Sunday 24 March 2024

Muster of Malevolents: A Tale of 4 Armies

For some reason, probably laziness, when I originally painted my Treeman (Steve) and Treekin I fairly thickly coated them in Bestial Brown paint, picked out a few details, splashed them with Devlan Mud and pretty much called it a day.

As such, unlike the rest of the army, revisiting them now called for more than just tidying things up. Therefore these four got stripped back to bare metal and started again.

In Steve's case (no, I can't remember why he's called Steve, he just is) he was bought second hand and so was already painted. As was my way at the time, I didn't strip him then and just painted straight over the top of the original paint job, meaning that there was a thick layer of oozing sludge to dispose of this time.

Another side effect of him being bought second hand is that he has the wrong left arm, which not only presents the fact that it's from a different type of tree (if you look closely enough), but also that it doesn't really fit. A fact I've tried to cover with the addition of a few plastic roots from the Wood Elf sprues, which I've also used to cover a few gaps in the metal sculpt.

In terms of painting, I began with a coat of Wyldwood contrast and used drybrushing and other contrast paints to get some other shades into the wood. I'm not sure how successful I've been.

Leaves and moss were picked out and either highlighted (leaves) or washed (moss). A few fungal growths were picked out on his arm and back and then his eye sockets were made glowy green (I think you can just about see them).

He's simply done, but a big improvement, looking much more like actual wood than he ever did.

I'm looking forward to getting him on the table as the changes to cannons (D3 damage rather than D6) and Forest Spirit ward saves (negated by fire rather than magic) should make him somewhat more survivable than in the dark days of 8th edition.

Sadly, ordinary Treemen have lost their ability to cast a bound spell and Treemen Ancients (whilst being wizards) pack a lot less punch than regular Treemen. However, Steve will probably remain the heaviest hitter in my army and something my opponents will be forced to do something about, freeing up my more lightly armed threats.

The Treekin unit were painted much the same as the Treemen except there were many more vines to pick out and, as they are later models they are dripping in Forest Spites and, of course, skulls.

I've gone with blue for the Forest Spites for a few reasons. Firstly, I have a pot of Talassar Blue contrast paint and I like it. It also makes them pop, especially against the orange of the leaves on the base, livening up what can end up being really dull models.

These are the closest unit I have to a regular front line unit, meaning that they will probably spend a lot of their time trying to die as slowly as possible to hold up the enemy advance.

In 8th edition I regretted not having six of them so when the opportunity arises later in the release schedule, I suspect I'll pick up another three, even though I'm not overly keen on them.

I've no just got the Wild Riders to go in order to get my army fully rebased, and I'm hoping this can be achieved before the end of the month. I've enjoyed this process but I'd quite like to turn my attention to actually painting a wider range of models again and start chipping away at the mountain once more.

Acquired: 10
Painted: 208
Lead Mountain: 849

Sunday 17 March 2024

A Cluster of Radiants: A Tale of 4 Armies

I've had a little bit of a hiatus on the process getting my Wood Elf army rebased and polished up for use in Warhammer: The Old World.

Partly this has been down to getting distracted by Five Leagues From The Borderlands, partly down to life always being busy in March and partly down to the weather being terrible and not being able to take photos.

However, some limited progress has been made. Namely, I've got my characters done.

I have no idea if my current crop of characters will cut the mustard in The Old World, however, I did tend to run rather light on them in 6th/7th edition, and I suspect that might still be the case now. Elves are expensive, and so too much investment in characters leaves you somewhat short of Toughness 3 bodies in your army.

With all three, I've focused on brightening them up, treating the initial paint job as a base coat and highlighting up. The spires moulded on two of them have become bright blue rather than dirty green, and I've brought more gold into all three.

Obviously, they've also all been rebased.

The Glade Lord is, in my opinion, the best model in the old range, a really ferocious and heroic looking model. Yes, he's on a tactical tree-stump but that makes sense for Wood Elves.

Back in the old days I would run him on his own as an Alter Kindred, with the Helm of the Hunt, the Amber Pendant and (sometimes, the Hail of Doom Arrow). After firing off his own volley on the first turn he would run about (with M9) slaughtering whatever he came in contact with and breaking units by himself.

Sadly, this role doesn't seem possible in the new rules and there isn't really a unit I own he can join where a great weapon would be a good idea. He might not see action for a while.

My Spellweaver began life as a Waywatcher character that I picked up cheap as he was missing an arm. I improvised a staff from a banner pole and a Dryad's head and he took over as my chief magical support, moving forests about and generally being annoying.

From what I've seen, magic is going to be incredibly important in The Old World and so I expect to get a lot of use out of him. I'm not sure what spells he'll be casting yet, but he'll be invaluable in terms of magic defence.

Finally, the army battle standard bearer (BSB) began life as a High Elf Shadow Warrior and simply got an army swap. Again, I think I picked him up second hand.

BSBs can be invaluable in bolstering the morale of the main line, and even though I never expect my Glade Guard to do much in combat, being able to hold for a turn longer than expected can be crucial.

This character is the most likely to be given a magic bow, allowing him to add to the volleys of the Glade Guard he supports.

And that's it for now. These three were painted last week and I've been waiting for a chance to photograph them. I have more in the pipeline that I finished today, so depending on the weather and the time I get home, you might see them tomorrow.

Acquired: 10
Painted: 204
Lead Mountain: 849

Saturday 9 March 2024

Hawk the Slayer #3: Deserters

After a flurry of activity last weekend, I sat down this week to roll up the next campaign turn keen to get another battle under my belt.

However, Five Leagues From The Borderlands had other ideas, and despite my enthusiasm for thrilling more thrilling adventures, the game seemed inten on giving me anything but adventure...

Campaign Turn 3

After camping on the edge of the Fey Woods, the group took their ease. Dana studied maps of the area the former nun had picked up in Lakesmouth, and with this information, Hawk was able to scout a route back that would avoid unnecessary problems.

This was fortunate as Breda was injured whilst foraging, so Hawk's (gained scouting skill) well chosen route allowed the party to return to town quickly with the information they had retrieved, complete their contract and get paid.

Whilst in Lakesmouth, Hawk learned that there was a caravan arriving in High Home, and so he purposed to head their first.

Campaign Turn 4

Realising that time was running out on his promise to help Gethir recruit more men to help the Town Guard, Hawk was determined to set out to the other settlements in the area quickly.

Before departing, Dana consulted a renowned scholar about routes and shared what she had learned with Gort (gained scouting skill).

En route to High Home the group travelled with and befriended a somewhat sociable villager called Sampson. A somewhat pessimistic soul, he told them of the enemies patrolling the area, specifically a band of deserters from Lakesmouth, who had taken to robbing vulnerable travellers on the road south.

Determined to complete his current task, Hawk made an oath to deal with those cowards before long.

Once in High Home, Hawk set about encouraging able bodies men to join Gethir's militia in Lakesmouth whilst the others perused the goods available for trade on the caravan. Crow purchased a talisman that he claimed would keep his soul safe.

Campaign Turn 5

An evening spent meeting the locals and helping the town guard recruits train passed before the party headed north on the final leg of their journey to the Vale.

The journey north was uneventful, largely because much of it was by boat. However, Gort was intrigued by the islands, an unexplored location, in the middle of the lake and loudly considered the possibility of them being home to all sorts of treasure and monsters.

Campaign Turn 6

Upon arrival in the Vale, they found it inhabited by supportive locals, who eagerly listened to Hawk as he sought to help the Town Guard recruit, toake up for those that had deserted, complete Gethir's contract.

Gort headed straight to a tavern to meet the locals and got talking to a garlic farmer named Greg, whose sheep had run amok. Greg told Gort of his grandfather's lost sword and wondered if the adventurers might search it out (contract, locate item), however with no information on its whereabouts, Gort made no promises.

Meanwhile, Crow went foraging for herbs and came back with Springweed Berries.

Heading south again, Hawk decided to make good on his oath to confront the deserters-turned-bandits whose cowardly behaviour had set them off on this adventure in the first place...

As you can see, the random tables in the game seemed intent on providing me with uneventful travels across the region as I efficiently completed tasks, gaining gold and skills as I went.

Therefore, after finishing the Guard Captain's contract, I decided to take matters into my own hands and go looking for trouble.

The Deserters in question had popped up as a result of a 'news travels' roll and were currently reducing the amount of Adventure Points I could gain from my escapades. They also fit in nicely with completing the  recruitment narrative, as these guys running off to become bandits had caused the problems I'd rolled up on turn one.

I had to fight a meeting engagement and hold the field at the end of the game to remove them from the map. Conveniently, I gained the eliminate the enemy objectives, which meant I had kill at least four of them within six turns.

When it came to generating the deserters, I got only seven of them without a leader. Two had slings, but after dealing with all those goblins, I was fairly confident I could handle them...

Well that almost went horribly wrong. I advanced Dana too far forward when she is the least capable fighter in the group. She may be a hero now, but she almost came a cropper and was fortunate to roll a knocked out result for her injury.

However, the rest of the fight went as expected. Two of the Deserters ran away quickly, causing the rest to become fearless, but they really couldn't match blades with Hawk, Gort and Breda. After his first killing shot, Crow was quiet in this game, as was the Woman (who can't actually teleport, I'm just using that to explain why she moves so fast) despite both being invaluable in the last game.

The loot was minimal, just some battered weapons and a crossbow, whilst the news travels roll revealed a letter that needs delivering further a small reward.

I've got no definite plans as to how to proceed, so I may just get on with that and see what happens. 

Gort really does want to go to the island though...

Tuesday 5 March 2024

Hawk the Slayer #2: Into The Whisper Woods

Bursting with enthusiasm after the first battle of my Five Leagues from the Borderlands solo campaign, I immediately leapt into the next campaign turn, in which Hawk and friends get sent on a mission into the mystical Fey Woods of the north.

Before we get to that, there's the brief tale of how they got there...

Campaign Turn 2

With Lakesmouth still short handed, the party continue to help the town guard out. Whilst patroling taverns and dealing with drunks and pickpockets, they take the opportunity to talk to likely recruits for the guard, encouraging them to take the captain's shilling as per the deal (contract, negotiate a deal) he had offered them, with some success.

A Town Crier announces that the Town Council are offering good money for adventurers willing to risk danger. Whilst Gort and Crow try and fail to goad locals into an archery contest (Gamble), Hawk goes to speak to the Council who are keen to retrieve vital intelligence on events beyond north reach from a messenger who has gone missing in branch of the Whisper Woods known to be haunted by the Fey (contract, retrieve item).

Hawk accepts the task and, prioritising the job with more urgent need (and, incidentally, better pay), gathers his companions to travel north.

The journey passes without incident, and Hawk, Gort, Crow, The Woman, Breda and Dana prepare to enter the ill-omened Whisper Woods.

The mission actually required the group to travel to an unexplored location to retrieve the item. Although the travel was uneventful, the location turned out to be Fey Woods, which would involve a site battle against members of the Ice-Heart Court, even though they weren't a threat in my campaign.

9 Goblins and one Captain would be patroling the woods whilst I had two missions to complete: to grab the item from the centre of the board and to explore at least three objectives (which could turn out to be good or bad things). To add to the complications, all movement was reduced.

Whatever happened, this was definitely going to be a longer affair than the last one.

So...that went well...I feel I need a disclaimer to say that I wasn't cheating. 

The party, especially Hawk and Crow, cut through the goblins with ease; the item was retrieved alarmingly quickly; I kept finding loot at every location and at no point was anybody in real danger.

It didn't feel that straightforward in the game, as random rolls can go against you, but I feel I've got a better handle on how to tip combat in my favour.

The loot I gained was as follows:
  • Harness of Vengeance (enchanted armour)
  • Scout's Cloak,
  • Set of Alarm Traps, 
  • 2 sets of Partial Armour, 
  • Shield, 
  • Coil of Rope, 
  • Ferrets’ Drink (magic potion),
  • Fey Steel Fencing Sword
In addition to this, the battle also revealed another unexplored location in the Whisper Woods along with a Monster Lair, both of which I decided to leave for a later date.

Although the scenario didn't grant me any Adventure Points, all four heroes gained enough experience to gain an advancement:
  • Hawk improved his Luck to replace the point lost last turn,
  • Gort saw his Combat ability improve, 
  • Crow enhanced his scouting with the Wilderness skill,
  • The Woman developed better Casting.
In addition to this both Brida and Dana had moments of inspiration and are now heroes rather than followers. Dana even gained the Scholar skill into the bargain.

I know things won't always go this well, but it was nice to have a 'big damn heroes' moment and be able to tool up the party with plenty of equipment before bigger dangers befall them.

I'm sure it won't last.

Saturday 2 March 2024

Hawk the Slayer #1: The Taken

Just before Christmas I picked up Five Leagues From The Borderlands, the fantasy sibling of Modiphius' sci-fi solo skirmish game Five Parsecs From Home.

The game sits somewhere between gang management games like Necromunda and rpg-lite skirmish games like Rangers of Shadow Deep. It's perfect for solo campaigns and appeals to the creative or, if you are like me, derivative.

As such, my campaign is going to be a sequel series to 80s cult classic Hawk the Slayer.

Five Leagues from the Borderlands is very flexible in how you build your starting warband. I opted to select my heroes' races and backgrounds, but randomly roll the rest. I then attributed weapons and equipment to characters to reflect their abilities.

My starting line up is:

Hawk - Human Noble
Bastard Sword, Partial Armour, Shield

The hero of our tale and my avatar. Following the defeat of his brother Voltan, Hawk's band travels the land confronting evil and helping the defenceless (sort of like the A-Team). He doesn't actually have a shield, I'm using it's effects to account for the Mind Sword blocking and parrying.

Gort - Duskling Outsider
Warhammer, Partial Armour, Helmet 

A 'giant' (he's just really tall) who lives for fighting and feasting. More preoccupied with lining his pockets and filling his belly than doing good, Gort follows Hawk because he seems to have a knack for finding trouble. Again, the helmet is more a reflection of his natural toughness.

Crow - Feyblood Outsider
Fencing Sword, Fine Self Bow, Light Armour

With the the Silver Forest burnt and gone, Crow knows that he is the last of his race. Lethally accurate with his bow, Crow seeks to do some good in the world so that his folk might be remembered fondly.

Woman - Human Mystic
Staff, Light Armour
Spells: Fog, Foresight, Illuminate, Manipulate, Torment

The mysterious blind woman wields strange powers that grant her 'sight' of a different form. She seems to know what fate awaits Hawk, but only reveals information through hints and riddles.

Sister Dana - Human Wandering Nun
Staff, Sling

After tending to Crow's wounds following the Battle of Caddonbury Abbey, Dana suffered a crisis of faith and decided to travel with Crow when he left to join Hawk. She seeks to help where she can.

Breda of Danatur - Loyal Former Soldier
Standard Weapon, Light Armour

Having served Hawk's father, when she heard of his exploits in Caddonbury, Brida travelled to join him and pledged her loyalty to his cause, once again pleased to be following a good man.

The North Barrens Campaign

My campaign will be set in a sparsely populated region known as the North Barrens. Hawk has travelled her to help the settlers confront the many threats of the region:
  • Bandits (the Ruin Within) prowl the roads and trails, making trade difficult,
  • There are rumours of unquiet sprits (the Whispers from Beyond) haunting the woods and preying upon lost souls,
  • To the north, a great host of evil warriors (the Faceless Kingdom) bear down on the region.
I'm addition there is adventure and exploration aplenty available. The ruins of North Reach lure many a treasure seeker to their doom, and other unexplored locations dot the wilderness.

Turn 0

The journey to the trade town of Lakesmouth was largely uneventful for out companions, who upon arrival perused the markets and found prices to bejz somewhat higher than in the affluent south. They would have to do something to fatten their purses before too long.

Travel Roll - Uneventful Travels

Turn 1

The following day, Hawk and friends began to explore the town and look for work. Sister Dana had a chance conversation with a wandering healer which revealed that several of the town guard were injured or missing, and so they were currently short handed.

Reporting to Gerith, the guard captain, Hawk offered to help. Seeing that these were seasoned warriors, the captain immediately offered them a reward if they could locate several missing guardsmen who had disappeared on patrol.

The woman sought to use her mystic insight, but found that it was clouded by something. Hawk tried more conventional means of information gathering and asked around. Picking up a few leads allowed Crow to find a trail and follow it to a ruined and mist-shrouded chapel just outside town.

Realising something wicked lurked within, Crow returned to gather the rest of the band before exploring.

Local Events: Wandering Healer

Campaign Activities: Help the Town Guard and Meet the Locals (contract offer)

Contract: Gather Information for an Individual
Expertise Test - The Woman, failed
Speech Test - Hawk, passed
Wits Test - Crow, passed
Reward - Villager Friend+ 1 Gold Mark

Adventure: Ride Patrol (Signs of Danger:
Foes: Whispers from Beyond, 5 Taken + Unknown Enemy + Captain
Encounter: Meeting Engagement - Scout the Area

Hawk had fortunately only been knocked out by the deadly blow the undead creature had inflicted. Crow gave the dust time he had liberated to the Woman to unlock its secrets.

Despite discovering the gruesome fate of his guards, Captain Gethir was very grateful to Hawk for what he had done and offered to pay the group to travel to the settlements of High Home and the Vale to recruit new town guards.

Adventure Points: 1

Injuries : Hawk used a Luck point to avoid death.

Experience: Dana gained the Devotion skill and Brida gained Leadership. None of the heroes have advanced yet.

Loot: Old dusty manual 

News Travels: A friend needs your help.

Contract: Negotiate a Deal for a Friend
Travel to 3 settlements
Attempt Speech 8+ tests in each and pass 2
Reward - 1 Gold Mark + 1 Story Point


So that's the start of my campaign. Technically I won the battle but almost losing Hawk in his first fight has made me reconsider rushing into combat.

I'm already hooked into my own storyline and am keen to move on to the next turn. I'm really enjoying weaving the results of random rolls into a coherent narrative and as such I'm tempted to take up the captain's contract simply because it gives some direction for the next turn. It also fits with the bands goals if helping the region defend itself.

I know this has been a little long winded, but I hope it makes some sense and is enjoyable to read. I'm trying to balance the narrative with the mechanics.