Sunday 24 September 2023

Optional Extras

Despite all the Blood Angels I've painted recently, I still had a sprue of 5 models to decide what to do with. 

I also have quite a few bits to play with from the Land Raider Spartan sprues which might end up providing some answers for the spare Marines.

For now, I've kept this separate as I've done one element from each sprue.

First up is an apothecary to accompany one of my Tactical Squads, probably the large footslogging one as the additional save he provides might offer more bang for its buck.

You might notice he's looking a bit aggressive for a medic. This is for two reasons: firstly, Blood Angels; secondly, the Blood Angels rules allow me to give perdition weapons (suped-up power weapons) to characters, including Apothecaries, and it seemed rude not to.

As such he'll add a bit of both defence and offence to the squad he joins.

The narthecium (sleeve thing with the needle and chainsaw) and backpack were kindly 3d printed by Pete and make it clear what his battlefield role is. 

I didn't have a shoulder pad with the Apothecarion symbol on, so I made do with painting a studded pad and one with raised insignia (as I'm out of transfers) white.

This has made the model look more than a little like a Blood Raven, but I'm glad I opted not to go for completely white as my pot of White Scar has got a bit gloopy and needs replacing.

For the Spartan I've painted up a Havoc Launcher to sit where the hatch goes, giving me the option to add even more firepower and points to my big red priority target.

I'm looking at putting together other pintle mounted options once I've decided whether I'm going to use the bits elsewhere. However, I now actually have a reason for ensuring that the assault ramp opens as it allows me to keep the spare bits somewhere safe.

Acquired: 83
Painted: 229
Lead Mountain: 456

P.S. No, I'm not counting the Havoc Launcher as a separate model.

Saturday 23 September 2023

Out of the Shadows

I'm usually not really sure how or why my inconstant focus flits from one project to another. It remains a mystery why one week I'm fully focused on battles in the 31st Millennium and the next I'm considering which Scooby Doo villain Old Man Withers is dressed up as.

However, this time I know exactly what I've returned to the streets of Patriot City and my intermittent nostalgic fixation on the retro superhero PC game Freedom Force to paint up my version of the mysterious villainess, Shadow.

It's all the fault of a short-run Kickstarter I backed last week run by Kitbash Games which, totally by coincidence, has a few miniatures that will be able to be converted into versions of characters from Freedom Force.

And even though the Kickstarter won't ship until next year, it's taken my mind back to the game and reminded me that there are still plenty of characters I can work on if I can find the right miniatures to base them on.

Shadow is a villain in one of the game's many bizarre story arcs in which she mind controls a character (who later becomes a hero) called the Ant to get his army of, you guessed it, giant ants to abduct people (and buildings) and bring them to her underground city to join Shadow's hypnotised cult of ugly people.

The twist is that the Shadow isn't ugly herself, she's a model who got a tiny scar on her cheek and now believes herself to be hideous and in need of hiding away forever in the darkness.

There's not actually a lot too Shadow's costume and it's really quite a conventional superhero look, unlike many of the characters in the game.

Furthermore she bears more than a passin resemblance to the character Spoilers from the Batman comics. Even more fortunately, I happened to have a spare Heroclix Spoiler still knocking about.

This is actually the third time I've painted this model, not this specific one, but this sculpt. Heroclix models used to have three levels of power (determined by a coloured ring on the base) and so I had three version of some characters for this reason. One was repainted more neatly as Spoiler, one went into my kitbashed Guildball team (and may find its way onto the streets of Venice as a proxy in Carnevale, and the third is now the Shadow.

There's not a lot to say about the painting. Black undercoat with a heavy drybrush of Kantor Blue, a highlight of Caledor Sky and a wash of Drakenhof Nightshade did most of the work.

Although the character in the game has very small leather pouches on her hip, I have played this up to make use of the details on the model and add some much needed visual variation. The silver bits on the belt serve as a nod to her range of throwing weapons.

The cloak is too neat, but I didn't fancy chopping it up as that seemed like a lot of work for something that might look terrible and would render the model unusable. None of my Freedom Force models are exactly right anyway.

So I've added another villain the currently rather slim rogues gallery of Pinstripe, Nuclear Winter an some Dinosaurs. In terms of henchmen, I need som cultist-types to paint up as Shadow's Dark Men and although the model I'll be using as the Ant is in the Kitbash Kickstarter, I already have some of the excellent Crooked Dice giant ants to be in her thrall.

Acquired: 83
Painted: 228
Lead Mountain: 457

Wednesday 20 September 2023

You can have any colour as long as it's silver

Another bunch of really old school Necrons off the production line.

Not really much to say about these other than I went with drybrushing the Leadbelcher over a black undercoat rather than trusting to silver spray, which never really seems to work out for me, not sure why.

Following that, an Agrax Earthshade wash, Brass Scorpion trim and then White Scar with Hexwraith Flame for the glory bits.

You might be beginning to see the somewhat limited number of sculpts in the old Necron 'range'. Some minor variations but fundamentally two poses.

I suppose it's somewhat appropriate for an ancient race of faceless automata.

I'm nowhere near having anything approaching an army yet, not least because I've not got hold of a Necron Lord yet.

However, I think I may have enough for the original Necron scenario that was published in White Dwarf, so I might try to bend someone's arm into giving that a go.

Acquired: 83
Painted: 227
Lead Mountain: 458

Saturday 16 September 2023

They have yet another Cave Troll...

After the close run thing of the battle of Balin's Tomb, the Fellowship of the Ring make all haste towards the eastern gate of Moria, pursued the entire way by hordes of Goblins and...

...something else...

Their route takes them down enormous stairs which seem to be somewhat of a health and safety nightmare. What's more, whatever is pursuing them is causing vibrations that threaten to bring the cavern roof down on top of them.

They need to Escape From Dwarrowdelf!

And so the Quest of the Ringbearer continues into a scenario which represents probably my least favourite scene in Peter Jackson's Fellowship of the Ring.

It's just silly.

From the bizarrely precarious architecture of the staircase, to the ceiling falling in for no real reason to the daft, "lean forward," when Aragon and Frodo use their combined 'weight' to direct tonnes of rock the right way.

It's not a bad scene as such, it's just much less grounded than the rest of the film and I find it a little jarring and unnecessary. It also hints at some of the horrors to come in The Hobbit movies.

Anyway, in this scenario the Fellowship need to get down the stairs represented by the stone path. The black space is empty and doesn't stop models shooting at each other. A random number of Goblins (and/or Troll) arrive each turn. Usually from the opposite edge, but sometimes elsewhere.

To complicate matters, any time there is a tied priority roll, the evil player, Matt (who is playing the evil side, not actually evil) can take a one inch section out of the stairs as the roof caves in, forcing the Fellowship to jump across the gaps.

Failed jumps cause instant 'death'.

Normally, this scenario probably wouldn't cause the Fellowship too many issues, but depleted as they were from previous battles, they could not rely on Might points to save them all, and we made a 'slight' error in the rules (more on that later).

Aragorn and Boromir took the lead with Aragorn calling for a heroic march to get everyone moving. Aware that the Goblins were likely to rely on their archers, Gandalf used his only Might point to heroically channel Blinding Light, making it much harder to target the Fellowship when they were close to him.

Meanwhile the enemy began to arrive. Matt began a run of high rolls for reinforcement, allowing him to bring on a Cave Troll immediately.

As Goblins started to cluster on the walkways ahead, Gandalf took aim with his sorcerous blast and a Goblin was sent flying to it's death.

He may not be a conjurer of cheap tricks, but this was going to be entertaining.

Goblins appeared behind the Fellowship but Legolas, acting as rearguard, was able to keep them back and began racking up his tally of kills.

The Cave Troll lumbered closer. Perhaps it was the thundering footsteps that shook the masonry, but a chunk of the bridge bike off, forcing the Fellowship to slow down to navigate the chasm.

Aragorn and Boromir leapt across the yawning gap to face the huge beast ahead of them, but the jumping rules prevented anybody else from making the crossing.

The heir of Isildur and the son of the Steward charged into combat. The enormous Troll was a undoubtedly a threat, but against these two great captains of the race of men it stood little chance. Aragorn called a heroic strike and the Troll was cut down alarmingly quickly.

Behind them, Sam and Gandalf made their way across the gap. It was at this point that Goblin archers began targeting the Wizard in the hope of making it easier to shoot the rest of the group, but none of their arrows found their mark.

The rest of the Fellowship, barring Legolas (who was still bringing up the rear), navigated the gap and pushed on. Aragorn and Boromir cut down all in their path.

Gandalf's attempt to blast a Goblin Captain off the ledge was thwarted by the creatures strong will.

Legolas finally made it across the chasm, but was caught up with by a pursuing Goblin. The Elf managed to kill the creature quickly, but it prevented him from trying to thin out the Goblins up ahead. This task was left to the blades of the men (and the occasional hurled axe of the Dwarf.

Gandalf continued to be targetted by the archers to no avail. 

Suddenly, another chasm opened up between Aragorn and Boromir and the rest of the party. Goblins rushed in and distracted by what had just happened and trapped against the gap behind him, Boromir was severely wounded by a Goblin Captain.

The two men were stout folk and they cut their way clear from the vertiginous drop, slaying the Captain and making space for two of the Hobbits to cross the gap behind them, all the time aware that another Cave Troll was making its way towards them swinging it's chain.

So, here's the thing. We think we made a mistake as we assumed that as the evil forces were arriving randomly, they respawned after death. Initially it didn't seem to be a problem as they weren't really a match for the heroes in such a narrow space, however, as the game wore on, the attrition Behan to tell.

Aragon and Boromir cut their way through to the second Troll whilst the Fellowship carefully navigated the second chasm. Gandalf continued to draw all the fire from the Goblin Archers and Legolas provided withering return fire despite pursuers closing in behind him.

Aragorn and Boromir successfully wounded the Troll and drove it back, just as Gandalf hit it with a Sorcerous Blast, knocking it off its feet. At the same time a massive crack opened up between the Fellowship and the prone Troll.

Legolas was once again locked in combat briefly and Gandalf made for the gap to join the rest of the Fellowship, but slipped and tumbled into the void.

"Fly, you fools!" was heard as the Wizard plummeted to his 'death'.

The Goblin Archers cheered, believing that they had been successful and turned their attention to the nasty Elf that had killed so many of them with its filth arrows.

Despite the shock of losing Gandalf, Aragorn made short work of the prone Troll and pushed on towards another Goblin Captain, but the ranger was beginning to tire.

Gimli leapt into the fray beside him, keen to even up the score with his pointy-eared friend.

Meanwhile, Frodo led his cousins in a charge to kill a pursuing Goblin which allowed Legolas to keep thinning out the archers shooting back at him.

"For the Shire!"

Aragorn and Gimli continued to cleave through the horde but both were close to collapse. Progress was slow, but it did allow Sam and Boromir to cross the gap behind them.

However, another Troll moved into view ahead of them.

The Fellowship pushed on, each leaping the gap in turn until a scream went up as Merry's jump fell short and followed Gandalf into the abyss.

Shocked, Frodo and Pippin pulled up short and were charged from behind by two more Goblins.

The press of bodies became immense and Gimli's axe sang as he cut through the foul creatures that infested his ancestral home. Aragorn's blade rose and fell and ever so slowly these doughty heroes pushed ever closer to escape, slaying the third Troll as they inched forwards.

Legolas kept up his fire into the archers, but without the protection of Gandalf's magic, weight of fire told and the Elf was hit too many times.

And then disaster struck. Just when it looked like the Fellowship might just cut their way clear, another chasm opened up infront of them. With no space to jump into and no reliable shooting to make a space, the Fellowship were sitting ducks.

When Aragorn fell to Goblin arrows we called the game as there was no way the Fellowship could reasonably get to the door. It was also quite late.

I'm not sure narratively how we explain this one, I can't even say they used rope to clamber off the ledge because Sam famously forgot to bring any. The best I can come up with is either the Goblins were suddenly frightened off by the Balrog (as in the movie) or everyone remembered that in Middle Earth falling massive distances doesn't actually hurt that much unless you are already on fire or land on a spike, and so they all decided to jump.

This would also explain how Merry and Gandalf are in the next scenario, so let's go with that. 

The Fellowship gather their wounded and leap into the depths for the benefit of 3D audiences and the falls result in some cuts and bruises and a broken carrot.

Although we'd played the scenario wrong, it was probably more enjoyable that way as given the amount of Goblins I killed, if they hadn't respawned the game would have been over fairly quickly. However, Matt's high reinforcement rolls, my lack of spare Might points and my total inability to win priority without causing a chasm to appear made a very hard task nigh on impossible.

I'm not sure we'll ever play that scenario again, but I think respawning bad guys but with more of them attacking from behind would present a more balanced fight as ultimately it was the tide of bodies I needed to clear that sealed my fate.

Fortunately the injury rolls saw nobody die and the recovery rolls were fairly positive. We decided that the Bravest Companion was Gandalf as whilst he was still around the game felt winnable as he was negating the Archers. Also, his Sorcerous Blasts took out several enemies including a captain and knocking down the third Troll. Also, the next scenario sort of relies on Gandalf and so it made sense to heal him up a bit.

With the Fellowship actually firing on all cylinders in this one, the big hitters all played their part and so the Fool of a Took was Merry whose main contribution was falling in a hole. However, as he was 'slain' he didn't spend his fate point and so he's at what passed for full strength.

Eagle eyed readers will have spotted that the Goblin horde didn't feature and proxy Uruk-Hai this time. This is because I'd raided my Plastic Peak (a bit like a Lead Mountain) to furnish a few more Orcs.

The first two are from Games Workshop. The one on the right is an actual Moria Goblin. I painted loads of these years ago and they aren't a pleasure to do as the details are so shallow. This one was at least quick.

The one on the left is apparently a 'Stab-Grot' which came with the temptingly cheap first issue if Stormbringer Magazine for Age of Sigmar. It scales fairly well with the LotR Orcs and although it's a bit ornate, it works well enough as a captain.

The other three are simple kitbashes done by sticking spare bits from Oathmark and Wargames Atlantic Goblin kits to some Warlord Games Viking Bondi bodies I've had knocking about for ages. They are a little bit samey, but they blend into the horde well enough.

And so we move on the the culmination of our adventures in Moria and I'm secretly pleased that the Fellowship finally lost one. It means that my Balrog is more likely to actually be involved in the game.

Acquired: 83
Painted: 222
Lead Mountain: 463

Sunday 10 September 2023


As I've mentioned previously, I've generally faced two major obstacles in my games of Horus Heresy against Pete:

  1. I am outgunned, particularly in the Lascannon department,
  2. I often struggle to get across the board and into combat quickly enough, especially with my Terminators.
Two problems, one solution...

The Land Raider Spartan brings not only the capacity to get a full 10 man squad of slow moving Terminators into the enemy's face early doors, this one is bristling with five twin-linked Lascannons, enough to give any enemy unit pause.

Yes, I know that this beast is going to have a massive bullseye on its hull in every game, but Spartans are hard to kill* and every shot fired at it is not killing something else.

Although big, in fact it's the biggest kit I've built, the model goes together really well, with the engineering being so good that piece slotted together with little to no fuss. 

There are even moving parts: the sponson guns, hull guns and assault ramp, and plenty of options. I've opted not to bother magnetising the hull guns (of which there are 3 choices) but I have left the top hatch detachable so that I can add some pintle mounted weapons if I choose to.

Painting was fairly straightforward and not particularly clever as I continue to try to match models I painted some time ago. I did have an issue with the Mephiston Red spray I used in that it clumped and cracked in places.

It's most noticeable on the front hatch, but it actually helps make this brand new kit match with the Rhinos and Predator that have had so much paint on them over the years they should get an extra point of armour.

I'm really pleased how it's turned out and it has made me want to built paint some more vehicles for the game even though the Blood Angels really should focus on infantry and close combat.

I'm particularly tempted to get a Land Raider Proteus, which could find double use in 40k Second Edition.

All that remains is for me to use it in anger. As things stand there is the slight problem of the fact that I can't fit it in my army without dropping one of my heavy support choices. Annoyingly neither my Indomitus Terminators or Tactical Marines can take a Spartan as a dedicated transport, which means that I will ultimately need to get my hands on some Cataphractii or Tartaros Terminators** to be able to use everything I've painted so far in the same army.

Acquired: 83
Painted: 217
Lead Mountain: 468

*Yes, I'm fully aware it will be one-shotted in its first game.

**Or even Crimson Paladins from Forge World if I can find a buyer for my kidneys.

Sunday 3 September 2023

Shadow and Flame

The Fellowship entering Moria on the Quest of the Ringbearer has awaken something that would have best been left undisturbed and with them only two scenarios away from meeting it, it was time to paint one of my bucket isn't miniatures: the Balrog.

The Balrog has always loomed large in my vision of fantasy. From reading the Bridge of Khazad-Dum chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring, through the lion-headed rendition in the animated film, spotting references to it in other fantasy works (Baalrukh, I'm looking at you), the Balrog has always typified what I imagine when they use the word 'demon'.

When Peter Jackson's movie arrived, one thing I've always felt he got spot on was the awesome appearance of the Balrog.

Which all combines to make the damn quite intimidating to paint.

This is not the first Balrog I've owned, I had the original metal model from the initial release of the game and never got round to painting it. Partly this was intimidation, but mainly it was because one half of the chunky metal body was warped and so it has a massive gap (and I mean massive, you could get a paintbrush handle in there) down the front when assembled. I filled the gap but it never looked right.

However, I wanted to get this right and so I took to YouTube to seek advice and found a handy video done by The Pickle Jar which really helped, and although he used an air brush, the approach he used was something I could imitate with what I had available.

The body was done simple with Black Templar contrast paint over a Grey Seer base. This was then drybrushed with Administration Grey.

The cracked skin was painted over with Khorne Red and then heavily drybrushed in stepped stages with Mephiston Red and Ryza Rust. I then picked out the scales with Abaddon Black.

The whip was painted Khorne Red and also drybrushed up with Mephiston Red and Ryza Rust, but then I went further with Averland Sunset and some White Scar at the high points before washing the whole thing with Cassandora Yellow.

The flames on the whip, back and base were painted White Scar, washed with Cassandora Yellow and the ends drybrushed with Ryza Rust.

I'm really quite happy with the fiery bits as I've never really been able to make flames look decent before.

Whilst I was being a bit messy with the drybrushing of the Ryza Rust on the back, I noticed a rather interesting effect happening on the horns. They looked a bit like the light from the flames was reflecting on them.

And so I began my first ever foray into trying OSL (object source lighting), simply by drybrushing Ryza Rust in areas that might catch the light of the flames, focusing on the back, the legs and the base.

I'm really pleased with how it turned out (it had the added bonus of binging out some of the detail on the feet that was getting lost) and I feel that I've added a new painting too to my toolbox that I can try in other projects.

I have only two minor gripes with how my Balrog has turned out. Firstly, it only appears in a single scenario of the Quest of the Ringbearer, and secondly I wish I hadn't taken so long to painting it.

I'm really proud of this one.

Acquired: 83
Painted: 216
Lead Mountain: 469