Monday 30 December 2019

Two More Frostgrave Solo Missions

We're three missions in now, and I've enjoyed them very much. The second single-player game, "The Weapon Shops of Isher", involved running across the board, stealing two treasures from a vault, and running back out again. Easier said than done, as a horde of gnolls (once again, nobly portrayed by the undead Romans) and a huge gnoll warlord (portrayed by a troll) poured in. In fact, they poured in rather faster than anyone expected, because I misread the scenario. Glurk and his kleptomaniac friends escaped, but not before Roger the Archer and Nobby the crossbowman/dwarf were killed and the thug brothers so badly wounded that they missed the next game.

Sir Vaylance and his dwarf friend get a surprise

The third mission, "Dog Days", involved the warband travelling to the edges of the board to destroy four crystals. Until the crystals were smashed, magical hounds (or bloodletters of Khorne, in my case) kept appearing and piling in to fight. This game involved some real swings of luck, including a moment where Snow White the treasure hunter tried so ineptly to destroy a crystal that she fell on her face and suffered seven wounds.

This little fellow killed three demons, somehow

Overall, I've really enjoyed these missions. Frostgrave is a great system, and seeing the characters progress is entertaining. As far as I can see, there are two main problems: firstly, the d20 involved can lead to some wildly differing rolls, which means that the safest way to proceed is often to bunch up groups of very skilled soldiers to gain the biggest possible bonuses for supporting one another. Actually, even this tactic is still vulnerable to bad rolls, but it helps.

Secondly, while the constant respawning of villains is effective and makes for close-run games, it does get a bit samey, and the satisfaction of racking up a row of dead monsters at the side of the board (I assume other people do this too) isn't there.

Perhaps standing on the spawning point wasn't the best idea

But overall, it's a lot of fun. The system is slick and easy to grasp. The games are the right length and have the right level of challenge and variety. Also, I've realised that each game introduces a slightly different mechanic for future use. In that way, the adventures in Perilous Dark are a kind of tutorial for people wanting to write their own.

So forward Glurk and his merry band - on to their next adventure!

Saturday 28 December 2019

"Writhing Fumes": A Frostgrave Single Player Mission

[Cate-Blanchett-as-Galadriel voice]

A thousand years have passed since the mighty castle of Prince Abulurd the Crass fell to the forces of darkness. Not for centuries have the halls rung with the sound of song, laughter and percussive belching. Generations have grown up in the shadows of the great walls of the keep, but all have shunned the ancient castle. For it is said that, when the night is deep, and no moon rises above the battlements, the idiotic king and his eternally-inebriated minions still walk - well, stumble.

But now, who has come to disturb the ancient ruins?

Glurk the Simple and his mighty band of warriors, that's who! His strange features fixed in a grimace of hopeful idiocy, Glurk gathered his brave comrades around him for a voyage into the unknown. Bold explorers like Magic Sally, the Thug Brothers and Porridge the Cyberdog gathered to venture forward and uncover the secrets of Abulurd's castle. First, however, they'd have to break in...

Roger the Archer, Sir Vaylance the Vigilant, Glurk, Nobby and Porridge the Cyberdog

This was the first mission in the single-player Perilous Dark expansion for Frostgrave, named "Writhing Fumes". In it, the team basically had to run across the table, smash open a door and rush off the board. Of course, it was complicated by weird smoke-creatures (in this case represented by the trusty Infelix Legion of Flavius Flava) and two huge ballistas (in this case, two huge ballistas).

It sounds simple, but really became very entertaining. Much like the game of Hardwired I played a few weeks ago, the continual flow of villains onto the battlefield made for a rising level of difficulty and urgency. It wasn't helped by the fact that I forgot the rule about pushing enemies out of combat, meaning that my men were permanently struggling to evade the grasping hands of the undead.

The heroes run away, heroically

Three of my warband bit the dust, including Roger the Archer, one of the thugs and the noble hound Porridge. Luckily, all three healed up for the next game, despite being overrun by skeletons, and we were able to escape with a single pile of treasure. It turned out to be 80 gold coins and the Grimoire of Elemental Ball. Glurk promptly blew the cash on hiring noted treasure hunter Snow White, and will make use of the grimoire as soon as he's figured out what it is. Overall, a tense and exciting game!

Thursday 26 December 2019

A Granary for Frostgrave

On Christmas Eve, as I was desperately buying presents and cards for people, I went into the local art shop and bought another little wooden birdbox for a few pounds. A while back, I used one of these to make a fantasy cottage.

This one was smaller and more solid: too small, I thought, to work as someone's home. I decided that it would work as a granary for the little town. That meant that it would have no lower doors, to prevent rats getting in and eating the crops inside. I used my standard method of putting on timbering with coffee stirrers and tiling the roof with bits of card.

I also used coffee stirrers to make the planks for the upper door. The metal bars on the door were made with strips of plastic cut from a blister pack, and the lock was made with a bit of wire bent into an L-shape and some bits of Green Stuff. I added a ladder and a spade that I had lying around to hint at the function of the building.

And there it is. The base is a bit thick, but maybe that's to keep the rats from tunneling up underneath. Here is the granary in the little town. In a typical scene from the period, we see an evil dark lord and his henchmen demanding grain as part of their plan to conquer the world, while an idle youth looks on.

I'm hoping to try out the single-player campaign from the new Frostgrave book, Perilous Dark, so the more terrain I can get, the better!

Tuesday 24 December 2019

The Top Five Horses Of Wargaming

Everybody likes horses, and it's a poor wargame that doesn't include some sort of cavalry. One thing that wargaming companies cannot agree on, however, is how big a horse actually is. Sizes range from the diddy ponies that the Empire knights and Warlord Romans ride, to the yak-sized things that Brettonian knights use when they run out of coconuts to bang together. Here, then, are my top five (horses, not coconuts):

5. Archeon

Archaeon is the Abad'un of Warhammer Fantasy Battle: a chaos lord who leads chaos lords. Back in the good old days, he used to ride The Steed Of The Apocalypse, which looked like a horse that's taken steroids, grown spikes and acquired really weird hooves. Arguably the most metal of the horses featured (although see below).

Sadly, when Age Of Sigmar reared its ugly head, Archaeon's mighty horse was replaced by this goofy-looking thing, which sums up a lot of my complaints with AoS.

4. The Green Knight

The Green Knight is a mystic character for the Bretonnians, who materialises from the forest and is exceedingly difficult to kill. He has the Arthurian look of the Bretonnians and is basically a cool idea. While his sculpt is very old, the way his horse is rearing up, and the intricate barding, make it a rather good horse.

4. Marius Leitdorf (featuring Daisy)

Marius Leitdorf was a nobleman of the Warhammer Empire, and made a change from the usual stern-faced tedium by being a lunatic in a hat that would shame a 1970s gangster.

His horse gains points on account of being in an interesting pose - she seems to be shying away from danger (or perhaps turning) rather than charging into it - and having a name: Daisy. Daisy had the same profile as all other warhorses, but stands out for personality. And headgear.

2. Robohorse

Another pick from the Empire: this time it's the horse-shaped mechanical steed that the Empire engineer can take. My rulebook tells me that it's formally called "Meikle's Equine Effigy of Dynamic Locomotion" and was invented by Frau Meikle, the first woman to be allowed to join the Imperial School of Engineers. Despite having a mane and tail made out of leaves, it looks properly mean. The only reason the engineer is riding it is probably because it told him to come with it if he wanted to live.

Unfortunately, it doesn't quite make the top spot because it's not alive and it reminds me too much of this:

1. Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert of the Rhine was a noted cavalier in the English Civil War, and led the king's cavalry in several battles. He is a Warlord Games model, and while Warlord's humans are sometimes a bit basic, they do know how to make a good horse. As luck would have it, I bought this model recently and will be painting it soon. This particular model was painted by Scott Merrifield.

So, that's my guided tour (or canter?) through Wargaming Horses To Look Out For. It's nearly Christmas Day, and I'm going off to wrap presents and eat ham. Have a good Christmas, and in the meantime, here's a picture of one of my favourite horses that I made a while ago: the Tau Space Pony.

Thursday 19 December 2019

Chaos Marine Obliterator Conversion

For a long while, the Chaos Space Marines have had the option to use Obliterators. Obliterators are a sort of super-terminator, who have become one with their equipment and are able to spontaneously grow guns from their arms. Originally, they had small models, but about ten years ago, models were introduced that looked like this:

Hmm. I've got to say, this isn't a model that I particularly like. For one thing, the flesh tones and the multiple gun barrels made it look very busy. For another, the face isn't great. And for a third, more importantly, the pose of the legs is really strange. The legs and back are a one-piece lead casting - a huge lump of metal. It occurred to me that, if the legs worked better, and the paint scheme was more subdued, the basic model could work fine.

I hacked away at the legs with a saw, basically removing everything between the knee and the hip on both sides. Then, using wire and green stuff, I pinned the lower legs to the body and waited for it all to cure. After that, I got to work with more green stuff and sculpted the new thighs, to make the model more upright.

I actually didn't make many changes to the arms and chest. The model was given a new head, which I'd hacked off an Imperial missionary years before. The new head was screaming and had a beard, which I merged into the armour with green stuff, and which would represent the obliterator's head merging with his equipment.

Time for paint. I decided to paint the flesh colour as warping armour, to keep the model more subdued and to tie it in with the rest of the soldiers. I think that the raw flesh colour gets slightly over-used a lot in GW's Chaos colour schemes. The face was painted pale blue, washed purple and highlighted with pink skin, in keeping with the bare heads of the chaos marines. Overall, the model had the same not-quite-Black-Legion colour scheme that I've used for the newer bigger marines.

I think he's a great improvement. I intend to make two others, probably not in the same way, but to about the same size. I expect this guy will be the most human of them all - which isn't saying much!

Sunday 8 December 2019

Oldhammer Chaos Sorcerer and Chaos Knight

I see that I've got at least two new followers! That's almost doubled the number of people who read this blog! Welcome to the roll of alleged honour!

As Christmas gets closer, and Britain enjoys its last week of functional democracy, what could be more festive than a couple of bright red mad people for Frostgrave? Not only are they in the livery of Father Christmas, more or less, but Frostgrave is snowy in the background literature but actually isn't in practice, just like Christmas in the UK.

First up is a sorcerer, who will either lead the chaos warband into Frostgrave or be its deputy leader. He is Azoth the Faceless, from the Heroes for Dungeonquest box from many years ago. I've not painted him in the same way as the original model, as I prefer my own colour scheme. His impressive helmet, magical brass skull and habit of shaking his fist at things mark him out as a true villain.

He was a real pleasure to paint. Some of these older models, lacking the detail and sharp edging of more recent plastic sculpts, make for very pleasant painting.

Next is a cavalry model from Gamezone Miniatures. They've produced some really good not-Warhammer style models, and their chaos cavalry are very decent. This chap was originally a drummer for a regiment, but I didn't put the drums on when I assembled him, so now he looks like some maniac about to go berserk with two maces as his horse charges into battle.

When painting this model, I used a technique from the Heavy Metal painting guide: to draw the eye to the right parts of the miniature, paint the rider in a lighter colour than the steed. In this case, I used a black undercoat for the horse's armour and a white one for the rider's. I'm not sure if this has really worked here, but I think he looks nice.

So that's another warband almost finished. I've got some crossbowmen for the undead that I could paint, and a lot of individual adventurers. I'm also planning to paint some Warlord models: I've got some very cool Civil War horsemen, and a group of samurai. But we'll see.

Sunday 1 December 2019

More Fishmen For Carnivale!

This week, I finished off one of the models from the Carnivale pile. This guy is an Officiant of Dagon, the Lovecraftian fish-god whose minions seek to overrun the city of Venice from below. I'm not sure if this chap is meant to be part-fish, or whether he's just a crazy human who works with the cultists of Dagon, so I've painted him in the usual skin tones and given him a very slight glaze of green.

This photo was taken largely to show that he has two legs.

And here is the entire sordid family. I'm sure they would click their fingers like the Addams Family, except that probably doesn't work underwater.

L-R: Sirena, Eric, Fishgar the Bloody, Steve, Junior, and Barney.

Apart from the Slaves of Dagon, who I don't really like, I've got two fishmen left to do: a massive chap who looks very fat and blubbery, and a human/Deep One hybrid who looks strangely like an aquatic Terry Gilliam.