Television is rather a frightening business. But I get all the relaxation I want from my collection of model soldiers.
Peter Cushing

Tuesday 30 December 2014

More purchases, a request and a tip.

This arrived from everyone's favourite tax-dodging online retailer this morning:

I'm intending to start up a small wargames club at work - simply in honour of the fact that it was a long ago history teacher who got me started and now I'm back to teaching history full time I feel like I owe the man to pass it on - and so I've picked these as the rules to use. 

The fact that it gives me an excuse to paint a couple of Wars of the Roses retinues is a pure coincidence, of course. 

I should hopefully have some of the Ramblers of Rohan completed tomorrow or the day after so expect some shinies then. 

I do have a request - does anyone know of a 28mm Victorian photographer mini from any manufacturer? I need one for a vignette idea I've had. 

In return I offer this tip - In Her Majesty's Name - a rather spiffing set of steampunk skin rush rules - are currently 99p on kindle as is the expansion. At that price you'd be rude not to get it. 

Friday 26 December 2014

The Next Generation

I thought I'd share what Santa brought for the Elder Child (currently aged 2); operating on the assumption that I need to groom him for gaming duties before he's too much older he got two fisher price castles - one for goodies and one for the baddies.

But more importantly he got this - his first Orc. 

I am so proud. 

The castle even comes with a little catapult and ladder so I can teach him the rudiments of siege warfare. 

Adventurers - Midlam and Oathsworn

So my main present from She Who Must Be Obeyed was a complete set of Vallejo Model Colour paints which she found, unused, second hand.

Either that or she mugged someone for it.

I've been using mainly Vallejo Game Colour paints for years, but the Model range gives a much more natural palette which will - I think - work better with where my style is at now. After packing the Young Ones off to bed and watching Doctor Who (which was wonderful) I cracked open the new paints and painted the Dwarf character played by She Who Must Be Obeyed in my Mid-Life Crisis D&D game. I also finished off the wizard for another of our players.

Oathsworn dwarf - Thor Lowkey

Midlam Miniatures Wizard

I was able to practise a few techniques I needed to brush up on - excuse the pun. Both cloaks were done with glazes and the stunty chap's armour was gone with a mixture of inks and washes. Skin was layering as per usual. The mud was a mixture of drybrushing and my Tamiya mud stick. Having got shots of them painted, I'm going to try to the Vallejo brush on varnish so that if they get wrecked at least I've got good shots.

All that's left for them is basing; I'm undecided between a wilderness or dungeon base. Any bright ideas, please drop 'em in the comments.

My big takeaway from this is that I need practise with eyes for display models. I will therefore use the Ramblers of Rohan as test pieces for a) a more muted colour scheme and b) eyes.

Wednesday 24 December 2014

An Early Christmas Present (from me, to me)

Watching Games Workshop start to wind down their Lord of the Rings range has sent me into a panic buying splurge on eBay to pick up the miniatures I kept promising myself. Added to this is that LOTR is probably my favourite fantasy skirmish rules set as it's one of the most elegant designs I've ever seen and I've never had a game that wasn't fun; I therefore want to lay in enough minis so that I can play it with my kids when they're a bit older. 

So today the postie dropped off a little packet for me: 

Yes, some riders of Rohan. Sans horses. 

Lovely figures - and with the added advantage that they'll double as Anglo-Saxons for general Dark Ages gaming as well. 

Now I just have to paint them...

Merry Christmas from Middle Earth!


Hope everyone and their families have a wonderful time and I hope Santa brings everyone lots of gaming goodness!

Monday 22 December 2014

Doing it right

As a lifelong fan of Hammer movies it's always been a joy of mine that Van Helsing himself - not to mention Grand Moff Tarkin - Peter Cushing played with toy soldiers. So, as a little Christmas treat to those who read the blog, I hereby present to you Peter Cushing - playing with Toy Soldiers and doing it right.

May your Christmas be fruitful and may your hobby space be as civilised as his - and I hope Tamsin from wargaming girl doesn't take offence at HG Wells' paternalistic comments as so enthusiastically quoted by the British Pathe VoiceOver wallah. I'm not a girl and it caught me off guard - it never ceases to amaze me when I raid the BP archives for work the very casual sexism that permeates every single report in so way, shape or form.

Sunday 21 December 2014

They rose from the dead...

Having finally wrestled the Term That Would Not End to the ground with a manly grunt, I have returned to my hobby desk. Last night I sat in front of Lord of the Rings with She Who Must Be Obeyed and finished off the test batch of the Undead from Dwarf King's Hold.

I think the effect is quite striking when en-masse so I'll start on the rest of them this week.

Gaming wise there'll be no RPGs or board games until the other side of Christmas, but I am hopeful that I might get a game of X-Wing in.

Expect some more painting updates soon(ish).

PS - well done to everyone on the painting challenge. I am in awe of your productivity!

Monday 15 December 2014


It's nice to be able to be nice. I put in an order for She Who Must Be Obeyed's dwarf fighter from Oathsworn and it turned up. 

He is, quite simply, gorgeous. Crisply casted and oozing character and attitude from every detail of the sculpt. 

I'm very happy with this purchase--

But wait! What's this? There was a note in the package as well:

And, lo and behold in the package was this little stunner:

Just as good as the first. 

It's this kind of customer service that guarantees repeat custom and enthusiastic plugs on blogs. 

So I can thoroughly recommend not only for the quality of the miniatures but also for being jolly decent human beings.

Sunday 14 December 2014

In which 2 sleeping goblins are murdered by our heroes

Sorry of the long silence; as The Longest Term grinds toward its distant end, hobby time has dwindled. Hopefully some more to report tomorrow but for today, a report on our second session of 5th Edition D&D.

One of our players wasn't able to make it. In the grand tradition of gaming, the other players metaphorically strapped his character to a sackbarrow and wheeled him round like artillery.

We left our Heroes bickering outside of a Goblin bandit hideout. They sent the Dwarf in as he could see in the dark. After being left to talk to the Wizard for the few minutes, the Dragonborn Cleric decided to go in as well. Hilarity promptly ensued as he tripped over the dwarf in the dark.

After dealing with a sentry quite stealthily, our noble warriors promptly screwed up Stealth checks and stumbled into the main Goblin barracks where they fought a handful of green skins; the dwarf fighter got quite badly injured and one of them rushed off to the next cavern; our heroes gave hot pursuit and promptly staggered into an ambush. The dwarf, in true dwarven fashion, charged into the middle of the stalagmite studded chamber and came face to face with the Bugbear bandit chieftain and his pet wolf. The cleric tried a flanking maneuver and a bumped into the goblin who'd run in.. He also got shot by another goblin somewhere else.

There then developed one of those lovely fights you get in RPGs which make the players feel like they're in an action movie. The dwarf was chipping away at the bugbear: the cleric cast a divine rebuke blast of holy light at the chieftain,which made it turn and charge him while the wizard put the goblins to sleep. The bugbear smashed the cleric down to -1 HP and into the realm of Death Saves while the wizard went round staving the heads of the sleeping goblins in with his staff.

The dwarf out the bugbear down and yen totally failed to hit the wolf. The cleric failed a death save, passed one... (Under the new rules, a death save is straight 50-50 on a d20 - three fails and you're gone) And then. Critical - he's back in the game!

All three of them now gather round what is apparently the hardest wolf in gaming history as none of them seem to be able to hit it. Eventually, they put it down and pause, gasping, to take stock.

Well, all except the dwarf, who immediately starts drinking.

After looting the area and divvying up the treasure they decided to barricade the door and take a rest so that the Cleric could try and regain some HP.

The rules around rests make this a feature of longish explorations; it looks like most groups are going have to have rest after 3 or so major events. Mechanically, this is a great chance to build up tension - can they afford to camp here? Who takes watch and therefore doesn't get a rest? And does the DM roll on a wandering monster table? Or what are the other goblins doing? It's soemthing to build into adventure design.

As it was their first, I allow them to rest without incident and, after a discussion in the party about the fact the cleric has so far completely failed to hit anything with his hammer - is he actually unable to use it and just carrying it to compensate for something? - they head off.

Into, I should say, the bit of the dungeon they should have gone to first. There's a lovely scripted bit in this Starter Pack Adventure, The Lost Mine of Phandelvar, where they have to negotiate with a goblin chieftain who is holding a hostage over a long drop. They partly have to decided whether to trust him or, if they attack, work out how without risking the hostage. It's a situation ripe with tactical and dramatic potential.

What actually happened in play was that the party ran in like a Mediaeval SWAT team; before the goblin could even pick up the hostage, the wizard blasted half the goblins with burning hands and the cleric blasted the remainder with his lighting breath. The dwarf sprinted through the cavern, up the steps and smashed the goblin chief down with one hit.

All in one turn.

So, having completely annihilated one of the major dramatic scenes they got to interact with the prisoner - a human who I played as Sean Bean (so they're probably expecting him to die soon) - and got some ideas in what is going on in the area and where the kidnapped dwarf has got to.

There were some other shenanigans involving a cart a day's travel away and stolen supplies and a truly astonishing desire to not lose a single scrap of possible loot, but that was more or less it. The session was enough to put them up to Level 2.

My impressions of this new Edition of D&D seem to be confirmed. It's really is an excellent piece of game design; streamlined, intuitive and easy to pick up. It's so much easier to run than 3rd edition and the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanism is simple brilliant; there's no general modifiers - you're either making a straight roll or an advantaged or disadvantaged one. On an advantaged roll, you roll 2d20 and take the highest and the opposite for disadvantage. It's incredibly elegant - too fuzzy for a wargame but exceptionally good for an rpg when you want the scene to keep moving. 

The starter adventure is very good; in the first section they've basically done a dungeon and got to learn how their characters work and pick up the rules. The next bit is basically a town and a load of adventure leads where they get to do whatever they like. 

If you've ever thought of having a go at any sort of role-playing game, this is probably the best time if you can get a group together. This new edition of D&D is honestly the best gateway drug imaginable.

Saturday 6 December 2014

Paint Table Saturday

I get to use this again, as I've actually managed to paint on a Saturday:

So, what's on the table?

Well, first we have D&D. I'm painting miniatures for my players. Unfortunately, as it turns out, new players have a rather hackneyed visual of their characters. Our wizard player, for example, sent me this as reference:

My reaction was about as you'd imagine. Anyway, based on a recommendation from Edwin in the comments last month, I pootled over to Midlam Miniatures who furnished me with the last word in  bog standard wizardry.

The miniature is exceptionally crisply cast with a very fine cloak and a characterful face. He's been lovely to paint so far - I'll definitely shop with them again as some of their townfolk are excellent. They even popped me a couple of nice D6s in the box.

So here he is with basecoat and simple shading:

Hopefully I'll finish him tomorrow.

In second place on the table, my new major project. A while ago I mentioned that I'd scored a copy of Dwarf king's Hold with some rather lovely Mantic undead. I thought for a while about the paint scheme to use and eventually settled on doing something not naturalistic. As the game presents these as creatures being raised as the game goes on I though that something more ethereal might be in order.

A long time ago I developed a technique for my Cryx which gave an effect somewhat akin to the Army of the Dead from the Lord of the Rings movies which seems like a great opportunity to repurpose.

The trick of it is to use artists ink rather than painting ink as it gives a much greater depth. The actual process is simple: undercoat black then drybrush progressively from dark grey up to white. Then block in large areas with white. This gives your rather gleefully monochrome figures like so:

You then add a good green in wash which gives you this rather lovely effect|:

Finally, you block back in the white and add more green if required - that's for tomorrow.

Very simple, and hopefully very effective. So the rest of the undead will be on the table this week - marking permitting. I also have another session of D&D on friday, so I'll leave you with the photo I took today while thinking about what can dot the landscape:

Good luck!

Just wanted to wish Bon chance to all those brave souls taking part in the Analogue Hobbies painting challenge. I should have slap to report on for tomorrow although I'm not at the point of throwing my hat into the ring with a challenge. Maybe next year....