Saturday, August 29, 2015

Brother In Arms

I am a huge fan of Hasslefree Miniatures. Every one of their sculpts oozes character and charm. I also believe they produce some of the finest female forms in the business. I have painted their cultists for Strange Aeons (among other things) and little Hayden the slayer for dungeon crawling. 

This past Christmas I received a copy of their Sir Olwyn mini. I love the way he looks wise and devout, a perfect experienced mentor knight. Truly one of my favorite figures Hasslefree produces. I had plans on using him as a PC for Pathfinder and had primed him up, but then never got around to painting him. Then I found Frostgrave and realized I had a perfect templar ready to go.

Meet Hadrian Owlkey, elder brother to my wizard, Amuron Owlkey.

Hadrian protects his brother among the frozen ruins of Frostgrave, even having renounced his knightly order to follow him on his mysterious quest. Hadrian isn't privy to all of Amuron's secrets, but trusts his brother implicitly. Is his trust well placed? We shall see.

Templars are expensive, so they may not be the best choice starting out, but damn does he make for a pretty model on the table.

Of course my camera refuses to pick up the highlighting on the cloak but I assure you it is there. You can see that I've based him differently than my construct, having gone for a dead grass look that I think I favor over the green in the dead, frozen wasteland that is Frostgrave. I may go back and rebase the construct so he matches the rest of my warband going forward.

Speaking of frozen wasteland, I have decided that I will end up getting a Frostgrave specific mat at some point when I'm feeling rich. I want one of Frontline Gaming's Alpine mats because I think it looks perfect and I'm leaning toward 4'x4' for my games. Plus the size would ensure the mat gets used for things like 40K as well, so it's not to tied to one system.

In the interim, I went to the local fabric store and picked up a yard of white fleece to use as a 3'x3' mat.

It's a little stark, but it does the trick and was less than six bucks. Really a bargain you can't beat. I'm also starting to look into some extra ruins to bulk out my Frostgrave. I'd rather not have to cast Fog all the time, so having some extra places to hide would be great.

Anway, that's all for now. Happy gaming!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Forays Into Frostgrave

I love skirmish gaming. I used to play Mordheim. I'm a huge fan of Song of Blades and Heroes. So I'm always on the lookout for new skirmish possibilities, and it's no surprise that I have run across Frostgrave in my internet travels. It had piqued my interest, but I hadn't taken the plunge recently until some players at my local game store started buying books and kind of forming a group. Not to be left out, I also bought a book and so far I'm hooked.

For those not yet in the know, Frostgrave is about a ruined, snowbound city filled with the treasures of a former magical empire. Each player gets a wizard, who hires a warband to travel into these ruins and find gold, magic weapons and spellbooks for glory and gain. These wizards then fight in amazing wizard battles while their minions hoof it with the loot.

Like this, but with snow.

There are several different classes of wizard, like blasty Elementalists and evil Necromancers, but I went with an Enchanter. I did this for one simple reason: I can make golems. Of course there's the added benefit of being able to move treasures around and make magic items, but really it's all about the golems. 

Now, most people start with painting their wizard and maybe their apprentice first. Not me. I want a big stompy golem and I want it now. So I looked through my piles of miniatures and had a minor brain storm. I grabbed one of these:

I used to buy a ton of D&D minis back in the day, so I have several of these goofy, Ben-Grimm-looking assholes taking up space in a box. A little cutting, gluing and painting later and I have this monstrous beauty:

I wanted him to look less like a constructed beast and more like something dredged up from the ruins of Frostgrave on the fly. Hence the books and broken weapons. I also filled the gaps with my basing gel to make it look like he's held together with dirt in certain places, and a little static grass helps with that effect.

I'm really proud of him and he makes a great wall to block line of sight to my wizard and put the hurt on people who come to near.

Speaking of line of sight, I kinda noticed in my first (and only so far) game that ranged weapons are fucking awesome. So awesome in fact that I lost my whole warband and decided to start over from scratch. I also made the decision that I wanted to stop getting shot. To that end, I took the spell Fog, which makes 6" long, 3" high, 1" wide walls of you-can't-see-me that linger on the battlefield. 

Since I needed something to represent these but didn't want to get too fancy or expensive, I made these:

They are simply strips of thin card with a fog pattern printed on them, plus a couple of mini walls to help judge line of sight if there's any question that a model could be seen across them.

Simple, effective and if I find I need more fog I can just cut out more strips. No getting shot in the face for me.

Even though I got thoroughly housed and I have a couple misgivings with the ruleset (but that's a post for another time) I am still excited to get playing in earnest. The warband is small, so I'm hoping to get it done relatively quickly by my standards. 

If not, well at least my golem looks pretty.

Happy gaming!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Meow! HissssBOOM!

I have been a big fan of The Oatmeal for a while now. His style of humor just seems to mesh with my own in delightful ways. His sense of weird and truth (and weird truthyness) are everything I look for in comedy. And it doesn't hurt that his art is hilariously adorable. He is accurate about dogs, as well as cats and even grammar in a way mere mortals can only dream of being.

I guess you could say I like his work alot.

So when I heard that The Oatmeal was making a GAME on Kickstarter, I was intrigued. When I heard it involved kittens exploding, I pledged immediately. A lot of other people did too. In fact, people threw about 8 MILLION DOLLARS at him for the chance to meet their end via combustible feline.

The Oatmeal and his companions, Elan Lee and Shane Small, also did something that very few Kickstarter projects have achieved (especially one of this size): They delivered on time. They promised to ship in July, they shipped at the end of July and it just so happens that a few days ago I received my pledge. And now I'm here to share that with you.

A small blue box arrived with an adorable kitten and some big white letters on it.

I was mildly confused because it said it was shipped by Blackbox.

This box is blue. Not black. I expect better, dear sirs. I expect better. Luckily it got better. In fact, I received the best packing slip I have gotten in any package ever, and I doubt ever will again.

In fact all of the inserted paper materials have a delightful sense of whimsy about them.

Inside this blue (not black) box were two more boxes: My regular edition of Exploding Kittens and the NSFW edition.

A lot of fuss was made about the fact that a special addition was going to be made to the box, something that would surprise and delight us. At least in my case, they were correct. I could tell you what it is, but I think showing you would be better.


I spent a fair amount of time just opening the lid and giggling. I won't tell you exactly how much time, but I assure you it was inordinate and mildly disturbing.

Inside, of course, is the regular Exploding Kittens deck, a slot for a second deck and a little folded page of rules.

Lifting up the deck shows off the bottom, which has some lovely art of a litter box.

Lets not forget that I also got the NSFW Deck as well. The box is nice, but the deck will be going into that extra slot in the regular box for sure. It doesn't even have any cool art inside, just a plastic insert.

As for the game itself, well, it is not deep. Each player gets some cards, which do stuff and every turn each player can play those cards, then draw a card from the deck. If it is an Exploding Kitten and you don't have a Defuse card, you blow up and are out of the game. Last player standing wins. There are a couple extra rules, but that's the core of the game.

I will end this little unboxing with a selection of my favorite cards, first from the normal deck:

And then from the NSFW deck:

By the way, Smoke Crack With A Baby Owl is my favorite card. Of all time. In any game.

That's all for now! Happy gaming!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Star-Spangled Super-Soldier

I know I'm a little late, but happy Independence Day! Or I suppose if you're British you would call it Treason Day. But I'm not British, so I spent my weekend eating awesome food and watching explosions. Why?

Actually all that stuff was kind of just a sideshow for me because I spent most of my time finishing up a little project that was more than appropriately timed.

A couple weeks ago, something just short of a miracle happened. My wife showed interest in space marines. Or rather, I was looking at some space marine color schemes and she happened to see some Crimson Fists and said "Those guys look cool, you should paint me one like that." I asked her why she liked them and she said she liked the red and blue, and they reminded her of Captain America. Since she is a little bit of an ol' Cap fan, I decided to do one better. A few ordered parts and a rummage through the bitz box and I came up with this fellow:

Yep, that's a Captain America marine. I'm really pleased with the result. The shield came off a HeroClix figure and even though it's a little small, I feel it fits and doesn't overpower the whole model. I even left it with the original WizKids paint job because it looks good and I had no ambition to paint concentric circles.

I'm also really happy with the freehand star on the shoulder pad. It's the first real freehand I've done in a while so it was nice to see I still had it in  me.

The wife is also really happy with him, and since he's "technically" hers, that's all that really matters. I'm slowly trying to convince her that he would be good for beating me in 40k and have been hinting at having some "extra" space marines lying around she could use too, but so far she's not biting.

Anyway, that's all for now! Hope everyone had a safe and fun 4th of July! Happy gaming!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Tell me your secrets...

Hello again, readers. Sorry I missed May but things were hectic and I wasn't trying to rush the project I'll be showing off today. Maybe I'll get to a second post in June to make up for it. Maybe.

Anyway, a little backstory...

I started Warhammer 40k back in the halcyon days of Second Edition, when men were men, orks were orks and space marines were still barely restrained psycho-indoctrinated murderers for the good of mankind. My first choice of army was Eldar, because I loved the idea of space elves, shooting and OMG PSYCHIC POWERS.  However, one day I discovered the Inquisition powers, and hatched an idea.

Back then, each psyker had to start with at least one power from their primary discipline, but could then take as many tertiary discipline powers as their psyker level allowed. And the Inquisition powers had a power that could open a vortex in real space that would swallow up any model it hit instantly. Yum.

I had already been toying with the idea of using the 2nd edition box set marines as allies, and Librarians could get Inquisition powers as a tertiary discipline. I chose the coolest color scheme for my marines (dark green Dark Angels) and got a Librarian in terminator armor. After a couple games I was totally in love with Dark Angels and Librarians! With a level 4 psyker I had a 3 in 6 chance to pull the vortex power and I used it to great effect. And when the Angels of Death codex came out, I started using other heroes like chaplains and company masters, but a Librarian always made it in. That is, until 3rd edition hit and killed psykers, a tradition held for many editions after.

Fast forward to 7th edition. Psykers are meaningful again. They blow shit up like you wouldn't believe. Not taking a psyker is generally seen as a Bad Idea (TM). I also had access to the lovely Librarian from the Dark Vengeance starter. And here he is:

Though I stayed pretty close to the GW color scheme, I did stray a little. I have named him Codicier Bahram, and he always accompanies my Interrogator-Chaplain for that one-two punch of both physical and psychic torture for any Fallen they may find. He also has a penchant for Pyromancy powers, so I gave his force sword a hot, glowing metal effect. But enough rambling. Here are some more shots:

And a peek under the hood...

I also caught a pic of him in action (still only partially painted), challenging a hulking warboss. It's a cool picture, but it didn't end well for Bahram. But if you have to go, you might as well go in style!

That's it for now. I had a lot of fun painting this model. The detail is exquisite, and I want to paint more of the Dark Vengeance marines soon. But first I have a rather large and stompy project planned.

Happy gaming!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Eternal Servitude

Last year I made the determination that I was going to get back into Warhammer 40,000. Somewhere in England, there was much rejoicing, as the chip Games Workshop long ago implanted in my brain informed them that my money would be theirs once more.

"He's back! Yachts for everyone!"
Despite the hemorrhage of money, I do love the setting dearly. It's so dark and grim, and filled with grim-darkness. And the Gothic-over-the-top-ness makes for wonderful modeling opportunities. One such opportunity was to make new wound markers for my characters.

I have always loved servo skulls. They have a morbid cuteness that can't be beat. For those that don't know, when a particularly devout Imperial servant (such as a janitor or accountant) dies, they get honored by getting turned into a servo skull. Well, not the servant himself, actually. Just his skull. The servant stays dead while a little robot floats about wearing his brain case, taking videos and reminding important Imperial dignitaries about upcoming appointments. Absolutely adorable.

So kawaii!
When I found out that the most recent Devastator sprue had some servo skulls on it, I hit up eBay for 4 of them. This only cost me six dollars, which may be the least amount of money I have ever spent on anything Games Workshop. I drilled some holes in them, mounted them on lengths of paper clip and soon had them painted up.

I only needed three, so the other will be saved for a later date. The way I use them, each character gets one for each wound beyond 1 to follow them around the table. Every time the character is wounded, a servo skull gets removed. No more skulls=one wound left.

My Dark Angels Interrogator-Chaplain gets the halo skull and the plain skull, but I wanted to give the Librarians single skull a little extra zing. So, I free-handed a sword and a couple of lines for wards on the skull, in oh-so-magical blue, of course.

Not great, but also not a lot of room to work in and the Librarian needed something special. Of course I can't sign off without giving you a look at some skulls with their master:

That's it for now. These were dead-simple to put together and make for a fun project to add a little flair to your army. May the Emperor protect and happy gaming!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lighting the Way (to Better Basing)

Hello again, gaming friends. I'm afraid this installment will be a little light (heh) on actual projects, since I have acquired a new and time consuming job that is very hard on the feet, along with a nasty cold. Time spent lying down is not time spent gaming or painting I'm afraid. But I did find time for a little project that was both simple and fun.

In our current Pathfinder campaign, our group has been joined with a fun and rather useful ally. This ally is a lantern archon named Laurel-Marshall Carancros Latuch. Once a mighty hobgoblin commander (for the good guys; hobgoblins are good in our setting) during the Ogre Wars, Latuch was killed in battle and his spirit sealed away in a small sphere for a couple thousand years. Now reincarnated as a lantern archon, he lends our group support as well as...ahem..."critique" of our battle plans.

Not having any suitable models I decided to build one and this is what I came up with:

After all that build-up, he doesn't cut that imposing a figure, but that's really not his fault. He is, after all, a glowing ball of light. But at least he was incredibly easy to make. Our glowy friend here is just a bead on a flying stand attached to a base. I left the bead silver, gave the rough edges some touch-up and then based it. Dead simple and fits quite nicely. The base was the most complicated part.

And speaking of bases, I wanted to share my new way of basing. This is a method that has existed for a while now, but I wanted to give it a little shout out because I'm a big fan.

You see, aside from a brief affair with green flock in the early 90's, I have always been a glue/sand/paint baser. I have always liked the gritty texture, flexible color scheme ability and relatively natural look it provides. I also hate the amount of drying time and the way sand falls off while you're trying to paint said sand. I've tried dozens of tricks to try and reduce the time and make it less tedious but to no avail. Then I found this:

Like I said, it's probably no revelation to many hobbyers, but I stumbled across this stuff in a craft shop and picked it up. I'd heard of texture gels before and this one was definitely the right price, 8 oz for $10. An amount like that lasts a long time, especially for someone like me who only paints a few figures at a time.

It comes as a fairly thick goopy paste. It is better applied with a small sculpting tool than a brush, since it needs to be spread and the texture will kill brushes pretty quickly. It still has some drying time but after about an hour it looks like this:

The medium shrinks up and leaves all of the nice grit detail fully visible. It also dries firm, but not rock hard. None of the grit falls out when painted and it doesn't require any sealing before painting. In fact, since it is a medium, it readily sucks up paint and covers up very well. You get a nice evenly covered base that is solid and easy to work with. It also can be built up or used to fill gaps in rocky pieces if you so choose. I recently used it to add some diseased areas to some Nurgle BFG ships I intend to paint "someday".

It really has a lot of great applications.

For comparison, let's look at some of my bases in various forms:

On the left we have our pumice gel, the middle is sand, and the right is Games Workshop Stirland Mud, which I bought in fit of masochism. They are all painted and static grassed in exactly the same manner. As you can see, the pumice gel looks almost identical to sand and S-Mud, but with about half the hassle of sand.

S-Mud, by the way, is essentially the same as the pumice gel, but with color already added and approximately 8 times more expensive (Golden is about $1.25 an oz and GW charges $4.00 for 0.4 oz, or $10 per oz). The grit is also smaller, so I had to add a wash step to painting and the drybrushing isn't as pronounced. It also only lets you skip one step in the process. I really can't recommend the stuff. I'm glad I only invested in one bottle.

I'm in love with the pumice gel though. The biggest drawback I could see is maybe trying to base an entire army at once. That could get tedious really quickly and the drying/sealing time of sand could be a nice break. But for someone like me that only paints a few miniatures at a time, it's a godsend. If you can find some, you should definitely pick some up.

That's it for now, fellow gamers. Happy gaming!