Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fields of Green

Played four-ish games of Warhammer with Jack today.

Since I'm still waiting for the units required to finish my Empire army, and my Chaos Dwarfs are in any event far from complete, and furthermore wishing to avoid the more complex rules (this is his first exposure to the game), I produced two cut-down 800-ish point lists. I took a Chaos Dwarf force of two units of Dwarfs (15 with hand weapon and shield, led by a hero with the Black Hammer of Hashut, and 10 with great weapons), 20 strong hobgoblins, 10 hobgoblins on wolves, a hobgoblin bolt thrower, and a level 2 sorceror (lore of fire). I kitted him out with a Captain leading 19 spearmen, 20 halberdiers, 8 inner circle knights, 10 hangunners, a level 2 Amethyst wizard and a cannon.

The games were a lot of fun, though he was hampered by the learning curve inherent in the rules (although he picked it up quickly) and me by never having played Chaos Dwarfs before and not being totally sure how to do it. Some quite entertaining moments ensued, such as the game where both of our war machine crews were wiped out before either fired a shot, or when my sorceror single-handedly wiped out 19 spearmen with fire spells only to have his life drained out of him by Jack's chicita (as he called her).

We played on my green-flocked modular board.

This board was put together a number of years ago and is made out of 1" thick extruded foam insulation boards, cut into 2' x 2' tiles. They were cardboard-bottomed as I wanted to have a kind of river going through some of the tiles. This didn't work out so well and the small size of the tiles proved to be a problem, as I invariably end up using them on my kitchen table, which is smaller than 6' x 4', the normal size I play with. Today I put down three 4' x 2' lengths of foam board and arranged my six flocked board pieces atop them, and that was much more stable; they still overhang the table by a good 6" all around but three pieces handle this better than six.

I have therefore resolved to follow my lovely wife's suggestion and glue them down onto 4' x 2' board sections, creating a three-piece double layer board. Ripping the cardboard off the bottoms means that I'll need to completely redo the river portions, but I want to redo them anyway, since I discovered the existence of Water Effects.

I have begun the construction work following our games, resulting in a ton of flock coming off the boards and the realization that I need both more white glue and more spackle. Fortunately I'm still good for flock.

I'm also working on a mountain board for my Chaos Dwarfs. It will be a mixture of gray stone, snow, and brown ground cover, done in three boards of 2' x 4' (see, he can be taught). That's got the hills glued on and spackled. Next up, sanding.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Brown Stuff

The game with Dougly this Friday went very well for the noble stalwarts of the Empire, although the degree to which this is attributable to blind luck is possibly up for debate.

My deployment had hills and a tower on the left, and rough ground and a copse of woods on the right. I put a cannon on the hills and a mortar behind some walls on the right, the Helblaster mid-line sort of in the middle, and my pistoliers on the left wing. From inside the tower going towards the right were spearmen, halberds, ogres, Hellcannon, and then knights behind the wood. My handgunners got stuck on the far right for lack of room to put them anywhere else.

Dougly lined up two units of Saurus behind an impressive meatshield screen of skinks, plus a unit of three Kroxigor, supported by a Stegadon on my right and his Slann. Pterodon riders were posted on each of his flanks.

The battle was basically an exercise of him advancing into a withering hail of fire until, finally, charges were exchanged. The helblaster did a vicious number on his skinks, 14 hits with no misfires on the first volley. My handgunners did nothing except shoot down the right-hand pterodons. On my left his pterodons decimated my pistoliers only to charge a detachment of crossbows and end up getting charged by the pistolier survivors in the rear.

My cannon managed to sink two cannonballs uselessly into the turf and then run out of things to shoot at, but the mortar did much better, killing a bunch of skinks, a couple of saurus, and (to great acclaim from my side of the table), inflicted a fluke wound on the Slann.

Despite the fact that I only had one level 2 amethyst mage to face down Dougly's skink shaman and Slann magic-machine, things didn't go entirely his way; both of his mages rolled up a Celestial spell that lets you get re-rolls, and the one turn that he failed to cast it, he desperately could have used it, as he then proceeded to miscast a spell that he really needed to cast, and end his own magic phase.

Once we got to grips with the remainder of his force, things generally went the Empire's way. My knights suffered the loss of their lances to magic and got charged by the stegadon but they were off on the flanks and generally not of much use in any event. My ogres routed his saurus and then my halberds did likewise to his kroxigor, at which point we called the game. My gunnery fire and the unusual reticence of my helblaster to immolate itself inflicted severe damage on his battle line, his Saurus did nothing in the magic phases to justify his cost (roughly 20% of Dougly's total army) and having 2/3rds of his core battle-line routing (even with Lizardmen rerolls, his Kroxigor couldn't help rolling boxcars) was just a hill too high to climb.

I think I did a lot better this time around both due to luck and to understanding my army better. The vast majority of games I've played have been as a Chaos general, and the Empire don't work that way. I need to get used to the idea of exploiting my artillery and gunfire, minimizing the impact of the generally lackluster quality of most of my units, and reconciling myself to the idea that I really don't have any elites.

The biggest concern playing Empire is that there are so many threats that you don't really have an answer to, besides 'hope a cannon shot gets lucky'. I'm used to having a Chaos Lord who can kill anything that you point it at. Even the best warrior in an Empire army is maybe a good match for an Exalted Champion. They just don't have anything in the same league as a Lord of Chaos.

It's a fun army to play though, with stuff to do in every phase of the game and a lot of versatility, variety, and chrome. I'm growing to be a big fan.

In other news, today I was playing with my new Brown Stuff. As you may know, sculpting is done with Green Stuff, an epoxy putty which comes in blue and yellow strips that you mush together to produce the eponymous green putty. Brown stuff is similar but a different mixture. I'd never used it before. It's different. It's softer but it holds form better; green stuff is slightly spongy, and therefore more forgiving. But you can get some interesting detail work and rigid shapes out of brown stuff that green stuff just won't do well.

I can think of lots of interesting applications for it. I'm quite enjoying playing with it and getting a feel for what it can do.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I have a game scheduled for tomorrow against Dougly's perfidous Lizardmen. The brave sons of the Empire will rally to the cause, gird their loins, and collect the makings of some very fine boots and purses. Hopefully.

Of course, with such a collision imminent, I've been painting. Lots.

The hardware. I have a great cannon, a Helblaster, and a mortar that I kitbashed together from leftover Cannon bits and parts of an old Battle Masters cannon. All of them are painted, but this is the first piece to have a painted crew to go with it.

Command for my block of 20 spearmen -- musician, champion, and the battle priest hero. The priest is one of the first models I got for this force and has been painted for a while. The other two are more recent.

Bannerman and some of the poor sods who are doubtless going to catch obsidian blades in their tender bits come tomorrow. Details on the bannerman and his buddy (their bases are connected to keep the banner from tipping over) were hard to do, next time around I'm going to paint them and then add the square mile of canvas they're hauling around.

Side view. I went for the simple option for their banners, being at my heart not particularly interested in intricately detailed iconography on my flags.

Amethyst battle wizard. This is a Reaper fig; Empire armies can field 8 different types of wizards and I'm eventually planning on having Reaper minis for each of them at my disposal for this force. I was really pleased with how she turned out. I fear my painting skills have far outstripped my meager photography skills, as I'm not really capturing it well here.

Full details concerning the looming battle to come. Stout hearts and iron bowels, and all that.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Design Esthetic

The background of my Empire army is that it is the personal force of Konrad the Black, exile and mercenary. Konrad was forced to leave his family estates after his brother was corrupted by Nurgle and killed their parents and a large portion of their estate tenants and workers. He left his sister to manage what remained and travelled to Tilea, to sell his sword as a mercenary, to support her.

Years later he has built up a sizeable mercenary force and founded an order of knights, the Knights of the Black Hand. He still takes on mercenary contracts now and again but increasingly spends his time pursuing the minions of Chaos, in hopes of one day finding his wayward corrupted brother and putting him to the sword.

The modelling, painting and composition of the army is built around this background. Blue is the dominant colour in the force, but it's used in a fairly chaotic manner, with lots of different shades and patterns in any given unit, plus some whites, browns and the occasional green. You end up with something which looks much more improvised and hodge-podge than the usual bright, regular repeating patterns of Empire armies.

The detachments support this theme. I run two blocks of 9 militia, who naturally gravitate towards the hodge-podge side of things, and two missile detachments, 5 crossbowmen and 5 archers. For these I'm using miniatures from the old Battle Masters game, which I had as a kid. They're nice little minis that paint up well and have a vaguely Tilean feel to them, compared to the very Germanic modern Empire line.

I figured I'd dedicate one rare slot to something from the Dogs of War list to reinforce that mercenary feel. Crossbows or pikes would be flavourful but they also tend to replicate things I already have in the force, so I went with Ogres. The nice new Ogre plastic kit may have influenced this decision. I added beards and hair to them with green stuff and converted the unit champion partially. They use a splash of blue on their belly plates to tie them into the rest of the army, while still being visually distinct.

The last thing I have to add is a unit of pistoliers, which should be arriving in the mail any day now. I hope to convert them to look more Tilean than Imperial, but I'm not sure yet how I'm going to do that. I'll have to see the plastics first.

The one thing that stands out in this list as not really belonging is my Helblaster volley gun. It doesn't really belong, fluff-wise. I just can't leave it behind. It's a lot of fun to play; sometimes mowing down the enemy, sometimes blowing apart where it sits, and sometimes doing both at once.

Friday, May 15, 2009

First Post

This blog is intended to be the repository for photographic evidence of my lethargy and procrastination.

I have a veritable ton of miniatures. Maybe even a literal ton. I'm fuzzy on how much a ton is.

Some of these miniatures are painted, but not enough. In my ongoing efforts to remedy this situation I have decided to start this blog, both in the interests of entertaining the legions (half dozen or so) of people who might want to look at it, and as a motivational tool. As I sculpt, convert, and paint things, I'll post the evidence here.

It is my (doubtlessly optimistic) hope that this will encourage me to greater productivity in the putting-paint-on-lead front.

Without further adieu, here are a few pics to get you started, from the other blog.

(How much does Blogger suck? I had to re-upload those images. I can't link to images I already have posted on another blog owned by me. Good job, everyone. High five.)