Monday, April 24, 2017

Second hand high-elves join me for the Grudge of Drong

With the first game of Armageddon behind me and the first Age of Sigmar tournament I've organised in our region coming up, I decided to put a bit more focus on my High Elves for the Grudge of Drong. Getting every single model in the original armies poses a challenge as Games Workshop has silently canceled a large part of the plastic High Elf line. Luckily I had some models in the plastic/resin/lead pile in the shed. So let's start with some finished models.

Quite a satisfying addition to my glittering High Elf/Aelf Highborn force.
The chariot in the center is a truly ancient piece that I should post to the Oldhammer community on Facebook (note to self, don't forget to do that). I painted the chariot and its riders a few years back, but the horses where languishing in the unfinished box as my love for the project left just before finishing it. I channeled some of my enthusiasm for the Grudge project to quickly finish the four of these. For some reason I have a fifth horse from this set left over, I put that one in the bits box.

I love this ancient model, and after about thirty years on the lead-pile it is finally assembled, painted and based.
In my humble opinion this model embodies everything that was cool about wargaming in the eighties. It is very dynamic and has a full cast of characters on board (warrior, wizard, archer in addition to the guy driving the chariot). As opposed to the later plastic chariots this one seems to speed over the battlefield. All in all I'm quite satisfied that I finally finished and based it. It is a proud part of my display cabinet.

I looked up the current AoS stats for a chariot and had to laugh. It will probably be an under-performing embarrassment on the battlefield unless the enemy is so scared by the model that it gets more attention then it deserves.
I had the eight archers to the left still on sprue in one of the 'ignore this I will never paint it and selling it will not work'-boxes (I know, long label). 

These archers look a lot better painted then I expected. I'd almost wish for more of these old plastics.
As I needed them for 'Grudge' I cleaned them up and gave them a fast paint job with the grey/white coming from an airbrush. Seeing them painted I have to admit that I actually rather like them in all their static appeal. 

Just like the archers these spearmen hold up well, even next to modern plastics.
The spearman where from the same sprue. I think these are from 1992. No airbrush was needed to give these a quick paint job. One of the things that is rather pleasant about eighties and nineties plastic is the lack of detail in the form of pouches, straps, flags, etc. You can quickly block in basic colors, wash, drybrush or highlight and be done with it. This is a plus when painting large blobs of infantry. 

S'un Th'an, wizard of the highest order and inventor of the sun-tan spell.
The wizard in the center was also hanging around the shed after I failed to be satisfied by the galaxy paint job on the horse. It started out with purple and black only. After adding some orange and blue to it I rather liked it, finished the wizard (skin color is a bit darker than intended but I'll just assume he has a sun-tan spell) and I like it. 

The horse was stolen from Tyrion (the High Elf, not the Lannister).
Only after finishing the model I discovered that the horse actually belongs to another High Elf: Tyrion. The model is looking at me accusingly from the painting table right now. Luckily I had some ugly Bretonnians around So I'm converting a horse to put Tyrion on right now. My painting table is currently covered in metal Sword Masters and five metal Dragon Princess (I have another one ready to assemble and two upper bodies lacking legs, but I think five will do). 

Assembly line painting of Sword Masters and (old) Dragon Prince horses. 

These Dragon Prince models (and the current ones) are so overly covered in details that I'm genuinely stumped as to how to paint them. I went for 'when in doubt go for steel' solution to armour painting.
I got a message that my order of Great Eagles is on the way. In the meantime I managed to buy a second hand plastic Repeater Bolt Thrower to complement my two metal ones. That gave me a chance to convert an extra crew member as one of the metal crew members has gone missing.

My third repeater bolt thrower and the new plastic crew.
Through second hand sites I managed to get enough High Elf archers to fill out the requirements for Grudge of Drong. Most of the second hand ones were covered in ultra thick layers of paint.

Second hand miniatures in bad need of paint stripper.
I snapped the models apart where possible (luckily the previous owner used superglue).

I feel like a Vandal.
And followed up with a bath in Biostrip-20 getting the models mostly clean.

Goop! It's what's for dinner!
I then spent a rather unpleasant time gluing the old models back together again. The remains of superglue make it harder to use plastic glue and these models are not very good from a quality point of view. On the plus side I got a few old metal models along with the second hand plastic ones. And here are 22 (or 23) extra archers with banners, musicians and leaders so I can assemble two units of 15 (and for later games 1 whopping big unit of 30).

Stripped and reassembled.
The spearman are a bit more problematic. I sourced 16 old spearman but the models seem to have suffered from inverse scale creep. Their predecessors and their followups are both bigger and scale well together, but the 16 2002 spearmen look like a bit of a failed investment for now.

The spearman to the right (left of the archer) suffers from an off sort of inverse scale creep. (left to right: Island of Blood/Spire of Dawn Lothern Seaguard/Spireguard (2010), High-Elf Spearman (1992), High Elf Warrior (2001/2002), High-Elf Archer (2002).
Luckily I accidentally bought 20 Spireguard (Lother Sea Guard) from the Spire of Dawn set (miscommunication can be positive). These come without the command set which means I have 40 of the 48 required spearmen. I think a solution for the final 8 will present itself (maybe an extra sprue from Spire of Dawn or perhaps I'll get lucky and I'll find some more of the '92 spearmen online). That leaves me 1 Elf Lord on steed, 1 Battle Banner carrier on steed and 7 Dragon Princess short of the full army. I think that will be easily solved. But lets paint the current lot first before wasting more cash on bare metal and plastic.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Dakkastomp, first test game of Shadow War: Armageddon

I played my first Shadow War: Armageddon game this week, and though it mostly consisted of frantically paging through the manual as we tried to get to grips with the rules (it looks like 40K but handles some things quite differently). Also we forgot to coordinate so we had an Ork vs. Ork battle (which was rather appropriate). It was a lot of fun. First off a few quick observations:

  • The melee system is great fun and gives all participants a chance to shine.
  • Power Klaws hurt (a lot).
  • Shooting felt really Orky with a lot of misses, almost malfunctions and the incidental devastating hit.
  • Movement was quick and easy although GW seems to have forgotten a rule for climbing up (will steal that from Mordheim). 
  • This game desperately needs an equipment and warband expansion (where are my burna's!!!).
All in all, high time for another battle report. Comic-style of course (you can download a pdf here)...

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Building Games Workshop's Shadow War: Armageddon terrain

Over Easter weekend I got to play around with the new Shadow War: Armageddon terrain that was released in the boxed set with the same name on April 8th. Insert some griping about lack of stock here and keep it at that. The terrain itself is wonderful stuff, highly detailed, completely modular and easy to integrate with other kits and your own scratch build terrain. GW has announced it will be releasing the contents of this box as separate kits soon and that we can expect more variant that add to this terrain as well (including apparently cranes). Also AoS terrain is to follow soon after. That sounds good, although I have to admit the current range of GW terrain is priced just above what I'm willing to spend. We'll have to wait and see if I'm going to invest in more of these terrain sets. On to the finished building first.

The new terrain will probably turn out to be very expensive as separate sets, but man it looks good.
For this build I stuck to the manual GW offered with the boxed set. Not very creative I know, but why not. It turned out to be slightly harder then expected as the numbering of the railings is off in the manual. I wasted quite a bit of time looking for a bit that wasn't there. I build the platform with the bullet shaped container on a separate MDF board and glued it down so that I can add the walkway with the other platform to it to form a longer whole. The MDF was covered with anti-slip carpet underlay and 1mm cardboard tiles to match the rest of my terrain set.

The new terrain is completely modular and features lots of extra parts that I will happily be using on other projects later on.
The quality of the plastic is better than that of the Baleful Realmgates and varying Chaos Dreadhold kits. The details are much crisper. Also the parts line up properly everywhere without strange gaps (I'm looking at you pointy ribs on the sides of the Chaos Dreadholds!). Games Workshop's newfound talent for producing almost moldline free kits is mostly in evidence here, although I did spend quite a lot of time scraping the sides of the platforms and the tops of the railings. The parts also line up, even when you get creative. As you can see in the picture above I managed to put the top of the bullet shaped building out of joint with the bottom bit and the 'pipe gully' did not line up. I had to take my scalpel to it, and move that bit later on.

Once you figure out how to spray on rust, it becomes rather addictive.
The paint job felt a bit quick and lazy to apply, but I think its effective so who am I to complain. I covered the terrain with a cheap but good black primer and followed up with my collection of brown and orange tinted rattlecans. Now there's an investment that pays itself back.

Rattlecans rule (occasionally).
After the rust colors had had an evening to dry I dry brushed everything with Necron Compound. This is one of the paints from the Games Workshop dry range. I'm still not entirely sold on that range. My Tyrant Skull works like a charm, but most of the others I have feel like dried up pieces of plastic that won't stick to a brush (and felt like that from the day I bought them). Same with the Necron Compound. For now I just rub the plastic on a way too big brush and use it on terrain. I don't think it will every get anywhere near a regular miniature though. Anyway after completing the drybrush stage I picked up a tub of Vallejo luquid rubber mask and applied that to the trim on the storage tanks. This stuff kills brushes, as you can see by the dead brush in the foreground.

Adding liquid masking murders brushes, luckily I have a supply of worn out brushes and a small collection of cheap ones just for the job.
Next step was applying a bit of water and some salt. Yes I'm not tired of the salt weathering technique yet :)

Salt weathering is also turning into a bit of a habit, I should make some fantasy building soon, just to detox.
I then applied a coat of Vallejo Game Air Color Sombre Grey and a quick highlight of Vallejo Model Air Stonewall Grey. I then applied a thined coat of Vallejo Black wash to give the lines a bit more definition. Then I waited for it all to dry, rubbed of the salt and the mask and ended up with this.

Space Wolves bravely defending a worn down storage tank.
As I had a lot of watered down black wash to spare I also took the time to wash down all recessed numbers, Mechanicum skulls and opened electronics, popping it out a bit more.

The devil tends to be in the details. I painted every bolt on this picture (lazily to be sure).
That is basically all I did. I rather like the results in a simple yet effective way. Although it felt like I should do more. To get that nagging sense out of my head I painted anything that looked like a screen with a few layers of green. Like the screens on the left side railing on the far left of the picture and on the center left walkway. I also sponged Ryza Rust on some places to make the rust pop even more. Mental note: with all the rusty terrain I painted I'm almost out of Ryza, should replace that tub soon.

Don't fire until you see the whites of their...BLAM BLAM BLAM...dammit Carl, I was about to add eyes!
Painting all the pipes copper and going wild with Nihilakh Oxide might work, but by the same count it might make the terrain look way to busy causing it to drown out any models walking around on it. So I will not be doing that (for now). I did splocht down some random blobs of black and sepia wash on the bottom plates, feathering them out with a big brush in an attempt to contrast the walkways and the floor a bit more. As of today I'm considering sponging an extra color on the top walkways to put a bit more life to it. Maybe I'll do that later.

Assembling these kits and configuring terrain with them was a seriously nice experience.
I'll be playing my first game of Shadow War: Armageddon this week, so I might want to push the brakes on my painting and actually read the rules now. Then again who am I kidding, there's no time! The Grudge of Drong project has gotten out of hand, but more on that later this week. Now on to a few more pictures of some Space Wolves fighting Necron on this piece of terrain.

Fix! Bayonets!!!! (Sorry I had the 1993 Gettysburg movie on in the background during assembly.
All in all a great terrain set and it give new life to Confrontation/Necromunda (and I'm greybeard enough to actually own the Confrontation White Dwarves :). Now if only Underspire turned out to be the next Mordheim, but from what I see so far it looks more like a one silly game with snap-fit models. Ah well, there is still Adeptus Titanicus to look forward to, isn't there? (and perhaps a real new Mordheim later on?).

I don't now why, but the view from above is quite mesmerizing. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

A handful of happy Dwarves

With my rather massive sets of builds for Shadow Wars, ambitions to make a new warband for the game and of course my work on getting everything I need to play elves in the correct terrain for Grudge  of Drong it was high time for a 'Squirrel!' moment. The arrival of a band of Dwarves from Ral Partha provided just that. I joined a Kickstarter campaign to have these guys made, especially as there are Dwarf wizards in the set (still in basecoat over here) and a Dwarf on Ski's (greybeards will know why this is extra special). So between a massive built and paint I will blog about soon and another massive built I will blog about much later I started working on a bunch of Dwarves. These are the first four.

Cheers! Now let's go kill some Greenskins.

The brewer on the left is one of the models (together with the wizards) that drew me to this group, although I rather like the king with his curly beard and crown. For all these models I try to keep to a very simple color scheme with a lot of browns and preferably one other color (and I immediately cheated on the king by painting some red runes on his hammer). I also finally got a chance to try the red glaze on the nose trick with three of the four Dwarves above. I'm loving the effect.

I miss ceilings Bob the Spearman whispered to Bob the Other Spearman,
I picked the two guys in the back to paint first because they look like guards and need no extra color. Seemed like a quick win to get these two painted and it was. Now I aim to go for one or two Dwarves a day (a speed that I will most likely not accomplish, but don't tell me (this is getting confusing)).

From high overhead an Elf scout sighed. Why do they get to bring beer along on patrols, he wondered as he threw a miserable glance at his waterskin.
These dwarves and the others in the set are insanely fun. Reminding me of the characterful Dwarves you could buy in the eighties. On the last count I discovered I have bought a very precise set of unmatched Dwarves that will not form a single unit in Age of Sigmar, so I might just have to add to these guys at a later date. The brewer at least will get a starring role in the Grudge of Drong campaign. No need to lock him up in a vat.

Last but not least I would be remiss if I did not give a shout-out to the excellent customer service over at Ral Partha. I usually have no problems whatsoever with sending and receiving packages but my Kickstarter Dwarves went missing in the mail twice. Luckily they kept up sending them, and the third (signed) time was the charm. Thanks for your patience and perseverance Paul from Ral Partha.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Dragonlord, flowers on bases and Grudge of Drong planning

As 'rust fatigue' was setting in I took a quick detour back to my high elves. Recently I ordered purple and pink flowers from Gamers Grass as a test. The one thing I regret about this is not ordering yellow and white flowers as well. Will have to do that at a later date. I used these to finish the bases of my (recently rebased) High Elf (Aelf)  army. I also dropped the rattlecans and picked up my brushes to paint a second Dragonlord. This one I found half assembled in the bottom of an 'I'm quiting Warhammer' box I purchased second hand. A nice find and now added to my army.

Flowers just add that little something extra to an Aelf army.
As a related project I recently got an app from a friend proudly showing the second hand purchase of the Nemesis Crown campaign book from 2007. I - in my role as the unobservant observer - thought I saw the 1996 Grudge of Drong campaign book and instantly alighted. That manic obsessive compulsive hobby syndrome kicking in. I just had to play Grudge of Drong especially as he is a collector of Dwarves and I have a High Elf force in the works. Nicely rebased with flowers I might add. Here's another picture :)

The Spire Guard on the right is so happy, he can't stop blowing his horn.
I picked through the Grudge of Drong. The campaign tells the story of a high elf colony upsetting the balance between to grudging Dwarven clans. One Dwarf clan has won access to gold and gem deposits from the other ages ago. The second clan blocked access to the Dwarven trade routes by building a fortress in a pass and imposing tariffs. Both have added to their books of grudges. The high elves colonists upset this grudging balance of power by opening their own trade routes over water. Thus results in a lot of ale swilling, fighting and behind the scenes political maneuvering. In game terms it results in three smaller clashes ending in one major set-piece battle.

The Sword Masters have more grass as they practice their skills with precision cutting of flower stems. In other words they probably read too much Yoshikawa
One of the interesting elements in this book is that GW suggest armies per mission. These are specified in the book, including their points cost in Warhammer Fantasy 5th edition. That allows for an interesting approach to model collecting. I decided to put the army lists in Excel and see how I could translate this to the Age of Sigmar ruleset. The biggest trouble here is that AoS has less characters then older Warhammer editions. The Dwarf lord is basically a Warden King and he has only one weapon set. Luckily the slightly older free warscrolls offer a bit more rules allowing you to get the right game stats for a Warden King with a two handed weapon in stead of a weapon and shield. It does not mention how well flowery bases look, even on models with a paint job you're no longer really proud of.

I never expected to have so much fun arranging flowers on a 28mm scale.
A few weapon stat changes are nothing to worry about in Sigmar when it comes to allocating a points cost. The point system for competitive play in the General's Handbook doesn't worry about details. For instance an Aelf Archmage on foot costs the same as one riding an Aelf Steed (one riding a dragon is a different story as it has a different warscroll). It is up to the player to model his miniature properly to get the advantage of being on a horse. That makes the point system rather simpler then older Warhammer editions where you paid extra for banners, magic items and other options. Now how does this hold up when you allocate the same units to a fight?

Enjoy the soothing effects of lavender while being grabbed from above by the huge claws of a griffon.
The first skirmish: Battle of Grudge Pass sees High Elves trying to smash a Dwarf rebellion as a favour to Queen Helgar. The armies in the scenario see 1490 points of High Elves fighting 1504 points of Dwarves. Translated to Sigmar the same forces would be 920 points versus 1280 points, mostly because dwarf troops have gotten a bit stronger while High Elf spearmen and archers have gotten a bit weaker. Dropping a third of the models in the Miners, Ironebreakers and Thunderers units brings the dwarf forces down to exactly 920 points equalizing the battle from a points perspective.

The second skirmish: 'Ambush on the Dwarf Road' sees High Elf colonists, stirred up by Dwarf Queen Helgar, ambush a group of Dwarves from the rival clan. In the original rules 980 points of Elves fight 992 points of Dwarves. In Sigmar this would be 860 points of Elves versus 828 points of Dwarves. Removing 1 Shadow Warrior from the Elf army and adding 1 Slayer to the Dwarves makes the Sigmar points an equal 840 vs 840.

Occasionally it feels as if my paint skills get worse the more I practice...still better than bare plastic I guess. 
In the third skirmish: 'The Brewhouse Bash' Dwarves attempt to rescue their favorite brewer who has been captured and locked in one of his own vats by High Elves. I have recently received the ultimate miniature for this Dwarf brewer from Ral Partha, so I might have to make a tweak here. Aside from that the points were Elves 1489 vs Dwarves 1491 in the old system. In Sigmar it would come to 820 vs 1428. The trouble here is once again caused by the fact that both High Elf spearmen and archers are down to very basc troops while most of the Dwarves have gotten rather stronger. The solution might be to add a few spearmen and archers and take 10 of the Shadow Warriors and 13 Swordmasters from the previous scenario here, or fight a lopsided skirmish.

Last but not least is The Battle of Krag Bryn. Here 2992 points of High Elves fight 3162 points of Dwarves while Queen Helgar looks on from the sideline with another 540 points of Dwarves, only joining in if attacked by Elves or if the Dwarf side seems to be winning. n Sigmar terms the large armies translate to 1988 points of High Elves versus 2240 points of dwarves. With a few easy troop switches this is quickly balanced out to 2240 versus 2240 points. With another 540 points of Dwarves looking on.

Did I mention that there are no dragon riders in Grudge of Drong?
Now I'm not sure if I want to balance this out or play it like the original version. I do know that I will need to increase my High Elf Spearman. I have 10 of the plastic warriors and will need another 38 to come to the exact size of Grudge of Drong (30 if I tweak the rules, 20 if I use my Lothern Sea Guard to represent Spearmen). I also need 32 High Elf archers (rather ugly plastic models that are hard to get these days), 1 bolt thrower and 5 extra dragon princess (Dragon Blades). I also needed 3 Great Eagles but a quick visit for sage advice on the Oldhammer Facebook group sorted me out there (more on that in another (hopefully shorter) post. In other words I'll probably be trolling some second-hand sites the coming weeks as scaling miniatures from different manufacturers to Games Workshop tends to lead to disappointment (but advice here is very welcome!).

The nicer part of this project will be the terrain. Grudge of Drong features three cardstock buildings. I have (shall we say) 'obtained' scans of these that I will use for size to make my own buildings from polystyrene or foamboard. I also get to go wild on imagining and building two abandoned mine shafts a bridge, a river, a road and some other easier terrain.

All in all this is going to be an awesome project to run alongside the Shadow Wars stuff and hopefully switching between the two will keep the hobby spirits high. Now do I check if my potential opponent is fully on board with this or should I just start....never mind the Great Eagles are already on order...

Monday, April 10, 2017

Continuing with the Shadow Wars: Armageddon terrain

My hobby time slowed down a bit last week as regular life (and a quick digital visit to The Commonwealth wasteland) caught up with me. Also a bit of project fatigue is setting in, worsened by Games Workshop's botched launch of Shadow Wars: Armageddon. I was not aware it was going to be a limited edition game and its anemic supply sold out before I got a chance to order a copy. Luckily I managed to secure one through a friend. Apparently there is a rulebook in the works now that makes me wonder if I should've bought the box. That is not how I usually spend my hobby money. I will try to be more careful about getting hyped up on announced products before they show up (GW seems to be slightly off form this year, with the rather disappointing Shadows over Hammerhal (compared to Silver Tower) first and now this and to be honest what I've seen of Shadespire is not fueling my enthusiasm). I'm considering trying Test of Honour by Warlord Games because the rules look interesting and the game looks awesome (but it is also sold out, what's up with wargames manufacturing?).

But enough whining and on to hobby time. The second set of buildings has been built, including my first attempt at a polystyrene building with the new tools.

Another three rusty buildings are waiting a drybrush of metallic, a dab of grey and color (and a lot of Ryza rust) to be ready for use in Shadow Wars.
Here is a shot of three extra buildings after rattlecan gun-fu treatment. Nothing fancy here although I did remember to slap my home-made Typhus Corrosion on before spraying the rust tones on.

I liked the way the cardboard tiles looked on the previous set of buildings so I decided to add more tiles to these four.
And this is a quick shot of the four tiles just after production. The green stuff on the base of the double promethean vat is an awful mess. I first decided not to cut a bad circular bit of foamboard to enclose the bottom of the vats. Then tried to use a mixture of paper and PVA to close it (it looked awful) and then I finally tried bits of green stuff that I failed to properly flatten. In the end I will probably solve this with an extra helping of rust.

That is a rusty landing pad. 

Here is the third building, that I cut from polystyrene with the rust colors added. I learned the hard way that sealing the foam with PVA closes up the dents I made with pencil much deeper then I anticipated. For the future I should either cut bigger grooves or forego sealing it and use (air)brushes only on polystyrene. In this case even using some Vallejo washes didn't help really bring out the grooves again. Undeterred I masked the base and salted the landing pad (for another bit of salt weathering and painted it German Grey followed by a bit of Shadow Grey (both Vallejo) to make it look interestingly grey (now there is a paradox ;) ).

Airbrushed on two layers of grey.
I covered the blast hole/elevator/grate in the center with a bit of paper that I held in place with low-tech 'holding in placers' (my fingers to be precise).

The rust on the central blast area was carefully protected (only to screw it up later).
 I ended up with this. The next step was printing an imperial aquila out to size and using a scalpel to remove the inner bits of paper. Once again I made a rookie error by using regular printing paper instead of the slightly heavier paper I actually have for precisely this purpose (sigh). The lightweight paper curls a bit making it a sub-par mask.

Scalpel+paper=mask, now if only I did not destroy this one in an inattentive second...
I went on and applied it anyway using a very light grey (Wolf Grey or Cold Grey I think followed by a bit of white).

Throw mask on subject and hope you don't spray too much paint underneath.

Keep hoping...
I did not really like the end result.

Remove mask and curse the damn grate.
So I grabbed some rust colored airbrush paints (Vallejo Rust and Light Red I believe) and restored the grating. Then I reapplied German Grey on the aquila.

Paint over the failure (the paint is still wet, making the white shine through).
Being impatient I did not really give it enough time to dry before reapplying the aquila a bit higher. As I looked at it, I absentmindedly crumpled the thin piece of paper in my hand, belatedly realizing this was the mask I had painstakingly cut out. Sigh, there was a reason I put in a lot less hobby time this week... In stead of a double aquila top and bottom I went for the stripe mask by Mantic to put in some striping at the bottom of the pad. I also painted a dirty bit of Averland Sunset (Citadel) to the edges of the grating.

Redo the mask, this time a bit higher and add some random hazard striping.
Next step consisted of removing the salt. Also after giving the building a bit of a though I decided to add a small ladder to the the side. You can't expect people to climb this high to get to their transport and if the grate in the center is an elevator they might bump their heads on the bottom of the ship. So a ladder it is. Next up I will probably give the other three buildings a quick paint and then I'll have to switch up because fatigue is definitively setting in and that hurts quality.

Most importantly, add a ladder so you little plastic space men can climb up :).
Still can't wait to see some nasty Genestealers or nefarious Orks climbing over this landing pad.