Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Orctober - 10mm Mordor Army Finished

They are done.  All the Mordor troops I currently possess are now painted and, where possible based, ready for Fantastic Battles.  Of course I intend to add to them, as is they are about 500 points worth, and that includes a hefty 100 points in the Witchking.  Fantastic Battles uses a command system so I suspect that having unreliable as a racial trait for orcs means that I'll need lots of captains to try and keep order.

The whole army so far.  Most based for Fantastic Battles, with a small pile of 'spares' ready for the next batch.

I wasn't sure what colours to paint wargs. Tolkien describes them as grey, which works well for a fairly naturalistic scheme, and the minis themselves are very much 'big wolves'. The film wargs are more shades of brown, and I felt this contrasted better with the dark tones in the armoured riders (armour, shields and flesh on some of them). The undercoat had a Vallejo Game Color Khaki drybrush, I then darkened the back with VGC Beasty Brown (the same colour as the fur cloaks worn by some of the orcs, animal welfare issues?) and further darkened the back with a line of Army Painter Dark Tone. I darkened the eye sockets, but perhaps they would have looked more menacing with a red dot?

I'm not completely happy with the red eyes on the shields.  I think it looks a bit crude, but then it is orcs painting it, and on the tabletop it should look OK.

Heroes and commanders.
I'll probably use the Nazgul as a wizard.  The Warg Chieftain will be a thief attached to the rest of the wargs

Witchking on Fellbeast (to borrow film terminology), probably a Dragon/mage Lord character company and Mordor Trolls

Warg riders and wargs

Two companies of orc bows

Orc warrior company and orc 'elites'.

I selected some of the best armoured orcs to base as a separate company in case I ever want any guards, think Bodyguard of Bolg from The Hobbit.  They are based more in ranks as they might be better represented by a Regular company.

Three more orc warrior companies

Another view of the army showing my attempts to make most of the companies look fairly irregular.

The minis were based on Renedra 40mm square plastic bases which had previously had magnetic sheeting stuck to the bottom.  Heroes have 20mm square bases.  The bases were then textured with a mix of fine (Chinchilla) sand, burnt umber craft paint and PVA glue.  This was carefully applied with a dental tool, then smooshed into place with a damp brush. A few stones were added for rocks. I normally drybrush with lighter browns and bonewhite, but the mix, when dry, showed the light colour of the sand as highlights so that wasn't necessary.  I don't really know how I managed this, I hope I can replicate it in the future.  Once dry I glued fine static grass in place with PVA craft glue, then neatened up the edges with burnt umber paint.  I may add some tufts in the future if I can find some that don't look ridiculously large, and maybe some clump foliage too.  
The Witchking hasn't had his base finished because I want to add some ruins to it.  I'll see what I can craft.

I certainly think that my painting method works well on these tiny minis.  Only the Nazgul were painted in a more traditional method of increasing highlights.  Black is a hard colour to get looking right on minis, but I think these came out OK.

I'm really looking forward to trying the game.  Bodvoc has had a game or two already, and thinks it will work well for Lord of the Rings style games.  I'll also look at expanding my forces.  More orcs certainly but possibly also some Haradrim and/or Easterners.  I already have a few companies of Minas Tirith troops, since its good to  collect two armies I'd better do some more of them too.

Saturday, 16 October 2021

15mm Dragon Rampant - Minis From the Vaults

Whilst sorting out my F'yar Guard I came across the elves I painted for Orc's Drift, along with some undead that may eventually be used if I ever play Vengeance of the Lichemaster.  As I've never shown these before I thought readers might like to see them.  They all date back to before my current basecoat, extreme highlight, wash style of painting rank and file troops.  The elves in particular have had increasingly light highlights, which looks good on these models, but takes a long time to do compared to my 'quick' method.

The elves are Ral Partha Demonworld, lovely minis and a joy to paint.  You can just about see them in the Kachas Pass battle report here.  I still need to come up with an emblem for the banner; the Kachas Pass elves have a unicorn banner, which sounds fun, but I'm not sure my freehand painting is up to it.  I might be able to find a transfer that works?

I'd originally planned for these elves to stand in for Bromedir's Bows at Orc's Drift as well, but those elves are armoured, so I might look for some in mail, there are plenty of Demonworld elves, and some of their High Elves look the part.

Elf archers

Elf command and heroes

The unicorn banner of the Kachas Pass elves

The undead are Magister Militum Blood Dawn, and like the F'yar Guard, rather large compared to other ranges.  Whilst I like the minis and they paint up well, if I were starting again I'd choose Demonworld minis, simply because they are more in scale with the rest of my collection.  I have some of the Demonworld zombies for the second and third Lichemaster scenarios, and the height difference is noticeable, though I'll live with it for now.

Skeletons with command

More undead with hero

The 15mm Dragon Rampant box also contains some unpainted dwarves who I need for Orc's Drift (and the Vengence of the Lichemaster, if I ever get onto it), so who knows, perhaps they'll get painted soon.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Orctober - 10mm Mordor Army Progress

I've progressed well with my Copplestone Castings Mordor minis. Currently they are waiting for the shade wash to dry; there are a few little details and highlights to pick out, then its on to the varnishing stage.  I have the pleasurable job of painting around 70 red eyes on shields; I prefer to do this after the gloss varnish, I find it gives a better surface for painting symbols and emblems.  

The whole Mordor force so far

Orc command strip

Mordor trolls, lovely minis.  I'm not sure which flesh colour I prefer.

Warg riders and a lone warg

I'm very happy with how they all look.  I'm still going to drybrush a lighter brown on the wargs, and there are a few skulls and teeth on the trolls that could do with a highlight too, but the finishing line is definitely in sight.

You can see the finished army here.

Friday, 8 October 2021

Orctober - 10mm Lord of the Rings Mordor Army

While the varnish on the F'yar Guard orcs was drying, I started on another group of orcs.  A long while back Bodvoc (or Merlin as he was known back then) and I started work on an adaptation of GWs War of the Ring for 10mm minis.  For various reasons* it didn't get much further than the planning stage and the painting of a few strips to test colour schemes.   Since then Bodvoc has introduced me to Fantastic Battles, which he is sure would work well for Middle Earth battles.  Looking at it I tend to agree as it uses a menu of traits applied to a limited selection of unit types, ideal for personalising troop types and with a points cost already calculated.  
So now I'm back on with the LotR big battles, just with a different rule set.

Fantastic Battles uses a company system of basing.  It doesn't really matter how many minis are in a company as long as the bases are all the same size.  Base width is important as it is used as the standard for measurement of movement, shooting etc.  Since we were already set up for 40mm wide  by 20mm deep companies for War of the Ring, we just switched to 40mm square bases.  
Bodvoc has already got a couple of armies done by rebasing minis from his collection (you can see his elves and his barbarians part way down this post).  I am copying his basing, going for around 12 minis in three ranks for most infantry, 6 to 8 for skirmishers and archers, 5 cavalry and 3 light cavalry (and trolls).  I am going to try and base my orcs in a more random irregular pattern though.  I don't think they would have the discipline required for properly dressed ranks.

I already have some of the Copplestone Castings Orcs that I painted as tests for colour schemes here. I also have various strips bought off eBay that are undercoated and have the weapons and armour painted.  Since it's Orctober, its time to get some more done.

Current progress on the Mordor army

The painting is pretty much the same as the test orcs I did back in 2020, though I've tones down the rather bright yellow by highlighting with a 50/50 mix of khaki and bonewhite.
this is going to be a much longer project than the F'yar guard.  Apart from orcs there are also wargs, trolls and a couple of ringwraiths.  I'd like to get them all done and based in one lot though, and I'm happy to lump them all in for Orctober

*Mostly, we couldn't quite get the profiles to reflect how we saw the various troop types in Middle Earth fighting and where we altered things we had problems with points costs.  War of the Ring is very much a game version of Middle Earth based on another game version (the Strategy Battle Game) based on a film version based on the books, so it often reflected a different view of Middle Earth than the one we wanted to play.
We realised we were virtually building the lists up from scratch, with no idea how balanced they were when we were also working on the rules.
Ultimately it seemed easier to start from the beginning with a new game.

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Orctober - F'yar Guard Completed

I've finished the Blood Dawn orcs which I will use as a reduced model unit in Dragon Rampant, probably the general and his guard. In Bloodbath at Orks Drift they will be the F'yar Guard.
Painting was as per my orc painting method, well I do use it for other things, but I do paint a lot of orcs.

Drummer and drum carrier

Two of the F'yar Guard

Standard and Leader, I've still got to paint a device on the standard.

The whole F'yar Guard on movement tray
and from above

The orcs are a bit large for their 15mm bases.  I could have put them on 20mm bases, but I wanted to be able to swap them out for troops in other units to give them a tough looking champion.
All the bases and the movement tray are magnetised (tray from Warbases)

I've mentioned before about how big they are, around 20mm tall in some cases. Here's how they fit with the other ranges of orcs in my army. 

L to R; Grenadier, Chariot, Blood Dawn, Essex, Kallistra (10mm)

Big, but given that I'm using them as an elite unit they are fine. The standard needs King F'yar's device on it, which should be a crowned orc head, judging from the artwork in Bloodbath at Orc's Drift.  I might try a simplified version of this.

I really enjoyed painting these orcs.  There's plenty of detail on them, but not so much that I struggled to think what to paint.
I also think that I've got better at painting orcs looking at the comparison shot above.  I could go back and do some repainting, but then again, I've got plenty more to paint, so next up, an entire army.

Monday, 4 October 2021

These ARE the Droids We Are Looking For

I got in a game of Fistful of Lead Galactic Heroes last night with my good mate Andy. It was his first game of FfoL, so we played the first game in the book.
We had great fun, and Andy coped very well with both a completely new set of rules and the legendary Imperial marksmanship (or lack of). 

I've played this scenario before with Bodvoc, and then we had the advantage of his terrain collection as well.  I added a Sandcrawler, the couple of bits of Combatzone scatter terrain I painted for May the Fourth, and some wooden blocks that could be storage crates. More scenery would have been better for this game, but we managed.
We also measured in centimetres, doubling the distances in inches, to reflect the smaller scale.  I printed off stat cards with the adjusted values, this seemed to work very well.

A desert planet a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away

Some of the Imps lurk behind an abandoned Sandcrawler

The Rebels advance towards a protocol droid

Imperial marksmanship is better than the rumours say...a rebel is wounded

The action hots up around the moisture vaporator

In the end it was a Rebel victory.  I took out the Stormtrooper specialist early on, but the Imps were remarkably good at shooting (for Stormtroopers), taking out two of my Rebels, and their officer slew a third in melee.  I managed to find the droid with the second half of the plans while loosing control of the first one.  By the end though, Rebel shooting put all the Imps out of action.

Great fun.  I'll add a couple of tweaks to the scenario for the future; use both jokers in the pack to get the droids moving more, (in this game they moved three times, the previous time I played it they only moved once).  Add +2 to subsequent attempts to find the correct droid, so it it less likely to be the last one searched.  This may make the game shorter, and (perhaps) be more about finding the droids and less about just shooting your way to victory.
I'll also print out definitions of the relevant traits to assist players, perhaps on a sheet with the stat cards for the crew.  I currently print out individual cards, these could all go on one sheet.

One of my stat cards

This all makes me want to build more Tatooine terrain and paint up more Star Wars minis.  I'm trying to stick to orcs for this month though, perhaps some Gamorreans?

Sunday, 3 October 2021

Orctober - The F'yar Guard

After the excitement of (nearly) completing the First International Townscape Challenge, and a holiday filled with Medieval Music, hiking and cheese, I'm a bit at a standstill. I haven't posted anything since the FITC, and I haven't done much more hobbywise.

There's plenty I'd like to be doing, but I'm not really sure what to do next (lack of games as a target again) and I don't want to get back in the situation of having too many unfinished projects. 

#Orctober has inspired me though. I've been looking through my 15mm Dragon Rampant orcs and found a set of unpainted command. These are Blood Dawn miniatures from Magister Militum. I got these ages ago, and they are actually a bit big, but I thought they'd work as an elite unit for my 15mm Dragon Rampant Orcs, but do I really need them?

Back in 2017 I started thinking about adapting Bloodbath at Orcs Drift for Dragon Rampant and that campaign includes an elite unit to accompany the Orc leader King F'yar, called the F'yar Guard. These, I thought, would be ideal. So the answer is 'yes, I do need them'.

I'm painting them up using my current method of base coat - highlight - dip. 
First things first though, the bases needed some surgery. The minis are big, with appropriately large broccoli bases. To big to fit comfortably on a 15mm diameter base, then on with the painting.

The painting was pretty straightforward, following the same method as I used for the Kings of War orcs starting here (and I must finish basing them).
They are currently waiting for the gloss varnish to dry, but here they are prior to the dip stage.

These are really fun minis to paint and seem to do well with my style of painting.  


Wednesday, 1 September 2021

FITC Tavern part 4 - Finished (Sort of)

Well the First International Townscape Challenge is finished.  

Bodvoc's Towerhouse

Merijn's ruined tower

Bodvoc was done first, you can see more about his excellent towerhouse here.  Merijn also beat me to it, and his excellent ruined version of the tower is detailed here
I spent the last few hours of August 31st painting in the windows of the Tavern, so now it's at least tabletop ready. I'll admit that I still have things to do before I'm really happy with the Tavern, but I was thinking a week ago that I'd have nothing more than an unpainted foam board box. 

This has been a learning experience as well as just producing some terrain in a friendly competition. It's the first time I've mocked up a build prior to making the model, this certainly helped me get the proportions right. The upper windows were a new technique too, and I'm very pleased with the results. I'll be looking out for different sizes of mesh to make more of these in the future. 

I made the decision to dig out my airbrush for the undercoat, a wise decision, given the size of the build. I've never really got the hang of using an airbrush, I got it to paint the terrain when Deadzone was first released, and struggled to get a result I was happy with, so it got packed away. 
Since then I've had a very helpful advice session from T'Other One (thanks), this seemed a great opportunity to put it into practice. 

Undercoating done (a darkish grey mixed from my black and white surface primers), I decided to try using the airbrush to do the bulk of the painting as well.  By now I was getting seriously worried about that deadline and hoped this would be faster.

First I painted the roof, with a base of Vallejo Model Air Mud Brown, then added in amounts of VMA Middle Stone and Flat Yellow and sprayed at an angle from above to catch the edge of the tiles.  This sort of worked, but I think the effect (more obvious in life than on the photos) is too subtle.  I'm also not keen on the base colour, the original model has a reddish/terracotta colour. I may well go back and repaint the roof at a later date.

Then I used the airbrush to paint the daub panels.   This was much more successful.  I gave each panel a good coat of VMA Barley Grey, concentrating on the middle of the panels to allow some of the darker undercoat to show round the edges.  Then I gave the middle of each panel a light blast of VMA White.  

I gave the stonework a coat of VMA Dark Grey blue, finally, while I had the airbrush out I gave each window a coat of black as a good base for the window leading, carefully masking the panels to avoid spoiling what I had already done.

Once everything was dry I carefully picked out the timbers with VGC Scorched Brown and some of the stones in a few different greys and browns.  Once dry it all got a drybrush with a pale mix of the various greys on my palette and VGC Off White, nicely spoiling the neat job I'd done earlier painting the windows black, d'oh.

By now I could see an end to the project, though I knew I'd be revisiting it to do the final touches.  I just wanted enough painting for it to look OK.

Next I 'reset' the windows in black, gave the doors a basecoat of Vallejo Extra Opaque Heavy Green and the chimneypots VGC Terracotta. 
The doors were then highlighted with VGC Goblin Green, for this I used a very old brush with a few bristles quite spread out.  This give a sort of woodgrain highlight effect that I think works well at this scale, and is certainly a lot quicker than my more careful highlighting.  I painted the door furniture black, as Merijn has pointed out when he was building the whole of the Townscape, door furniture is usually rustproofed with a good coat of black paint.

To darken the stones I gave them all a wash of VGC Black Wash.  This emphasised the mortar lines between the stones again, somewhat lost in the drybrushing.

The window panes were then dotted in in white (not as carefully as I'd have liked), and when dry a coat of Citadel Soulstone Blue was 'globbed on' to finish them off.

The front of the (currently nameless) inn

The back showing the arch with door and the kitchen door

A strengthened side door.  This should stop those bandits, always wanting to put drinks on the slate.

Side view showing the barred ground floor windows and diamond pane upper windows.

The yard, and a better view of the inside of the archway.

Well, that's done, or rather it isn't.  There's a lot more to do before I'm truly happy with it. As I mentioned above, I may well repaint the roof in a more reddish orange colour to match the Townscape original.   I will certainly add some green ink algae staining as I did on both the 15mm buildings and the Bakehouse and probably some sawdust moss as well, especially on the roof.  Speaking of the roof, I made a point of keeping the outside of the card uppermost, as the inside is rougher and tends to take paint differently (it also absorbs glue better, so is quicker to stick in place).  However, I must have pulled a postage label off, roughing up the texture, you can see this especially at the bottom of the rear roof, that might have to be disguised with moss.

Other things to do; add shutters, especially now Merijn has mentioned half shutters to get over the embarrassing 'roof-in-the-way' issue at the front.  Frames for the windows to define them within the timber framing and make it look like they could open.  Make a gate for the archway.  Finally, a name and a sign.  I'm still not sure on a name.  I'm tempted by Slann in Space, an option for the Townscape original and suitably daft.  part of me wants to go with the Three Feathers, a nod to a classic WFRP scenario.

Eventually I'd like to base the tavern, or inn as I think of it.  I mentioned my ideas of it being some remote coaching inn, so I'll also make some walls to protect the rear of the building, and I've noticed that the Townscape incudes a stables, ideal for the courtyard.

I've really enjoyed the FITC, and I hope Bodvoc and Merijn have too.  It gave me the impetus to make a centrepiece for games, especially once I get the stables and walls built.
We've already discussed the SITC; given that Merijn has now completed the Townscape set we are extending the brief slightly, but it should still be very Oldhammer in style.  Once we've finalised things I'll post the details, but it probably won't be until November at the earliest.

Friday, 27 August 2021

FITC Tavern part 3 - Detailing

I've managed to get the Tavern ready for painting. Looking at my co-challengees they seem to be further ahead. Bodvoc in particular has got his house painted and Merijn has got his based.

Looking at their progress, I'm worried I won't finish in time.  I was, perhaps, too ambitious for the time allowed, especially given another bout of decorating (and time spent watching Avatar: The Last Airbender), but I shall persevere.
I'm making a few changes from my initial plans, I'm not worrying about basing for the challenge, though I will get a base on as soon  as possible afterwards.  I'm also leaving off the shutters that are an important part of the look of the original, and the big doors I had planned for the archway (see below).  That way I might just get it finished in time for the end of August.

Before detailing the building I had a good think about how I imagined the building and how it would work.  I picture it as a coaching inn somewhere in the Old World.  The archway would lead to an enclosed courtyard (I'll build some walls for this later), possibly with a stables.  The archway has a set of big doors (I'm shifting them from the end of the wing, which I imagine is some sort of kitchen or storage.  The kitchen needs a fire, so I'll place a chimney above the wing, and the extension also needs a chimney.
The need to fortify the Tavern means that the ground floor windows are heavily barred (eventually with shutters) with fancier windows on the first floor, and the foundations are stone.
For the timber framing I tried to assemble believable frame structures, so the stone foundations have a heavy timber across the top.  Each corner has a similar timber which supports horizontals at various points.  Smaller timbers fill in between the main frames.  All the timber is balsa wood, cut without a ruler to give a more hand made look.  I've also deliberately avoided having the timbers, especially the smaller timbers, perfectly straight.  I've seen a fair few buildings using this method of construction, the timbers are rarely perfectly lined up or straight. 
The daub is ready mixed filler, applied between the timbers.  I used a fairly thick layer, and again avoided having it look too 'perfect'.  Handy hint:  if you damp the foamboard it helps the filler to stick when you apply it.

Side wall of the tavern showing both window types, the stone foundations and the timber framing and daub

The stone foundations are 4mm strips of XPS textured with my trusty Greenstuff World roller.  I always go over the texture with a sharp pencil to emphasis the stonework, then give it the 'foil ball' treatment. Unfortunately I handled the building a lot while adding the timbers etc, and some of the detail has been softened.  I gave it a protective coat of Mod Podge, but I wish I'd done it straight away.

The tavern front showing the fortified door and the archway.  

The ground floor windows with their strong iron bars are made from 'granny grating'.  This is a plastic mesh sold for cross stitch, but it makes excellent grating for models and is available from craft shops.  The door is simply a thin sheet of balsa with 2mm wide planks engraved on it with a sharp pencil.  I added extra planks to strengthen the front door, and since the above photo was taken I've added heavy rivets made from 2mm adhesive stones, again available from most craft shops.  The handle is a ring bent out of copper wire (at last, that jewellery making comes in useful) held in place by a wire loop glued into the door.  
The archway will eventually have a stout double door to keep out marauding orcs, goblins, beastmen and tax collectors, but that's a job for later.

The rear of the tavern showing the chimneys and the kitchen door (with hinges) replacing the nice double doors on the original.  You can just make out the door from the archway.

The roof was made the same way as the roof on the Bakehouse here.  The chimneys are blocks of XPS with brickwork carved in with a scalpel then a pencil and textured with a ball of foil.  The chimney pots are push pins, a very nice shape for chimney pots.  The stacks are anchored in place with cocktail sticks.

The other side of the tavern

I wanted the upstairs windows to look nice and delicate.  I thought the drywall tape I used for the Bakehouse was a bit crude, this is a high class establishment.  I wanted nice diamond panes.  Bodvoc used aluminium car repair mesh for his build, and I planned to do the same.  I have half a sheet of the stuff somewhere in the loft of shame.  


Instead I tried using the plastic mesh from a food bag*, in this case from bulbs of garlic, which should also give extra protection from vampires.  I stretched the mesh over a sheet of 1mm cardboard/chipboard and then glued the corners with superglue and accelerant.  Then I coated the whole lot with PVA glue.  Once dry it can easily be cut into shape for individual windows.  I admit they would look better with fancier frames, but I was rushing by now.

As I type I've undercoated the model and it is drying, prior to painting over the weekend.

I'm pleased with my progress, but there are some things I wish I'd done differently.  I should have added more diagonal timbers, especially to the larger panels.  I do like the the idea of shutters for protection, but the placement of the front upper windows means they couldn't open or close because the roof is in the way.  I failed to account for the tiles when I placed the windows.
The first door I made was for the kitchen, with card strips for hinges.  I then realised that for the hinges to show, the door must open outwards.  I imagine the inhabitants bar the doors in case of emergencies, which implies inward opening doors, so all the rest are without hinges.  Hopefully the door furniture and the strengthening timbers make them look interesting.  There are two doors leading off the inside of the archway passage.  These are quite plain; they can't be seen easily.

Next up, painting.  Lets see how well I meet the deadline.  If I'm struggling I can always claim I still use the Julian calendar. 

* Ironically, for my original build of this model, way back in the 1980s, I tried something similar, stretching the mesh from a fruit net over the inside of the building.  In those days I cut the windows out.  I couldn't get the mesh tight enough though and it looked rubbish.  Somewhere I still have the unfinished model, I might go back and finish it as a nice counterpoint to this tavern.