Friday 18 December 2020

A-wing Fighter

For a miniature gamer, watching a great show like The Mandalorian can be dangerous. I mean, how many times has that show caused me to look at Star Wars: Legion figures? How many times have I come close to buying? Now, there is nothing specifically wrong with Star Wars: Legion figures - in fact, they are some really nice minis, but I had already decided I wasn't going to get too involved with them. Mainly its the issue of scale. They are just too large to fit with any of my other minis. But also - I've got my own space game coming out in 4 months with its own line of miniatures!

So, I compromised with myself. Instead of buying some Legion minis, I bought a Star Wars model that I knew I'd be able to use for Stargrave. This is an A-wing model from Revell. It's 1/44 scale, which actually makes it near perfect for Legion, ironically, but also close enough to 28mm for my tastes. It's snap-together, and its pre-painted! It even makes irritating noises (or did, until I pulled the batteries out!). 

In fact, after a quick assembly, all I did was hit it with a heavy black wash and varnish.  It's not proper Star Wars without the grime! 

Here it is straight from the factory.

Sorry I didn't have time to take some better photos. Things are a bit complicated in the covid hotspot that is Kent at the moment.

Thursday 17 December 2020

Battletech Warhammer & Rifleman


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

Defend the Cottage!

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

Painting the High Vault Guards

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

A New Miniatures Project!

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

Continuing my researches into the activities of my ancestor, Colonel James McCullough, leader of the 16th S.C. Volunteers in the American Civil War, I came across this short account of activities during the Battle of Resaca during the Atlanta Campaign. 


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

Elladan of the Grey Company

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

Covin (or Grey Company Ranger)

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

Ogre or Troll?

Another victory from my holiday painting! This is a Reaper Bones Ogre sculpted by Bobby Jackson. I must admit, the more I work with the bones material, the more I like it. It's never going to overtake metal as my favourite material to paint, but for bigger creatures I prefer it overall. It sure makes storage a lot easier and is very resistant to damage.

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

Kai Lord (or Ranger)

Things have been a bit quiet around the blog of late, especially for hobby posts. This is because I have been making a conscious effort over the last month or so to spend less time online. As is pretty common in this year of years, my anxiety levels have been pretty high, and I wanted to see if unplugging a bit would help. So now, when I'm not using it, I actually put my computer away in a drawer and usually dump the phone in there as well. I do think it has helped.

I have no-plans to go offline completely - my life, my hobby, and my connection to my family all depend on it to some extent, but I do think cutting back has been, and will be, a good idea.

Also, it means that I've had more time for painting. Not just more time, but because the computer is away, I can keep the paints set-up on my desk more, which means I can grab a few minutes here and there to put on a layer or apply a wash.

Anyway, here is my latest offering. This is a Reaper mini sculpted by Bob Ridolfi. As is my wont these days, I cut him off his integral base and stuck him on a GW. I also cut off a couple of little spikes on his sword that were making him look a bit more evil.

I like this figure a lot because of its general 'low fantasy' vibe. Although it doesn't have a huge amount of detail, what detail it has, such as the armour, is deep and takes the paint well. I gave him a nice green cloak so that he would be equally at home as a Kai Lord or Ranger for Middle-Earth or the Shadow Deep.  I also gave him a beard...just cause. 

A very enjoyable mini to paint.

Monday 9 November 2020

Cthulhu Comes to Frostgrave, Ghost Archipelago, & The Shadow Deep

I have just received word that Blaster: Volume 2 is now available from DriveThruRPG in both PDF and print-on-demand formats!

This independent wargames anthology contains my work 'Shadowgrave: Part 1' in which I present the first part of my rules for brining the Cthulhu Mythos into games of Frostgrave, Ghost Archipelago, and Rangers of Shadow Deep.

Specifically, the piece includes rules for sanity rolls and permanent mental damage as-well-as stats and special abilities for eight mythos creatures. 

Just to make all of this fun and immediately useable, I have included a scenario for each of the three games as well - a competitive one for Frostgrave, a solo one for Ghost Archipelago, and a solo or co-operative one for Rangers of Shadow Deep. All of which can get pretty horrific...

In issue 3, I'll be following up with complete rules for Mythos magic as well as more monsters and more scenarios!

Of course, that's not all that is in Blaster 2. You'll also get Mystic Skies, a complete wargame written by Mike Hutchinson and Sean Sutter, in which wizards duel while whizzing around on flying carpets! Plus more stuff for Last Days from Ash Barker and This is Not a Test from Joey McGuire!

I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Rangers of Shadow Deep Progress Report

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

Spells in the World of Frostgrave

I am currently working on a Frostgrave supplement which contains a couple of new types of magic and their associated spells. These aren’t for wizards to learn, but the players will get the chance to try them out thanks to the scenarios. Now, I don’t want to say any more about that supplement at the moment, but it did get me thinking. Just how many spells exist in the world of Frostgrave?  So, I decided to find out!

Core Schools of Magic (81)

Frostgrave: Second Edition Rulebook

Homunculus, Lichdom, & Revenant (3)

Thaw of the Lich Lord

Beastcrafter & Reaction Spells (7)

Into the Breeding Pits

Demonic Servant & Mystic Brand (2)

Forgotten Pacts

Schools of the Pentangle (30)

The Maze of Malcor

Warden Spells (30)

Ghost Archipelago Rulebook

Snake-man Magic (8)

Ghost Archiplelago: Lost Colossus

Rangifer Spells (10)

Spellcaster: Issue 3

Slime Spells (4)

Spellcaster:Issue 6

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

Stargrave - Cover Reveal

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

Ghost Archipelago Crew!

Well, it took a lot longer than I intended, but I have finally finished my Ghost Archipelago crew! 

I used a real mix of ranges for the group: Ghost Archipelago (3), Reaper (2), Rangers of Shadow Deep, Frostgrave, Hero Forge, Lucid Eye, and Wargames Illustrated! 

Since it looks like it might still be awhile before I can face them off against another crew, I might just have to set-up a solo adventure or two for them.  Also, I need to invest it a couple of small boats to help get them around the Lost Isles! 

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

Boromir, Proud Son of Gondor


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

Rangers of Shadow Deep - Official Mats!


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

Swan Knights of Dol Amroth!


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

Tabletop World Townhouse

For a couple of years now, I have been aware of Tabletop World, a producer a highly-detailed, fantasy wargaming buildings. From what I could tell, they were the best resin pieces on the market. However, I was always put-off by the high-cost of shipping to the UK. Well, now there are a couple of places to get them in the UK, notably Zealot Miniatures and Element Games, so I decided it was high time to see if they were as good as they looked. So, I ordered Townhouse I.

When I first pulled it out of the box, and viewed it in its yellow resin, I must admit, I wasn't hugely impressed. It was nice, but didn't look special. Then I started to paint it...

This piece was an absolute dream to paint. All of the detail is sharp and heavy. And what detail. If you look closely, you can see a lot of the nails in the roof tiles and support beams - not that I bothered to paint them. I mainly just dry-brushed and washed, and the results were fantastic.

It also has a detailed interior, which I didn't paint, because I find doing so awkward and not much fun, and I never end up using the interior anyway.

Really, I can't praise it enough. I like it so much that I immediately ordered another cottage to go with it! 

The only point I'm not sure about is the height. The miniature it is pictured with is on the smaller side of 28mm, and it looks a fine. Bigger figures look a bit tall. This is mainly because of the GW bases I mount most of my figures on, so I might need to put a piece of wood or something on the bottom of the house to give it a bit more height. (Or maybe not, it's not that big a deal.) 

If you want top notch fantasy buildings, these are them.

Wednesday 9 September 2020

Drakar and Darts

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

The Ruins of St. Mary’s Church, Eastwell

In an effort to get out and enjoy the last few days of summer, my family went searching for the mostly-forgotten church of St. Mary’s, Eastwell, that we saw mentioned in a book. Despite all of our modern technology, we did manage to get briefly lost and accidentally drove onto private property. However, a kindly security guard set us on the right road.

The road was long, narrow, overgrown, and didn’t seem to go anywhere, until it ended at a small gravel lot, right next to the ruins of the church. It’s an enchanting place. Only one side of the church actually remains, consisting of the main tower, a small chapel, and the wall between. A few other fragments of wall are scattered about. Of these, the largest chunk contains a stone plaque, marking it as the supposed resting place of Richard ‘Plantagenet’. According to legend, this shadowy figure was the illegitimate son of Richard III, who went into hiding after his father’s death (probably a good call).

The ruins are bordered, and often overshadowed, by numerous ancient yew trees, and the site sits right next to a lake, populated by a large flock of extremely noisy ducks. There are a few graves scattered around the place, mostly broken and completely overgrown.

The site is owned and maintained by The Friends of Friendless Churches, an intriguing charity.

The whole place definitely feels like the setting for a fairy-tale or Arthurian romance.

We had a lovely time exploring, playing hide & seek, and eating our lunch. From the church, we were able to join the ‘Pilgrims' Way’, the path that runs from Winchester to Canterbury, and briefly walk along that ancient trail.

It’s always a good day out when you can explore some medieval ruins!

Thursday 27 August 2020

Frostgrave – Brycho’s Celestichord

What if you played Frostgrave on top of a game of whack-a-mole? That was my starting point for the Frostgrave scenario which appears in the new issue of Wargames Illustrated (#393).

I think this scenario is a great example of why the Frozen City is such a great setting for a wargame. Essentially, I (or you) can come up with any crazy thought for what might make a fun scenario, and then create a narrative that uses the strange, broken magic of Frostgrave to justify it. That’s right, a wizard did it! In this case, it’s old Brycho Tarran, the greatest Astromancer that ever lived!

If you are in the UK you should hopefully be able to find the new issue at W.H. Smiths. Otherwise, it can be ordered direct from Wargames Illustrated North Star also gets some copies of each issue in stock, though they don’t seem to have this one at the moment.

Monday 24 August 2020

Frostgrave: Perilous Dark – A Double-Winner!

It was a big day for Frostgrave yesterday, as the first-ever ‘virtual’ UK Games Expo came to a close.

First, Frostgrave: Wizards 2 won both the Judge’s Award and the People’s Choice award for Best Miniature Range.  A huge congratulations to Nick at North Star, Phil at Osprey Games, and to the sculptor, Bobby Jackson. These guys all had a lot more to do with this set than I did!

A few minutes after that, Frostgrave: Perilous Dark also ‘pulled-the-double’, and took the Judge’s Award and People’s Choice award for Best Miniature Rules. I admit that I’m very proud of that book, and I think its use stretches beyond Frostgrave. It also didn’t hurt that it’s a book on solo and co-operative wargaming that came along just when such a book was more useful than ever.

It’s been a crazy, confusing, and mixed-up year. I am delighted and proud to have won the awards, but I wish that I (and everyone) could have been at the show celebrating this hobby we all love. I wish I could have shared a few high-fives and maybe even a hug or two with the Osprey Games gang and other friends. Next year, hopefully! (And who knows, maybe Frostgrave: Second Edition will be up for the award!).

Many thanks to the organizers of UK Games Expo. I’m sure it was a major effort to organize the online version and it sounds like a lot of people had a lot of fun because of it! Also, a big thanks to everyone who voted for Frostgrave in the People’s Choice Awards! 

Friday 21 August 2020

Odyssey of the Dragonlords (for 5e)

If you like Dungeonsand Dragons: 5th Edition, and you love Greek myth, then go ahead and buy Odyssey of the Dragonlords. I doubt you will be disappointed.

Odyssey of the Dragonlords is a mega-campaign set in an ‘undiscovered’ continent that can be dropped into any D&D world. It’s a bronze-age place, filled with centaurs, satyrs, minotaurs, etc. It is also a land on the brink of crisis. Essentially, the non-aggression pact between two sets of gods is about to come to an end and all hades is about to break loose!

Each of the players becomes one of the heroes prophesied to save the land, and this is more than a mere narrative tag. Each hero basically has a specific background (whether they know it or not) that ties them into the greater story, and gives them specific objectives during the campaign. It’s a neat, but not overly-intrusive system. The heroes start as low-level adventurers, who are essentially wandering-around, looking for ways to increase their wealth and reputation by fighting monsters in the classic Greek myth style. However, they are slowly drawn deeper and deeper into the looming war of the gods.

Over the course of this long, sprawling campaign, they will make a journey of exploration like Jason and the Argonauts, descend into the shadowy underworld, and eventually battle the gods themselves.  It’s EPIC with a capital everything!

I have no doubt that this book could provide years of gaming, but for those of us who are unlikely to play such a thing, it is also just a great read, filled with numerous cool ideas that could be used in other games and other campaigns. The writing is excellent, the editing is good, and the artwork is lovely. It’s the kind of book that just makes you want to pick up some dice and fight some monsters!

It really is an excellent gaming book that captures the spirit of Greek myth without just rehashing all of the stories we already know. It’s a great addition to a gaming library.

[Disclaimer: Odyssey of the Dragonlords is published by Modiphius who also publish my own Rangers of Shadow Deep: Deluxe Edition. That said, I only reviewed this book because I thought it deserved it.]

Thursday 20 August 2020

Frostgrave: Second Edition - Launch Day!

The day has finally dawned! Frostgrave: Second Edition is now available!

Now, I don't want to create a panic, but there is a rumour (aRu-Mor?) that it is going fast!

For the moment though, you can still order it in the UK from North Star.

Or, in the USA from Badger Games or Brigade Games.

I hope it lives up to everyone's expectations.

Thursday 13 August 2020

Undead Decorating

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.)

Luckily, I found a copy of the magazine in good condition on ebay for under £5, and ordered up a cheap frame for it as well. I admit, I had some qualms about cutting up a nice copy of a thirty-year-old magazine, but I did it anyway.

I’m actually glad to have the ‘cover’ as opposed to just the artwork, as its connection to Dungeons & Dragons and to the greater hobby gaming genre is part of the appeal to me, and thankfully, most of the text is non-obtrusive.

I don’t know why, specifically, this piece speaks to me, but it always has. The posing on the two figures is just fantastic - the menace as the creature looms over her - the hopelessness of seeing her sword and arrows sticking ineffectually in its armour. And yet… she’s got one arrow left… she’s still got a chance.

Here the cover blurb from inside the magazine:

Daniel Horne said the scene on his cover painting “takes place on a frozen tundra. The sun is setting, the hoar frost is glittering like thousands of pieces of broken glass.” A ranger in the service of the High King has just been attack by the undead remains of one of her old opponents – a frost giant who has waited a long time for this moment of revenge. Having lost her sword and used up her normal arrows, the ranger has a single elven arrow left – from which comes the painting's name: “Saving the Best for Last”.

So, perhaps she has a slightly better chance than I first realized. It all sounds very Rangers of Shadow Deep doesn’t it? Well, all the parts had to come from somewhere.

Anyway, it makes me smile to see it on the wall, which I guess is the point of decorating!

Friday 7 August 2020

Rangers of Shadow Deep: Menagerie PDF

Menagerie, the latest mini-supplement for Rangers of ShadowDeep, is now available as a PDF from DriveThruRPG.

It includes 9 new animal companions that rangers can recruit to join their adventures, as well as a two-scenario mission set inside the Shadow Deep.

As usual, a print-on-demand version will hopefully be following in a couple of weeks, as I have to wait for the files to be approved and then a sample printed and shipped to me for approval.

For those that are in the midst of The Rescue mission, the mission in Menagerie can be slotted in with only minor modifications.

Tuesday 4 August 2020

Ranger Warband


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

Revenge and Friends!

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

Nominated – Frostgrave: Perilous Dark

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.

Monday 27 July 2020

Frostgrave: Second Edition – It Exists!

On Saturday, I received an exciting package. It contained my advance author copy of Frostgrave: Second Edition!

It looks amazing.

A huge thanks to the team at Osprey Games for the editing and design. To aRu-Mor for the amazing artwork. To North Star for the photographs.

I think everyone is going to be really pleased with the new book!

If I’ve got a copy, that means it is now in the warehouse in the UK, which means it should be heading out to North Star and other dealers in the coming weeks. 

So close!