Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Elemental Evil

One of the things I'm really enjoying about the Orsa the Fearless feature pack is that it's making me examine the lead mountain in search of suitable miniatures to play the three scenarios.

In this case it's for two of the major threats from the final scenario: Skadi and Ofarr.

Skadi, the big bad of Orsa the Fearless, is straight from a long line of antagonist sorcerers in 1980's fantasy movies that includes Thulsa Doom in Conan the Barbarian, Maax in Beastmaster and Queen Bavmorda in Willow. In fact, the official Skadi model bears more than a passing resemblance to Jean Marsh as Queen Bavmorda.

However, I've opted to use another Crooked Dice miniature, the gender swapped Mola Ram (from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) I picked up in the 7TV Pulp Kickstarter.

Mainly, this decision was fuelled by already owning the miniature, but also because when painted to match my Pulp cultists (the Ancient Order of Ahmabaddun) the miniature is more than suitable for epic barbarian fantasy and is vaguely reminiscent of a female Maax from Beastmaster.

Although Ofarr is meant to be a massive Ice Elemental, the fact that it's an Elemental took me back to my remaining unpainted miniatures for Descent.

The last Descent Elemental I painted was done just as a Fire Elemental, so I decided to have a go at mixing all four types on the same miniature as in the artwork from the game.

This was actually achieved fairly easily with contrast paints and washes over a white base. I just needed to be tidy as I went.

Fire: Casandora Yellow wash with a Ryza Rust drybrush.
Air: Apothecary White contrast paint.
Water: Drakenhof Nightshade wash.
Earth: Black Templar contrast paint with Administratum Grey drybrush.

They are an odd couple of miniatures, but they were both fairly straightforward to do.

Acquired: 132
Painted: 179

Sunday, 17 October 2021


In case you weren't aware, I'm a bit cheap at times.

This is one of those times.

These are War Trolls (pack 3) from the Dark Alliance (definitely-not-knock-off-Tolkein) 1/72 fantasy range. I've had my eye on them for a while for possible use with MESBG.

They are softish plastic and I got four of them for less than a tenner. Being larger models, the details are fairly crisp and the resemblance to the Cave Troll in The Fellowship of the Ring is more than passing.

I've painted them mainly with washes over Corax White. A coat of Seraphim Sepia all over was followed by two coats of Agrax Earthshade over everywhere but the chest. Layer on I did a light drybrush of Ushabti Bone.

Being soft plastic, there is a deal of mould line removal to do and even then, several are noticeable (including the one I completely missed on this guy's arm), and the model in the image below is probably the worst of the bunch for this.

I'd been toying with getting these for a while, but I was tipped over the edge by then need to get four 'Jotun' for the second episode of Orsa the Fearless. Given the usual cost of larger models, this seemed like a good time to try them out.

In terms of scale, they are smaller than GW Cave Trolls, but would certainly work in that roll in a Moria army, or as Hill Trolls in an Angmar force. They are certainly large enough for 7TV purposes where the shortcomings of the models can be explained as low budget SFX.

They'll do.

Acquired: 132 (I threw away a broken model)
Painted: 177

Friday, 15 October 2021

Lots of Places Have a North

In the Orsa the Fearless feature pack for 7TV, the action takes place in the frozen northern region of Valhannon, and the second scenario, Trollhold, features some of the ferocious denizens of the frozen mountains.

And so, in preparation I've painted two of them, a Ymir and a Polar Bear.

I know what you're thinking.

Well, it's like this...

I'd already decided that my collection of fantasy and historical miniatures and terrain doesn't really support the frozen North setting, but I do have an ancient Greek army which will suit a more Ray Harryhausen approach to the campaign. And so I decided to move my North a bit further South, and have the frozen lake become a swamp.

The Ymir are burrowing worms which automatically brought to mind my Plague Worms from the Descent expansion 'The Trollfens'.

I already had two of them painted from playing through a campaign and so I set about matching the paint job from 2018.

Erm...it didn't go as planned.

The main culprit for this was Carroburg Crimson wash, which, it turns out, is apparently not a suitable replacement for my empty bottle of Baal Red.

Having said that, it's not too much of a worry as Descent does actually need one of a group of monster to look different to be a master monster.

The other monster is also from Descent and is not, you'll be shocked to hear, a Polar Bear (although it is an aquatic predator, so it works for me). It is in fact a Merriod, or, as I like to call them, a Sharktopus.

In terms of painting, I really enjoyed doing this model. There's nothing clever going on, but the details on the sculpt really pop and I've tried to capture the colours of a great white.

Like the Plague Worms, I'd painted another Sharktopus three years ago, which is convenient given that the Orsa scenario needs two Polar Bears.

Again, the variation in the colour works for Descent, but this time it was deliberate.

I'm pleased to have not only painted a few more things for Orsa the Fearless but also cleared some of a previously overlooked backlog.

Acquired: 133
Painted: 173

Sunday, 10 October 2021

The Great Watchtower

Although my Quest of the Ringbearer campaign has not yet left Bree, my eyes are on the road ahead and one of the most significant pieces of terrain I need to create.

Amon Sul. Weathertop. The location of the Witch King's failed attempt to bring Frodo under his spell with a knife in the dark.

This is a 3d print, very kindly done for me by Pete using a free file of the the interwebz. I'm reliably informed that printing it took around 87 hours.

It was actually printed in four sections which needed to be glued together and clamped whilst it set.

I'd actually done the base coat and drybrush before sticking it together for ease of getting things covered. I used a tester pot of emulsion (it's called 'Thunder' from Homebase) that I had in the shed fir the base coat, and then drybrushed with Corax White, which is always a very dry paint that I don't like to use for regular painting.

After that came the process of filling gaps. I used almost a whole pot of partially dried up liquid greenstuff. It's not a perfect seal, but it was a massive improvement.

After that, I went over the greenstuff with the same painting process to leave a perfectly useable, but somewhat dull ruined watchtower.

Then came the rather enjoyable process of adding lichen and flock to give the model an overgrown look. I used the materials I had lying around, and so it's arguably a bit green given that Aragorn and the Hobbits arrived their in mid-Autumn, but I like the contrast.

I also added a Ziterdes statue to one of the plinths, painted in the same way as the test. Ziterdes actually do a good foam not-Weathertop, which I considered buying, but the kind offer of printing from Pete made this not only less costly, but also something I have a greater sense of ownership and pride over.

The Ziterdes model is still, however, massively cheaper than the Forge World one, which seems awkward to actually use in the games I've seen.

All in all I'm absolutely delighted with my Weathertop. Not only is it somewhat movie accurate, Pete's also printed it to be exactly the right size for the scenario in the Quest of the Ringbearer.

There is plenty of space for movement and the hobbits have the option of heading up the stairs or trying to get fallen masonry between them and the Nazgul.

Finally, I feel that this piece has given me a bit more confidence about being able to make some other large terrain pieces look good in the future.

The Chamber of Mazarbul, the seeing seat of Amon Hen and Helm's Deep beckon.

Unfortunately for me, despite its size it doesn't change my tally massively. I'll let Gimli explain...

Acquired: 133
Painted: 171

Saturday, 9 October 2021

Bear With Me

There might be more puns that you can bear in this post.

Last week the postman arrived bearing the newest 7TV Feature Pack, Orsa the Fearless, a three part campaign which riffs on sword and sorcery epics of the 80s such as Conan the Barbarian, Red Sonja and Beastmaster.

Although it has less scenarios than Lurkers of the Deep, Orsa the Fearless has a more cohesive campaign. The central characters appear throughout the whole campaign and so the games will hopefully bear out more like a single movie.

Being, at source, a Fantasy gamer with a penchant for historicals, I have all the miniatures needed for scenario one, except one.

Shall I tell you which? Can you bear the excitement?

Orsa's animal companion Karhu is, as you may have guessed, a bear. This sculpt is a new one from Crooked Dice, released alongside the feature pack.

In terms of painting, Karhu was simple to do. A pale grey undercoat, contrast black all over, a light drybrush of grey and then details.

I decided to go for a black bear partly because of how easy it would be to do, but also I've identified that this model will make a suitable addition to another ongoing project.

Karhu will also double as Mum from Brave in my Magic Kingdom cast. A very slow burning project that 7TV Fantasy will be able to bring to the tabletop.

Here she is alongside my Hasslefree not-Merida.

And so only one painted and I took delivery of a pack of four miniatures which will be painted for the second scenario. More on them later.

Acquired: 133
Painted: 170

Look! A bear behind!

Monday, 4 October 2021

If you gotta go, go with a smile!

Zombies can't drive.

There's a 7TV Apocalypse day coming up in November, with an emphasis on vehicles.

My post-apocalyptic miniatures have a distinct bias towards the zombie-flavoured apocalypse.

This is a problem.

At least I can laugh about it...

As you might have guessed, the answer to my problem was my neglected BMG collection, and specifically my Joker crew. Not only do the clowns look suitably post-apocalyptic but they already have a van to drive around in.

This a Crooked Dice buggy that I picked up a few years ago when they were first released but never really worked out how to use.

A coat of purple paint with green details later and I now have a gun-buggy to run interference for my van full of clowns.

One of the elements I'm most pleased with are the 'HAs'. I'm never totally comfortable with freehanding lettering, but these have come out exactly as I wanted - scrawled in slightly unhinged strokes.

The driver isn't really the centre of attention but adds a splash of different colours. The face has been done as if he's wearing facepaint under his goggles and a bandana with a smile design on.

I've done better, but it works.

All in all this is an addition which kills several birds with a single stone. It allows me to complete a cast for an event, it makes use of something I already had and it allows me to break out some models I really like and haven't used for some time.

Acquired: 129
Painted: 169

Sunday, 26 September 2021

Back in the Saddle

My painting output always slows down in September. Mainly it's due to the new school year starting, but this year has had a wealth of other distractions, from gaming events to home improvement issues.

As ever, my route back in involves getting a couple of easy wins, and there are not many wins easier than Black Riders.

You might notice that these two are not GW models. Or at least they are not GW LotR models. I'm not actually sure of the manufacturer, and given the price I paid and the shinyness of the metal, I'm not entirely sure that they aren't recasts.

They aren't up to the same standard as the GW range, and there are some notable differences: wider hoods, lack of armour, and weapons.

Rather than try to ignore one of the major differences and paint the arms silver (which would have looked odd), I opted for doing them Matt black as an homage to the Black Riders in the Ralph Bakshi film.

However, I drew the line at adding the gleaming red eyes, but have done that on all of the horses, because they have red eyes in the Jackson films.

One of the two Riders also has a polearm, which is not only not film or book accurate, but also deeply impractical for cavalry.

I didn't bother making any conversions simply because this is all for the benefit of a single scenario in The Quest of the Ringbearer campaign.

Here they are with the official models, and there's a clear difference in quality and style, but at £7.50 for the pair, I'll live with it when the official models are £10 each. Cheaphammering does involve some sacrifices.

Just three more to go before Frodo can make his Flight to the Ford, but the hobbits still need to Escape from Bree and survive an Attack at Weathertop, so they might be a while.

More importantly, however, I'm making progress of another sort at last.

Acquired: 129
Painted: 168

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Board in Brum: A Star Wars Story

It is a dark time for the Resistance. A string of defeats to the First Order has almost completely extinguished the last spark of hope in the galaxy.

Whilst the Resistance struggle for supplies and ammunition, out of nowhere, rumours spring up that the fabled KATANA FLEET has been found.

Desperate to prevent this mighty force falling into the hands of the First Order, General Organa despatched a strike team to pursue the rumours, but an old enemy is also on the same trail...

Yesterday I went to my first 7TV day in over 18 months. It was a tightly themed day focusing on all things Star Wars. There were Rebels, Rogues, Jawas and more Stormtroopers than you could shake a stick at.

Although most casts were built around the original trilogy (with a little bit of Rogue One and The Mandalorian thrown in) using Star Wars Legion figures, my cast was based on the newest trilogy, using much smaller Hasslefree and Terminator: Genysis miniatures (they are from a galaxy even further away).

Rey (Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight) - Star
Poe Dameron (Lando Calrissian) - Co-Star
Finn (Princess Leia) - Co-Star
BB-8 (R2-D2) - Co-Star
5 Resistance Troopers (Rebel Commandos) - Extras
Medical Droid - Extra

GAME 1 vs Mike

Rey, Finn and Poe (Chewie stays with the Millennium Falcon as he's a bit conspicuous) head to the Outer Rim planet of Reamma to locate reliable information broker Runa Dene.

Arriving, at the long abandoned Rebellion-era base of LX-Robynsun V. Whilst searching for Runa amidst the rusting hulks of obsolete Y-Wing starfighters, they hear the heavy clanking motions of what can only be armoured walkers.

Taking cover amidst the derelict hangar, Poe surveys the advancing forces with his macrobinoculars.

"How is that possible? That's not the First Order...it's the Empire!"

My first opponents of the day were Mike's AT-ST patrol, which I've cast in my own narrative as part of an Imperial Remnant force in search of the Katana Fleet. Theu were a rather intimidating looking (and hard to photograph) cast of:

General Veers - Co-Star
Stormtrooper Commander - Extra
5 Stormtroopers - Extras
2 AT-STs - Vehicles

(Due to Imperial supply issues and misread profile cards, Mike's cast was only 31 ratings, which might go someway to explain what follows.)

The aim of the mission was to search the objective markers hidden throughout the hangar to locate Runa Dene and then get him off the board edge. Each objective marker searched would make it more likely that the next one was the information broker.

The Imperial Patrol clanked into the hangar. They'd been told to locate and retrieve an agent fir interrogation. The commander had been briefed that the mission was vital to the resurgence of the Empire and its inevitable overthrow of the upstart First Order.

Rey stayed low behind one of the decrepit Y-Wings. She considered how far she had come from salvaging scrap parts from wrecks like this on Jakku, to being caught up in the Resistance and being trained in the ways of the Force by none other than Jedi Master Luke Skywalker.

Remembering her training, she calmed herself and waited patiently for the right moment to strike.

In the face of two Imperial Walkers, Poe and Finn ordered the Resistance Troopers to spread out and take cover.

These AT-STs might be obsolete tech, but they could still pack a punch and withstand anything the Resistance could throw at them...well, almost anything.

Poe thought he saw movement in the cockpit of a Y-Wing. Foolhardy as ever, he rushed up the boarding steps, in full view of the Imperial force, and found Runa Dene cowering beneath the canopy.

"Meesa glad you here!"

Both AT-STs swivelled their heads ominously in Poe's direction. However, before they could unleash their full firepower, a small figure dressed in white came vaulting and flipping towards one. A lightsaber flashed into life and sliced through the thick Imperial armour.

Making quick use of the distraction, Poe ushered the Gungan back down the steps and away from the fight.

Finn directed covering fire from the Resistance Troopers, bringing down several Stormtroopers that were moving through the hangar.

Despite the damage it had taken, the crippled AT-ST stepped away from the deadly lightsaber and focused on its mission.

The Imperial Commander saw an opportunity and caught Rey on the shoulder with a perfectly aimed blaster bolt.

The AT-STs closed in on their prey and opened up on the fleeing Poe. Amazingly, amidst all the destruction, Poe ride his luck and emerged only slightly worse for wear.

The AT-STs were met with a barrage of blaster Rifle fire from the Resistance. Finn ordered them to focus on the damaged one and the concentrated firepower finally penetrated it's armour and brought the thing crashing down.

Leaping through the rubble, Rey cut down the Imperial Commander as he tried to marshal his remaining forces.

Meanwhile, with the aid of BB-8, a limping Poe ushered Runa Dene to safety as the remaining Imperial forces ignominious withdrew.

Runa was able to give the Resistance definitive proof of the existence of the Katana Fleet, along with a datacards holding its location. The Gungan also revealed that she'd been part of an elaborate scheme to supply the Imperial Remnant with, which would potentially work to the advantage of the Resistance in the race to find the Katana Fleet.

GAME 2 vs James

Ironically, the datacards containing the location of the Katana Fleet were encrypted with old Imperial security codes.

Rey knew from her time on Jakku that they should be able access them via any intact Imperial vehicle, but they would be few and far between.

Cursing letting the other AT-ST escape, Chewbacca growled across the comm-link that years ago, in the haste to pursue fleeing Rebels, some Imperal AT-AT walkers had been abandoned on the surface of the ice planet of Hoth.

James was running an almost all 3D printed cast of Imperial Remnant, which I seemingly struggled to capture effectively with my photography (I think it might be something yo do with the white board). Suffice to say, they looked excellent.

Moff Herzog (Grand Moff Tarkin) - Stat
The Vizier (General Veers) - Co-Star
Mandalorian Bounty Hunter (Boba Fett) - Co-Star
Imperial Officer - Extra
Stormtrooper Commander- Extra
Stormtroopers - Extras
Stormtrooper Heavy Weapon - Extra
Scout Trooper - Extra

The goal this time was to get the character with the datacard (in my case BB-8) to either the base of the AT-AT or one of the remote points scattered around (you had to get to one in the opponent's half) to decrypt the location of the Katana Fleet, whilst simultaneously stopping your opponent doing the same.

The Resistance moved as quickly as they could across the surface of the ice planet. Chewbacca had told them that not only did vicious predators stalk the waste, but also they needed to get back before nightfall, when temperatures became deadly.

Upon sighting the frozen hulk of an intact walker, BB-8 ignited some previously unrevealed thrusters (possibly of Mandalorian design) and jetted over to the base of the AT-AT and made short work of slicing the data.

However, from her vantage point atop an icy outcropping, Rey spotted advancing Imperials. It could be that they were just here by coincidence and were just salvaging the walker for their cause, but it seemed unlikely. Either way, BB-8s work would leave a trail the Imperial Remnant could follow. They couldn't be allowed to claim the AT-AT.

Employing the services of a Mandalorian bounty hunter, the Imperial Remnant forces closed in on the AT-AT from a different angle. Scanning readings showed that someone, or something, had activated the frozen hulk.

Moff Herzog smiled, not only would he secure the location of the Katana Fleet to aid the resurgent Empire, but it seemed he would also be able to add an AT-AT to his master's war machine.

Suddenly, blaster shots rang out. Herzog and his Stormtrooper escort were frozen in place as the Resistance sprang their ambush and, moments later what appeared to be a Jedi vaulted down the hill towards him.

"Zis is not good. Our ensusiasm has outweighed our discretion."

The Mandalorian, who was still feeling the effects of what appeared to have been a bad batch of bacta, crouched down behind the foot of the AT-AT and traded blaster fire with Poe Dameron and a Resistance Trooper.

The ambush on the right flank suddenly took a turn for the worse as a malfunctioning blaster rifle engulfed a Trooper in flames.

Sensing an opportunity to break out of the ambush, an Imperial Officer led the way towards the safer flank, followed by the Mandalorian.

Seeing an opening, a Scout Trooper rushed to a position where he could get a clear slicing signal to the AT-AT antenna and took a reading on what the Resistance had been doing. It would take time to decipher exactly what was relevant, but the Imperial Remnant now knew the location of the Katana Fleet.

Emboldened, the bounty hunter strode back towards Poe and unleashed a gout of flames, driving the ambushes back. The tide could be turning.

The Scout Trooper pushed on into a crevasse, taking down another member of the Resistance.

The Stormtrooper Commander pushed up the hill to where Finn and another Trooper were pouring fire into the Imperial lines. However, he was unable to strike a telling blow and was brought down by Finn.

Driven back by the flames, Poe shot down the Mandalorian, who moved too slowly to get to cover.

Rey put her lightsaber to the neck of Moff Herzog.

"Call off your dogs. Enough people have died today."

Herzog relented and the Imperial Remnant retreated. Both sides had the data they needed and the race was on. However, unaware of this, Poe ordered a delay so that the team could blow up the AT-AT and deny it to the enemy forever.

Rey took the delay as an opportunity to salvage some weapons and tech from the walker that could help the Resistance in the future, before the strike team boarded the Millennium Falcon and made the final hyperspace jump to find the long lost Katana Fleet.

GAME 3 vs Simon

Shortly before reverting to realspace above the desolate and forgotten world of Neo-Gosis, the warning systems of the Millennium Falcon suddenly go berserk.

Crashing out of hyperspace, the crew catch sight of dozens of Republic Era Dreadnought Class battleships hovering eerily above the barren planet. The Katana Fleet. Of greater concern was the presence of a single Imperial Star Destroyer.

Struggling to believe what they were seeing, the strike team realised that they had been beaten to the prize. To few to wrest control of the fleet from the full crew of a Star Destroyer, they had only one option: set the automated systems of the Katana Fleet to explode before their slave circuits could be reconnected to the Star Destroyer and spell doom for the galaxy.

In a running theme for the day, Simon served up even more Stormtroopers, however this time they were led by an eminently suitable big bad fory day: Grand Admiral Thrawn himself.

Grand Admiral Thrawn (Grand Moff Tarkin) - Star
2 Imperial Commanders (General Veers) - Co-Stars
Stormtrooper Officer (Imperial Officer) - Extra
2 Stormtrooper Heavy Weapons - Extras
6 Stormtroopers - Extras

The mission this time was to fight for control of three objectives, the power control devices that could command the slave circuits of the Katana Fleet. Once one of these was rigged, there was a chance each turn that whoever controlled most could either destroy the fleet or take control of it and end the game.

Realising that time was of the essence, Rey leaped up onto the cliff where one of the control nodes was located.

BB-8 unleashed his thrusters again, burning them out so that they wouldn't work in the final movie, to do the same.

Poe led a team up towards the central node and then followed Rey to where she had caught a glimpse of the Imperial Remnant forces and their distinctive leader.

"Is that who I think it is?" whispered Rey.

"Grand Admiral Thrawn himself," responded Poe, "he was rumoured to be dead, but nobody really knew what really happened to him as the Ahsoka series hasn't been made yet."

Rey sighed, "We can't let him get control of the Katana Fleet. Can you imagine what that would do our continuity?"

Meanwhile, the Imperial Stormtroopers had spotted BB-8 and the Resistance operatives. A fierce firefight broke out. Finn clambered up the cliff to give BB-8 some covering fire.

"I have an idea," whispered Rey.

In a blur of motion, she kept into the air, simultaneously using the Force to lift Thrawn to the top of the cliff whilst somersaulting down to land beside a Stormtrooper Commander, who fell quickly to her lightsaber.

A surprised Thrawn looked towards Poe, who had his blaster drawn and aimed at him.

"An enemy will almost never be anything except an enemy," said the bkue-skinned Chiss Admiral, calmly, "all one can do with an enemy is defeat him. But an adversary can sometimes become an ally. We have a mutual foe."

Poe smiled, "I've read some of your writings, Admiral. What was it? 'Alliances are useful in some situations. In others, they are absolutely vital.' Just not in this case."

Poe opened fire and Thrawn slumped into a heap.

Meanwhile, Rey found herself facing an Imperial gunline. In a blur of action, blaster fire whipped towards her. Her lightsaber flicked out in rapid succession, deflecting shots away, but in her haste, she missed the commander taking careful aim and one shot grazed her thigh causing her to grimace in pain.

Realising she needed cover, Rey ran towards a rocky outcropping, where a heavy Stormtrooper was positioned and made short work of him.

Resistance Troopers tried to advance but were shot down by dug in Stormtroopers.

Others repeatedly failed to clamber up the cliff to get into a position to support the isolated Jedi.

Finn called out for his friend and ran down to help her, dropping a Stormtrooper as he went.

Imperial troops closed in on Rey. More blaster shots flew, but again and again she fended them away.

Then, quick as a flash, she was among them, cutting down the Officer and leaving them leaderless.

The Imperials retreated long enough for the strike team to use the control nodes to create a chain reaction causing the core systems of the Katana Fleet to overload, resulting in critical failure.

As Chewbacca flew the team away from the system, the detonation of so many ships engulfed the whole of Neo-Gosis.

Roll credits and rousing music...

Overall it was a great day and really good to catch up with people I haven't seen in person in a long time. Although fewer in number than usual, there were some stunning casts on display, and Board in Brum is a fantastic venue and had some excellent terrain set ups which I neglected to photograph.

I did feel a bit uncomfortable at how powerful Rey was during the day, and the 24" guns on the Resistance Troopers gave me a constant edge (even with me forgetting to use their Hide rule). I'm going to need to try to create a less effective cast for next time as I'm starting to get a reputation after the pre-pandemic Zombie incident.

The next Board in Brum day is pencilled in for February and there's a 7TV Apocalypse day in Darley Dale planned for November. If you are not a fan of uber-competetive tournaments, but fancy attending a gaming day, 7TV days are definitely what you're after.