Friday, 18 December 2020
Thursday, 17 December 2020
So, in the end, I did actually back the Battletech kickstarter, though only at a very minor level. I ordered two lances of mechs (8 minis total). I knew I would enjoy them when I got them, but also that it wouldn't overload me. Anyway, I have just painted up the first 2 to join my Firehawks Legion.
There is nothing particularly fancy about the paint jobs for these guys. I did hand-paint all of the little black lines on them, as I think it really makes them pop better than I can manage with an ink or. I suppose it would be a tedious task if I were painting a lot of them, but it doesn't really take that long when doing one or two.
I think these are great minis. Certainly the best official minis that Battletech has ever had.
Tuesday, 15 December 2020
I finished painting this cottage a couple of weeks ago, but forgot to show it off. It's my second building from Tabletop World, and, like the first, it is a beauty. The detail is deep and wonderful. It's not only well sculpted, but just has terrific character. Here it is being used for cover by a pair of High Vault Guards.
If you look closely, you can see that I have mounted the cottage on a thin base of cork. This serves several purposes. First, it brings the building up just a bit, which counteracts the height that figures gain from their bases, keeping the height properly in scale. It also gives the cottage a grippy base, so it is more inclined to stay in place during a game. Finally, it helps absorb some impact, when it is moved around and placed on the table or back in storage. I went back and added such a base to my first building as well.
Having finished two such buildings and enjoyed them both, I think I might be ready to tackle something a little bigger. We shall see!
Monday, 14 December 2020
I have painted up the first four members of my Notpoleonics Imagi-Nation. At the moment, I don't know much about the nation, but I do know that these guys are members of the 1st Battalion, High Vault Guards. This regiment grew out of the guardians of the royal treasury (the 'High Vault'). The 3rd Battalion still fulfills this original role, while the 1st and 2nd are active line units. The 3rd is mainly made up of veterans who have earned a slightly easier posting. The regiment is generally considered an elite formation, as the king is rather careful about who guards his money.
One of the tips I got from reading Armies & Legions & Hordes was to keep a painting journal - specifically to make note of the colours used for specific units in case I want to add more figures to it at a later date. This seems wise, and I was curious to know how many different paints I used on one figure. The answer in this case is 22.
So, here's my painting instructions for the High Vault Guard. I haven't mentioned every little buckle and belt, but this should get me close enough. Where I have separated colours with a '-' that means a 50/50 mix. A '/' means 'layered on top of'. 'Wash' refers to a a thin wash of 1 parts black paint and 3 or 4 parts water. Most of the colours listed are Vallejo Model Colours.
High Vault Guards Painting Instruction
Flesh: Beige Brown / Beige Brown - Beige Red / Beige Brown / Mid Brown / Beige Red
Jacket: Cavalry Brown - Flat Red / Flat Red / Wash / Flat Red
Cuffs: Medium Blue - Black / Medium Blue
Belts: Cold White
Buttons: Old Gold
Trousers: Pavement - Sea Grey / Sea Grey / Wash / Sea Grey
Scabbard: Mahogany Brown / Mahogany Brown - Cold White
Hilt and Scabbard Caps: Bronze
Sword Tassel: Dark Sand / Lemon Yellow
Backpack: Leather Brown / Leather Brown - Dark Sand
Bedroll - Brown Violet / Brown Violet - Cold White
Musket Stock - Leather Brown - Flat Earth / Flat Earth
Musket Barrel & Bayonet: Gunmetal Grey / Gunmetal Grey - Chainmail Silver
Crest: Black - Pavement / Pavement
Base: Jungle Green
Wednesday, 9 December 2020
As this year limps toward a close, I must admit, I'm feeling a kind of gamer angst - a pent up energy that should have been used rolling dice, pushing around figures, and hanging out with friends. Since that doesn't look like it is going to change in the near future, I've had to take a different approach. Instead, I've decided its time to start a new army!
Now, the decision on which army was greatly influenced by my desire to do something that is completely unrelated to my work. After much thinking, I decided I would begin work on a faux-Napoleonic army! By which I mean, I'm going to use Napoleonic figures, but I'm not trying to construct a historical force. Instead, I plan to create my own country for them. In wargaming, this is sometimes called an Imagi-Nation, although those are still normally placed within a historical context, where mine is going to sit outside of any specific context. Basically, I just want to paint up a big force of cool looking toy soldiers that I can use for any number of games. In the future, I hope to see these guys taking on other Napoleonic-esque foes, gunning down zombies, and fighting aliens on far flung worlds. Basically, I want to just have fun with it, and not worry too much about what they are 'for'.
I've decided this will be my big project for 2021 (though I'm getting an early start). My goal is to complete at least 8 units by the end of next year. At the moment, I plan on:
3 Units of Infantry (16 figures each)
2 Units of Cavalry (8 Figures each)
2 Units of Artillery (1 gun and 4+ figures each)
1 Command Element (Whatever I feel like)
It's a big ask, but I'm giving myself plenty of time! Nor am I above changing that alignment as I go along. In fact, I've already changed it once.
My plan is to use mostly Front Rank figures. These have a lot of advantages for me over other manufacturers. They are all metal. They are sized a bit bigger than most, making them easier on the eyes. They all fit on penny bases, and, perhaps best of all, all of the figures can be bought individually. They are also just really nice.
As you can see from the photo, I've already gotten started on the first unit. I'll provide some better photos soon.
This project isn't just about painting minis though. While the army isn't a true Napoleonic force, I am also planning on doing a lot of Napoleonic warfare reading this year. To begin, I have obtained a copy of The Campaigns of Napoleon (in 3 volumes)!
Also, to gear myself for this big project, I re-read Dave Taylor's Armies & Legions & Hordes, which is all about tackling big miniature projects.
Thursday, 3 December 2020
HDQRS. Twenty-fourth South Carolina Vols.
Jonesborough, Ga., September 10, 1864.
Major: In compliance with the late order from brigade headquarters, I have the honor to report the operations of the Twenty-fourth South Carolina Volnteers during the campaign from Dalton to Atlanta, embraced between the 6th of My and the 18th of July last.
By the organization of the Army of Tennessee, in winter quarters at Dalton, the Twenty-fourth South Carolina Volunteers was attached to Gist’s brigade, Walker’s division, Hardee’s corps. The brigade was composed of three regiments and a battalion, viz, the Sixteenth and Twenty-fourth South Carolina Regiments, the Forty-sixth Georgia, and the Eighth Georgia Battalion…
…On the 14th [of May] the enemy was reported crossing in force at McGinnis’ Ferry, which is about a mile below Gideon’s Ford. The Sixteenth South Carolina Volunteers was in front of McGinnis’ Ferry, on the road leading from the ferry to Calhoun, the distance from the ferry to the town being a short mile. The general ordered the Twenty-fourth to march rapidly to the support of the Sixteenth, which order was promptly obeyed. Arriving near the ferry, after a rapid march of about three miles, we found the Sixteenth retiring slowly before the force of the enemy, which had crossed. Colonel McCullough, commanding the Sixteenth, reported to me a strong force in his front, with artillery. After conferring further with him I deemed it best to move at once against this force, which was then advancing into a wood in our front. Deploying, and moving up to the Sixteenth, which had meanwhile halted, and was firing into the woods, I ordered a charge in concert with the Sixteenth. We easily drove the enemy back to the river, under cover of his artillery, which was posted on the hill to the west side, and under its fire the enemy recrossed in our sight. Not a man was hit in the Twenty-fourth, though there were some casualties in the Sixteenth. I have no idea of the enemy’s loss, though I am satisfied our fire galled him at the river…
[Soon after, the whole of Gist Brigade is ordered to the main line, but appears to have remained in reserve for most of the rest of the battle. The report goes on for quite a bit, but the only other mention of the 16th is when the Major of the Regiment is killed leading the brigade skirmish force during the fighting around Dallas. It is likely that the 16th is part of some of the movements and fighting mentioned, but there is no way to be sure. However, I have included the next two parts for general interest.]
...In the fight of the 24th we captured a sharpshooter who had a small looking-glass attached to the butt of his musket, so that he could sit behind his breast-work, perfectly protected, with his back to us, and by looking into his glass, sight along the barrel of his piece…
…Next day, the 18th, while we were forming to march from our bivouacs to the right a rumor prevailed that General Johnston had been removed from command, and after we had marched some distance on the road to Atlanta a courier handed me a circular order from General Hood announcing General Johnston’s remove and assuming command. Shortly after the farewell address of General Johnston was received and read to the regiment. It is due to truth to say that the reception of these orders produced the most despondent feelings in my command. The loss of the commanding general was felt to be irreparable. Continuing the march and passing by his headquarters Walker’s division passed at the shoulder, the officers saluting, and most of the latter and hundreds of the men taking off their hats. It has been proposed to halt and cheer, but General Johnston hearing our intention requested that the troops march by in silence...
Monday, 23 November 2020
Here is the figure I'm going to use for Elladan, one of the sons of Elrond, in my Grey Company. It's an older Reaper figure, sculpted by Sandra Garrity.
What I like about the figure is the simplicity of its costume, but with they dynamic (but not overly dynamic) pose. He is wearing the chainmail, which is appropriate, but has a jacket over it, which is more fun to paint and provides better contrast. What I'm not sure about is the size of the two swords. I mean, over-sized weapons have a long history in fantasy miniatures, but it is even more pronounced when a figure has two of them!
Still, I think the good outweighs the bad, and I love the way the cloak folds around the figure - especially since the only real connection in the Grey Company is the cloaks.
Once again, the most challenging aspect of the figure was removing it from its integral base. Otherwise, it was a straight-forward paint job.
Of course, since I've got Elladan, I'm going to have to find a suitable figure for his twin brother!
Wednesday, 18 November 2020
Another figure finished in my week of holiday painting, this figure comes from the official Rangers of Shadow Deep line produced by North Star.
The figure represents Covin, one of the auxiliary companions I created for the Blood Moon scenario to serve as suspects in the werewolf hunt. In truth, he looks much cooler and more noble that I originally imagined him. In fact, he struck me as rather Dunedain in appearance. So, I painted him up to serve as one of the Grey Company, who followed Aragorn through the Paths of the Dead and onto Minas Tirith after borrowing the Corsair's ships.
Bobby Jackson turned in another amazing sculpt for this one, and it was a real joy to paint. The banded armour, especially, gives nice lines and definition to the torso.
You can only sort of see it in my photo, but if you carefully examine the figure, you might notice he has a very strange glove on his left hand. That's because the character of Covin only has two fingers on this hand. I remember when Bobby came to sculpt the figure, he emailed me and asked about that. He rightly pointed out that if people received a figure with only two figures on one hand, they would probably assume it was a casting error (and Nick at North Star would have loved me for those emails...). So, he suggested giving the figure a specially created glove to make it more apparent that the move was intentional.
Well, whether fighting Mordor or the Shadow Deep, this guy is ready to go!
Friday, 13 November 2020
Although this figure is listed as an ogre, and will probably seem some use as such in Rangers of Shadow Deep and other games, it also fits my mental image of Middle-earth trolls. In fact, Bobby sculpted three similar ogres, and I do wonder if that wasn't so people could use them as the three trolls from The Hobbit, should they so desire.
I painted him using what has become my 'default method' these days. Basically, 3 - 4 layers of paint for most areas mixed with 2 or 3 washes of decreasing thickness. It's a rather slow process, as it means a lot of waiting for washes to dry, but I think the slow pace means I spend more time thinking about a miniature and more time examining places that might need a touch up.
Anyway, it's one I'm glad to add to the collection.
Wednesday, 11 November 2020
Monday, 9 November 2020
Tuesday, 3 November 2020
I just wanted to take a moment and let everyone know how things stand with Rangers of Shadow Deep.
The Deluxe Edition - Apparently stock of this book is getting low again, and, it might be the last printing. With rising printing costs and smaller print runs, it might not be possible to keep this version of the book in print, so if you want one, get it now. I am talking to Modiphius about different ways to keep the book in print.
Dungeons Deep (The Rescue Part 2). The truth is, I did a lot of work on this book and then decided I wasn't at all happy with it. So, I decided to ditch it and start over. Unfortunately, I have a couple of contractual items to complete before I can get back to it. I should be working on it towards the end of the year, with an eye to releasing in the first quarter of 2021.
Blaster 2 - This anthology is going to contain the first part of my Shadowgrave rules, essentially bringing the Cthulhu Mythos to games of Frostgrave, Ghost Archipelago, and Rangers of Shadow Deep. It includes rules for sanity rolls, permanent madness, some monsters, and a scenario for each game. The anthology is essentially done, we are just having some issues getting it uploaded to DriveThruRPG for print-on-demand.
Monster Cards - Modiphius are working on a set of monster cards that will include a card for every creature that has featured in the game so far. Barrett Stanley has provided illustrations for all of the creatures that have not previously been illustrated.
So, that's where things stand at the moment. I'll let everyone know if anything changes on any of those, or if anything new comes up!
Wednesday, 21 October 2020
Core Schools of Magic (81)
Homunculus, Lichdom, & Revenant (3)
Beastcrafter & Reaction Spells (7)
Demonic Servant & Mystic Brand (2)
Schools of the Pentangle (30)
Warden Spells (30)
Snake-man Magic (8)
Rangifer Spells (10)
Slime Spells (4)
For a grand total of 175 unique spells! (And, as I said, there are more on the way). Well, that should be enough for people to be having some fun with.
I think I have earned the title ‘Spellcrafter’! Especially since I have also written a bunch of spells for Rangers of Shadow Deep and Oathmark as well – though some of these overlap with the Frostgrave ones.
Friday, 16 October 2020
Yes, the rumours are true. I have spent a lot of this year working on a new game... A game that draws upon many of the basic mechanics found in Frostgrave and Ghost Archipelago, but which uses them in a completely new setting. This is Stargrave, a game set in a ravaged galaxy, where two empires fought a vast war that ended in mutual annihilation. Now, pirate fleets roam the shattered ruins of the galaxy, taking whatever they want and enforcing their own brand of 'justice'.
Against this dark background, the players create their own small crew. Maybe they are merchants or smugglers, freedom-fighters or wanted criminals, rogue scientists or collectors of alien artefacts. Each crew features two 'characters' a captain and a first-mate, each of whom can choose their own background, such as veteran, cyborg, robotics expert, mystic, rogue or psionicist, to name a few. These backgrounds give access to various powers or abilities that these figures can use during or between games.
Well, a lot more will be coming out about the game in the coming weeks and months, before its release in April 2021. For now, I really just came to show off the cover!
Monday, 12 October 2020
Wednesday, 7 October 2020
In truth, this isn’t quite the Gimli I wanted. I wanted a figure that was closer to the Angus McBride depiction – but, after much searching, I couldn’t find anything that worked for me. So, I just decided to go with a dwarf model I really liked, as long as it had an axe!
At first, I passed over this dwarf model, sculpted by Werner Klocke, because his heavy plate armour didn’t seem fitting. Then, it occurred to me that I could paint the metal as leather, and if I painted it as a kind of red leather, it would tie the figure closer to the film interpretation of Gimli.
All-and-all, I think it worked out pretty well. The painting process was a bit strange. I had a lot of fun painting the top half – lots of big detail – but the legs gave me all kinds of problems. For whatever reason, mostly my eyes I suspect, I just couldn’t see the detail on the legs that well. Thus, the legs aren’t painted a well as the rest of the figure. Still, they are not that easy to see most of the time either, so I’m not going to worry about it too much.
Size-wise, he’s a good mach. He stands just a bit taller than the Hobbits, but shorter than everyone else!
So, this brings me up to 8 members of the Fellowship and smack into a problem… You see, my three Hobbits are all Bobby Jackson sculpts from Reaper. I love them, but they have a very particular style that doesn’t really match well with other hobbit/Halfling figures out there. That would be fine, except to-date, Reaper have only released three of them! (Okay, there is also a Hobbit cook and a barmaid in a similar style, but that’s not really useful in this situation). So, I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it. I'm not even sure if I'm missing Frodo or Pippin, as that will depend on whatever figure I end up with. Anyway, here are the 8 walkers so far!
Monday, 5 October 2020
I’m pretty excited to show this one off. After a long delay on my Fellowship of the Ring progress, I have painted up my Boromir! It took me a long time to find a figure that came close enough to my personal vision of the character – most of which is based on the Angus McBride depiction from the cover the Middle-Earth Role-Play Rulebook.
The figure is a relatively old Reaper figure, sculpted by Sandra Garrity. Although Boromir is a great warrior, I wanted him dressed primarily in his travel clothes. I thought this figure fit the bill rather nicely and – bonus – he is wearing a horn. There were a few problems though. First off, I very much wanted my Boromir to have a shield. So, I cut and filed the off-hand dagger and replaced it with a shield. I also cut the figure off its integral base and mounted it on a GW base.
I was a bit concerned that the figure was too baby-faced. When I got round to painting him, I tried giving him the long mustache, as in the McBride, but that just didn’t work. So, drawing on the film, I gave him the full goatee. In another nod to the film depiction, I gave him purple sleeves with gold highlights – although they are hardly noticeable. Most of the rest of the colour choices go back to the McBride painting.
By far the hardest part of the paint job was the shield. If Boromir is going to carry a shield, it is hard to imagine it not having the white tree on it. I’m no expert when it comes to free-hand painting, but I think I managed well enough, at least for tabletop distance!
Painting the figure was slightly bitter-sweet as on the day I was painting it, I had originally been scheduled to go to the Royal Albert Hall to see The Fellowship of the Ring accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra. I’d had tickets for over a year and was greatly looking forward to it. But, like so many things this year, it has been 'postponed indefinitely'.
Such is life at the moment. At least my little metal Fellowship continues. I’m now only missing Gimli and one Hobbit.
Friday, 2 October 2020
I'm really excited to announce that Cigar Box Battle is now producing official play mats for Rangers of Shadow Deep. As you can see in the image above, their are four types available, representing the different terrain types. You can even order them with, or without, 1" squares overlaid, as some people prefer squares for movement.
I've actually been using Cigar Box Battle Mats for several years now and have quite a collection. I love them for the high-quality of the graphics, the softness of the cloth material (seriously, they cushion your miniatures!), and how easily they can be folded up for storage.
In fact, the only downside to these mats is that they are so nice, my children occasionally swipe them to use as blankets!
Thursday, 1 October 2020
I’ve been feeling the Middle-earth excitement again, lately. I’ve been re-reading The Return of the King, and I’m expecting my new, illustrated edition of The Unfinished Tales to arrive today!
Fuelled by that excitement, I thought it was time to expand my Gondor army. So, I ordered up the Knights of Dol Amroth on foot from Forge World. It’s an expensive set, but it’s also a very nice one. The kit includes six knights, and while all of the poses are fixed, it does come with options for 4 un-helmeted heads, a banner-bearer, a trumpeter, and the ability to mix the shield choice. Now, I didn’t take most of those options because I just wanted a straight unit of knights, but it’s good to know should I ever want to expand the unit.
Assembly was very easy. All of the connections and joins have been well designed and cast. The figures are a little smaller than their metal counterparts, but fit in well enough with the Gondor range.
Really though, they are just gorgeous figures. I know a lot of people don’t like the idea of plate-mail armour in Middle-earth, but, when The Lord of the Rings was first read to me, this is very similar to how I envisioned the Knights of Dol Amroth – they are knights in shining armour!
Anyway, I was so pleased, I had to break out some forces of Mordor just to give them a nice action shot!
Thursday, 17 September 2020
Wednesday, 9 September 2020
I am continuing work on my Silent Death project. Up to now, I have been mostly painting ships at random, but I have decided that I will focus my goal on collecting the fighters that were released for the first edition of the game*. So, the fighters presented in the original rulebook, and the two expansions Overkill and Black Guard**. This includes a total of 24 different fighters and gunships, which seems like more than enough to get started on, especially since I'm painting up two sides. I'm going to knock up a spreadsheet to see exactly how many of each I want.
This week, the red team gained some new forces, a pair of Drakar gunships and two Dart light fighters. The Drakars are metal, while the Darts are plastic. The difference in quality is noticeable, but not so much that it is likely to bother me on the table.
I really enjoy painting these fighters as breaks between other projects, because they are quick and easy.
* The physical appearance of many of the fighters changed between 1st and 2nd edition (which is actually the biggest difference in the editions). I'm just using whichever design I like better or happen to have.
** The first edition of Silent Death also saw the release of the Night Brood box set, which introduced alien 'bug' ships. I have this box, and would like to add those forces someday, but it is beyond the scope of my project at the moment.
Tuesday, 1 September 2020
Thursday, 27 August 2020
Tuesday, 25 August 2020
Monday, 24 August 2020
Friday, 21 August 2020
Thursday, 20 August 2020
Thursday, 13 August 2020
Despite moving into my current house nearly three years ago, I have never finished decorating my small office. In truth, I’ve never been much of a decorator, but I thought it was high-time I got a bit of ‘inspirational’ artwork upon the wall. I have started this with my all-time favourite Dragon Magazine cover. (You can see a clearer shot of the artwork here.)
Friday, 7 August 2020
Tuesday, 4 August 2020
I have completed work on my Rangers of Shadow Deep warband! Unlike the warbands I have built for most games, this one isn’t designed to be a single force that I used all together. Instead, it’s the group form which I draw my rangers and companions for a given mission. In Rangers, the number of figures you need for a given mission depends on the specific mission and on the number of players, so it’s not a fixed group.
Really, I just painted up a bunch of figures I really liked! Most of the figures are from the official Rangers of Shadow Deep line. The only exceptions are the woman with the shield and the monk, which are both Reaper Miniatures and the falcon which is a Frostgrave model.
I’ve also got them organized into my Rangers travel case. Along with the figures I’ve got a 6” ruler, a pair of d20s and even a miniature deck of cards (from a Christmas cracker! They do have a use!)
All of these figures got my highest level of painting, so they are probably the most pleasing set of miniatures I own.
Monday, 3 August 2020
I am slowly continuing work on my Silent Death project. These are three metal minis that I acquired late last year. The blue fighter is a Revenge, the scariest torpedo fighter in the game. I love its classic, ‘space fighter’ lines.
(Later on, the name for this figure would be changed to Samurai, which is how you’ll find it for sale now).
It’s being pursued by a pair of Eppings, representing the red team. I painted up a couple of Eppings for the blue team not too long ago.
I’ve got to say, when painting these little fighters, it’s the decals that make all the difference. I’ve only gotten into decals in the last few years, but they are a paint-job multiplier on these fighters.
Always save your decals! These are a mixture of Battletech, Games Workshop, and a few that I think come from Robotech models.
Thinking about Silent Death, I’ve decided my goal for the project will be to focus on the first edition of the game. This consisted of the main rule box, two expansion books, and one expansion box. I have all of the rules for these, so it’s just a matter of getting the fighters.
The rules changes between the first and second editions were extremely minimal, and personally, I think most of the expansions for the second edition tend to detract from the game as much as add to it. I’m going to use some of the fighter redesigns from the second edition, but stick to first edition rules. At least for now. I think it is good to have an achievable goal with such projects.
Thursday, 30 July 2020
Osprey have just informed me that Frostgrave: Perilous Dark has been nominated for ‘Best Miniature Rules’ at this year’s UK Games Expo (being held online this year). This is an award that Frostgrave (the rulebook) won in 2015, and that Ghost Archipelago lost when it was nominated in 2018.
I honestly believe that Perilous Dark is one of my best pieces of wargame writing, so it is really nice for it to get this recognition.
That said, I’m up against some good competition. I actually read Last Days: Seasons in manuscript form. Ash Baker sent it to me to get my opinion, and, in truth, I thought it was great and basically had nothing to add. Meanwhile, I was actually at Adepticon when Ragnarok was first pitched to Osprey. It’s a cool idea for a game, with some interesting mechanics.
Everyone who attends the convention gets to vote for the winner. I obviously have my favourite, but whatever way it comes out, it’s always nice to get some recognition.