Sunday, 27 April 2014

Moving on

Hi there and apologies for the (very) long blogging hiatus. For the last three years I have been pretty much absent from blogging and more involved on miniature forums, hence the lack of posts in here.

In recent weeks, I've resumed blogging, but in a new address: A Fistful of Minis. Pop over and have a look.

See you there!


Friday, 28 October 2011

On the beach

Hey there,

I've finally cracked on with some terrain preparation for my pirates (they still haven't arrived, so I'm settling for the native creatures and temples for the time being). I had bought two sets of palm trees and a moss ball (usually for aquariums) a long time ago - as mentioned here.

The palm trees were bought here and here for a really good price.

Also, since I had already tons of lizardmen and other reptilian creatures alike, the time felt right to kick-off with the project (yet another one in hundreds that I've started!).

First, with the bases:

I used foam board and cut it into several bits, with all sorts of sizes and shapes, for variation.

Then, I put PVA glue on it and based it with sand.

After it dried, it was time for some colouring. I used Wilko's tester pots.
So, the colours were:

Nutmeg spice (same as GW Calthan Brown) - for the base;
Coffee (GW Vomit Brown) - for the first highlight;
Milky Coffee (GW Dheneb Stone) - for the last highlight.

Then it was time to place the vegetation. I had two types of palm trees and some bushes from the moss ball. One word of praise for a moment: moss balls are great. Each ball has a minimum of 50 bundles of bushes and each bundle has 4 plants. So, I cut each plant from its bundle so it could be placed anywhere within the base.
As for the palm trees, they were perfect, as they come with a small appendix at the root, which can be cut and then used to fit the base in a steady way.

As for the base itself, the reason why I decided to go for the foam board instead of a card board, was that I could create more stability when placing the trees and bushes on the bases.

So, the first step was to pierce a few small holes on the base (I used a compass for this, but anything will do, as long as you don't pierce all the way down through the base). Then I made sure the bushes and trees would fit the holes. Finally, I put a bit of superglue on the root of the bush or tree and stuck it in.

Before moving on from this, I placed a few ruined statues to give it some character (the ruins are from Scibor -,shop.php?=872).

Some of the bases were left with a bit of space in the middle so they could accommodate models that could be hiding.

With that out of the way, I moved on to work on the board. The colours of my actual board are quite versatile for lots of different terrain, but not that suitable for a beach or desert. Fortunately, I still had a wooden board left which was big enough to cover half of the whole board. The other half would be covered by sea.
So, I placed the blank board on top of the big one and worked on it.
Since sand would take a long while to dry and stay firm on the board, I went for an alternative route: a stone effects can. I sprayed it all over and used a hairdryer (when my girlfriend wasn't looking) to speed up the dry process (2 minutes, altogether). I only covered a few patches and not the whole board to give some variety in texture.

In the end, the "stony bits" left by the can were enough to simulate real sand, with the advantage of being much sturdier and durable than actual sand.

It was time for the painting. I basically went for the same colour scheme as the one for the bases (Wilko's Nutmeg spice, Coffee and Milky Coffee). Needless to say, the tester pots are the best thing in the world for this kind of task. They're cheap and big enough to do the job. And in the end there's still loads left.

Et voilà!

Finally, they have a place they can call home...

Anyway, it was time to test the waters (literally!).

Since I was mad enough to get the infamous GW Dreadfleet (which I still haven't even assembled, let alone played), I thought I could try the sea mat that came with the game as a seascape for my board. Fortunately, it actually worked quite well (not perfectly, but hey ho....). I placed it over the other half of the board - which is lower - and folded it so it could fit in with the "sandy" board. Folding the mat was also useful as its back is light blue, which could represent the waves crashing on the shore.

The sea mat itself was quite a revelation. It can cover a big portion of the board if necessary, but it also looks quite realistic. And it even gave me the idea of placing some of the bases with the palm trees on the sea mat as little islands.

From there to figuring out that I could also give the same use to other pieces of terrain, like GW's Eternity Stair, was only a small step (no pun intended).

Well, hope you've enjoyed this utterly looong post. I will be painting some more bits and pieces, like the Dreadfire Portal to use as an island. And then, I'll get myself some pirates and ships! Oh yeah - or shall I say "oh Yarr"!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Miniatures - Citizens

In between games, I managed to crack on with some painting. My priority was getting some of the town citizens done, so I painted the following miniatures:

Merchant and Scribe, from GW. They look very charismatic and not so out of place as I previously feared.

A few characters from Mordheim's Frenzied mob, again from GW. I really love this pack, as it comes with really cool miniatures that can work as peasants, beggars or even main characters for my town campaigns.

Potion seller and the village idiot, respectively from Reaper and Hasselfree miniatures. I was a bit disappointed with the end result on the girl's face, especially the eyes... as for the village idiot, I felt I didn't do justice to the wonderful sculpt, but hey, they both do the job for the time being.

Finally, not really town related, but not totally out of place either, I painted these dwarfs from Black Tree Design.

Inspired by this amazing thread, I went for a more colourful blend of different characters than usual to give a bit of variation to my dwarf army.

Hope you like these!

The Dangerous Path

Last week, while I was still busy finishing off a few more miniatures (pictures to follow), I was approached by my girlfriend who suggested we could have a game on the board (!). Like a famous rapper once said, these opportunities only come once in a lifetime (hopefully not), so I decided to take it without even hesitating.

I quickly prepared a wilderness game on the board, spreading woods, lichens, fences and markers and quickly thought of which type of game to play. Since the rules for Forge Quest are still far from being finished (although Tim has been very helpful in providing me with ideas, especially from his Necropolis game), I thought of making this game simple by using the basic structure of the Fighting Fantasy books that I love so much ever since I was a kid.

Before getting into the rules, I gave a number of characters for my girlfriend to choose from and she decided to play with a female ranger, who she named Emi. To make things more interesting - and since she likes dogs so much - I lined her up with a canine companion, called Ludo.

As far as the stats were concerned, we went for the Fighting Fantasy points system: skill, stamina and luck. She was entitled to have two actions per round and I scattered several scenic pieces on the board to be used as markers, so every time her character would get near one of those, she would have to roll a D20 and check on the Encounters Table which creature she would have to face. Sometimes she would stumble upon an enemy, others a potential ally and so on. We agreed that if it was a neutral character, she would have to test her luck to reach a result (e.g. encountering a wizard, sorcerer, warrior, etc.). In the case of encountering an ally, she had the option to take the ally with her (up to 4 allies in the course of a game).

After agreeing on the generic rules, I came up with the scenario:
The rangers of Naull Falla, the southern watchtower needed some extra reinforcements after their lost battle against the Orcs (I also need to make a report for this epic game too...) so they asked for the experienced and highly skilled Emi to step forwards and help them in fighting the menacing orcs. So, after a week crossing the vast forest of Wildeor Moore, Emi and her loyal companion, Ludo, reached the borders of the woods with the watchtower almost in sight. The last time she had met someone on her journey, they told her to watch out for the forest dwellers, as these creatures are extremely territorial and can sense the presence of intruders for miles.

Game report
The first character Emi met was Yhedra, the witch and her dog Boner (a bit rude, I know...). A luck roll ended well, as Yhedra proved to be a potential ally. Although Emi didn't take the witch on her journey, she got a very useful advice from the old woman: whatever you do, do not enter the abandoned house in the woods... Emi thanked her for the warning and moved on.

By then, three forest dwellers had started tracking down Emi and Ludo. Aware of this, the ranger made sure she would not waste time before reaching the watchtower.

On her way, she approached an abandoned mine, possibly belonging to some dwarf miners. After a few moments though, Emi felt the floor moving without apparent reason and all of sudden she saw a huge creature rising from the ground: a mudman! Her first combat was going to be a tough one, not only because of the formidable mudman's strength but also because it is quite an epic task to actually being able to strike it! Using all her forces and her invaluable help from Ludo the dog, Emi fought the mudman relentlessly until the monster disappeared for good.

Still regaining forces from the strenuous fight with the mudman, Emi and Ludo sensed something foul in the air. And soon they saw what it was: two goblins who were lurking behind a fence near the abandoned house prepared to attack the fearless ranger and her dog. One of the goblins in particular was extremely dangerous, wielding his giant mushroom and releasing poisonous gases from its pores. Emi was taking huge risks here, as she knows how fast goblins attack and how there is always the chance of more goblins joining the party! Arrows flew and then close combat was inevitable. Emi prevailed again, but her stamina had been severely affected.

Some hours later, still on her way to the watchtower, she found a fountain in a little meadow. Intrigued, Emi approached it not knowing that someone was watching. Luckily, the person in question was Benvon, the old wizard from the South.

He too had been travelling in the woods for a few days and was quite happy to see someone. Emi saw this as a great opportunity to make an strong ally, so she asked Benvon to join her and Ludo in their quest towards the watchtower.
And so they walked together, occasionally asking themselves who they would find in the bastion.
Before that, though, they saw the abandoned house Yhedra had warned against, so Emi said to Benvon to not enter it and instead go round the building. Little did they know that behind one of the walls was a hideous river troll awaiting for its next meal. This time Emi made the most of her new ally as they both fought together, eventually overcoming the giant beast. "River trolls in these parts? Very strange...", said Benvon as he cleaned his pipe.
A few meters away, there was yet another encounter for our adventurers, as they stumbled upon a faun. A luck roll was also successful, which meant the faun wouldn't harm Emi and her partners. And how can a faun harm someone you may ask? Well, if there is an unsuccessful luck roll when facing a faun, he will play a hypnotic tune with his magic flute and send the affected characters to the starting point of the game!

Saying goodbye to the faun, Emi, Benvon and Ludo rushed towards their final destination, especially after Ludo had sensed that the forest dwellers were getting closer.
Fortunately, the watchtower was only a few meters away. They passed the main gate and were surprised that the tower looked abandoned. "Something is terribly wrong", said Emi. And she was right.

Jumping from behind the walls, four orcs waved their massive weapons and savagely attacked the ranger and the wizard. Even though the orcs' weapons looked a bit primitive, they were nonetheless lethal enough for the mightiest of warriors. Attack after attack, Emi and Benvon fought their toughest opponents with all their strength until only one orc was left. Mighty magic from the wizard and a supreme dexterity from Emi finished off the last monster.

"We do a good team, don't we?", smiled Benvon, as he picked up the broken pieces of what was left of his pipe. "That's alright; I got that pipe as a cheap deal in a dwarf's shop, near Medgrim." the wizard joked.
But all of a sudden, they heard a cracking noise behind the bushes and immediately thought it was the forest dwellers. "Here we go again", murmured Emi. But then Ludo started wagging his tail and approached the bushes: the rangers were here! Emi and Benvon sighed with relief and put down their weapons as they greeted their allies. Apparently, the rangers had been tracking down those orcs since they saw them escaping the bogs, months ago. Now, thanks to Emi and her companions, the watchtower was a safe place again.
But for how long?...

Quick review:
Well, the game went on for a good one hour and a half and there was never a dull moment in it. My girlfriend played with the main character and her allies and I played with the forest dwellers, tracking her down during the game and any enemy that she confronted in her adventure.
For a fast-paced game, the simple rules from Fighting Fantasy were the best option. It also helped the fact that this was a quest game with just one, two characters as opposed to a skirmish game involving five or six different characters.
As for the random encounters, we had quite a lot of fun. I had written down a list of twenty possible encounters but they were only decided by a die roll, which meant that the result was always a surprise for both of us. Among other things, we decided that Emi could be used in the following game with the wizard as her ally, which adds more to the overall narrative.
The other interesting thing was the fact that we came up with a lot of rules while playing the game. Just comes to show that the best way to brush up the rules and stats is to actually play the game instead of sitting down and thinking things through without the empirical knowledge of gaming and seeing how things actually happen.
This game, simple as it was, brought me very good memories from those days I would play Legend of Zelda for hours, living those endless quests of the main character, through woods, towns and temples meeting all kinds of creatures, monsters and allies. I know a tabletop game is very different from a video game, but somehow this experience felt very much like the thrills I got from my favourite video game ever.
To be continued...

Note: the miniatures and terrain used here are from GW, Alkemy, Freebooter, Thomarillion, Mirliton, Sphere Wars, Enigma and Warlord Games.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Work in Progress

Hi there. It's been probably too long since I last updated the blog. Not that I've been completely off painting miniatures and terrain, but I just haven't had the proper time to sit down and give you an update on the latest works.

But first of all, let's go back in time a little bit. Since 2009 I'd been seriously thinking of getting myself a board where I could display my miniatures and have games. This year, the opportunity came with my good friend Tim and his wife Gill kindly offering their garden table (which they brought in their car one of these days). That same day, I went to the Arts Institute and managed to find a perfectly sized wooden board in the recycling area. I had to bring it home by foot - which almost caused a few accidents with pedestrians, but hey! So, the main items got here in the end and totally for free!

But the cherry on top of the cake was when I came back from London one of these days and found the table and board with the whole medieval town fully displayed on one of our rooms. Courtesy of my lovely girlfriend who probably was getting fed up with my winging about not having a place in the house to display the board!

So, recently I found myself some time so I decided to tackle the issue of finding the right wallpaper to floor the board. After a few tests, I chose to go for a more neutral and thus versatile pattern (which in a way was a shame, as it meant that I had to let go of the flagstone pattern).

I glued the wallpaper on to the board, painted it with tester pots from Wilkinson's (a much cheaper way than buying GW or any other more artistic paints for the effect) and then glued patches of static grass, which gave it a more realistic look overall.

This also enabled me to have a versatile board to have forest and jungle terrain for my future games.

At this stage I should say that probably the outcome would've been different and not as good if it hadn't been for the feedback and suggestions of the good people from the Tom's Boring Mordheim Forum. In fact, joining the forum was one of the best things since I've started the hobby, as I've been learning so much from these very artistic people.
So here are some snapshots of the town, now with the new wallpaper:

Moving on, I added a few more things to my terrain collection. A potion shop (still to be finished), using the GW Chapel and making the interiors accessible.

It was fun to do the conversion and gave the opportunity to work with balsa wood (even if in small amounts). The windows came from the Antenocitis Workshop and gave a much more urban look to the house.

The other acquision was the Tabletop World's Merchant's House which I wasn't originally planning of getting. Needless to say, it was a very good purchase since the model is full of amazing details, supremely sculpted and with dozens of cool accessories!

In the middle of all the terrain fest, I haven't dedicated much time to painting miniatures, which is a shame... so far, I have a whole bunch of zombies, necromancers, wraiths, Mordheim civilians and most of the Bruegelburg amazing range of miniatures left to paint...

So, here are some that I did manage to finish:

Runelord, from GW

Ghouls, from Mantic Games (although they look so good as humans that I will be using them as beggars wandering in the medieval town).

So that's it for now. Hope you enjoy and keep checking the blog!