30 March 2016

Kings of War Epiphany

I've had a sudden epiphany. And I feel dumb for not realizing this sooner. (In my defense, playing KoW at all has only been on my mind for a few weeks now.)

If I'm playing KoW and supplying both armies, then the physical unit sizes are really up to me.

The "stock" KoW sizes are a bit inconvenient for me since the smaller units use "odd" divisions of 20mm bases for total unit width. For example, 5 x 20mm (100mm total) wide for troops & regiments. Hordes are ok for me as they are 200mm wide. The basing plan I've been working with for other games uses 40mmx40mm bases. SO I've got to add an inconvenient filler or some similar solution.

But for either trying to adapt it for a solo game or hosting a game where I supply both armies, I can go 80mm wide for troops & regiments, and 160 wide for hordes. My basic "building block" is 4x(40mmx40mm) so my basic unit is = 2x troops = 1x regiment = 0.5 horde. Works well!

Forced Marsh

The end of the month was a bit of a forced march marsh, but I think I pulled off a respectable little group of figures for a month of work. I did cheat a little, as some of it was started before March, and some of it wasn't painted by me. Not a terribly good photo, I'm afraid.

One Dirach, four Fianna, four Fimm warriors, one bog demon, one giant centipede, and eight moor hounds.

Here are the four old Citadel Fimm warriors I'ev got. Two have scratch built tails.

I had a request for a comparison photo, so here it is. Obvious style differences, but I had never planned on getting any of the old Citadel figures (nor is it likely that I will get more than the last few I have yet to paint. But I'm OK with how they look together.

My concept of the Fomorians/Fimir (I need to settle on just one name...) leans toward the warrior & raid culture, as hinted at. I don't see the Shearl as being included in raids or any sort of fighting at all, so I don't want to include them as some lists/armies do. So I would like to emphasize the difference between the Fimm warriors and the Fianna. I imagine the latter being the the larger & more dominant group, while the latter are the lower class warriors, or the young & experienced out to prove themselves. 

Lastly, the first batch of moor hounds. Old Citadel plastic & metal dire wolves. They were painted when I got them, so I just gave them some minor touch-ups and re-based them. A bit of cheating, but I did put some work into it. These aren't included in old GW Fimir lists, but similar options pop up in most fan lists/material, and I like the relation to myth & literature.

They will also see use with the Undeadish, where they will fit into a division based on the Wild Hunt of Herne, or Kerenos of Moorcock's "Fhoi Myore" from the Corum books. I had considered painting them as described by Moorcock, but I think the black hounds are a better choice.

So that's my Month of Marsh! Well, that plus the 'shrooms posted yesterday. I may get a chance to base them up, but that's unlikely, and I'm going to be busy and probably not get anything else done the next few days.

Looking forward to April, I'm still thinking about some giants. But I'd also like to continue working on the cyclopian bog raiders. And undead. And Marienburg mercenaries. So... really I'm not sure. Other than the giants -- definitely one or two of those.

29 March 2016

From Out of the Mists...

Quick update... Finished two old Citadel Fimir and the unpainted 'shrooms sent to me by Deafnala. (Now I just need to figure out how I want to base the latter!)

Lost in the Marsh

Well, my plans for the Month of Marsh have gotten bogged down as I've been swamped with other obligations.

I am still making one last valiant push for the theme/challenge before the month ends. Plans for more of my converted Reaper Fomorians/Fimir really fell through. However, I have had the unexpected good (to say the least) fortune of coming into an almost complete collection of original Citadel Fimir thanks to a friend.

So after some paint stripping and tail replacing, I've started a few...

My last minute goal for the Month of Marsh includes the Dirach (left) and the test Fimm (right) as well as some other stuff. Both are still unfinished, obviously.

Experimenting with many washes again. I wanted to keep the Dirach darker than the rest. And dirty. They are daemonologists, and I imagine him as being something like Kreacher in the Harry Potter films (haven't read the books,) muttering darkly to himself as he goes about his business, with little regard for others. The lowly Fimm was more of an experiment, and I wanted to give it a bit of a less healthy, jaundiced look than the armoured (Fianna) Fimm I've previously worked on (the Reaper conversions.) As I layered washes, it started to take on a look that reminded me of oldschool, washed out fantasy illustrations. So I kept going with that and I'm pretty happy with it so far. Unfortunately, none of that detail nor texture nor color comes out well in digital photos with my phone. So you'll have to take my word for it. ;)

So for the remainder of the "Month of Marsh" challenge, my hope is to finish the Dirach, the test warrior, plus his three colleagues, and the remainder of my 'shrooms from Deafnala (which I have also already started -- sorry, no pics yet.) That's more than a little optimistic.

21 March 2016

Holy Bog-burgers, I Played a Game!

Actually, three games! I managed to shirk my daytime responsibilities this past Saturday and meet up with some friends I haven't seen in far too long. They've been playing Kings of War since the new edition came out, and although I had my doubts about the rules I figured it was worth a try.

I was pleasantly surprised at the gameplay.

I had initially drawn up a list for my Marienburg mercenaries, but at the last minute decided to switch to a one-dimensional Undead list. If I just spent the past year painting all that monochrome, I was going to see them get some action on the (tiny) field of battle!

Mid battle vs. Abyssals -- doing well in the center and right, but will the left collapse before the Undead can pull off a victory?

My list was: One zombie horde. Two skeleton hordes. Two soul reaver troops. One zombie troll (ogre, in my case) horde. One revenant knight regiment. One liche king with bane chant (3). Two necromancers with bane chant (2).

My opponents were Abyssals (lost,) Abyssal Dwarfs (lost,) and Undead (won.) It was a pretty evil round of games, obviously. We played three scenarios from the rules. The free PDF doesn't come with these, so I don't remember the names, but the first was to occupy the center of the battlefield, the second was to hold a random number of objectives on the battlefield, and the last was a combination of the objectives plus casualties.

Abyssal dwarfs dominating the flanks, thanks to deadly mortar fire and... thrown mutant dogs?

As far as the rules, I went into it with mixed feelings. But I was pleasantly surprised so far. The mechanics are pretty simple & straight forward. It's quick to pick up the rules and relatively easy to keep track of your army. Maneuver, flanks, and positions are important -- it seems like you to need to think of the whole battlefield plan rather than relying only on a super-hero, death star, or game winning spell from what I saw. There were definitely some more powerful units/monsters/characters, but they were neither invincible nor all-powerful. There was a pretty good flow to the game, but it tends to swing back and forth a bit since each player only acts in their own turn. The only thing I ever did during an opponent's turn was put down wound or disordered markers. I think that's one of the chief downfalls of the game design. Fortunately, game play is pretty quick, though, so you aren't waiting for long. Might be a bigger issue in larger games, though.

I've seen a number of complaints about the mechanic of not removing individual troops. That never came to mind. It's simply not WFB, so I never thought that was something that was missing. Units do fight at "full strength" but combats run their course pretty quickly, and there's enough going on anyway -- units moving to flanks, wavering after a nerve test, casualties mounting up, etc. that there was still a sense of direction to a units fate. In fact, wavering is a big deal.

Rules and armies have a reasonable amount of special rules, so the game is easy to pick up and understanding what's going on with your opponents army is relatively easy to figure out. One of my pet peeves about WFB was that every month or two you had to learn a pile of new rules for the latest army, let alone sort out how they dealt with all of the other rules, how to counter them, etc. Each army in KoW still seems to have it's own flavor, though. For example, a lot of the Abyssals had fury & regeneration, which really kept them aggressive in combat. My undead had the combo of shambling and surge, and were largely immune to wavering. Abyssal dwarfs had crazy shooting (mortars and thrown mutant dogs??) to soften the enemy and break formation a bit.

Undead on Undead action. Zombies are chanting for brains... but none to be found.

Not my favorite game, but it had a decent balance of detail and easy play-ability (leaning more towards the latter) that made it fun. More detail and character than something like Hordes of the Things, but much simpler than WFB. And the rules are much cleaner than either of those. My friends have been playing since KoW2 came out, and they said it had enough nuance to keep them interested (and from what little I've seen so far, I can see that) but also accessible enough to a new or casual gamer. It doesn't feel like you have to devote a large chunk of your time (and money) to keeping up with army books, "killer combos" and internet strategies to play without getting tabled all the time like WFB or Warmahordes.

That's only from three games, so I may be proved wrong or learn otherwise. I do hope to play some more. Like I said, I had fun. That's really what matters (along with the crushing of enemies, driving them before you, and the lamentations...) So... more KoW in my future? If I can manage it, yes.

Giant Centipede

I quickly and poorly painted an old Ral Partha giant centipete model. The eyes are sculpted like that (recessed pupils) and after I took the photo I repainted them flat black to hide that fact. I also gave the centipede a nice gloss varnish. Looks a little better, but not worth taking a new photo. ;)

Oldhammer -- it's not always pretty, and my painting didn't help any.

Fimir! Fimir?

Thanks to one of my friends at the Kings of War day (the host, in fact) I am now the proud owner of an almost complete set of the old GW Fimir figures. I didn't really get a chance to look at them til today, but it looks like all nine figures, plus a duplicate Fimm -- so this will work out well for two units of 3 or 4, plus a Dirach & Meargh. Oddly, when I was looking through the old catalogs, one figure is listed as different things depending on which catalog/ad. Looks more like a warrior (Fimm) than a Dirach, and I don't think I would need a second Dirach anyway -- so that's what I'm calling him!

The one thing I would like to get, however, is a proper Meargh head (aka "Head 3".) A long shot, but... does anyone out there in the internets have a spare one?

Comparing these figures to my own conversions and sculpted heads & tails, I'm pleased that there is so much inconsistency of scale & proportion within the very small Citadel range that they will fit OK with what I've done, and have encouraged me to worry even less about consistant scale in plans for including more figures in my own conversions & army.

17 March 2016

Stalled in the Marsh

Well, my March/Marsh conversions have stalled out a bit. I need some more of the Bones orcs, and was considering a few other figures (marsh trolls, etc.) and went to the local game store (Warzone-Matrix, in Cleveland) to pick some up. But all of their Bones figures seem to be marked anywhere from 180% - 250% of regular retail price.

I asked about the pricing and was told that I must have been looking at the "online price". Nowadays, most of the world calls that "the price." I realize it's up to each retailer to pick the final price they sell at, but when everyone else is selling at what used to be called "suggested retail price" (or lower if it's a discounter or someone is having a sale,) then it may not be a good idea to mark things up so much. If I pick up enough figures, I can have them shipped for free from a number of sources, including direct from Reaper.

I'l like to support local game stores, but not at double the price.

The only other stores I can think of that sell Reaper are a few hours away. So it looks like mail-order for me, which means it may be another week before I see the figures.

15 March 2016

Gigantapril? Ap-giant-ril?

I should dedicate April to painting up some giants. There's Orctober, Deadcember, Marsh.... Ap-giant-ril? Gigantapril? Aprilmongous? I don't know.

(Clockwise) Reaper Colossal Skeleton, Marauder Giant, Andrea 90mm Landsknecht, Marauder Giant, Warploque Giant, Ultraforge Mercenary Giant.

I would love to add the Otherworld Giant and the Black Scorpion Giant to the collection, but they're both just a bit out of my price range. I also wouldn't mind getting the last metal giant Citadel made, and one of the old C28 giants. (Possibly open to trading for one of the Marauder giants, above!)

11 March 2016

A Tail of Four Fomorians

My basic building block is groups of four 40x40 bases for most infantry. So this is my first little milestone, four Fomorians/Fimir.

That's one prototype, three with cast heads but individually sculpted tails.

I had some ups & downs with my first two-part mold, trying to cast a couple of basic tail designs that I could use for future figures.

First, I mixed up far too much silicone. So the first half of the mold (top) is way too thick, and I still had enough left to pour a single "cup" mold of one of the preferred heads. (Which is an OK thing, I guess because those molds deteriorated quickly -- though I've probably got more than enough heads at this point.)

Next, my first casting (left) didn't work so well. I knew I should have created some vents, but for whatever reason, I decided I preferred the trial & error method of learning. So, I removed the failed castings and then cut some vents (right.) Below is the second cast -- success! (Though not without an air bubble or two.)

So after this whole process -- a few one-piece block molds, and my first two-piece, plus building an initial unit of four figures, where do things stand?

1. A Fomorian/Fimir army is GO. I still need to work out things like what to do for everything besides the armored warriors/Fianna Fimm. But I can see that it's within reach. I will start with roughly a "division" -- about four units of four figures, plus a general, and one or two critters. So with the figures above plus the bog demon, I'm about 25% into that first goal.

2. Casting is GO. I'm still working on refining technique, checking out further materials and tools, and getting better castings. But I've got over the big hump of starting out and achieving a degree of success. I have the equipment for a pressure pot, but nowhere to use the air compressor. I've seen a manual bike pump used before, so I think I will try that. I hope that the pressure pot will produce better molds & castings. I think my next step will be to try molding & casting a full figure or two. That will give me some further practice in all aspects -- sculpting, molding, and casting.

Oooh, and just a week away from (hopefully) getting to play a few games! It has been years since I've played anything, and just as longs since I've seen a lot of my old friends, so I'm really looking forward to this!

10 March 2016

Get Your Smooth On

New silicone arrived. I'm going to try my first two part mold in the next few days, maybe a small one for those two tails I posted.

I like how the packaging urgently implores you, "MAKE IT NOW!"

I've also been thinking I should just go ahead and do something to finish this really old & incomplete sculpt. It started off as a one-off, but then I cut it up and reworked it to make it castable. (The arms are separate and just held on with poster-tack in the photo.) But I sort of lost track of what I waned to do with this, and don't have quite the enthusiasm for it anymore. So maybe just a couple of open hands gesturing, except... I'm not sure how well that will work when the plane of the arms/sleeves and plane of the hands are fixed 90 degrees from each other. But, on the other hand, that will make this a good learning experience for mold making, I suppose. But on the other, other hand, I'm not certain what I would do with more than one of him, so maybe I shouldn't waste the silicone on a figure I don't have a use for at the moment. Especially when there are other (unsculpted, as of yet) things I do have a use for.

08 March 2016

Marching On - Further Progress

Further progress...

Once I finish four figures, I've hit the first goal for gaming building blocks.

I think I have a couple of tails that I will clean up and cast. After a bunch of rejects, I've decided I like the tails leaner and simpler. Figure shown for scale. He's one of the two metal (rather than Bones) figures I will be converting. I foresee a rough time dealing with the metal. I've been spoiled by how easy the Bones material is to hack up -- though it takes a bit of work to get it clean of little bits of plastic, smooth finish, etc. 

Continuing to work on some commission figures as well.

04 March 2016

Fomorian the Second

Finished a second Fomorian/Fimir. This one uses another "reject" club tail sculpt. I did end up sculpting the feet on this one, too. The flesh turned out a little too green for my preference. But I would like to have a bit of subtle variation in flesh tones, so I can live with it on this one figure.

I have started chopping up a third. Here's the start. My plans are to replace the weapon, replace the feet, cut the spikes off of the pauldrons (my one complaint about these orcs is that half of them have pauldrons -- I would prefer my Fimm without any,) most likely cut the spikes off of the shield face as well, carve out the middle third of the lower armour in the back to accommodate a tale, and, of course, add a tail. May be one more one-off tail.

I continue to procrastinate in regard to sculpting some decent, castable tails. But it needs done. Soon. Besides, sculpting individual tails is even worse.

03 March 2016

Hitting the Marsh Running

I've been prepping with various aspects of the project, so I've decided to hit the Month of Marsh theme pretty heavy. So here's my start!

Bog Demon done.

Started working on my second Fomorian. (Fimir. Whatever you'd like to call it.) Reaper Bones orc with spear (unless otherwise noted, they're all Tre Manor sculpts.) I cut the spear, feet, and head off. Replaced the spear with a less, er, flaccid one (a bit of heavy florist wire and a plastic spear head from some old Citadel kit.) The head is one of my recent castings, and the tail -- which isn't really visible -- is one that I sculpted but don't have an inclination to cast. I still need to sculpt the feet, and do a bit of sculpting to blend the head with the body a bit. 

And lastly, I dug out some old boggy themed figures (already painted) to find a home with the Fomorian raiders. I have two more of the smaller mud elementals (old Crucible figures from Ral Partha) that I've already base coated. I can't recall where the "Swamp Thing" looking guy in the middle came from. At some point these may get rebased.

02 March 2016

Month of Marsh

Inspired by Fimm McCool's "Month of Marsh," I'm going to follow suit and focus on my own bog dwelling miscreants in March as well. Hopefully it goes over much better than "Deadcember," in which I painted pretty much nothing at all.

My list of possible goals for this month of misty malefactors...

1. Finish the Bog Demon
2. Cast at least three different tail sculpts
3. Complete five more converted Fomorians
4. Paint one more marsh monster (still need to decide which one)
5. Compose Fomorian army list for Shadow Storm/Hail Caesar
6. Build a few larger swamp/bog terrain pieces
7. Sculpt top secret monster (idea I've wanted to work on for a quite a while)
8. Get out and hike around some of our own local wetlands

01 March 2016

Casting, Dirty Needles, and the State of the Attic

I finally got a bit of time to do some more casting, and cranked out some more Fomorian heads. I was aided by a small but important equipment upgrade...

16 gauge industrial needles. I also found some cheap syringes, but I think next time I will get at least 5cc, if not larger. Made a big difference. Previously I had been using sharp 21 gauge medical needles with 3cc syringes that I had left over from architecture school (used to use them for dispensing PVA glue on delicate parts of models. These 16 gauge needles have the advantage of being dull tipped, so I won't accidentally poke into the mold. The resin flows so much better, and far easier to clean (and thus, get more use out of each needle.)

My attic is a mess, but I managed to stake out some space for a dedicated (for the moment) casting table. I was previously doing it on my (as yet, unused for games) gaming table, which was flirting with disaster.

Casting to the left, and beyond that is my sculpting & painting desk. Gaming table in the right corner. I've started setting up for that Pleasant Surprises skirmish. But now I'm stuck on the idea that I need to put together some more terrain. :roll: The big mess under the gaming table is mostly casting and terrain supplies.

Back to the casting of heads... I think I'm going to sell off a few sets of 10 heads for relatively cheap, and use the proceeds for some new silicone for molds. I used Smooth-On Ooomoo 30 for the heads, but would like to try Mold Star 15 next. Sales will come with the caveat that these are first time, amateur casts and have their fair share of bubbles -- and thus require work to get them into finished condition.