Sunday 30 April 2023

I Am The Law!

No, I didn't see this coming either.

As I mentioned in my last post, it was my birthday recently and I was somewhat surprised to receive Warlord Games' Judge Dredd: I Am The Law as a gift. It's not that I didn't want it, more that it has never been very high up the priority list as another new game.

However, I am, as you've probably noticed, very partial to a starter set, and so once received, it's only polite to get it painted.

My engagement with Judge Dredd is a little odd as despite being of a certain age, I never read 2000AD. I do own a couple of Batman/Judge Dredd crossover graphic novels, but my first involvement with the character was when I bought the Games Workshop roleplaying game. It came complete with mats and cardboard standees (I've always been partial to a starter set) of all the major characters, and so my involvement with the setting was through this really quite open-ended and gaming focused lens.

This means that when I read about a character, I don't know what they did and don't feel bound to repeat a certain narrative. For a skirmish game, this is a good thing.

The game comes with a number of resin miniatures, including two Judges: a Street Judge and a Rookie. I was please to find that they paint up really quickly (one of the advantages of comic book characters is the limited colour palette) and the resin responds really well to both washes and contrast paints.

There is always the need to clean up resin beforehand, but this wasn't too much of a chore. However, the Street Judge's daystick had snapped in transit, but this was easy to fix with superglue.

I'm really happy with these two, and as I painted them first it gave me the impetus to get the rest of the box done quickly. I think I might need to go back and do a white/grey line along the bottom of the Street Judge's visor to be a bit more comic-accurate.

Whilst I was painting the Judges, as I was also bought Joe Dredd himself, I decided to get him done as part of the batch. He's notably chunkier than the other two, which is a good thing given the stature of the character, and it will also help with recognition on the tabletop.

One weird feature is that he is sculpted with the typical strong jawline and frowning face. However, his lip is so high that you can't really make it out, meaning that at first glance he doesn't seem to have a mouth.

Like the Street Judge, I thing I need to add to the visor.

For the Block Gang that come in the box, I really leant on contrast paints to get them done quickly. I largely followed the colours they had been done in the studio photographs, simply because it saved making decisions on ultimately unimportant characters.

I did however, make sure that each of them had a flash of Talassar Blue as a gang colour, as it's really quite vibrant and ties the disparate group together.

Also, I've used an asphalt flock I've had for years as a simple approach to basing. I may need to seal it to prevent it coming off in time.

I've not leaned this heavily on contrast paints before, but it really did speed the job up. Specifically I've found that these kind of detailed resin models respond much better to contrast than more simply designed metal or plastic models, as there's more for the paint to flow around.

I also gave Gulliman Flesh another go, as it hadn't really been working for me in other projects, but here it worked like a charm. Again, I think it's something to do with the nature of the sculpts that has made me happier with it.

Overall, I'm really happy with the contents of the box, and the haphazard nature of Mega-City One mean I should be able to add miniatures from all sorts of sources to my collection, especially as the rulebook has stats for quite a few other characters and factions. The miniatures have a quite gangly style, matching the art in the comics, but as long as I'm selective, it should be fine.

My only gripe with the box in the model in the yellow coat. She's smaller than the other gangers and much less defined, with too much detail., In fact, she's quite similar to the Descent miniatures I painted before this. She really lacks definition and so she's my least favourite model in the box. Also, as I removed the sculpted bases from them, she's balanced on a single ankle that's almost certainly going to snap at some point.

Despite getting an influx of new models, I'm pleased to have made some quick headway. I still have Dredd on his Lawmaster to paint, but that shouldn't really take very long based on my experience with the rest of the set. I've yet to play the game, but even if I don't like it, these miniatures are ideal 7TV fodder.

Acquired: 60
Painted: 157
Lead Mountain: 502

Saturday 29 April 2023

Final Descent

Some time ago I acquired the Descent board game and the Trollfens expansion, and Pete, Matt, Wes and I played through the main campaign to its conclusion. At the time I painted up everything we needed, which, because we had only 3 player characters and not 4, meant that not all of the monsters and only a few of the characters got painted.

Over time, some of the remaining monsters got done for other projects, which left just a handful still to paint.

This post is me doing that.

Please don't expect any amazing painting here. Firstly, I'm not an amazing painter and secondly because I was being deliberalty quick and dirty to get them done, such as with this Harpy.

Generally I've stuck to a base coat and wash/contrast paint, and occasionally I've pushed the boat out with a tiny but of dry brushing, such as with this Shadow Dragon.

The character models are a real mixed bag of sculpts that seem to want to pack too much detail onto a material that lack definition. The are annoyingly too small to use with anything else I own, which was arguably the biggest disappointment with a game that is generally really good.

The shallow detail doesn't really work that well with contrast paints or washes, but I think I get away with it more on the folded robes like on these two human models, a paladin and a wizard.

The Dwarfs are probably the best of the bunch when it comes to sculpts. I supect this is because their more cartoony and chunky design gives you more to work with and allows washes to cover a lot of sins.

Although they are also small, being Dwarfs that's not a massive issue, and they could even find their way to being used as gnomes at push.

The Elves, however, leave a lot to be desired. For some reason the game designed really wanted to cram details onto them and the soft shallow material just doesn't respond to it.

At least this ranger has a face...

...which is more than can be said for the Druid, whose surprised expression is possibly due to discovering that she doesn't have a mouth.

The goal was just to get these done should I decide to break the game out again in the future, but painting these models wasn't a pleasure. However, I can at least cross them off the lead mountain, which is helpful as I've just had my birthday which ended up adding a whole bunch more to the pile.

Acquired: 60
Painted: 146
Lead Mountain: 513

Tuesday 25 April 2023

Lurkers From The Deep: Issue 2

Continuing (eventually) with the FBI raid on the New England town of Marshport, Agent Sterns leads his task force against the Finley Cannery, the headquarters of the smuggling kingpin and inner circle cultist Old Ma Finley and her bizarre, bulging eyed kin and minions.

Canned Heat is the second scenario from the 7TV Pulp feature pack Lurkers From The Deep, which draws inspiration from Lovecraftian influences, especially the short story The Shadow Over Innesmouth.

In this scenario, I took control of the 'fishy' goings on of the Finley Cannery who have donned the red robes of the cult of Dagon as I don't own enough Fishfolk Hybrids:

Old Ma Finley - Co-Star
Captain William Best (Ship's Captain) - Extra
Armed Cannery Cultist (First Mate) - Extra
7 Cannery Cultists (Fishfolk Hybrids) - Extras
2 Shambling Horrors (Protoplasmic Horrors) - Extras

Matt once again took control of the forces of the FBI, intent on inflicting police brutality on the inhabitants of Marshport for the crimes of smuggling and looking different.

Agent Sterns (Covert Operative) - Co-Star
3 FBI Agents (Special Agents) - Extras
4 NHPD Cops (Field Agents) - Extras
Coastguard Captain (Ship's Captain) - Extra
3 Coastguard (Deck Hands) - Extras

Despite have an advantage in ranged attacks, the fragmented forces of law and order were driven back, but not before Agent Sterns managed to finish of Old Ma Finley with the last roll of the game, leaving the score at 5-4 to the villains.

The run of the Cliffhanger deck went with me for the early turns, leaving the two FBI agents on the boat stranded and several of the Coastguard floundering in the water, stalling their advance. I almost got Old Ma killed with the reckless charge towards the police, but was able to escape when I realised that escape was exactly what her abilities were designed for.

We both enjoyed what felt like a well balanced scenario with casts that lacked the usual star-shenanigans. We did decide to apply the newer version of steal the scene, which we got used to during the playtesting for the Dracula feature pack (activate only a single star or co-star, rather than your whole cast). Going forwards, I think we'll be doing that in all of our games as it makes for a much better experience. Matt used this to get the initial wound on Old Ma, causing me to use mine to get her to run away.

It might be a short while before we play scenario 3 as I need to paint up a few GIs and a Shoggoth, which I intend to this space...

Sunday 23 April 2023

Fords of Isen: The Rematch

Following on quickly from events at the Fords of Isen (see the Theodred's Fate post) we returned quickly to the action. Partly this was to strike whilst the iron was hot on us remembering the rules of the game, but mainly it was because the terrain for the two games is exactly the same and it was already set up.

And so began the excitingly titled: Second Battle of the Fords of Isen.

Set Up & Deployment

The premise of the scenario is largely the same as the first, the forces of Isengard are attacking the Fords of Isen and the Rohirrim need to stop them, however, with Theodred suffering an ignominious off screen death (much like in the books and films), the focus was purely on controlling the ford: the side with most models on the ford after 10 turns would win the game.

Sensibly, the forces of Rohan begin their defence with Grimbold (represented by Gamling) leading 2 Royal Guards (replacements for elements of the list I couldn't cover) and 24 Warriors of Rohan (12 of which, those with throwing spears or axes, being Helmingas) actually holding the objective.

Opposing them was an intimidating (and somewhat stronger than last time) force led by Vrasku (as he survive and Gorulf Ironskin didn't) and an Uruk Hai Captain, consisting of: 24 Uruk-Hai Warriors (10 with pikes, 10 with shields, 4 with crossbows) and 9 Uruk-Hai Scouts (3 with just swords, 3 with shields, 3 with bows)

What's more, Saruman had dispatched his cavalry to outflank the fords and 6 Warg Riders were attacking from the north on the Rohan side of the river...

...whilst Thryden Wolfsbane and 6 Dunlending Horsemen swept up from the south in a pincer movement.

Fortunately for Grimbold, Elfhelm was once again riding to his rescue from the east, leading 13 Riders of Rohan, hoping to prevent the trap from closing and bolster the defence of the fords.

The stage was set.

Phase 1 - The Trap Is Sprung

Realising the danger Grimbold was in if the enemy cavalry got in behind him, he again split his force in two. Some were ordered to slow their advance so they could fire on the Wargs racing for the fords, whilst Elfhelm led the rest as fast as possible in the direction of the Dunlending cavalry. 

However, Thrydan Wolfsbane was no bloodthirsty Orc, and he cunningly moved his force up being sure to keep cover between his men and the Rohirrim, seeking to draw them into extending out too far.

Somewhat predictably, however, the Warg Rider raced towards what they perceived to be the vulnerable prey at the fords, straight into the line of fire of the Rohirrim's bows. However, only one of the was felled.

Meanwhile, the armoured main force pushed towards the fords and took only minimal casualties as they advanced from enemy ranged fire. However, in return, several of the Warriors of Rohan were dropped by hard-hitting crossbow bolts.

The dynamics of the fight had changed from last time.

A great roar went up as the Uruk-Hai surged towards the enemy front line, whilst simultaneously, Warg Riders fell on their rear. Desperately fighting on two fronts already, Grimbold wondered where Elfhelm was.

However, Elfhelm had been held up. Several of the Warg Riders had cunningly redirected to prevent the Rohirrim interfering at the fords.

Meanwhile, Thrydan's cunning advance, lured Elfhelm's wing into an over-extended charge (and a totally useless Heroic Move), leaving them exposed to a vicious counter charge and encirclement.

Thrydan himself led the counter attack, cutting down one foe before swinging round to charge into another. Elfhelm was hard pressed and could not send aid to Grimbold.

Phase 2: Race Against Time

With his cavalry in disarray, Elfhelm knew he had to aid Grimbold and, taking the initiative, ordered all of his men to charge wherever they could. Outnumbered Warg Riders were surrounded and cut down, enabling some Riders of Rohan to reach the fight at the fords and the Wargs that were wreaking havoc there.

Elfhelm slew the Dunlending in front of him and then led his men in a sweeping advance to encircle Thrydan, using the Dunnish Chieftain's own tactic against him.

Unable to manoeuvre, Thrydan was unhorsed and then ridden down by Elfhelm himself, robbing Saruman's cavalry of any leadership and leaving the trap in tatters.

A handful of Warg Riders still roamed free, which meant that the Riders of Rohan would soon be able to come to the aid of Grimbold at the fords.

However, Grimbold had been having a torrid time, and, despite leading the line himself, had been losing his men to the better armed an armoured Uruk-Hai, their pikes and heavy armour making a big difference.

Elfhelm's cavalry made heavy weather of chasing down the last few Warg Riders, a task made harder now that they had begun to take crossbow fire from across the river, their own bows unable to offer meaningful counter fire.

Meanwhile, Grimbold began to tire in the face of the Captains of Isengard. If the cavalry didn't come soon, the thin green line would buckle and break.

Phase 3: The Final Struggle

Despite the impact of Vrasku and his crossbows, the Riders of Rohan finally made it to the fords. However, the press of bodies meant that they couldn't charge in to help.

Unfortunately, space was soon freed up as the last of the Warriors of Rohan were cut down, leaving Grimbold isolated.

Uruk-Hai surged through the gaps they had made and barrelled into the waiting horsemen, preventing any thunderous charges to save the day.

Nonetheless, the Uruk-Hai had reckoned without the determination of Elfhelm, who thrust deep into the fight until he was side by side with Grimbold. However, after the initial charge, the advantages of the horse were spent, and in the thick of the melee, Elfhelm and Grimbold were pulled down into the water, as were many other brave Warriors or Rohan.

Nobody saw exactly what happened to these two brave captains, and it's possible they survived (almost certain, in fact, given that they are in later scenarios) but the leaderless forces of Rohan now stood little chance of defeating the forces of Isengard.

But they met them in battle, nonetheless.

As night fell, a lone Rider, turned his horse and rode towards Edoras to bring news to his ailing and grieving King that the Fords of Isen had been lost and invasion was certain. 

The Uruk-Hai celebrated, hacking and defiling the dead and clearing the road for the great host of Isengard when it came to descend upon the world of men.


That was a really good game, better than the first actually. It swung backwards and forwards as the different heroes made themselves felt at different points in the battle.

It definitely felt that the Isengard forces had had a significant step up in power. Mainly because they had. More heroes, better armour, better weapons and better overall troop quality all made themselves felt, but Matt's use of his heroes made the real difference.

Thrydan did enough to force Elfhelm to expend most of his Might to stop him, which mean that Vrasku and the Uruk Captain had a significant advantage over Grimbold at the points where it mattered. It also helped that the Captain was like a tank in his heavy armour and shield.

Conversely, I misused my leaders, letting them get out of position, and squandered them as resources. Only once, when he took down Thrydan, did Elfhelm really have a big impact on the outcome. Grimbold was simply chewed up in the meat grinder.

On the up side, we didn't ruin the story this time which means things will move on smoothly. We'll be leaving event in Rohan again for a bit as the next scenario occurs after the events on Amon Hen, and the Fellowship has along way to go until then.

However, I did just get the Gondor At War book for my birthday, so there's a chance that the next instalment might even be in Osgiliath if I can rope Pete of Minas Tirith into this madness.

Saturday 15 April 2023

The Anarchy

This might seem an odd title for a post given the somewhat sedate poses of the models in the photo, but they are technically King Stephen and Empress Mathilda, the two claimants to the throne of England during the civil war known as 'the Anarchy' between 1138 and 1153.

These two miniatures were both picked up from the two Partizan shows in Newark last year. This show always seems to have a pair of matched complementary miniatures to encourage visitors to attend both events during the year.

I decided to paint these two as a palette cleanser after the orks as they're fairly simple miniatures and would allow me to get some quick progress.

King Stephen ruled from 1135 to 1154 and arguably usurped the throne from Mathilda despite having sworn to support her. He managed to get captured by her in 1141 and was only released as an exchange fore Mathilda's husband Robert, who also managed to get captured by Stephen's wife (also called Mathilda) in the same year after the 'rout of Winchester'.

For colours, I decided to base Stephen on this illustration from a set of cigarette cards that was collected by my grandfather. I feel that it's meant that he ended up brighter than had I just gone which what seemed right, but I quite like it. 

Mathilda was married to the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry V, until his death in 1125, and then was the named successor of Henry I of England (her father). Despite the royal court swearing an oath to support her rule, the throne was taken by Stephen of Blois who had the backing of the church.

Despite successes in war, she was never formally crowned Queen of England, but her son, Henry II, claimed the throne as Stephen's successor after Stephen's son Eustace died in 1131.

In terms of colours, most versions of Mathilda I've seen, draw inspiration from this illustration, leaning heavily on the red an black. I like that this leaves the two claimants to the throne with completely different colour palettes.

I can't imagine that I'm going to suddenly build and paint a pair of early medieval armies and so the only slight chances that these might hit the table some time soon is either in a 7TV Fantasy scenario, or possibly in MESBG using the King of Men profile that was used as a excuse to create miniatures for the single shot of the nine human ringbearers before they were turned into Ringwraiths.

It's always good to get a quick win, something that I've added to by passing a mule miniature I'm not going to use on to a friend. I'm edging ever so close to getting the Lead Mountain total below 500 at last.

Acquired: 38
Painted: 138
Lead Mountain: 501