Saturday 22 June 2024

The Horned Rat Helps Those Who Run Fastest

"I am Grey Seer Thanquol. I am the chosen representative of their malevolent majesties, the Lords of Decay, the Council of Thirteen of holy Skavenblight and the living claws of his most vengeful divinity the Horned Rat. I am the eyes, nose and ears of Skavenblight. I am their judge and their dagger! Know me and tremble, spleenless-mouse, and beg my indulgence for your impiety"

- Grey Seer Thanquol 

As you can see, I've pivoted back painting old Skaven models for potential use in the new edition of Age of Sigmar, and this time I've focused on the first of two leaders included in the soon to be released Spearhead force, a Grey Seer.

But not just any Grey Seer. No-no. The greatest and most powerful Grey Seer to ever scurry through the Under Empire, with the most cunning and devious plan-schemes in creation. Grey Seer Thanquol.


I've had this miniature for a long time, and originally bought him and the first Boneripper (yes, he'll be popping along soon) to add a wizard and a Rat Ogre to my Skaven Bloodbowl team. 

However, unlike Boneripper, he never got painted, and I think this was due to me feeling a bit intimidated by the model, something which time, practice and the existence of contrast paint seems to have abated.


I'm learning that Skaven, especially old metal Skaven, respond fantastically to contrast paints, and it makes painting them much less daunting and time-consuming than I found in the past.

I'm absolutely delighted how Thanquol has turned out, and he's really enthused me to crack on with this project.

"Forward to inevitable victory! Die-die, man-things!"


In other less exciting news, I've painted up the last five plastic Giant Rats.

I've still not fully decided how to use them, but I'm leaning towards using them as a kitbashed Vermintide endless spell, partly because that's a game feature that is unique to Age of Sigmar and it would be interesting to try it out, but also I think putting together a scenic base for them could be fun.

Next up are three Rat Ogres (see, I told you Boneripper was coming), but I need to get hold of some 50mm bases first, and I also need work out what I'm going to do to represent the Clawlord on Gnaw-Beast model to complete my cobbled-together Spearhead force.

Acquired: -82
Painted: 284
Lead Mountain: 686

Sunday 16 June 2024

Cheaphammer: A New Chapter

I've been painting Blood Angels for different editions of 40k for quite a while now, and I'm not entirely sure I've ever got to a point where I fully enjoy the process.

This is mainly to do with the rather clunky and time-consuming way I paint the red. It makes painting Space Marines somewhat laborious.

Therefore, I've decided to head in a somewhat radically different direction.

This humble Space Marine is the first I've done from the Astral Claws chapter and is simultaneously a test model for starting a new chapter, but also an experiment in painting silver armour in case I want to do a second legion for the Horus Heresy, because I'm leaning towards the Iron Warriors.


The experiment was a success, as the painting was ridiculously easy to get done:
  • Spray silver,
  • Nuln Oil wash,
  • Retributor Armour and Agrax Earthshade for the gold bits (Ushabti Bone on the skull),
  • Black Template and edge highlight of Administratum Grey on gun casing and pouches,
  • Caledor Sky edged with Drakenhof Nightshade on the shoulder pad,
  • Highlight a few raised a areas in Chainmail,
  • Eye lenses done with white and Hexwraith Flame.
I haven't decided what I want to do with the bases yet.


In fact, the painting was so quick and easy, I thought I'd have a go at free-handing the chapter symbol. More specifically the symbol for the Tyrant's Legion, which is a formation from the Badab War that mixed Space Marines with PDF troops (Planetary Defence Forces who were stronger on paper).


I usually avoid free-handing as I'm just not very good at it. However, I think I made a decent fist of this (pun intended), but not good enough that I wanted to repeat the experience numerous times, and so I opted to paint over it and use transfers.

I currently only have transfers for the squad symbols, and so I got that done and will wait for the chapter symbol transfers I've ordered to arrive.


So with the experiment a success, you might be asking, "why the Astral Claws?"

Well, I'm going to be joining in an upcoming project involving the Badab War in the coming months. I'll not go into details on that yet (as I don't fully know them), but I was really keen to get involved.


The Badab War was first featured in White Dwarf #101, which was the first copy of the magazine I ever bought (I'd recently got 1st Edition Bloodbowl and the cover grabbed my attention), and so the conflict was actually my introduction to the 40k universe.


The double-page spread of the chapters and their frankly outstanding colour combinations involved was utterly baffling to me at the time, and as my interests were more of a fantasy bent, I never really got into 40k at the time (although I did dabble in Epic and Necromunda). However, the Badab War does have a nostalgic place in my heart.

Those with incredible eyesight will notice that the Astral Claws are not actually listed in the original article, and that's because they were a retcon from the original villains of the piece, the Tiger Claws, who looked like this.


I think we can all agree that without the retcon, I wouldn't be touching this chapter with a barge pole.

I think the retcon happened in Imperial Armour 9: The Badab War, which covered the conflict in more detail, and although the Tiger Claws remained a successor chapter to the Astral Claws, I think Forge World, who made the book, went for something simpler to paint to encourage people to buy some of the hideously expensive models they'd made to accompany the release.


And so I've decided to go with the Astral Claws for this project for three reasons:
  1. They're easy to paint,
  2. They are involved in the conflict from beginning to end,
  3. The Tyrant's Legion gives me the opportunity to pivot into some Imperial Guard, which can pull double duty as Traitor Militia in the Horus Heresy.
I'll intend to go full Cheaphammer on this project, so I'll be using Firstborn Marines as I have some lying about and they are actually more appropriate than Primaris for the time period of the war (in fact, spoiler alert, the Astral Claws aren't around when the Primaris are introduced).


However, this doesn't mean that I'll be ignoring my Blood Angels, I'll still keep adding to them slowly.

In fact, I think I'm going to add a few more era appropriate units to the Horus Heresy part of the army - Contemptor Dreadnoughts, Cataphractii Terminators, etc. - and free up some of my existing units to potentially be repurposed into the Astral Claws.

However, when the opportunity presents itself, I'll be adding options, such as this Whirlwind Launcher.


The gun mount is a 3d print Pete kindly did for me that sits on one of my two Rhino chassis, giving this model the option to be used as a Rhino, a Razorback or a Whirlwind.

The style is much more 2nd edition, but again this can be used in all incarnations of 40k, including the Horus Heresy, where it might be particularly useful at reaching out and touching Pete's somewhat evasive Alpha Legion.

Not a lot of progress (I am counting the Whirlwind Launcher as a model), but a new direction and, as is fairly typical, yet another new project.

Acquired: -82
Painted: 280
Lead Mountain: 688

Tuesday 11 June 2024

Lead From The Front

I've recently got back to listening to the audiobook versions of the Horus Heresy novels whilst I paint (I'm about half way through the whole thing, in case you're interested), and this has naturally influenced me in my painting, causing me to turn my hand to the last unpainted Horus Heresy models I own.

Enter, the command squad...


This unit has been cobbled together with some spare tactical marines, making use of what I had rather than with any great plan in mind, but I'm quite pleased with the result and actually think they might have a very definite battlefield role (which is possibly dying first).

They finally bring my Blood Angels army for the Horus Heresy to the 'standard' game level of 3000 points, although there's still the small issue of game legality due to my 'inaccurate' Terminators not being to take transport for 'reasons'.


Leading the group is Dominion Zephon, a named character I received as a Christmas gift. I'm not sure I'll use him as Zephon, and will probably field him as a regular Praetor armed with a paragon blade, intent on charging him into the enemy general at the earliest opportunity.

It's nice, however, that I have the option to use the character too. Apparently he turns up later in the book series, so I might be more motivated when that happens.


The model went together really well and has lots of details without being too fiddly and annoying. However, the pose is a bit weird and it makes getting good photos quite hard.


As I said earlier, the command squad are kitbashed from tactical marines and there are four of them because I had four models and they are armed with power swords because that's the close combat option that comes on the tactical marines sprues.

The shields were chosen because it was a way to allow them to fight with two weapons (weirdly, shield don't interfere with this, they all have holstered bolt pistols) without giving them all plasma pistols, which would be more pricey and self-destructive.

I've aimed for a hoplite style to the shields, almost as if each warrior is responsible for his own design and the choices are personal to them.


The only parts that didn't come from the tactical marine sprues were: the shoulder pads, which are from 40k upgrade sprues; the jump packs, which are from Max Mini (bought long before 30k assault marines were released); and the shields, which are from plastic Wargames Factory ancient skirmishers I've had for years.

I have no idea if this unit will be efficient, but I think they will be a good 'infantry-blender' units, able to cut through power armoured foes with ease but probably giving heavier targets a wide berth.


The standard bearer carries the company 'banner', which doesn't include a flag because I didn't have anything suitable in my bits box. Also, I personally thing that what would essentially be a sail wouldn't aid I'm in mid air, and loose bits of material flapping around a large turbine might end badly.

Instead he's got a Romanesque 'eagle' which includes a variety of bits I had lying around, tarted up with a couple of transfers. 

He has a power fist just in case the unit dies end up tangling with heavier targets.

After 3000 points, I'm still no faster at painting Blood Angels, so I'm not sure I want to leap straight into getting more. However, now I have a full army, I would like to start trailering it to make it make a bit more sense - for example, these are the only jump troops I currently have, which means that dropping in from the sky would likely be a suicide mission, so some support might be in order.

I've also spent the week assembling and undercoating a whole range of models from various projects (including some new miniatures for Fallout I took delivery of), so you can expect me to be bouncing around various projects in upcoming posts.

Acquired: -82
Painted: 278
Lead Mountain: 690

Sunday 2 June 2024

Bells and Whistles

Not an amazingly exciting post, just me finishing off the two units of Clanrats by providing them with their command models.

Also, I'm taking my first pictures using the Jon Hodgson Sci-Fi Backdrops book I picked up yesterday.


I went for the Sci-Fi Backdrops book as this one had a few pictures that will work fine for fantasy and historical miniatures (such as the one pictured), whereas the Fantasy Backdrops book had nothing that would work for more modern or futuristic urban settings.

I probably need to work on how I light my images, but this should also liberate me from being dependent on getting the right light and dry weather in the garden, an also will bring a bit more narrative to my photos.


The Skaven have been done is exactly the same way that I did the rest of the Clanrats...quickly.

However as these Advanced Heroquest models are monopose, I did have to put a bit of work into making the standard bearers and musicians, which ultimately boiled down to doing hand and weapon swaps (fortunately, Skaven musicians use bells on sticks).

The tricky bit with the standard bearers was to do a hand swap that also angled the banner upwards, however I managed to make it work, and the flags are printable ones I found online and gave a wash of Nazdreg Yellow, which turned out a bit dark.

However, you may have spotted that I'm not massively fussed about any of this project being perfect.

The unit champions are actually newer models than the rest of their units, they are from Warhammer Quest, which was released in 1995, but I think the models were released a couple of years earlier.

Being more heavily armoured and stood slightly taller they make for pretty good champions in these ancient units.

I definitely have at least ten more Clanrats to bring one of these two units up to twenty, but my next stop in this project will be something a bit more exciting, which I can take a bit more time over.

Acquired: -87
Painted: 273
Lead Mountain: 690

Saturday 1 June 2024

The Great Exhibition

I've been to a lot of Wargames shows of varying sizes, but I was not really prepared for the scale of the UK Games Expo at the NEC in Birmingham.

Today was my first visit to the event and it was quite frankly, flipping huge.


As an indication of scale, the photo below captures about a third of the gaming hall, which was one of three, the other two being packed to the rafters with traders, demo games, exhibitors and more.


I went with Simon and Leon who I haven't seen for some time, so it was nice to catch up and explore and encourage each other to spend more than we should.

Leon also kindly passed on to me the miniatures from a Kickstarter his company, Kitbash Games, ran a while ago that I backed. I don't have the game cards for Pulp City or Super Mission Force yet, but I can crack on with painting them.

We also got the opportunity to try out a game called Power Vacuum, which was funded via Kickstarter. It was engaging and enjoyable and if you backed it, I'd suggest you made a good investment.

Obviously, there was shopping done, and I took the opportunity to pick up a few things from several companies and save myself some postage on intended future purchases.


My recent Fallout bingeing saw me making a beeline for the Modiphius stand and there were heavily promoting their new skirmish game Fallout Factions, which uses the same range of miniatures as Fallout: Wasteland Warfare, but is apparently more streamlined and plays faster, but without the narrative elements.

They were handily giving out free copies of the quick start rules, and so I might give it a try if I can convince someone to have a go.

I also picked up several card packs for Fallout Wasteland Warfare. There is an app available that provides the same information, but I'm old school (or just old) and prefer physical game pieces. I was also able to find out that the wave two Raiders card pack is being restocked soon, so I should be able to get all the cards I will need for the foreseeable future.

Finally, thanks to my purchases, I qualified for a free blister pack, and so I grabbed a couple of Robobrains to wander the Wasteland causing trouble.


At the TTCombat stand it was nice to see some of the newer miniatures they've added to the Dropzone Commander line in the flesh, including these towering behemoths.


However, given that I already have two full armies for the game, along with a Scourge fleet for Dropfleet Commander, my attention was grabbed more by this particular display of 32mm miniatures in the same setting.


Apparently this game will be coming to Kickstarter soon and I think it might be something that can garner interest within our gaming group.

The only problem is that I can't remember what word they've put between 'drop' and 'commander' this time.


Obviously, TTCombat also have Carnevale, which I haven't done anything for a while. I actually still have some miniatures to paint for this, so I didn't buy more right now, but I did pick up the Blood on the Water supplement, which I've been wanting for a while.


Other purchases of things I've wanted for a while included a very reasonably priced five-headed dragon from Archon Games, who may or may not end up being used as Tiamat in a D&D cartoon cast for 7TV, and a book of Sci-Fi backdrops (which I almost accidentally stole whilst trying to work out who to pay for it) from Handiwork Games, with the intention to jazz up my photography.


Given the name of this blog, I was also on the lookout for freebies, and simply signing up for a couple of mailing lists netted me an RPG map and a baby dragon miniature.

I'm sure I could have put more time into trawling for free stuff, and if I go again next year I'll see if I can increase my haul.


There were loads of pretty miniatures on display on different stands, such as these from Conquest Miniatures, but in no way was this a miniatures focused event, with the biggest crowds being found around the discount boardgames retailers.


One interesting effect of such a big venue was that it made displays that would usually seem extremely impressive feel a little small and underwhelming.

This is purely a contextual effect, but it was a reminder that these are 'miniature' wargames.


I'm aware that given the focus of my personal hobby, I've not really taken any photos outside of the wargaming part of the event.

As I was leaving I was regretting neglecting to take the opportunity to get some pictures of some of the excellent cosplay on display. However, I did get to very briefly meet and say hi to Dave from MiniWarGaming, so at least I could tick 'meet a niche celebrity' of my bucket list.

I forgot to ask for a photo with him too.


The event had a massively different feel to the other events I've been to, even Salute, and felt significantly more professional and mainstream.

It was also a reminder that wargaming is only part of a wider gaming community (included CCGs, RPGs and boardgames) and I think that some of the more traditional events could benefit from reaching out to these other facets of the community to bring more people through the doors.


One company which I was really pleased to see at such a large event was Crooked Dice. It's always nice to see Karl, but I felt that the eclectic range miniatures from a wide range of genres was in the right place to catch people with all sorts of different interests.

For the bustle around the Crooked Dice stand, I think I might be right.


All in all I had a great day. I didn't go too heavy on new miniatures, but I did pick up a number of things that I want and actually got a somewhat different view of the hobby.

I'll definitely go again, and next time I'll have a plan.

Acquired: -87
Painted: 267
Lead Mountain: 696

Thursday 30 May 2024

Vermintide

Over the years, I've come to realise that there are several motivating factors that get me painting. Obviously, painting to play games with my friends is the biggest of these, but I also often paint miniatures out of nostalgia for my long list youth, and sometimes simply because a setting or range inspires me.

The motivating factor that I don't admit to very often is an extremely petty desire to somehow put one over Games Workshop after they ripped my Undead army in half twenty years ago.

Yes, I should get out more and probably touch some grass.

Anyway, it's this less than noble part of my character that is at play in this post.

I don't play Age of Sigmar. I've never played Age of Sigmar. None of my regular gaming group have any desire to play Age of Sigmar. However, I am painting up Skaven for Age of Sigmar.

Why?

Well, as the advertising for the new edition of Age of Sigmar hit, it occured to me that I actually owned equivalent miniatures to almost all of the Skaven Spearhead force, and that childish and vengeful part of my soul kicked in...

Therefore I'm creating a starter army for Age of Sigmar without handing over any money at all.

Take that GW! Mwa-ha-haaaaa!

More seriously, I made a commitment to myself to paint a 1000 point army of Skaven at the start of the year, but I burned out on sorting out my existing armies for Warhammer: The Old World. So I figured that Age of Sigmar has smaller armies (less painting), I can still get the Skaven painted, and they then at least give me the option to try out a new game (my Daemons of Tzeentch would provide appropriate opposition).

The miniatures that will form the core of the force are the plastic Clanrats from Advanced Heroquest, that have sat unpainted for thirty years.

They are simplistic monopose sculpts (barring slight weapon and shield changes) that are showing their age. Arguably the worst part of the models are the top of their heads, which have no texture, however, other than that they are fine, and better than some of Games Workshop's later monopose sculpts, with some surprising areas of detail, such as the back of the shields.

In terms of painting, I've mainly used contrast paints in order to get things done quickly. These are tabletop standard at best, but I have never had the patience for large scale batch painting, and en masse they'll look fine.

The Skaven Spearhead (which is a starter box which has a reduced version of the game built round it) features two units of 10 Clanrats, and so I'm differentiating the units with slightly different coloured tunics.

I've only done seven for each unit at the moment as I'm going to need to convert champions, standard bearers and musicians to bring them up to full strength.

I have enough models to probably bring one of the two units up to twenty in time.

The Giant Rats don't feature in the Spearhead force, but I figured that I could get them done quickly at the same time.

These are the monopose plastic rats from the Warhammer Quest/Swarms sprues.

I used the same simple painting approach I used on the Clanrats, however I did vary the fur colours on some of them to provide some visual variation. This has also convinced me to do the same if and when I add Clanrats to the existing units.

I've not done the basing on them yet because I want to wait and see if Giant Rats are worth using in the game, or whether I should base them up as Swarms.

A further option would be to base them up as an Endless Spell - lasting magic effects that are built as part of the army list.

The Skaven have an Endless Spell aptly called Vermintide, which uses the above base size, giving me the option to create something scenic, which could be fun. I still have a few more Giant Rats currently having the paint stripped off them, so I should be able to make something that looked appropriate.

Will I ever play Age of Sigmar?

I honestly don't know, but I'm getting miniatures painted out of spite, and I'm sure I'll be able to use them somehow, maybe in 7TV or Five Leagues from the Borderlands.

Acquired: -100
Painted: 290
Lead Mountain: 660

Wednesday 29 May 2024

Cold Warriors

Long time readers of this blog will know that I have the slowest of slow-burn niche nostalgia projects constantly running in the background in the form of slowly collecting and painting versions of the characters from Freedom Force, a superhero tactical RPG from 2002.

Things had been quiet on this front for a while until Crooked Dice released their Cold Warriors pack, generic Soviet era soldier primarily aimed at Cold War Spy-Fi.


You might spot that I've not exactly gone for era appropriate uniform colours.

This is because these models have more than a passing resemblance to the goons of one of the key villains of the game: Nuclear Winter.


The Frost Warriors and Ice Troopers show up when a Soviet agent gives ice-themed powers, Nuclear Winter, freezes part of Patriot City to get hold of a nuclear submarine.

Our heroes, the eponymous Freedom Force, have to battle through a veritable legion of these freeze-ray-armed henchmen to get to the big bad and save the day 


As you can see from my Ice Troopers, the Cold Warrior models are not an exact match for the game models, but they are a close fit, and I particularly liked the piping on their coats.

Rather than attempt to give them goggles, which I'm sure wouldn't be too difficult, I've opted for giving them ice blue eyes. I didn't attempt any gun modification either, instead choosing to just paint their AK-47s blue.

All in all, the are close enough, which has been the core ethos of this project.


The Frost Warriors are a little bit tougher in game and I'm actually torn on whether I like what I've done with this model.

On the down side, the coat being longer means there's no grey trousers to prevent the red with white piping giving somewhat of a Commie-Santa vibe - he comes down the chimney and shares the presents out equally.

The grey beard and the snow aren't helping.

However, I am deeply amused by the fact that with a grey beard he looks more than a little like Jeremy Corbyn, the teensy-bit left wing former leader of the Labour party.


This now gives me a usable Nuclear Winter cast for games of 7TV. I'm not sure if I'd get to 30 ratings yet (a star, a co-star and 4 henchmen), but I can always add in my more generic thugs, who are found working for Nuclear Winter before he transforms.

There are a couple more henchmen to pick up for this bad guy: Shurales (yeti-type monsters) and Snow Men (you can guess what they are), which should bulk out the cast appropriately if I can lay my hands on suitable models.

I'm due a bit of an influx of minis usable in Freedom Force minis from a Kickstarter I back a while ago, and so it's good to get moving on this project again.

Acquired: -100
Painted: 267
Lead Mountain: 683