Tuesday 23 November 2021

Dread Shrine - Circular Creativity

Don't go in there you fool!

I love the circular nature of creativity. For example, I wrote a game called The Silver Bayonet that was recently released. It's a game Napoleonic gothic horror. In the book there is a cool black and white drawing of a crypt. In the latest issue of Miniature Wargames (Issue 464), there is an article by Tony Harwood in which he scratch-builds a crypt based on the drawing. It's a beautiful little scenery piece, well beyond my own abilities. Which isn't surprising since Tony is the author of Wargames Terrain and Buildings: The Napoleonic Wars. Still, I found that piece so inspirational, I wanted to try and do something similar, and to test out Mr. Harwood's advice for using egg boxes to get a stone like texture. So, I built my own little 'Dread Shrine', and I'm rather pleased with the results. Now, I'm thinking of possible scenarios I can write to use it! And around it goes!

I built this little shrine in just a couple of sessions, probably 3/4 hours total. The basic structure is foam board with bits of egg box glued onto it. The base is a wooden MDF circle I had laying around. I made a little mound of greenstuff in the middle of the base, and pushed in a bunch of GW skulls. Another GW skull adorns the front. Painting is mostly a bunch of grey dry-brushing and a green wash. I painted on some extra 'arcane symbols' to give it an even more sinister appearance. There is also a pentagram painted on the inside back wall, but it's hard to see unless you get really close. Finally, I decided to liberally apply lichen and flocking, because I wanted it to look like it had been mostly abandoned, deep in the woods.

It was a fun little build and reminded me, that no matter how nice and beautiful pre-built terrain is, I'll never love it in quite the same way as something I make myself from scratch.

Nothing around back!

Secure the perimeter!

Monday 22 November 2021

Stargrave Bits and Pieces

A couple of months ago, I was in a charity shop with my five-year-old son. He was digging through a big box of toy cars and pulled out an odd looking piece, which I think was meant to be a rocket of some kind. In the end, he didn't chose it as one of the two I had promised him, so I decided to get it myself. A bit of primer, a wash, and a harsh dry-brush later, and I've got a... well, I'm still not sure what it is, and that's why I like it! It could be a communications relay, a generator, a meteorological device, or numerous other things. It could be just some background scatter terrain or the focus of a scenario. Not bad for 50p and 20 minutes of work!

I've also added a couple recruits to my Colonial Marine forces - a basic trooper in his battle-scarred armour and a cyborg who has taken some punishment over the campaigns, but now serves as a heavy-weapons trooper.

Thursday 11 November 2021

The Bob Dylan Effect

Robert Louis Stevenson and J.R.R. Tolkien taught me to love stories. H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard made me want to write my own. But it was Bob Dylan that taught me the joy of playing with words.

My parents were both Bob Dylan fans, so I was exposed from an early age, but I never paid him any special attention until I was fourteen. That’s when I discovered his album, Highway 61 Revisited and particularly the song, Desolation Row.

Desolation Row is a peculiar piece. It’s eleven minutes long, has no refrain beyond the words ‘Desolation Row’, and basically makes no sense. A riot of literary and historical allusions fill the verses, woven into a rambling dystopian vision. After thirty years of listening to the song, I’m not sure if most people are trying to escape from or escape to Desolation Row.

I think the only way to explain why I love this song is to explain the effect it had on me. Up to that point in my life, I had always loved stories, and I was on the cusp of discovering the writers who would make me want to tell my own stories, but I didn’t really have any particular love of language itself. Then this song came along, and it opened up a door in my mind. I started carrying a notebook around school, and while I was supposed to be learning physics or math, I was instead creating new verses for Desolation Row.

Truly, it is a song that invites you to keep going after Dylan has finished singing. The verses have a  simple poetic structure that is easy to replicate, while Dylan’s lyrics cascade about, saying ‘anything goes as long as it makes sense to you’. As I played around with my own verses, I found a joy in the English language I had not known before. Suddenly, it was important whether I used ‘this’ word or ‘that’ word. It became important how two words interacted together, and how that might change the meaning of either or both.

Of course, I soon discovered that Desolation Row is no fluke. This strange magic of word play saturates Dylan's career. When he wants, he can use it to tell a coherent story, such as in Hurricane, but my favourites have always been the semi-coherent, allusion-filled works such as Dignity and the incomplete She’s Your Lover Now. These songs carry me away to a place where words have a psychic force.  

I know many people were bemused and befuddled when Bob Dylan won the Noble Prize for Literature in 2016, but personally I thought it was long overdue. Just to drive home the point, Dylan would (eventually) accept the award and deliver a speech that could only be understood by people who already understood why he’d been given the award.

So, while my other literary heroes are all authors who told fantastical tales, it has always been Dylan, more than any other, who taught me the pure joy of choosing words.

Friday 5 November 2021

Rangers of Shadow Deep: Dungeons Dark

Rangers of Shadow Deep: Dungeons Dark is available in both PDF and print-on-demand! This is the long-awaited, second chapter of the 'The Rescue' mission that began in Across the Wastes. So, if you haven't played that one, you'll want to pick it up first.

This supplement is also the first time I've written a true dungeon-crawl for Rangers. In this one, the rangers will have to sneak/fight/explore through 4 levels of rooms and corridors, never knowing exactly what will be behind each door.  You will need to create a dungeon layout for each level, but there is some guidance in the book for simple ways to do that if you aren't an avid dungeon modeller. 

Along with the scenarios, the book also contains a section on Shadow Magic, the evil magic employed by the sorcerers of the Shadow Deep. Rangers can potentially use this magic, but it comes with risks!

Because of the format, it proved to be a much longer, and much more involved book that I expected when I started. Hopefully players will consider it worth the effort!

Get it here! 

Thursday 4 November 2021

Re-Binding a Classic

Lately, I have been revisiting some of the great games of my youth. The games that were alive and kicking in the late 1980s and 1990s. While my love for this era of gaming is primarily driven by nostalgia, there are a couple of specific aspects to the games that I love. Frist-and-foremost, is the ‘do it yourself’ attitude that most of them took. These games generally accepted that they weren’t perfect, or complete, and that players were expected to modify them, house-rule them, and add to them. This worked hand-in-hand with another aspect I really enjoyed – they were truly pencil and paper games. You were constantly writing things down, ticking things off, or just doodling in the margins as you played. I honestly believe this helps drive player creativity. Finally, I think the thing that attracts me most to many of the games of the era is that they were part of a grand exploration of what gaming could be. Now days, we tend to try and rigidly define games as a ‘board game’ or ‘war game’ or ‘role-playing game’, but those were often not-at-all clear cut back in those days.

Take for example, one of my all-time favourites, Car Wars, from Steve Jackson Games. At its heart, Car Wars is an extremely crunchy, technical game, where you literally keep track of every shot you fire. You can spend hours with the book in hand, constructing your perfect death-machine, choosing its engine, weapons, tires, chassis, and what armour goes where. You can spend hours playing a game that lasts less than 30 seconds of 'game time'. And, frankly, none of those hours would probably be ill-spent. But at the same time, many people took a very role-playing approach to the game. There are rules for making characters and giving them skills for use both inside and outside of the car, and improving those skills over the course of a campaign. There is a huge amount of documentation on the world in which the games takes place, and different aspects that can be explored. The magazines at the time included numerous, narratively-driven scenarios. There were even a couple of solo adventures you could play.

As part of my exploration, I picked up a copy of the Car Wars Compendium, which contained most of the rules that were produced for the first incarnation of the game. Unfortunately, the only copy I could obtain was falling apart. At first, I was a bit down about this, but then I viewed it as an opportunity. I took it down to my local art shop and got them to wire-bind it, with a clear protective cover. Not only does the book look fantastic like this, but it’s actually much, much easier to use, as I can leave it open flat on the table, or even folded it over completely to photocopy pages.

The biggest issue with wire binding is the awkwardness of storing it on a shelf. Thankfully, the book will live inside my Car Wars Deluxe Edition box, so that’s not an issue.

Anyway, I plan on digging a lot deeper into the game over the coming months.

Monday 11 October 2021

Spellcaster: The Frostgrave Magazine, Issue 7

The new issue of Spellcaster: The Frostgrave Magazine is now available in both PDF and print-on-demand from DriveThruRPG.com.

If that cover isn't enough to sell it to you, the issue also contains:

* 'The Diamonds of Elias Skull', a 3-scenario campaign for Ghost Archipelago.

* The Maze of Malcor Outtakes, including 1 scenario and 10 weird events.

* 'The Floating Hulk', a solo scenario for Ghost Archipelago.

* The Great Wyrm, a Frostgrave ‘big game’ campaign by Brent Sinclair, 3-scenarios leading to an encounter with a dragon!

* Rules for a new character, the Archer, in Barbarian Hack.

* 'Casting Roll Criticals' in Frostgrave for Second Edition.

* 16 Ulterior Motive Cards for Ghost Archipelago.

Thursday 23 September 2021

Medium Infantry Transport


A pair of mechs from the Firehawks Legion provide ground security for a medium infantry transport.

The mechs I have shown before. The aircraft is an Aeronautica Imperials model. I have little interest in the game, but the models are fantastic and, while they are technically (8-10mm) they scale pretty well with my 6mm Battletech. I gave this one a generic 'military' paint job so that I could use it with any force. (And also so I could paint it quickly!) I suspect it'll mainly be an objective, but I suppose I could also use it for infantry assaults. Three more came in the box!

Monday 20 September 2021

Tom Bombadil and Goldberry


"Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow; bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow!"

I had a fun painting weekend, working on the two figures seen above. Normally, I only paint one figure at time, but these two are so closely-linked, that I thought it appropriate. 

Tom Bombadil is an official figure from Mithril Miniatures (it is easy to forget that there is a company besides GW that produces official Middle-earth figures!). This one comes from a little diorama that also includes a pair of badgers. I haven't painted them yet. Unfortunately, I believe this set is out of print, and I got him on Ebay. Mithril does currently sell a version of Tom riding Fatty Lumpkin! Long ago, I painted an even earlier version of the character from Mithril, but I gave it as a gift to someone. I have also painted a couple of the version made by Games Workshop. I think though, of them all, this is my favourite. There is just something really lovely about the pose, with his hands clasped behind his back. 

Goldberry is from Reaper Miniatures. Officially, the figure is the 'Spirit of Spring'. I think Goldberry could probably serve as the spirit for all of the seasons in turn, so it seem appropriate to me. Anyway, she's a figure that needs a lot of flowers! In fact, I'm pretty sure I have never painted that many flowers on a miniature before!

Painting these figures was a lovely departure from the more combat oriented figures that dominate my painting table. 

Thursday 16 September 2021

Osgiliath Veteran Conversion


The Osgiliath Veterans are some of my favourite of the official GW The Lord of the Rings miniatures. I just love their battered, old campaigner look. Plus, they are some of the few Gondorian soldiers that were ever produced in metal. The downside is that there are only three - one with a bow, one with a spear, and one with sword and shield. So, after you've painted a couple of packs, they start to get a bit samey. 

My conversion skills are pretty limited, but to avoid painting the same figure again, I decided to give it a go. I cut the head off the spearman and replaced it with a hooded head from the Frostgrave Knights sprue. Size-wise they are a pretty good match. It worked especially well on this figure as he already had the torn cloak, and by painting both the same colour they integrated nicely. 

Anyway, here he is. A Gondorian soldier who has been on the front lines perhaps a little too long.

Tuesday 14 September 2021

Stargrave - Shortlisted for TTG Awards

I've just been informed that Stargrave has been short listed for 'Best Miniatures Game' by the Tabletop Gaming awards. I believe this is a new set of awards, though the magazine presenting them has been around for a number of years now (and even contained the occasional piece from yours truly!). 

You can see the short lists for each category and vote for winners here. I must admit, they've got a couple of unusual categories, such as 'Best Way to Die in an RPG'! 

While I will continue to try and not define my self-worth, or the worth of my games, by awards received - it's always nice to hear that people think you are doing a good job! 

Monday 13 September 2021

The Grey and the White


White is my least favourite colour to paint. Heck, it doesn't even photograph as well as other colours on miniatures. Still, if you want to paint a Saruman, you pretty much have to use it.

Both of the figures above are sculpted by Bobby Jackson and come from Reaper miniatures. Both are part of my slow, on-again off-again, attempt to 'heroic scale' a lot of my The Lord of the Rings miniatures collection. The Gandalf I painted sometime ago, the Saruman just recently.

I love that both figures come from the same sculptor as it gives them a similarity that befits Gandalf and Saruman. Okay, Saruman is never mentioned to have an owl... but it never says he doesn't have an owl, and besides, he is 'the Wise'. 

So anyway, it wasn't the most fun figure to paint because of the white, which I layered up from a cream, but I still enjoyed it, and I'm pretty happy with the results.

Now if Bobby would just sculpted a third one who looked a bit more... I dunno, Brown?

Tuesday 7 September 2021

The Sawhole Scourge!


Back in my university days, I played a lot of Blood Bowl. While I still consider it one of the best games that Games Workshop has ever produced, these days, I am generally looking for quicker games - both in terms of turn turnover and in play length. So, I was really intrigued when I heard that GW had produced a game called Blitz Bowl, which basically sounded like a smaller, faster version of Blood Bowl. Unfortunately, the game was made available exclusively to Barnes and Noble in the USA. 

Well, being an immigrant does have some advantages, and I was able to get my father to send me over a copy. It arrived just before lockdown happened. And so, after reading the rules, and looking at it all wistfully, I put it on the shelf.

Britain is opening up again - at least for the present, and I've convinced a couple of chums to try out the game in a little round-robin tournament coming up.  While my version of the game came with humans and orcs, I've always been a skaven player at heart. Thankfully, the box comes with rules for the skaven, so I was able to buy a skaven Blood Bowl team and paint up half of them.

So here they are - The Sawhole Scourge! I figure Sawhole is some minor skaven holding, and playing Blitz Bowl is seen as one of the few ways to escape the place.

Painting these figures took a lot longer than I expected. It's been awhile since I've painted modern GW plastics, and I must admit the level of detail is impressive. In truth, it might be a bit more than I want to paint most of the time. That said, it think the little team looks great, and I'm looking forward to getting them on the pitch! 

I'll hopefully report back in a week or two with the results of the tournament and any further thoughts on the game!

Monday 6 September 2021

The Hunt for Gollum

If you are going to collect The Lord of the Rings miniatures, sooner or later you are going to need a Gollum. Actually, I already have one from the current Games Workshop line, but I found it just too small for my tastes. I wanted something in a more 'heroic' scale. By this I mean figures that have more exaggerated features - bigger hands, heads, shoulders. I generally find such figures much easier and more satisfactory to paint.

The problem being - Gollum has such a specific appearance that I struggled to find anything among the generic fantasy miniatures that were available. I finally resorted to asking for help on the Wargaming in Middle-earth FaceBook page. One member suggested I look at the Gollum sculpted for the official LOTR Citadel range of the 1980s (Thanks Rob!). Most of that range is a bit too cartoony for me, but Gollum is supposed to be a bit cartoony. Anyway, I found a photo, loved the figure, and found one on Ebay that didn't cost too much. 

Painting was a pretty simple process, since he's mostly pale skin. I decided to over-emphasis the eyes (remember those eyes are really only about a couple of mm wide) as these are Gollum's most defining feature. I also love that he's clutching a fish.

Unfortunately for Gollum, after a long chase, my Aragorn has finally run him down!

Tuesday 24 August 2021

What I’m Working On

Okay, the truth is, I haven’t been working very much for the last three weeks. It’s the ‘Summer Holiday’ here, and I have been taking some time off to play with the kids, to read, to paint, to cycle, and to just generally recharge my batteries. 

That said, there has still been a lot going on, and a few projects that are nearing completion.

Stargrave – The first supplement, Quarantine 37 is currently available for pre-order (with some special tokens if you get it from North Star). Meanwhile, I have finished writing the second supplement, The Last Prospector, and am working with Osprey to get it polished up. I have also started work on the third supplement, Hope Eternal, which is mainly going to be one, epic solo or co-operative campaign.

Frostgrave – December will see the release of the Blood Legacy, the second Frostgrave expansion since the launch of Second Edition. This book is basically an excuse for players to buy some awesome vampire and giant models! I’m really looking forward to the release of this one, as it’s got some really different kinds of scenarios in it. The last thing I did before I shut it down for the summer was to submit the manuscript for the book after that – Fireheart. This supplement is devoted to building weird constructs and playing with really strange and deadly terrain on the table.

(I am currently in discussion with Osprey about possible supplements for both games beyond what has been mentioned here.)

The Silver Bayonet – Of course, in November, I have a new game coming out, The Silver Bayonet. This is a skirmish, warband game set in a world of Napoleonic Gothic Horror. It uses a completely new system. It’s a little simpler, and a little less ‘swingy’ perhaps, than most of my other games, but hopefully gives everyone an excuse to paint up a few Napoleonics and a hobgoblin or two! It also includes several solo scenarios, so you can get started right away!

Spellcaster – It’s been a long time since I released an issue of my Frostgrave magazine, but hopefully it won’t be too much longer. I now have all of the pieces for Issue 7 turned over to the designer.

Rangers of Shadow Deep – The long-awaited Dungeons Dark, part 2 of The Rescue is now with the designer, so hopefully will be seen in the next few months. I have already started sketching out the final part, though it’s a long way off.

Other – I have been working on a mini-miniatures game that I’m planning on releasing in the next volume of Blaster (Volume 4). If you are unaware, this is a wargaming anthology series I’m a part of.  I don’t want to say much about the game yet, but it will be a full set of rules, allow you to use miniatures from literally any time-period, and uses a minimum of terrain. Watch this space!

Monday 2 August 2021

Stargrave - Best Miniature Rules at UK Games Expo!

I am excited to learn that Stargrave has won both the Judge's Award and the People's Choice Award for Best Miniatures Rules at this year,s UK Games Expo! 

Not only that, but the Stargrave miniatures also won both awards for Best Miniatures Range!

Many thanks to everyone who voted and everyone who has supported the game. Stargrave has only been out a short time, but the response has been tremendous! 

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend the show this year, but I am already making my plans to be there next year. 

Thursday 29 July 2021

Playing Frostgrave!


Chris' knight proved how strong the giant was by getting stomped flat. The archer decided to run.

A few weekends back, I had a couple of friends down for a bit of dice-rolling action in the Frozen City! This not only represented the first time that I had played a wargame with another human being in over a year, it was also the first time that I had played Frostgrave: Second Edition primarily for fun!

We all created new wizards and warbands for the occasion. I brought Scarfollean the illusionist. Pete brought an Enchanter, while Chris showed up with his Bretonnian themed thaumaturge. Since there were three of us, I set up a hexagonal table, using masking tape to mark out the boundaries. That way we could set up in alternating angles, ensuring that we were all equidistant from the centre of the table and one another.

The spider is just marking the deployment zone, luckily for Pete's warband!

The game also gave me a chance to test out a few mechanics that I’m planning to use in Frostgrave: Fireheart, a future supplement.

The first game featured several teleportation discs scattered around the table. Whenever a figure stepped on one, there was a chance that they would be teleported to one of the other circles. This was especially important since many of the treasure tokens were sitting on top of them!

Pete's warband cautiously advances.
The game got off to a cautious start, with no one really wanting to make the first move and expose themselves, but the teleportation discs ensured that didn’t last. My man-at-arms ended up on the complete opposite side of the table and went into hiding to avoid the other two warbands. Meanwhile, a large chunk of Chris’ Bretonnians were transported right into the centre.

In fact, things seemed to be going really well for Chris until a frost giant showed up in his deployment zone. A pair of his archers nobly dived off a tower to escape its wrath. From here on, it became a comical game of dodge the giant, as the lumbering brute managed to teleport all over the table, eventually threatening each warband in turn.

My woman-at-arms teaches Pete's thug a lesson about wandering off alone.

When the dust finally settled, everyone had made it out with at least a couple of treasures, and the giant was left ruling the battlefield!

After a lunch break at the local pub, we were back at the table for Game 2!

In this game, a giant turbine was placed in the middle of the table. At end of each turn, there was a chance of it randomly activating. If it did, it would spin around randomly, and when it stopped, it would turn on. This would push all the figures in front of it away, while sucking in all those from behind (and not nice things would happen to anyone who got sucked in…) So, of course, most of the treasure tokens were sitting just next to the turbine.

Pete's treasure hunter face-plants after diving off a tower with treasure.
Scarfollean really found his stride in this game. I used transpose to great effect, grabbing treasure, and switching the treasure carrier with another member of the warband. Also, Fool’s Gold came in real handy to snatch treasure from other warbands.

Meanwhile, Chris found the perfect firing spot for this archers, and poor Pete’s wizard went down early to a rain of arrows. Unfortunately, things then took a turn for the worse for Chris as a series of monsters all showed up behind his warband, forcing him to beat a hasty retreat off a different table edge.

Chris' Bretonnians accidently secure the centre in Game 1.
In the end, only a couple of figures were sucked into the turbine, much to the disappointment of the players. (That’s when you know you’ve got a good scenario, when the players are kind of disappointed when their own figures don’t get mauled). My tricky Illusionist won the day in that game, making off with four treasures, and advancing to Level 5.

It was a great day of gaming, laughing, and shooting the breeze, and hopefully there will be lots more days like it in the future!

Thanks to Pete for all of the photographs!

The frost giant continuing its rampage around the table!

Wednesday 28 July 2021

Daleks in Stargrave!


I just received the new issue of Wargames Illustrated (Issue 404), which has my article on using daleks in Stargrave! Along with the basic rules, I've also included two scenarios, one solo and one competitive, so players can bring in these alien menaces no matter your situation. 

You can find Wargames Illustrated at better new stands in the UK, or you can order it from North Star no matter where you are in the world!

Thursday 22 July 2021

Fireteam Alpha


I've been continuing work on my 'Starhawk Down' project, and have just finished my first fireteam of colonial marines. They are a rough and tumble lot. None are wearing the exact same armour, and it's all been pretty heavily battered, but that just shows these are veterans.

I also finished up another junk-modelling building, which you can see behind them.  Again, this is a low-detail, get it done quickly, piece. I want a decent table full of these buildings, so I really don't want to spend too much time on them.

Next up, the opposition! 

Friday 16 July 2021

Blaster Volume 3 - Featuring Shadowgrave II

Volume 3 of Baster has just been released in both PDF and print-on-demand from DriveThruRPG.

It contains the second part of my Shadowgrave series, which brings rules for the Cthulhu Mythos to Frostgrave, Ghost Archipelago, and Rangers of Shadow Deep. This part looks at Mythos magic, including a new list of spells. There is also a host of new mythos creatures to challenge your heroes, and a scenario for each of the three games! 

That said, my contribution is not the main feature of the book. That goes to Sludge War by Sean Sutter. This is a full set of rules for fighting battles in a muddy, black powder, fantasy world. It's grim, but it will have you reaching for your bits box to see what cool figures you can assemble for it!

There's more though - the book also contains expansions for Gaslands, Gamma Wolves, and This is Not a Test! So, check it out!

Wednesday 14 July 2021

Stargrave Award Nomination

Stargrave has been short-listed for 'Best Miniature Rules' at this year's UK Games Expo to be held at the end of the month in Birmingham. This award was won by Frostgrave in 2016 and Frostgrave: Perilous Dark in 2020.

Meanwhile, the Stargrave Miniature have also been short-listed for 'Best Miniature Line'.

I believe anyone can vote for these awards as long as they create an UK Games Expo account. 

Cast your votes here.

Tuesday 13 July 2021

Hail Hydra!


Hydra is a generic villainous organization in Marvel comics, most notable for their cool logo and questionable uniform choices. I came across a picture of them the other day and wondered if I could construct a Hydra soldier out of the plastic bits I had laying around. Well, I think the answer is a definite yes.

The body and right arm are from the Stargrave Crew set. The left arm is from the Stargrave Troopers. The head comes from the Frostgrave Knights.

I gave the figure a pretty quick paint job - I mean, he's listed in the credits as 'Hydra Soldier #1', so he doesn't really rate my top work. It is fun, sometimes, to paint in really bright, comic style colours.

I didn't make this figure for any specific project, and perhaps this is as far as I will take it... still, it's good to know I can whip up some generic bad-guys if I have to!

Wednesday 7 July 2021

Assembling the Convoy

One of these days, I would like to assemble all of the pieces necessary to play a science-fiction version of Blackhawk Down. I've been working on my Stargrave colonial marines, and I just started making some rough-looking terrain. 

But the part of the project that is most exciting to me is assembling a convoy of marine vehicles. For awhile I have been searching for a good science-fiction equivalent of the Humvee. After studying a lot of options, I eventually went with the Games Workshop Achilles Ridgerunner. It's got a lot of pluses. First, it's plastic, which is my preferred vehicle material. It's open-backed, which gives some fun modeling possibilities, but most importantly, it looks tough. It looks like it can weather a lot of harsh terrain and small-arms fire and keep on rolling! 

For the most part, I followed the assembly instructions exactly as in the box - though there are a couple of different options given. The only real conversion work I did was on the figure riding in the back. I used the legs and left arm provided, because they are designed to fit in the space, but then I used a GW Cadian torso, before personalizing it with a Stargrave head and right arms. It's amazing how this little change pulls the whole model away from its intended GW setting.

There is nothing special about the painting. I don't hugely enjoy painting vehicles, so tend to go with a quick approach with a lot of dry brushing. I also like to put on some decals, as these really enhance the look without much effort.

Of course, one vehicle does not a convoy make. I hope to add a couple more of these guys and a couple of trucks as well. But this is a long-term project, so I'll pick them up as and when I feel like making them.

Now I need to start thinking about the opposition...

Monday 5 July 2021

Old School Recycling

This weekend, I got the itch to make a little old school wargaming terrain for my Stargrave figures to fight over. Now, don't get me wrong, I love a table filled with beautiful, commercially produced or 3D printed terrain, but I also find something charming about the rough-hewn look of hand-made stuff.

More importantly, there is something greatly satisfying about using your own hands to create something out of nothing. Okay, not quite nothing, but mostly out of stuff pulled out of the bin.

The house is made out of corrugated cardboard, held together with dress pins and white glue. I used masking tape to cover the exposed edges. Then I brushed over the whole thing with plaster and, once that was dry, with watered down glue to help hold the plaster in place. Then I just primed it, dry-brushed it, varnished it, and called it done!

The little tank/silo was even easier. I cut a bit of cardboard for a base, taped the edges, and then glued a small can to it. I added a bit of sand around the edges. Then I primed it up, gave it some rough paint and a varnish. I didn't actually aim for the two pieces to be the exact same height, it just worked out that way.

I'm pleased enough with this little set that I might do some more. I like the idea of a town where every house has it's own tank next to it. Maybe it holds water, or silage, or alien grubs, who knows.  

Tuesday 22 June 2021

Continuing the Stargrave Muster


I’m still having fun with the new Stargrave plastics. Here’s the latest couple of figures I’ve completed. First up, I’ve added some firepower to my colonial marines with a squad support weapon. I used a head from the Frostgrave Demons box on this guy to go with a body from the Stargrave Mercenaries and the arms from the Stargrave Troopers. It’s nice to get a little more species-diversity into my squad!

The second figure is a straight-build form the Troopers box. I want to paint up a handful of these guys to use as pirates or other generic-bad guys. I went with blue armour because it contrasts nicely with pretty much all the other science-fiction troops I have. I love the uncomplicated look of this trooper, but thought it needed just a bit more detail to provide visual interest, so I painted some teeth on his helmet and left thigh-guard. Also makes him look just a bit tougher.

In other news, I have scheduled my first game of Frostgrave in over a year! Lockdowns have obviously made wargaming with friends extremely difficult here in southern England, but life is opening-up again. This will actually mark the first time I’ve ever played Second Edition purely for fun. It’s still a few weeks off, but I’ll hopefully have some photos to share afterwards.

Monday 14 June 2021

New for Rangers of Shadow Deep!


Two exciting releases for Rangers of Shadow Deep today! First up is Adventure Compendium I. This book collects the first four expansions for the game (Blood Moon, Temple of Madness, Ghost Stone, & Incinerator) into one book available in print-on-demand in both hardback and paperback. Note, this book has no new material, it’s just for collectors who want it all in a nice format.

Next up is Star of Alladore – the official Rangers of Shadow Deep Fanzine! For this book, I served as editor while inviting 5 Shadow Deep fans to contribute their own pieces. In these pages are scenarios where Rangers must quell a revolt in the heart of the capital of Alladore, investigate a hamlet stuck down with plague, explore the dungeons beneath an abandoned tower, sneak into a gnoll occupied village, and defend a group of refugees as they flee the frontlines of the war. It also includes my short piece on Aventine’s sword. Featuring Barrett Stanley’s usual dark and moody artwork, it tells a lot of stories of the war that I’d never have time to cover or would have never thought of in the first place!

For those wandering about part two of The Rescue, Dungeons Dark – I have finished writing it, Barrett has nearly finished the artwork, and I hope to be sending it to design soon. That still leaves a lot of work to do, but hopefully it should appear before the summer is out!

Friday 11 June 2021

Bug-Eyed Monster

I believe my first encounter with science-fiction literature was Andre Norton’s The Last Planet (sometimes entitled Star Rangers). My parents read the book to me when I was quite young. I say ‘parents’ because I can’t actually remember which parent. Mom was the big Andre Norton fan, but Dad did more of the reading… In fact, it may be that both read it to me at different times.

I can’t say whether or not it is a great book, but I certainly loved it at the time. It features a small team that crash lands on a remote world. I don’t remember much about the plot, but I do remember the ‘team’ consisted of a human, a bird-man, a reptile-man, and a human with large eyes adapted to low-light who had to wear large goggles in normal sunlight. I also remember that the non-humans were called ‘Bemmies’, short for ‘Bug-Eyed Monsters’. Not overly PC, but certainly believable. Amusingly, the cover features 3 humans and a robot!)

I hadn’t thought about the book in years, until it popped back into my head while I was working on Stargrave. It popped in there again as I was painting my most recent miniature (above).

This is completely a ‘for fun’ figure. I have no specific purpose for him, but I can see him getting use in all kinds of scenarios. He could be a medic, or the guy carrying the case full of money, or maybe just the Ravaged Galaxy’s equivalent of a travelling shower-curtain ring salesman. Who knows.

Anyway, he was fun to put together and even more fun to paint!

Tuesday 8 June 2021

Only Diet Soda?


Even colonial marines get thirsty! These are the last two miniatures I have completed. The one on the left is the second of the colonial marines I'm assembling from the Stargrave plastic box sets. The other is a soda machine from Reaper miniature's Bones line. 

I love little pieces like the soda machine. I mean, it can either be some kind of special loot token or objective in a Stargrave game, or it can just be a bit of scatter terrain. 

Friday 28 May 2021

No Life-Signs...


For my second Stargrave figure, I wanted to see if I could paint up an Aliens-esque colonial marine. I think the answer to that is a 'affirmative'! This guy is mostly made from the Mercenaries box, though his arms might come from the Troopers box, I can't quite remember. One of the great things about these figures is the depth of the detail. Not only does this make them a real joy to paint, but it makes it very easy to add a bit of scraping and battle damage to the armour, as I did rather liberally on this guy.

I'm planning on making up a small squad of these guys.

This photograph is also a hint towards and article I was working on last week... coming sometime in the future in Wargames Illustrated!

Thursday 20 May 2021

Pilot for my A-Wing!


A few months back, I picked up a bargain, - an A-wing fighter from Amazon. You can read all about it here.

The only thing that disappointed me was that I didn't have a pilot for it. Well now, thanks to the Stargrave Crew box, I had the parts available to build my own! 

The figure is a straight assembly of parts in the box, and it scales almost perfectly with the fighter! 

I don't paint with orange very often, unless I happen to be painting pumpkins, but there is something really delightful about the high contrast between the orange jumpsuit and the white straps. It really makes the figure pop! 

I must admit, doing this one figure has kind of got me interested in doing a small squad of 'rebels'. 

(P.S. Yes, I know that in the movies A-wing pilots are generally depicted as wearing green, but I wanted orange.)

Wednesday 5 May 2021

A Little Corner of Frostgrave

Christmas 2020 was an odd one for a lot of reasons, but one of the good ones was this amazing gift I received from the guys as Illusionary Terrain. I've hung out with these guys many times over the last few years, and even played a few great wargames. That said, I wasn't expecting this!

It's 10mm Frostgrave! A 12" square, covered in snowy, ruined terrain. There are even two little warbands to fight over it, and a couple of wandering monsters - a large construct and a monstrous Ice Toad! 

Now, I admit, I haven't actually played a real game on it so far, but I've had a lot of fun playing with it none-the-less. Thanks guys! I'll let my mediocre photos say the rest.