Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tutorial: Dwarven Warrior from Middle-earth

This week my attention turned to some more Middle-earth miniatures for our ongoing RPG campaign. I need Dwarves!

I picked up a box of Dwarf Warriors from eBay for about $10 off of retail...not a bad deal I suppose. The box contained 24 plastic Dwarves. I only needed 21 for the campaign, so those got clipped and assembled.

The castings were good and they went together quickly. I needed one standard bearer, so I cut the two-handed axe off of one of the models and inserted a fantasy banner from Reaper.

So...starting with the bare plastic model, I went ahead and put the basing sand on straight away.

Primed in white. I wanted a light surface to paint on. Dwarves are small, and they really need to pop on the table or your eye skips right over them. So I'm going to try to stick with some lighter colors (or as light as I can get away with, anyway).

A black ink wash. I do this to see where the detail on the figure is. Gives me a better chance of not missing anything on the mini.

I started with the skin and used Foundry's standard 3 skin tones with a wash of GW Ogryn Flesh wash in between the first and second tones. I also did the shield at this particular reason other than painting 200 Dwarf fingers all in a row is boring. I needed a break.

Metal next. The armor is Reaper Aged Bronze with a P3 Armor Wash followed with a drybrush of Reaper Tarnished Brass. The helm is Reaper Aged Gold with a wash of the dark orange ink/matt medium I mixed up a month ago. It also has a highlight of Bright Gold. Iron trim and the axe head are Reaper Shadowed Steel with a highlight of Reaper Polished Silver.

Next I did leather, cloth and wood. The jerkin is in Foundry's Rich Butternut paint series, while the shirt is Foundry's Tomb Blue. I used Vallejo New Wood for the shaft of the axe.

Finally I moved onto the hair and used Reaper's excellent red head paint series (which includes the Carrot Top paint color...excellent name!).

At this point I finished off the base with orange and off-white, shot the fig with Tester's Dullcoat and then added the static grass with some white glue.

And done.

I tell you...after doing that cavalry last week, Dwarves are a godsend. They're small, and simple, and quick as lightening to pump out. These GW sculpts and casts are very smooth and a pleasure to work with.

I'll post pics of the entire finished company in a week or two.

'Til next time.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tutorial: Khandish Horsemen

All right! Back to some Middle-earth goodness.

This time around, I'm painting up a couple of boxes of Khandish Horsemen. The men of Khand were allied with Sauron during the War of the Ring...but that doesn't make them all bad, does it?

These are metal models, with the rider cast with the horse. Due to the spin casting process, this sort of model requires a set of horse legs to be cast separately. Honestly, this sucks. The mould gaps are uniformly terrible.

Case in point. Yuck.

Well, there's nothing for it. You glue and then gap fill with green stuff. Now, I hate using green stuff...and filling gaps in general. Any way I can get around it (e.g. epoxy glue, gap-filling CA glue...whatever), I do...and have. However, this time around, the gaps are just too egregious.

Here is a horseman glued, filled, filed, based and ready for paint.

In are the lot of them.

I started by airbrushing on the handy-dandy new Vallejo acrylic black primer.

Then I did some under-shading (or whatever people are calling the technique these days). Essentially, you pre-shade the model by spraying white just from the top. I kind of like it.

One of the advantages of having the rider sculpted with the horse is that you get these wonderful, dynamic poses you wouldn't get with a separately cast rider.

I then did a light airbrush of dark brown over some of the horses...just to lay down a base coat. The under-shading is very noticeable.

Too bad I'll overpaint a lot of the shading subtlety later in the project.

I then airbrushed some other blocking for the cloth, yellow for the leather and red-brown for the saddle cloth.

Getting down to brass first. I used the Foundry Oriental Skin set. I spent a little time on the face of each figure. I've found over the years and if you can get a passable face onto a figure, the rest of the painting project is gravy...or something like that.


I then moved onto the cloth. I used a darker blue for the cloak and a slightly lighter blue for the flag. Leather and metal were next.

Switching gears, I moved to the horses. All of these guys are riding pretty dark mounts. I did several black horses, some bays, and a dapple grey for the leader. Generally, horse painting started with a dark wash over the undercoat and then once that was dry...highlight layers of paint. Tack got red-brown and then the white tassels were added. I then put some white blazes and socks on a few of the horses.

I then went back to the rider and freehanded on a crescent moon symbol to each flag (I'm using these figures in my Middle-earth RPG, and the moon symbol has some significance for the players). I painted the saddle cloth a complimentary dark orange to set off the dark blue of the main figure.

The last things to do were the bases. Same as always here...brown, orange, off-white and then static grass. A shot of Dullcoat and these boys could be put to bed.

Now, to be honest, I really didn't put as much effort into these guys as I should have. I got part-way into the project and came to the realization that the casts were really rough. I hadn't done a great job getting all the pieces cleaned up for painting, and as a result, the whole project started getting a little ramshackle. That's fine by me. In the end, these are simply table-ready enemies for use in our RPG game. To that end, they get the job done, and they provide the Middle-earth flavor I'm looking for.

I'm not too surprised that these figures weren't up to GW's normal casting standards for their Lord of the Rings line. The Khandish figures (which didn't make a single appearance in any of the movies) have to be at the bottom of GW sales pile. Nonetheless, I think the sculpts are characterful and I was happy to knock these guys out.

Dwarves are on the table next!

'Til next time.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Prime Severius Warmachine List and Analysis

First off, let me say that if you aren't a hardcore Warmachine player, this week's hobby table blog post will hold no interest for you. I apologize in advance! I'll be posting a painting tutorial for Khandish Horsemen next come on back then!

Now, on to Warmachine...

I've been playing Menoth on and off for five years and have only ever had mediocre success with them. I've enjoyed collecting them...but I've really struggled with their intricate play style. Order of operations and getting the right match ups with my opponents pieces has always caused trouble for me.

This is unlike my experience with playing Cryx this year. I win with Cryx more often than not, likely because they suit my play style better. Order of operations aren't so important and they can consistently punch opponents in the face without much difficulty. You can play sloppy and still win with them.

In any event, after struggling with playing my 35pt Tier 4 Harbinger list in many, many Steamroller scenarios, I've switched to a 35pt pSevvy list and am finally meeting with consistent success.

Here's the list:

Prime Severius +6
^Blessing of Vengeance -7
^Hierophant -2

Avatar of Menoth -11
4 Choir -2
Errant Seneschal -2
6 Errant Exemplars -5
Errant Officer and Standard -2
Covenant of Menoth -2
Vassal Mechanik -1
Vassal of Menoth -2
Rhoven & Guards -4
3 Wracks -1

When playing this list, pSevvy stays in the backfield maintaining Defender's Ward (Errants), Vision (BoV) and Eye of Menoth (self). He pulls Wrack focus as needed. When the opportunity presents itself to clear enemy infantry or nasty solos through the BoV arc node, he can deliver 2x Ashes to Ashes (usually at +3 damage...Eye + BoV Affinity) by letting go of one upkeep (Def Ward), or two (Vision) if he needs to boost a damage roll.

Blessing of Vengence with Vassal of Menoth holds the center of the map or scenario objective with No Shooting (from Choir), Vision and Enliven (from Vassal). As an additional protection, he has the melee pushback from his shield. When the Avatar needs to go to bat, he loses No Shooting.

Meanwhile, the Avatar stands back with the Mechanik and No Shooting waiting to countercharge. Alternatively, he's off to the side to drag opponents away from scenario objectives with Gaze. When he's called upon to lay waste, he usually hits/damages at +3/+3 with Eye and Choir.

The Errants, with Defender's Ward, either tarpit in the objective zone, or shoot infantry, or charge 'jacks, or apply pressure by maneuvering on the opposite side of a the situation dictates. It's not unusual in a single game for these guys to do all of these functions. This is obviously a very versatile unit that your opponent will have to concentrate effort on to eliminate or neutralize. I like the minimum unit more than the max sized unit simply because with fewer pieces advance-deployed in front of the rest of my army, the chance that I screw up my 'jack and Covenant advance lanes is lowered (we usually play with a lot of terrain on the table, which adds to traffic congestion.)

The Covenant moves to the center of the map as quickly as possible and lays down No Knockdown/Stationary. Once the enemy caster is within 10", it's usually best to switch to No Spells.

Finally Rhoven and company either clear Sevvy's line of sight for Ashes to Ashes, or they bugger Hordes 'locks with Animi clearing, or they take scenario flags/control points/etc, or they engage troublesome enemy solos. The reach-weapon master infantry meat they bring to the list has come in very handy in several games now.

Well, this is the list that finally has me loving Menoth. It's been a long time coming! Fortunately, Warmachine is so well balanced, there are certainly lists that can tear this one to pieces...I just haven't run into it yet. And until I do...go Severius!

'Til next time.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Four-player SAGA

So, a number of players at our local club pre-ordered the SAGA rules from Gripping Beast...and rulesets all got delivered two weeks ago. Good excuse for a club game!

We played the four-player scenario out of these new Dark Ages rules last Tuesday night. Dave (on the left) played Welsh. Terry and Mark (in the middle) shared the Saxon command. Scott (cursing his dice on the right) played Normans. I took Viking duties again.

We each played 4-point warbands. I was the only one to take Thralls (low quality troops) and this left me with a dice deficit from the beginning of the game. Not sure if I'd do this again, though the Thralls we able to do a good job whittling down Scott's Normans while shielding my Bondi warriors.

In the end, Dave eked out a slim victory with 58 points to Scott's 57. Terry/Mark scored in the mid-40s, and I brought up the rear with just 36. But at least my Warlord survived...which was more than some of the other guys could say!

The SAGA system continues to impress, and we'll be very happy when the campaign rules come out (rumored for the next release in the line).

Still plugging away on those Khandish horsemen models from GW's LotR line.

'Til next time.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Wagon Boy

As I've mentioned a few times, I'm running a role playing game in the Middle-earth setting. We don't get together very often for this...but it has been going for a while now, and we've recently added a new player to the group. Chris plays "wagon boy," an apprentice priest character. The other guys are happy to have him around, because he's good at dispelling stress, fatigue and wounds...and carrying stuff.

Painted up a new figure for him this week...

This is a Reaper fig, and admittedly, while not very Middle-earth-ish, we do like having this guy around.

It's a whimsical figure, but I really like it.

Getting back to the serious side of our campaign, the guys are starting to wrap up in Moria and soon they will be traveling to new lands. That means it's time to start painting up some new potential enemies. I started into a couple of boxes of Khandish cavalry. I always regret starting projects like this, because, especially with horses, they are always more work than I think they'll be.

I'll post a painting tutorial on these guys in a couple of weeks (I hope).

'Til next time.