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.





Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Stargrave: The Powers

The official release of Stargrave is now just two weeks away, and the Stargrave Nickstarter pre-order program is surging onwards, with lots of cool new miniatures.

Today, Osprey Games released the Power Card Sheets from the rulebook as a free download. These cards contain the rules for all of the powers that Captains and First mates can choose from, all 52 of them.

Creating these powers was probably the most enjoyable part of the design process. It was my chance to develop fun and clever ways to bend or break my own rules, to give players the chance to manipulate the game environment, and to allow the main characters to do some really cool, cinematic stuff.

Also, it presented a nice challenge. In Frostgrave, everyone is controlling a wizard, so it was easy to justify anything cool they could do, just by saying ‘its magic’! In Stargrave though, the characters come from all kinds of different backgrounds. While a few, such as the Mystic and the Psionic can do things that look a bit like magic, most of the others; however, can not. Soldiers, Rogues, Cyborgs, etc. should have abilities based more on skills, or technology, or luck. In fact, that’s why I called these things ‘Powers’, as I couldn’t think of a better, all inclusive term, for the different abilities that captains and first mates can possess.

Now, in truth, I haven’t worried too much about the logical justification of why a particular captain has a particular power – that’s up to the player when creating the captain’s background – but I did want to create powers that could match as many different sci-fi tropes as possible. So, if you want a captain who survives by his combat training and wits alone, you can. You can also have a mystic that can suck the lifeforce out of others and blast things with weird energy. The key for me, was making both characters fun, balanced, and desirable.

So, have a look through all the powers and, hopefully, it will get your own creativity stirring, giving you ideas for cool characters to start their adventures in the Ravage Galaxy!

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Stargrave Nickstarter!


The Stargrave 'Nickstarer' has begun! What's a Nickstarter, you ask? It's a pre-order program with bonuses.

Essentially, if you order one of the basic Stargrave packages (the simplest is a copy of the book and a box of plastic minis), then you will also received all of the 'freebies' that are unlocked during the campaign. As we are already on day three, and the campaign exploded out of the gate, that already includes 5 metal miniatures, 3 loot tokens, a sprue of plastic gnolls, and a d20! And, it is very close to picking up yet another metal miniature. Considering the campaign has almost three weeks left, there is a good chance that more freebies will be unlocked.

What a Nickstarter isn't is crowd funding. Everything in the campaign is being produced and paid for independent of this campaign. Most of it is already produced and the last pieces are being pulled together now. So, you won't be waiting a year or more to get your stuff, it'll hopefully be shipping as soon as the campaign ends.  

So, come join the fun!

You can order direct from North Star.

In the US you can order from Badger Games or Brigade Games.

In Germany you can order from Minituricum

You can also potentially order it through your local game store if they work with North Star.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Stargrave: Dead or Alive (A Free Mini-Supplement Coming Soon…)

Stargrave was designed as a competitive game between two or more players, but I always knew that I would tinker with some solo mechanics for it. I just didn’t think I would do it quite so soon!

But, with lockdowns lingering, and an uncertain future for competitive gaming, I wanted to give people the opportunity to play some Stargrave as soon as they got the book. I mean, most players will already have miniatures and terrain they can use. They might just lack the opponent!

So, over the last couple of months, I developed a special mini-expansion for Stargrave that is going to be released for FREE at the same time as the rulebook. It’s called Stargrave: Dead or Alive. This mini-expansion allows you roll up solo, bounty hunting scenarios. Essentially, you roll for the unique outlaw you are after and their gang. You roll for a setting and any potential complications. Then, using the simple rules modifications, you go after your mark!

It’s not a full set of solo rules, but it is enough to give everyone a chance to play and get a taste for the game. And, for those that desire, it should be pretty easy to expand upon the ideas to construct longer bounty-hunting campaigns.

So, that’s coming free on the Osprey site when Stargrave launches!

(Now, try to think about the title Stargrave: Dead or Alive without singing it like the similarly titled Bon Jovi song...)

Friday, 26 March 2021

Great Obelisk of C'thulhu

 

The latest miniature off my painting table is the Great Obelisk of C'thulhu from Reaper Bones. Here it is, guarded by my recently painted snakemen.

I didn't do a huge amount of work on this figure. It's basically just layered grey with a couple of green washes, and some shiny green eyes. I mounted the whole thing on a MDF base to give it some extra stability.

It's a great little piece, and considering my scenario writing, it'll likely make it onto the table quite a bit!

In fact, such a thing is downright necessary for the solo Ghost Archipelago scenario that is included in the forthcoming Blaster, Volume 3.

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Rangers of Shadow Deep: Creature Deck!

I have just heard that Modiphius has just received stock of the Rangers of Shadow Deep creature cards! These have been in the works for awhile, but suffered some Covid delays.

The deck features 59 creatures cards - this includes all of the creatures from the main book and all of the supplements that have been published up to this point. There are also 17 'blank cards', to either make up your own monsters or for new monsters that may come in the future.

Each card features artwork by Barrett Stanley, some of which has never been seen before, plus all of the stats for that creature. So now you can pull out the cards for the creatures you know you are going to need during a game and keep them handy.

I'll admit, I haven't actually gotten my hands on a deck yet, but I'm sure excited about them!

Modiphius has them available now. North Star should have them soon. Shipments are still on their way to the USA and other destinations.



Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Wargames Illustrated, Issue 400

Wargames Illustrated magazine hits a pretty incredible milestone this month with its 400th issue! That's a seriously long run for any magazine, but especially one devoted to such a small hobby! Congratulations to Dan Falconbridge, the current owner, and all who have worked on the magazine over the years.

I have been honoured to appear in those pages on many occasions, and I have another piece in this historic issue.

I was asked by the editors to do a 'Top 10 List', and after giving it some though, I went for my 'Top 10 Wargames Mechanics'.  I figured, if nothing else, it will at least prove controversial! 

Anyway, it's a fun packed issue, with lots of looks at the past, a long article from Rick Priestly on major wargame releases of the past thirty years (Frostgrave even gets a mention!), an interview with the Perry twins, a look at Nick Eyrie's Union infantry, and more. In fact, the mag even comes with a free set of rules - Death in the Dark Continent, Lite - as a separate booklet in the bag.

Might be worth checking out! You can order it direct from Wargames Illustrated or from North Star.

Monday, 22 March 2021

Snake-men!

 

Like most fantasy gamers, I occasionally find myself asking, 'do I need more snake-men in my life?'. The answer is invariably yes. In fact, I pretty much knew as soon as Reaper released these guys in bones plastic, I was going to pick some up. I got 8, in 6 different poses, and have just finished painting the first two.

As they are bones, the detail on them is a bit soft in places, but by using a limited palette, I was able to let the contrast between colours do a lot of the work. They actually stand a bit taller than most 28mm, which I like. It makes them look a bit tougher.

Once I have all 8 done, I'll have to get them on the table and see what they can do against my Ghost Archipelago warband!

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Zombie Shark!


Yes, it is nearly impossible to write 'Zombie Shark' without my brain setting it to the tune of 'Baby Shark'. With that out of the way, here is the newest entry in my Ghost Archipelago bestiary! 

The zombie shark is a Reaper Bones miniature. When I first got it, I thought I would slice away the bottom half and model it come up out of the water. Then I thought I might set it on a short flight stand so that it looked like it was swimming under the water. Finally, I realized I was too lazy to do either, so I just painted it up and will plop it on the table when and where needed. In truth, I think it'll look fine whether it is supposed to be swimming on the surface or underwater. 

The paint job was quick and easy, just some layers of grey with washes, a bit of white for teeth and bones, various purples and pinks for exposed icky bits. 

Fun, easy, and not-too-expensive. In truth, I might need two of these...

Here are my suggested stats for Frostgrave, Ghost Archipelago, and Rangers of Shadow Deep.

Zombie Shark

Occasionally, if an item of powerful necromantic energy sinks to the bottom of the ocean, it can taint the nearby waters, causing dead sea creatures to reanimate. Most of these are still quickly devoured by the other animals in the area, but larger creatures such as sharks and whales can carry on in this zombie form for some time. In the case of sharks, the zombie hunger just replaces their normal, living hunger, so their behaviour doesn't change a whole lot. The only major difference is that living sharks will generally avoid their undead counterparts, so when a zombie shark attacks, even if it draws blood, it will not general attract other sharks. 

Although aquatic, zombie sharks don't need to breath, and thus suffer no damage from being on land, however, if on land, their Move is reduced to 1. 

 

Move

Fight

Shoot

Armour

Will

Health

Notes

Shark

6

+4

+0

10

+1

18

Undead, Large, Aquatic, Large Bite (+2 Damage) 




Monday, 15 March 2021

Oathmark Halflings!

Never let it be said that Osprey doesn't listen to their fans! As one of my last tasks as an Osprey employee, I was asked to create an 'unofficial' Halfling army list for Oathmark.

Officially, there are no Halflings in the Marches, but we know that a lot of players either have the figures, or wanted an excuse to get some! 

So, here you go. Since Halflings aren't really warriors by nature, and their settlements are generally small, it's kind of a 'half-list' in relation to the other races. This includes a small, but particular spell list.

As part of the fun, North Star got Mark Copplestone to sculpt a new Halfling hero for the occasion, which you can see here. 

You can pick up this guy, and bolster your halfling forces at North Star Military Figures! 

I hope it brings some fun to your tabletops!

Friday, 12 March 2021

Stargrave: Assemble your Crew!

Due to the overwhelming interest in Stargrave, and to help everyone get ready to dive into the game upon release, Osprey Games has released the 'Assembling a Crew' section from the book as a download! So, if you are eager to get a head start, you can download it here:

Assembling a Crew

If you are interested in the plastic minis that are coming with the game, North Star has posted a few more images on their Facebook page, one of which can be seen above!

It's time to get those starship engines warmed up!

Monday, 8 March 2021

Clanrats, Unit 1

 

So, for the first time ever, I painted a full unit of Skaven! Okay, it’s only 10 clanrats, and in Oathmark, that is not a unit that is going to stick around long, but hey, it’s a unit!

Really, if playing a big game of Oathmark, I am probably going to want units of 20 as it has a chance to hang around a lot longer. But, for now, I’m more interested in having a small army of several units, than bigger units.

I even got the unit a nice movement tray from Warbases. This fits them perfectly, and I highly recommend the company.

As I previously mentioned, my plan is to make this army so that I can either play it just using the Skaven as goblins, but that I also wanted to create my own specific ‘ratman’ rules as I go along.  So, here are the first two units in the unofficial ratman army list!

Ratman Soldier

Terrain: Rat Burrow

Compared to the basic soldiers of other races, ratmen are weaker, ill-disciplined, and skittish. However, they are also extremely nimble, capable of crossing terrain that would slow most armies, and they are less prone to break due to their units suffering casualties. Ratman lives are filled with death and violence, and casualties are an expected part of battle. 

A

M

F

S

D

CD

H

Pts

Special

Base

Ratman Soldier

6

6

1

0

9

1

1

10

Acceptable Losses, Nimble, Shielding (1)

25 x 25

Equipment: Hand Weapon, Shield, Light Armour

 

Raman Spearman

Terrain: Rat Burrow

In truth, a unit of ratmen aren’t likely to survive long against a determined charge, but canny generals have found that giving them spears can at least help them hold out a little longer. Plus, ratmen seem to delight in having long, pointy sticks.

A

M

F

S

D

CD

H

Pts

Special

Base

Ratman Spearman

6

6

1

0

9

1

1

11

Acceptable Losses, Brace, Nimble, Shielding (1)

25 x 25

Equipment: Spear, Shield, Light Armour

New Attribute

Acceptable Losses – Whenever this unit is required to make a Morale Test due to casualties, treat the number of casualties as 1 less than actually suffered. For example, if the unit suffers 4 casualties, it makes it’s Morale Test at -3. This ability doesn’t affect Morale Tests taken from any other cause.


Thursday, 4 March 2021

Assembling the Bibliography

 

It has been a busy few years for Joe the writer. The above picture contains all of the published books I have written since I first wrote Frostgrave back in 2014. In truth, I have probably pushed it a little too hard, and hope to slow down (at least a little) over the next few years.

What is not included in the photo is all of the magazine articles I have written, or the non-gaming books, or the short stories, etc.  In fact, I recently realized I was in danger of completely loosing track of what I had written. So, I set out to create a new bibliography. You can find it here on the blog (or via the link at the top). It's actually not quite complete. I know there are some magazine articles I'm missing, but I'm not sure where to find them. If any readers happen to know of any, please let me know.

Now if I can just remember to updated when I do something new...

Friday, 26 February 2021

The Boys in Blue

 

I have always been a 'Miniatures First' wargamer. By which I mean, I tend to buy miniatures that I think are cool, and then I worry about what I'm going to do with them. Maybe I'll find (or write) a game to use them for, but maybe I won't. 

I recently pulled this cop car out of my son's somewhat neglected car collection. Then I remembered the line of 20mm figures that North Star has been creating for Gaslands, and bought the 'Highway Patrol' pack. Now, of course, Gaslands doesn't actually have any rules for figures on foot (and I'm assured that it never will!). 

So, what are these guys for? Well, just for fun really. I had fun painting them. They look cool standing next to their car. One day I might use them for some Car Wars style game, or I might not.

The figure pack actually came with 5 figures, including a plain-clothes detective type. I had a lot of trouble painting him and realized the problem was that I didn't really care about him. He didn't fit with my little team. So I dropped him.

Sometimes it's nice to paint a few miniatures just for the heck of it.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Zombie Herdsmen

I once wrote a book about weapons and tactics to use when fighting zombies, but what if you are fighting on the same side as the zombies?

Continuing my work on my Tox Troopers, I recently finished up these to guys. I'm not 100% sure what they are supposed to be, but I'm going to use them as 'Zombie Herdsmen'. 

In truth, I don't suppose fire would be much use in herding zombies, but it could be an extremely effective weapon used in conjunction with them. Think about it. You advance behind your shield of undead, then, when you get close to the enemy, you open up with a flamethrower. You can fire straight through your own troops. I mean, if the flames don't destroy them, you've just turned them into 'flaming zombies' which is even better - in the short term anyway.  

So, that's what these guys are for.  Fun models to paint.

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Mutiny on the Spanish Main by Angus Konstam

Nothing helps me through the anxious times quite like a good book! For awhile I can put all the worries aside and travel to another world, whether that be fantasy, science-fiction, philosophy, or history. A couple of days ago, I picked up Mutiny on the Spanish Main by Angus Konstam and read through it in a fury of excitement.

Straight up – this is a great book.

It tells the story of the HMS Hermione, a Royal Navy frigate whose crew mutinied in 1797 and turned the ship over to the Spanish. It is a dramatic and bloody tale, full of intriguing characters. In fact, there is so much more to the story than the mutiny itself. There is the Royal Navy’s pursuit of the mutineers, the politics between Britain and Spain, the numerous trials of captured mutineers, and the legal wrangling between Britain and the United States. To top it off, there is the incredible cutting-out operation launched by the British to recapture the ship. I know it’s all history, but really, I don’t want to give too much away!

What is perhaps most incredible is that this tale can be told so coherently and so completely. Many of the central characters don’t survive, and the stories of those that do are scattered about both geographically and chronologically. Angus Konstam has obviously done his research (the notes and bibliography are extensive), but I just read it as a story and thoroughly enjoyed it.

If you are fan of Nelsonian naval history, military history, or bloody tales of the sea, you will want to add this one to the bookshelf.  Highly Recommended.

[Disclaimer – Until recently I worked for the publisher, Osprey Publishing, though it’s been a long time since I had anything to do with the military history side. I have met Angus Konstam on several occasions and many years ago would send Osprey books as prize support to his local wargaming convention!]

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger

The libraries in England are still closed, but, at least here in Kent, you can still get books. You have to request them online and then wait for a scheduled pick-up time – but hey, it’s better than nothing. This is important to me as there are a lot of books that I would like to read but know that I’m unlikely to want to keep. Such was the case with Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger.

Robert Iger has been the CEO of Disney since 2005 and is responsible for the acquisition of Pixar, Marvel, Lucas Films, Fox and the creation of Disney+. Although this book is billed as ‘Lessons in Creative Leadership’ as it says in the subtitle, I read it more as Iger’s ‘business autobiography’.

The book is well-written, well-paced, and overall it’s a fascinating read. The first third of the book is about his work at ABC and his rise to the top of that company. Then, when Disney buys out ABC, he slowly rises within Disney. There is a long section on how he became CEO after the forced departure of the former CEO Michael Isner. Finally, the book goes through each of the acquisitions mentioned above, one-by-one. I admit, this was my favourite part of the book as these are companies I’m interested in to a greater (Marvel / Lucas Films) or lesser (Fox) extent. Its fascinating to hear how each of those deals went down and how different each of the former owners of those companies approached the negotiations. Each one of them is a true ‘character’.

Probably the most interesting for me, though it only takes up a short part of the book, was the sale of Lucas Films. In this case, its really is one ‘creative’, George Lucas, selling the products of his creation. Something that echoes greatly with me.

Obviously, such a book offers a severely biased view of these events, but what first-hand account is without bias? That’s not to say that Iger claims to be perfect or faultless, and he does admit to several mistakes, but he certainly paints himself in a good light. (I otherwise know nothing about the man so I offer no opinion on his character).  

It’s a fast read and worth picking up if you are interested in such things.

Friday, 12 February 2021

Random Musings On My Games

 

Some random musings about my games - accompanied by an even more random photo of the stuff on one half of the top of my office bookcase!

Stargrave - I meant to write a blog this week about the different backgrounds you could give to your captain and first-mate, but I didn't get around to it. Here's the list that appears in the rulebook: Biomorph, Cyborg, Mystic, Robotics Expert, Rogue, Psionicist, Tekker, and Veteran. Each one of these comes with specific stat boosts and a list of 'core powers'.  Captains and first-mates can, but are not required, to have the same backgrounds. I'm planning on creating new backgrounds in the supplements.

Rangers of Shadow Deep - I finished my first draft of Dungeons Dark this week. Despite only having 4.5 scenarios, it's the longest supplement I've written because each of the scenarios is broken down into numerous rooms and there are loads of notes! Still a long way to go, but it's getting there. North Star showed off a picture of their forthcoming humpback miniature. Gonna need a couple of those guys in Dungeons Dark!

Frostgrave, 2nd Ed. - I'm really annoyed that I didn't change the rules for 'Badly Wounded' when I had the chance. This is the last instance where a warband can play a 'man down' because of the rules. If I were writing it now, I would allow the player to either play with the wounded figure, but start them at -6 Health, or replace the figure for the game with a free thug or thief. 

Also, I just noticed the game is sporting a 5-star average on Amazon with over 250 ratings! That's pretty cool.

Ghost Archipelago - If I had to pick one of my games to play with someone else right now, it would be this one. Partly because I've got my new crew that has never been used against an opponent, partly because I miss it's colourful setting. There is a cool solo scenario coming for it in the next volume of Blaster - basically the crews end up in Innsmouth...

Oathmark - I wish I had included 'Expendable' as an attribute. When a unit with this attribute breaks, it would only cause Cascading Panic among other units with the Expendable attribute. It would make sense for units like goblins slaves, warhounds, wolves, etc.

That's all for today!

Thursday, 11 February 2021

The Skaven of My Youth

I guess it was 1989, when my family drove up to Gaithersburg, Maryland to visit my mother’s parents. The journey must have been a long one, crammed in the back of a 5-seater with my sisters, in a car with no air-conditioning. But I knew it was going to be worth it. We planned to explore Washington, D.C., including a trip to the National Air & Space Museum. Even better, I had  discovered that there was a Games Workshop store in a mall nearby, and my parents had agreed to take me.

I had never been to a Games Workshop store before. These were the days when they first came to the USA, and there weren’t many of them about. But I bought White Dwarf sometimes, and I guess I found the address in there.

I must admit, I don’t actually remember going to the store – but I remember what I brought home (or at least back to my grandparent’s place!). I had the Skaven army book and a box of the original Skaven plastics. For the rest of the trip, I poured over that book. I read it cover-to-cover, planned my armies, and noted specific miniatures I wanted to buy. For a while, I dreamed rat-filled dreams.

As it turned out, I was too young to build a miniature army. I didn’t have the attention span, the finances, or the painting ability required. I gave up on the project before I had ever really started, but I never completely forgot this early, fantasy army love. I made another attempt, some fifteen-to-twenty years later, but again, never got past paint the first unit.

Well, times have changed. (Boy, have they changed). My finances have improved. My painting skill has vastly improved, and my attention span… we’ll, I'm still working on that one. Perhaps more importantly, I now have a mass battle fantasy game I actually play – my own Oathmark rules. So, I have decided it is time to once again try and create my chittering hordes!

In aid of this, I ordered a copy of that original Skaven army book off ebay. Meanwhile, a friend sent me a pile of assembled, but unpainted, Skaven plastics to get me started.

After giving it a lot of thought, I’ve decided I’ll base all of my skaven on standard GW 25mm round bases. These can be put into movement trays to use for Oathmark, will be based appropriately should I ever want to play Age of Sigmar, and will look good if I use them in skirmish games. Oddly, the only game they won’t officially work in is Warhammer Fantasy Battles, the game for which they were originally created – as technically they should be on 20mm squares. Still, should it ever come up, I think I can make it work.

Now, some might be asking – does this mean there will be ratmen rules for Oathmark? No, not officially. Ratmen don’t really belong in the Marches. That said, I’ve decided to take a two-pronged approach to the army. Whenever I paint a unit, I’m going to select a unit in Oathmark that they can map to (so clanrats can just be golbins), so that I can play the game straight. I’m also going to come up with my own rules, just for fun, should anyone want to play me with those.

Those following my blog might note that this makes the 3rd!!! army I’m working on at the moment (along with my Imagi-Nation and my Lost and the Damned). It’s a pretty big ask to work on three armies at the same time, but really, I’m not in any huge rush on any of them – it’s not like I’ve got any games scheduled! More importantly, I’m having fun building all these different armies, and since that is the only reason I’m doing any of it, I don’t think any other reason is necessary!

I’ll let you all know how I get on!

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Lost Churches of Kent, Eastbridge

Last week, it was all getting to me. So, on a dreary, drizzly Thursday morning, I eschewed work and set off on my bike instead.

In England at the moment, we aren’t allowed to leave our ‘Local Area’. I don’t think there are any specific guidelines on this, which is probably as it should be. For me, I’ve taken it as the distance I can cycle and still get home. Thankfully, there is plenty of interesting stuff in my local area.

On this day, I rode out into the Romney Marsh, which is an oddly lonely area of land that sits between the south-eastern coast and a high ridgeline. It’s a peaceful place to cycle with many more sheep than cars or people.

Peddling my way through a few small villages, and then past a few isolated houses, I finally reached an open area of flat fields and drainage ditches. A little further and I came upon a strange ‘island’. While everything was flat and mostly featureless, here was a lone house with a small area of thick, bramble-filled woods next to it. These woods contained only one ‘entrance’, a tunnel that had been purposely cut through the greenery. I pushed my bike through, and I admit, it was a bit like entering the fairy realm.

On the other side of the tunnel was circle of cleared land, completely enclosed by the walls of trees and brambles. In the middle stood two, jagged projections, the crumbling remains of the tower of Eastbridge church. The tower was apparently built in the 13th century, but by the 15th century the church had been abandoned for reasons unknown… although judging by the number of houses in the local vicinity, a lack of patrons is perhaps a good guess.

It’s incredible to think that after 500 years left mainly on its own that anything survives. Obviously, someone is maintaining the land, though there is no evidence that any work has been done on the ruins themselves.

On another day, it would be the perfect little spot for a picnic. On this wet morning, it was a tranquil place, if not one that invited lengthy stays. I soaked in the quiet, the calm, and the drizzly rain, took a few photos, and quietly thanked the unknown caretaker. I hope the place manages to remain for another 500 years.



Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Aliens!

 

Gale Force 9 recently released a new board game based on the Aliens franchise. Of more interest to me, they made the aliens figures for the game available separately. I picked up a box of Alien warriors (12) and a Queen, figuring they would be perfect for  Operation: Last Train and Stargrave. Especially for the first Stargrave supplement: Quarantine 37.

The figures are made of hard plastic and take modelling glue well. Assembly was relatively easy – except for the tails, which were a serious pain. The tail join is poorly designed, but I eventually got around the problem through the employment of ‘lots of glue’. The Queen went together with no problems. (Side note – board gamers must have gotten a lot better at assembling figures over the years if this is really marketed at them…)

Considering aliens are supposed to be gloss black - and the figures are cast in gloss black plastic - I couldn’t see much point in really painting them. Instead, I picked out the teeth and claws, painted some grey on the bases, and called them done. I didn’t bother to prime them, and I’m not going to bother to varnish them. The sculpting/casting is great though, so they look fantastic.

On the one hand, this all means I added a good little force of aliens for very minimal effort. On the other hand, it means that I got no real enjoyment out of assembling or painting these figures. So, I need to make sure they get some more table-time to earn their keep.

Still, some nice ones to have in the collection.