Wednesday 29 May 2019

Skaven Wizard and Apprentice

And so we come to the wizard and his apprentice of the skaven warband.

For the apprentice, I used an old metal plague monk model. He's got a staff and a robe, but they're rather mediocre, and he's notably smaller than the model I decided to use as the wizard. That seems like ideal apprentice territory, although the relationship between this chap and his boss is probably more like Igor and Victor Frankenstein than Robin and Batman. Which might be for the best.

When I finished the model, I felt that he was a bit drab and brown, so I gave him a necklace made out of magic cheese warpstone, and painted a glowing effect around his chest.

"Yes, master!"
The wizard was a more complex task. I felt that, as the leader, he needed a more impressive base that would raise him above the common mob (or swarm, or pack, or whatever rats have). I took two of the Renedra sculpted bases that I'd been using, cut the front third off one of them, and used clay and plasticard to raise it above the level of the other base, leaving a kind of step at the front. I added a rat from the Abomination kit and made a sewer outlet pipe from a bit of old vehicle kit.

Then I painted the wizard. For this guy, I used an old metal character model called Ikit Claw. Ikit is a warlord of Clan Skyre, who focus on technology and war machines. As such, Ikit is a mad scientist, and like many evil mad scientists, he's blasted bits off his body and replaced them with machinery. He's had to rebuilt part of his snout, and he also has a huge bionic arm. It's fortunate that his parents didn't name him Ikit Leg, really.

The original Ikit Claw model came with a great big backpack and banner pole. I didn't get this in the ebay purchase that I made, but I don't think banners really work in Frostgrave/Mordheim anyway. I replaced it with a little wheel and crank handle that Ikit can yank when he needs to, er, turn his metal bits on.

Once again, I went for a glowing effect on the magic cheese warpstone. It's hard not to let skaven become rather drab and brown, and the green sets the models off nicely. He's quite a chunky model, and it was difficult to paint the metal parts in a way that made it clear what they were supposed to do.

Here's a rear view, showing the handle in his back. How he reaches it is anyone's guess.

So that's the core of the warband finished. I want to make some more general purpose rodents, some giant rats, and a pair of stormvermin to serve as knights or men at arms. It's a great time to be a huge talking rat!

Tuesday 28 May 2019

Rat Ogre

In keeping with the skaven warband, I've been making a rat ogre. I got hold of a screaming bell kit from ebay, which comes with a rat ogre whose job it is to tug the chain that causes the bell to ring. The only problem is that he's in a really odd position.

That's him on the right.

So, I needed to tilt him somewhat so that he wasn't kneeling down and shaking his fist at the sky. I used a lot of green stuff and some metal feet I'd had lying around in the bits box to make him stand up. His legs are rather weeny, but maybe he's been bred a bit small to slip through the alleyways. Or Clan Destyn got him cheap.

I gave him a new left hand, which I seemed to have got off a giant kit (despite owning none of the rest of the kit) and a halberd made of an ogre banner pole and an ogre sword cut to resemble the ones used by skaven stormvermin. I'm not sure where his base came from: I think it might be from some very old terrain piece. I don't own anything that goes with it, at any rate.

Here he is with some paint:

His proportions are crazy (I rather prefer the older rat ogres that just looked like scaled-up skaven) but it all just about works, I think. Not that you get rat ogres in Frostgrave, or skaven for that matter...

Sunday 26 May 2019

A Weekend In Frostgrave

Strange doings and fell deeds were afoot this week, as four mighty warbands did battle in the frozen streets of Frostgrave. This was our first proper trying out of the rules, and for simplicity's sake, we didn't take apprentices in our warbands, and all used the same set of spells (the elemental ones, which are all quite straightforward). We also used the same lineup of minions: two archers, two men at arms, and two thugs.

Calm before the snowstorm

First, my own dwarves, commanded by the dubious Gurney Haddock, took on James F's allegedly noble humans. While we were both able to carry some treasure off the board, the game was decided by fierce hand-to-hand fighting in the ruins of an old house.

James F's wizard cunningly created a magical wall to separate my fighters (represented here by a pencil), but my bold man at arms (technically, dwarf at arms) scrambled over the top. My forces won thanks to some very lucky rolling on my part, and made off with most of the loot.

Spellcasting -  P.E.N.C.I.L!

Meanwhile, a more sinister battle was taking place in the ruins of St James' cathedral. A powerful vampire and her entourage of lurching revenants advanced on the basilica, aiming to loot precious treasures from the cathedral grounds.

The skeletons go to church

However, Chris' pale spectres rose up to oppose them, and the game turned into a ferocious brawl in the middle of the board. The skeletons put up a good fight against the ghostly horde, but the odds were against them. Despite a very impressive performance from two skeleton archers, James P's skeletons lost and Chris' ghosts kept the field. A victory for the undead, and a defeat for the, er, undead.

Deadeye Dave, skeleton marksman, covers the advance

Everyone agreed that the rules for Frostgrave are slick and do a good job of representing the events on the table. The system creates a lot of interesting tactical situations. Generally, warriors tended to do better than archers, and the rules for ganging up on rival fighters are deadly. The spellcasting was effective, although it's hard to tell how well-balanced all the various schools of magic would be. It may be that successful wizards have to balance being able to dish out damage with being able to help and move their minions.

The need to grab treasure does rather tend to make games turn into a big fight in the middle of the table, but we felt that this wouldn't be a problem with the right terrain placement and perhaps the use of the additional objective cards that Osprey produce. Overall, it's a really good game and hopefully we'll be giving it another go soon.

Monday 20 May 2019

It's A Well!

Not the world's most exciting post here, but I made a little well. I had two small bits of roof left over from old Warhammer kits, and a plastic well that Mantic made. The well looked a bit small and unexciting on the tabletop, as if someone had left it there by mistake, so I decided to give it a roof. I used coffee stirrers for the wood, as usual.

Exciting, isn't it?

The end result is fine, although it could be a bit more detailed. At any rate, it will look nice with all the other terrain and will be somewhere for archers to hide behind.

I also found this rather nice image on the internet. I think it's from the Vermintide computer game. If only I could build something like this!

Thursday 16 May 2019

One Witchfinder And His Dog

I have a big box of Reaper Bones models lying around that I got from backing a Kickstarter. Looking back, it was probably a mistake: a lot of the models don't do all that much for me, and the quality of the moulds often leaves something to be desired.

One of the models was a gravedigger. Here's what he looks like when painted by someone competent (ie not me):

by Rafal Maj of

I liked the basic model, especially the sweep of his coat and his grim expression. I was less keen on his little booties, which came out twisted on the model I got, and his lantern with the rather daft skull effect. So I made some amendments:

As you can see, I've replaced his shovel with an Empire sword, given him a new lantern (from some dwarf miners) and added a pair of manacles off a Khorne Bloodsomething-or-other. I bulked out his coat and hat with green stuff and sculpted him a a backpack (which you can't see), a pistol sticking out of his coat and a pair of new feet. The feet were made by cutting off the legs that he came with and building up from a wire armature pushed through his base. The base was from Mantic.

Here's what he looks like painted.

Not sure about the comedy red nose. Maybe he's been on the church wine.

I've also given him a dog. The dog is Bill Sykes' dog from Twisted, a steampunk game. Bill Sykes was the villain from Oliver Twist, and appears to have fitted his dog with a metal jaw and some weird cannister on its back Maybe it's a jetpack.

I'll be using the dog in my dwarf Frostgrave warband, which means that I've finally got it (nearly) finished!

Saturday 11 May 2019

Who Lives In A House Like This? Skaven, That's Who

Skaven are weeny, aren't they? I'd always assumed that they were people-sized, but from the models I've ended up with, they seem to be more like goblins. I was given two old Mordheim metal skaven, and I had a go at painting them. Compared to the plastic gutter runners, they're much better models, but the detail on them is almost too good, and it was very hard to make a decent job of them. I didn't do any conversions, just painted them up as they came.

That takes me to a "grand" total of seven skaven. The horde grows!

I also bought another building from Fair Price Models on Ebay. I've found their kits, whilst very simple, really nicely designed and easy to spruce up with extra details. This particular model was a ruined Tudor building - perfect for Mordheim. I added a roof from cardboard slates, and put some sand, gravel and bits of balsa on the ground floor to represent debris from the collapsed building. Of course, if this was realistic, then the ground floor would be piled high with broken wood and plaster, but I need to get miniatures inside, so I compromised.

I also added a resin barrel from a game called Sphere Wars (whatever that is). Sphere Wars has some really nice models, but the barrels and chests that came with them are terrible. Anyway, it's not too visible, and adds to the decrepit atmosphere.

I really must stop making little houses.

Thursday 9 May 2019

Blood Under Water - coming soon!

I've been working on a sequel to Up To The Throne. It's called Blood Under Water, and it's a story of revenge and conspiracy in a murky, waterlogged city where corruption and murder hold sway. When a priest shows up dead in a canal, Giulia falls under suspicion. Will she clear her name and find the killer?

Only one way to find out - buy a copy. Coming soon!

Wednesday 1 May 2019

Mordheim, Frostgrave and Papier Mache

I've been quite busy this week with Important Author Stuff (ie getting drunk in a silly hat and desperately editing the next fantasy novel - although not both at once). However, I've been able to do a couple of models.

First up, another skaven from Clan Destyn. This model is unusual as (excluding the tails and the bell on his belt) he's green stuff from the waist down. I think robes rather suit skaven. He was originally holding a spear, but I cut it away and replaced it with an Empire musket. Putting it into his hand makes the gun look longer and more like a warplock jezzail.

The only other thing I've managed to do is a little house for the Mordheim/Frostgrave table. It's based on two papier mache treasure chests that I bought in the local art shop, one on top of the other. Papier mache is light and fairly durable, and has a slightly rough finish that picks up washes and drybrushes nicely.

The door came from Mantic, and the windows were salvaged off an old Games Workshop kit. The leaded effect on the windows was done by sticking a piece of wire mesh to the back of each plastic window before attaching them to the front of the house.

A couple of old shields were added to the ends to make it more interesting to look at and a bit more "Warhammery". They're old orc and goblin shields, but back in the old days, the sun and moon symbols were used by the Empire too, so that's ok by me.

It's fairly simple, really, but I think it comes together quite nicely. I do occasionally think about doing making scenery that's more "fantasy", but I prefer these wonky houses to gates of fire and pools of blood. Ultimately, I think of Mordgrave/Frostheim as something like this:

I mean, who wouldn't want to live in a heap of squalor like that?