, travel clothes, but still has something of the prince about him. Perhaps most tellingly, he is wearing a leaf-shaped cloak clasp.

So, with apologies to Orlando Bloom and WETA, who I really do think did a great job of bringing him to life in the films, this is going to be my go-to Legolas for wargaming.

Wanting him to fit in with my other LOTR minis presented an initial problem. The miniature comes on an integral base. In truth, this is right about the size of a GW base anyway, but not close enough for my liking. So, I started by painstakingly cutting him off his base. I managed to lose just a little bit of one of his boots doing this, but sculpted it back with green stuff. Thankfully the flocking covers this up anyway.

I based the colours of his tunic and shirt on the original Orlando Bloom outfit, though adding in the gold tunic edging to give him that princely touch. For the most part, it was an extremely fun and easy miniature to paint. I painted the cloak grey, since this is obviously the one given to him in Lothlorien. The only real challenge was the ‘Lorien Leaf’ at his throat. This is a very detailed little piece, and I wanted to see if I could match the colours used in the movie. So, I did something I rarely ever do. I put on a pair of heavy-magnification reading glasses and painted a bit of emerald between the silver outlines on the leaf, which worked out really well.

Thanks to photographing the mini for this blog, I can see just a few bits I’d like to tidy up, but overall, I’m extremely satisfied with the figure, and hope to work him into some games in the future. As you can see below, he’s a very good fit with the GW Middle-Earth Range.

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Back in the Mags (with Ghost Archipelago!)

My summer of writing magazines articles continues to pay off in this month’s Wargames Illustrated, Issue 385. In fact, I’ve got two pieces in this issue.

The first is a new Ghost Archipelago scenario I wrote at the express request of the magazine’s owner and editor, Dan Faulconbridge. WI is releasing a cool new ‘Captain Flint’ miniature and were looking to place him in a scenario. As a huge fan of Treasure Island, I just couldn’t resist, even though the character doesn’t really belong in my fantasy world. So, in this scenario, the Heritors come across Captain Flint just after he’s buried his treasure and killed the crew that helped him. Of course, the crew aren’t quite as dead as the players might want…

As part of the article, I also allowed WI to reprint my black powder rules for Frostgrave and Ghost Archipelago that first appeared in Spellcaster: The Frostgrave Magazine #1.

My second piece in the issue is a discussion of ‘new editions’ of games. Having spent over a decade working in the industry, in several different capacities, I have completely changed how I think about new editions, and I thought other people might enjoy an insider’s take.

There are lots of other interesting items in the issue, especially if you have any love for Judge Dredd…

You can get your copy directly from Wargames Illustrated or from North Star

Monday 21 October 2019


A half-dozen miniatures stare down accusingly from my bookshelf. They are all painted, but none are varnished. It’s not my fault this time, or even an unhappiness with varnish, but simply the weather. It has rained, on-and-off for the past week here in Kent. There have been a few periods of calm and sun, but they have been notable as the exceptions. I know most American’s think that it is always raining in Britain (why else would Englishmen always carry umbrellas?), but it’s not true. The summers are glorious and generally dry, but come Autumn…well, the plants love it.

Anyway, thankfully I still had a few minis primed and ready to paint, including this tracker who’ll be joining my new Frostgrave warband. She’s an official Frostgrave miniature, sculpted by the legendary Mark Copplestone. If you’ve never painted a Copplestone, give it a try, they just have detail that is designed to be painted.

In order to give the figure some extra colour, I tried painting some simple flower patterns on her skirt. I wanted to hint at the same kind of colours often seen in Native America dress. My free-hand skills are not great, and limited to simple patterns like this. Even then, it is far from perfect, but when viewed from a couple of feet, as it usually will on the table (or my bookshelf) it looks really good.

Six members of the warband down. Four to go!

Friday 18 October 2019

Sabretooth Tiger Man!

Okay, I’m just going to come right out and say it – I’m really proud of my paint job on this mini!

I bought this guy for no better reason than that he is completely awesome (which is the best reason of all, if you ask me). It is sculpted by Jason Wiebe, who has always been one of my favourite sculptors of big, hairy monsters.***

I later realized I could work him into my new Frostgrave warband. He’s a big guy, and needs appropriately big stats, so I decided I would use him as a ‘bear’ animal companion. That makes him large and fearsome, but does mean he’s a little too focused to stop and pick up treasure…

Down the line, when gold is aplenty in the warband, I will probably upgrade him into a Barbarian so he can carry treasure and an item, but we’ll see.

At first, I thought I was going to give him a simple, mountain-lion style paint job. But, when I picked him up to paint, I just thought ‘go for it, man!’ I looked at a couple of painted examples on line and figured, I can do a tiger…
I probably spent more time on this figure’s head, than I have ever spent on a figure’s head before. Partly, this is because the head is big enough to really concentrate on details, and partly because most of those details had to be painted free-hand. So, so pleased with the finished head.

Also of note is the blade of the sword. I painted it ‘semi-metallic metal’, that is, I mixed just a drop of silver into grey. I’m not quite sure why I did this… I just felt like that much metallic wouldn't work when the rest of the figure is so organic. Anyway, it seems to have worked out nicely.

Five members painted, five to go!

*** I actually wrote this blog post yesterday. This morning, I was surprised to see that North Star has released images of the 'Cronohound' miniatures that will be released for Frostgrave: Perilous Dark, and they just happened to be sculpted by Jason Wiebe! I honestly didn't know he was part of the project.

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.

Tuesday 8 October 2019

Frostgrave 2020

Next year is shaping up to be a big one for Frostgrave. Of course the main event will be the release of Second Edition in June, with another – as yet unrevealed – supplement later in the year. And, there will probably be a few issues of Spellcaster magazine as well.

It’s not just about the books, not for me, anyway. I’ve got the Geek Nations Frostgrave Immersion Tour in February (still a couple of spaces left!), and a slate of Frostgrave activities at Adepticon. 

But for me, it all kicks off in January, in London. The guys from HATE (Hackney Area Tabletop Enthusiasts) have invited me up for a day of Frostgrave gaming! We are going to be fighting it out in a four-scenario campaign called ‘Swords Against the Slime Lord’ (coming to Spellcaster at some point).

Considering all of this, I thought it was high-time I painted up a new warband. In truth, every Frostgrave warband I’ve used up to this point has been somewhat thrown together. This time, I’m purpose building a warband from the ground up. So, to kick things off, I needed a new wizard!

I picked this guy up from Reaper. It’s a Gene Van Horne sculpt and just has buckets of character. In truth, I found the painting process a real struggle. The shallow detail – which make sense as most of it is detailing on the robes – really pushed my painting ability. Halfway through, I nearly abandoned it in frustration, but I pushed on, and I’m glad I did. It really came together right at the end.

I’ve been experimenting with new varnishes, and he’s come out a little glossier than I wanted (although the camera flash has made it look worse in the photograph than it actually is), so I may re-coat him.

I’m not sure what type of wizard he’ll be. He’s got a lot of the Elementalist about him, but in general, I’m not a big fan of playing Elementalists… we will see. I’ve got time, and I’ve got 9 more figures to add to his warband!

Monday 7 October 2019

Barbarian Hack

Barbarian Hack is a very simple, solo miniatures dice-rolling game, I created a few years ago. It originally appeared in an issue of Tabletop Gaming Magazine, but I have recently released in my own Spellcaster: The Frostgrave Magazine with a new print-and-play board designed by Andrew Vallas.

I printed one out and glued it to some foam board. Now my barbarian is ready to hack some skeletons!

Friday 4 October 2019

Spellcaster 5 is Available!

After a bit of a hiatus, Spellcaster: The Frostgrave Magazine has returned! Whether you are interested in exploring the Frozen Ruins or the Lost Isles, this issue has something for you. It includes:

·       Rules for higher level Heritors, including 4 legendary soldiers for Ghost Archipelago.
·       Rules for monster hunting in the Frozen City, including individual experience points rewards for all of the official creatures, as well as claiming bounties on these monsters such as spell components.
·       Barbarian Hack – a solo, quick-play, miniature, dice-rolling, print-and-play board game set in a dungeon beneath the Frozen City.
·       8 new Ulterior Motive cards for Ghost Archipelago.
·       2 new legendary soldiers for Frostgrave.
·        A solo dragon-hunting scenario.
·       A Frostgrave ‘Big Game’ scenario.
·       A Frostgrave scenario set in the breeding pits.

The new issue is now available in PDF on DriveThruRPG. A print-on-demand version will be following along soon, hopefully within a couple of weeks.

Wednesday 2 October 2019


(Click the Photo for a better look!)

Having finished painting all of the Rangers for Rangers of Shadow Deep, I felt compelled to share a ‘Team Shot’.

Look, I know I am biased, but I really, really loved painting these figures. Not only do I just love painting rangers, but these Bobby Jackson sculpts are some of the best. I’ve realized, recently, that the works of some miniature sculptors are just more fun to paint than others. Not necessary because the miniature looks better, but because of some inherent trait in the sculpting. It seems to revolve around both the level of detail, not too much, not too little, but also the depth of that detail. Bobby Jackson sculpts in such a way that the brush has an easier time catching the detail, which reduces frustration while painting. This extends beyond his work on Rangers as I am currently painting up one of his Reaper figures and it is very apparent there as well.

So, thanks again to Nick at North Star and to Bobby Jackson for producing such a great, fun to paint, set of miniatures to accompany my game. Now onto the bad guys!

Tuesday 1 October 2019

Painting Lesson #1

Here is something that is not easy to admit. I find fatherhood difficult. I love my kids to bits, and would do anything for them, but the actual day-to-day work of being a parent, I find challenging, even as I know that my wife is doing significantly more than her fair share.

For a while now, I have been struggling to engage with my children. Partly this is a natural introversion, which means I quickly tire in intense social situations, but more I think it is a difficulty engaging with ideas on the level of a five-year-old and a three-year-old. I just get bored really quickly, and find myself longing to be somewhere else. Then I feel guilty for feeling that way.

So, I got to thinking about it. I watched my wife engage with them, and I thought back to the best engagements I’ve had with them. Then, I made an interesting discovery. My wife, I realized, often tries to steer their play into areas that interest her. She loves the outdoors and the natural world, as well as arts and crafts, and tries to guide them in that direction. She actively instigates these activities. Meanwhile, one of the best interactions I’ve had with my daughter recently is when I suggested we do some painting together.

This is probably pretty obvious to some people, but it was a realization to me: interactions with my children go much better when we are doing something that I like doing as well! If I’m always passively reacting to what they want to do, I will often end up bored, engaging in play which does not interest me. If, however, I offer them options which I actually enjoy, as often as not, they will happily join in. This isn’t about steering the children in directions they don’t want to go – I want to support my children to find their own paths and interests – but at this age, they know so little of the world, they are likely to be interested in trying out all kinds of new things. The key is that I have to be active in offering these opportunities.

So, in an attempt to put my new idea into practice, I put my miniature paints on the table last night, and asked my daughter if she wanted to paint a miniature. Last time, I gave her a miniature and let her get on with it with her kiddie-paints and kiddie-paint brush. This time, I gave her one of my brushes (yes, I paused, but decided the sacrifice was worth it). I let her choose her paints from my miniature paints. I let her shake them, though I still squeezed the dropper bottles. I decided I would concentrate on the proper use of the paint brush – dipping and cleaning – and not worry about how she was painting the miniature. That could be for future lessons if she wants them.

I painted my own miniature along side her (another ghost that took very little attention). Of course, she said she was ‘done’ after 15 minutes and asked for another miniature, but I said, that’s all there was for tonight, as miniatures are expensive and we need to enjoy making each one as good as we can. She then happy carried on for another 10 minutes.

So, really, it was only 25 minutes, but it was 25 minutes that I really enjoyed, and I think she did too. I honestly don’t know if she enjoyed the painting for its own sake or just the fact that she got to sit there and use ‘Daddy’s paints’.  In a few days, I’ll dig out another miniature and ask if she’d like to have another go. I’d love it if she says yes, but if not, I’ll start looking for something else that we can do together that I’ll enjoy.

My son is a little easier in that he loves kicking and throwing a ball, and as I enjoy these activities to, it’s easier to go right into it - though again - I need to work harder to initiate this interaction. That said, I need to find something we can do indoors, as the rainy season is coming!

As they get older, I’m sure my children will find their own interests that in all likelihood will not parallel my own (though I can hope). Then, I think, I will need explore ways to find my own interest and enjoyment in those areas; but, for now, they are still deep in the exploratory phase, and there is plenty I can show them about the world that I love and enjoy.