Sunday, 14 August 2016

The Valkyries - choosers of the slain

It seems like real life has got in the way of my hobbies yet again. Just as I started to get on a roll with my painting life comes along and kicks me in the teeth.

My father passed away suddenly on 16th May 2016. He was not very well following a heart bypass operation a few years before but seemed to be making a great recovery recently. Then, unbeknownst to me, he was taken to hospital the week before he died as he suffered from shortage of breath.

In the early hours of the morning following his return home a week later, he was found outside his house by one of his neighbours surrounded by crows. The neighbour shooed them away and called the authorities to take care of my father's body. Now, although I am not at all religious, I would like to see this as the Valkyries (myth suggests that the Vikings saw crows and ravens, constant attendees at the aftermath of battles, as Odin's handmaidens) coming to choose an old warrior (my father was in the Royal Engineers) to party away eternity in the halls of Valhalla. It is a comforting thought for me.

The Ride of the Valkyries by William T. Maud

Following this bad news and the subsequent funeral preparations, house clearing, legal matters etc., I got some good news in the form of a new contract role. It took a good while to get started and go through the onboarding process, but at least I am now back in work, albeit only for a few months again (one of the pitfalls of being a contractor). To add to this, our family holiday arrived to take my mind off of all the goings on.

All of this has had an impact on my pastimes, but now that I am settling back into everyday life I am hoping that I can find the time again for my hobbies. I will have to dig out all of the painting paraphernalia and miniatures that are half-done and set out a plan to get some units completed in short time so I can maybe get some playing done by the close of the year. I also want to get back to (re-)reading my old comics (I still have the last 14 years worth of 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine to get through! as well as several dozen of the latest Dark Horse Conan run) and putting my efforts into training to improve my running times again.

Anyway, until next time...

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Gondor update

I haven't updated in a while but things have been moving along nicely with my Gondor army. I have been painting or modelling for about half-an-hour to an hour almost every day since I began the project, but it seems that I am trying to do too much at once and not actually getting anything completed. I am flitting between painting warriors that are almost finished, tidying up newly bought miniatures (removing flash, sticking figures to their slotta bases and so forth), and undercoating those that have been prepped.

Here is a picture of some of my EBay metals haul, prepped and ready for a coat of paint. There is still a big stack to go, but I am progressing through them at a steady rate. The nice weather today has certainly helped as the garden is available for spraying again.

Next up are some of the original Gondor knights' horses. These are the ones that only have one point of contact with the base and thus constantly break (the horror stories I have heard on other blogs are too numerous to count on this point). As I have some metal knights to be mounted, I was going to use the newer style horses (with more than one contact point with the base, and thus much sturdier to take the extra weight of metal riders) for them and use the older horses that came with the metal knights for one half of the pastic unit.

The newer horses are much sturdier so will not get broken so easily - hopefully. The newer horses are pretty much the same poses that can be gained from the older metal set, but with a couple of extra halves for a bit more variety.

Finally here is a view of my first unit of archers with their banner bearer (captain and champion still to come). These have not seen much paint recently due to the other prep work I have been doing, but soon they will be my main focus again.

They need to have their faces looked at but my eyesight just cannot see the details, even with my glasses, so most of the fine detail will be guess and dab with the paint brush. They also need their scabbards and quivers painted to finish them off before some shading and highlighting is attempted.

Friday, 15 April 2016

My Gondorian EBay Haul

To fill the gaps in my Gondorian army I turned to EBay at the beginning of this month in order to get the rare and out of production (oop) items I need. They have all now been delivered. I think I got them all at a reasonable price, as they were all bought at less than their current or original, if oop, RRP with postage included. I was able to grab plenty of heavy weapons crew too, so I should now have enough to man all three of my artillery pieces.

I also picked up a few figures (Guardians of the Fountain Court and a second pose of Faramir in armour) that were not on the list as they were available at a good price and will fill a gap as bodyguards to Denethor (I just need one more Fountain Court Guard to make the four as depicted in the films). The extra box of Warriors of Minas Tirith is of the 24 variety, and I got it as BNIB for only a quid or so more than a brand new box of 12. This was an offer I could not refuse as it will allow me to create the two extra converted units I am looking at doing.

To complete the army I require just two more boxes of Gondor Knights, one box of Dol Amroth Knights and a couple (Osgiliath Veterans and Citadel Guard Archers) of blisters, which I will most likely get direct from Games Workshop as they are all still available.

Over the next few days I will be cleaning them all up (I have done some already - those that are in the slotta bases) and preparing them for undercoating along with the other minis I already have in the collection. The weather has been a bit rotten recently so I have not been able to get out and use the spray can, but as soon as the sun pops out again I will get out into the garden and undercoat as many as I am able to.

The painting of the basic warriors is coming along slowly in the background and I should hopefully have something to show you all in about a week's time. I am almost finished that unit of 12 archers - the block painting is done, now they need a bit of drybrushing and a few washes to complete them.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Gondor Archer unit (wip)

Here is an update on how far I have got so far with my Gondorian archer unit. Progress has been slow (I am only able to find about half an hour to an hour per day at the moment), but I want to keep the blog ticking over with details of what I have been up to. The eight archers in the previous post were undercoated and had the flesh added to their faces. At this stage, the armour has been painted with GW Chainmail. This is a very tiresome procedure as each individual shoulder plate, vambrace and greave has had to be painted one-at-a-time. However, once the first dozen (four to go now) have been completed then it will be onto the more exciting stuff to paint. I have decided to paint the first unit with red tunics to tie in with my ideas discussed earlier in the blog thread. Looking at those in the photo below, I think the black and metal scheme is a little bland.

I have 16 (4 sprues/boxes worth) of each troop type (archers, swordsmen, spearmen) on my paint station, most are undercoated and some have a little paint on them. I am currently working on getting a dozen archers ready to represent a unit on the tabletop for Dragon Rampant and the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game. Each unit will also be accompanied by a banner bearer and a captain. I am also thinking of adding a veteran/champion type figure to add a bit more variety to the command structure. I know this doesn't really fit in with either game, but I want the army to match some ideas I have had.

There are a number of EBay purchases ready to come through the post at the moment. I have been busy bidding on a further box of 24 Warriors of Minas Tirith, as well as crew for the war machines. I have also looked at some more captains and banner bearers to fill out the ranks. Hopefully these will all be through over the next week or so. I will show them all off when they have all been delivered.

In future I will not detail each stage of painting for a unit on a separate post, but try to get a unit finished and then detail the method (if anything unusual), paints and materials used with photos of the end result. This may mean that updates will be fewer and further between, but at least something more solid will be shown with each new post.

It would be nice to get four or five units finished in the next month or so, then move onto an enemy. Hopefully after a month of starting that second army I should have enough for two sides to play a game. I am currently looking at Easterlings to be my next project.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Savage Worlds : Conan

Last night I was invited back to the RP Haven for a taster game of Savage Worlds set in the Hyborian Age of Conan. The campaign had already run for one gaming quarter and was just starting up for its second quarter. I was the seventh player at the table (6 is the maximum usually allowed) so the GM was being very kind in allowing me to play - thanks Gianna.

The promo picture from the RP Haven site

I have played Savage Worlds once before with Rod (who invited me along tonight to sample the game) as the GM. It is a great little system that lends itself to almost any genre due to the generic nature of the rules.

This evening I played a Pictish warrior (another player's character) who was a dab hand with the bow. I didn't do my usual write-up of this session as I am not a full-time member of the party, but I am hoping to get the occasional invite when the party's numbers are low.

The general gist was that the party had concluded the previous adventure and now had to head north to Vanaheim to repatriate a valuable horn. We were told it was at a certain place deep in the northern realms of the Vanir. We were accompanied by an old-timer who had lost the lower part of his sword arm (the story of how he lost it changed with every telling).

Along the way we ambushed a Vanir slave train which also had some barrels of ale for the celebrations due to happen at the temple where we were headed. We managed to destroy the Vanir raiders and set free their slaves (I, along with my Pictish cousin, managed to take down the leader and one of his other mounted cohorts). We poisoned the ale in the barrels enough to cause stomach cramps and vomiting and then headed towards the fortification.

We disguised ourselves with hair-dye to match that of the red of the Vanir, and it was a good job we did because that was one of the checks to get into the fortification. Once inside, we distributed the ale and watched for an opportunity to get inside the stone edifice. As soon as the vomiting started, we knew we could move around with a little less chance of being discovered.

We managed to find a side door in the wooden pallisade that led into the temple complex and then proceeded to work our way toward the main stone temple entrance. We encountered a few guards, a black-robed bard figure playing a lyre (who conjured some ghostly wolves with it), and three red-robed priestly types, all of whom we killed, but not without my character picking up a phobia of stringed music (caused by the magic of the bard's lyre). In revenge, it was I that killed the blind red-robed priest (my Pictish cousin killed the boy priest) and took their instruments of doom.

We called a halt to the proceedings just as we broke into the main temple complex on our search for the horn. I am sure the others will have a great time recovering the horn and all the adventures associated with it.

It was a great session and has whetted my appetite for more adventures in the Savage Worlds. The Hyborian Age of Conan is also one of my favourite fantasy worlds, so this for me was a match made in heaven.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Gondor Artillery

After much uhmming and aahing I have decided to use what I have got rather than try to purchase OOP metal minitaures (I am not keen on Finecast so I doubt I will buy anything in that medium) of the Gondor artillery from the film based range by Games Workshop at the hiked up prices seen on EBay.

I decided to utilise some Early Imperial Roman scorpions and a ballista from a box set I bought from Warlord Games when I first started updating this blog. They no longer seem to stock the resin box set I bought, but the individual units can be bought in either a plastic or metal box set. The set I bought was known as Roman War Machines and came with an additional eight metal crew miniatures to man the weapons (which I will get around to completing so the artillery can be used for two armies).

The ballista is a mean piece of kit and will look great in place of the usual Gondor trebuchet, although I may pick up the Warlord Games Onager to do this as well though as that looks like a fabulous model too.

Here is the ballista in its deconstructed form. I just used normal superglue to put it together, and a two-part epoxy resin glue to adhere it to its base.

Here are the two scorpions you get in the box - ideal for use as proxies for the Avenger Bolt Throwers. Again, shown in deconstructed form and stuck together using the same glues as the ballista.
Finally, here is a picture of the three models after construction. Very little effort was required to clear off the flash and venting material; just a few scrapes with a scalpel.

In the meantime, I have been putting some paint onto the Gondor warriors. This is a painstaking process as I am having to paint each individual piece of metal armour one at a time. I have almost completed the first 12 Archers to this stage. Hopefully I can get a picture up of them soon.

Something I have not done before is welcome new people to the forum. That is very poor manners, so from now on I shall try to say hello to everyone who joins this little community. So, today I welcome Ubique Matt. I will also take this opportunity to say hello to everyone else who has signed up either via Blogger or Google+. Thank you for dropping by and keep the comments coming.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Games Workshop's support of Lord of the Rings

I have just read this very welcome article on the Wargames News and Terrain blog.

I hope that many of the old Lord of the Rings minis are brought back into production so that we all can complete our armies. I would really like to get hold of all the original nine Ringwraiths (foot and mounted), as well as several other sets, in a material that is better than Finecast - hopefully the Forgeworld resin is a much better medium than Finecast. It would also be cool if they could fill the gaps in what has already been released (e.g. Rohan Royal Guard both foot and mounted in plastic), Dol Amroth pikemen in plastic, more Elves and maybe some better plastic Dwarfs. I would also like to see some of the old metals re-released, such as Kings of Men, the Commanders sets and the hobbits would be great to see again, especially the personalities.

I also like the idea of a rules tidy up and the release of more source books. I have almost all of the original ones, so any new ones with stat collections and new scenarios would be great to see.

Four years is a long time to revive interest in Games Workshop's, in my opinion, best ruleset. It would be even better if they could promote the game's revival with a DeAgostini style monthly part-works - I am sure GW can afford to put resin and plastic miniatures to good use in this way.

This is very welcome news to me seeing as I am just getting back into the game at the moment.