Saturday, December 3, 2016

Spanish for Saga

Or alternately, "out with the old, in with the new." I discovered Crusader Miniatures El Cid Spanish well after I'd painted my Spanish warband using Gripping Beast Normans. I fell in love with the Crusader figures the first time I saw them.  With so much history to paint, it seems silly to repeat a project but that's whats happening here.    

After putting in an order with Crusader, I set about locking in my new color scheme.  My GB Spanish were done in yellows & reds. I tried yellow and black on these Spanish footmen for a test run. Overall, I'm pleased but I'll take the yellow down a notch.  

I'm using a desert basing that matches my Moors so the two can be used against each other in Hail Caesar.  In Saga, I can swap individual figures back and forth for a nice Reconquista look to the warbands.   

With 33-41 horses to paint, I dug out a tutorial on the Metal Mountain blog for the oil wipe method.  I was thrilled with the combination of speed and shading I achieved so the oil wipe method is a lock as well.

I'm blessed to have a buyer in Chicago for almost all of my 15mm & 28mm painting. After a few emails, my Spanish/Norman/Breton/Strathclyde warband was on its way to the Windy City.  The buyer owns a gaming store so these fellows will see the table quite a bit.  It makes me happy to know that something I've painted is put to good use. If you're ever in Chicago and you see these lads out, send me a picture!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Dead Man's Hand

These lovely figures are the "Daughters of the West" set by Great Escape Games.  Each is a character in her own right and that made these fun to paint. Its hard to come up with a back story when you're painting 70 figure warbands for SAGA but it worked for me here.

These fellows are part of the Dead Man's Hand Rogues collection.  Speaking of a story, the Preacher looks to be channeling the abolitionist John Brown.  I can't wait to get him out on the tabletop, even if it is just for a bit of color in a gunfight.

My friend John Stentz hosts a Halloween-themed game of DMH every October. We played  "Dead Man's Hand, Dead Again" with Cowboys versus Zombies last year. This  year was "Night of the Undead Man's Hand" with Outlaws versus Lawmen versus zombies.  You read that right.  Each turn, 3 zombies spawned from a grocery store in the middle of the table and moved to the sound of the nearest gun!  It was a target rich environment with Oktoberfest beers, pumpkin pie and lots of laughs. It's a testament to the game that 3 years on, Dead Man's Hand in still in  rotation and I'm already looking forward to our next Halloween showdown.  

I've got two new SAGA warbands under way. The US Grand Melee is next March and I've got 4 months to paint and train up with a new warband.  I'm split on taking the Spanish or Mutatawwi'a. Whatever I take, it'll be another epic event, courtesy of Eric Hagen and all the great players who turn out. This gaming life is a good one!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Norse Gaels Set Sail

I started painting my Norse-Gaels in January of 2014 and just finished them two weeks ago. 72 figures is a lot for a SAGA warband but I wanted all options. With new warbands in the painting queue and others resting, I put these up for sale.  Since they went to a local player, I'll get to see them at our SAGA events.  Bonus, the $ will fund my airbrush setup now that I've picked out my hardware.

The Gripping Beast & Footsore Irish figures mix very well.  I recommend both for anyone painting Norse-Gaels.  I painted up a warlord with Dane Axe and one without.  A priest is very handy with this warband too. Hearthguard with Dane Axe and without.  When running 20-30 warriors with Dane Axe, I tend to take my hearthguard without axes.  I tend to leave my levy javelinmen at home.  Maybe the new warlord will give them a workout?  Warriors without Dane Axes are javelin-armed and have a lower armor class to shooting.  Shooty warbands go after these lads first so be prepared. I do love the Footsore scuplt with the head! Warriors with Dane Axe.  I like to max out on these.  Buffed with abilities like Howling Axes and Slaughter, these fellows are deadly in 5 and 6 man units! 

I took these Norse Gaels to my first SAGA Grand Melee and they performed very well.  Painting and playing them was a blast but now they're off to serve a new warlord. Cheers, boys!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Camel Caravan

I wanted a camel caravan for my SAGA Crescent & Cross baggage train.  After a bit of searching, I chose this lovely set by Castaway Arts.  After a long delay, I finally got them through the painting queue this weekend.  They're not as exciting as fighting figures but they are quite colorful I think!

I also finished more Moors. These are Artizan Designs figures. When I run Moors,  I use an all foot warrior build with 4 Naffatun.  I activate every unit with "Song of Drums."  Its the only trick I've got so far. One day, I'll figure out how to properly run Moors in SAGA but that day is not today. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

WW II Soviet Vehicles

My favorite things about WW II painting is the vehicles.  They're a great change-up from my usual Dark Age painting and I turned to YouTube to learn weathering techniques. The variety of techniques is a bit overwhelming and I'm still learning.  

T-34/85:  My first tank went together fast.  My mistake here was using two washes. After the first wash, I thought the tank looked too bright and after the second, it was too dark! I now prime my Soviet vehicles a lighter green to better show off weathering effects.

Disappointed with how dark it turned out, I used a light drybrush and pigment dusting to take it up a notch in brightness. All in all, it'll do.

Lledo Diecast Truck: Pat's Wargaming with Silver Whistle blog showed us how to turn a cheap diecast into a sharp looking WW II vehicle.  I bought a Lledo "Days Gone By" truck off eBay for $6. Primed black, painted and weathered up, I've got myself a transport for Mother Russia.  Thanks Pat for leading the way on this very affordable option!

SU-76: I tried an improv here. I love "panel lighting" highlighs but I don't have an airbrush to achieve this effect. I tried to copy it by applying a thin glaze of light green on each panel, leaving darker green peaking around the edges. It looked pretty crappy in the early stages. 

Not to worry!  A wash and weathering pulled it together for a decent (if inferior to airbrushing) effect.

BA-10:  This is my last and  best effort.  Lessons learned, I'm using a nice light green and working up with thinned washes.  I think I'm getting the hang of it. The BA-10 is a fun kit and I run it in most of my lists even though it gets brewed up with regularity!

I've got a Rubicon T-34/76, a Warlord Games KV-2 and two GAZ trucks waiting for an airbrush. Buying an airbrush and all the things that go with it is so expensive that I keep pulling back at the last minute. Brush, compressor, painting booth, thinned paints, cleaner and on and on.  With a steady hand and wallet, I'm going to make the plunge. Soon. Very soon. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

WW II Soviet Infantry

Last year, I took the plunge into painting and playing WW II with Chain of Command and Bolt Action. I enjoyed both rules enough to start a Warlord Games Soviet army. Assembling 60+ plastic figures was a tedious experience that reminded me I'm a painter and not an assembler.  Right after finishing these, Black Tree Design had a 50% off sale on Soviets, making the cost of their metal figures nearly the same as the plastics. D'Oh!  At that price, I bought enough BTD metals to paint up a 2nd Soviet army.

I was looking for shortcuts to get a large Soviet army on the table quickly and after a few tests, I settled on the following:
1. Prime with Plastic Soldier Company's Russian Tank primer (dark green).
2. Block paint in everything but the uniforms
3. Heavy wash with Army Painter Strong tone.
4. Highlights over the top including the uniforms and skin with 2 highlights.  Fast but effective, it got the job done quickly.


Tank riders and some odds and ends figures. 

The ZiS-3 looked too boring so I subsequently brought in some railroad ties piled up as cover. 

I was reading about Soviet composer Shostakovitch and his 7th Symphony, composed during the siege of Leningrad. Shosty's story is riveting. After experiencing early success, he was nearly swept up in the purges. It all started when Stalin left one of his performances early.  From there, Pravda denounced his work and other artists were forced to criticize him. Shosty slept on his porch so his family wouldn't see him hauled away in the middle of the night. The war and the 7th Symphony turned things around for him. The symphony was played in Leningrad under the worst of conditions. It remains one of the most famous performances in the history of classical music. 

Since I was doing a Leningrad-themed army, I decided my objective marker would be shout out to Shosty and his Leningrad Symphony.  The piano is by 4Ground.  The cobblestone is roughly done greenstuff.  I used a copy of the 1st page of the 7th Symphony and a picture of Shosty himself.  He's a dead ringer for Harry Potter to boot!

I previously discussed my 2 highlights and a wash technique for painting the Soviet Naval infantry. On the tabletop, I mix the helmet and cap fellows and deploy them as two squads.

Last up is a Warlord Games limited edition female sniper.  I searched high and low for this figure until Rick Davis donated the figure to my army for free.  Thanks Rick!

So how does my Soviet force do on the field of battle?  Well, let's just say I run them about as proficiently as the early war Soviet officers.

Note:  Google + comments  disappeared off my blog this AM for no apparent reason. Troubleshooting this for hours in HTML, I managed to destroy  my blog .  I reinstalled an old template but I've lost my links to everyone's blog.  I've turned on the in blog comments and I'll rebuild my links to all of my fellow bloggers sites in the future.  So sorry!  I'm so tired of this nonsense.  Having a 5 year old blog has caught up with me with lots of crap and errors under the hood.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Forged in Battle Pontics

I'm back to playing ancients with the excellent L'Art de la Guerre rules. ADLG succeeds where Field of Glory (FoG) ancients stumbled.  ADLG creates a fun and decisive 2- 2.5 hour game with lighter figure requirement.  Needing half the figures of FoG, you can paint an army in half the time.  For my first ADLG army, I used Forged in Battle's superb War & Empire figures. They have 30 (!) ancient armies to choose from and many more coming.  FiB sells a Pontic army but I built mine using individual packs. Bonus, the Pontic starter army is 22% off for the month of June. 

So how did the figures paint up? Using "Monty's Method" I finished them in just under two weeks. That's fast by even my standards and a big thumbs up to FiB.  I've used Old Glory 15s almost exclusively for the past 4 years.  With FiB deep bench, variety and crisp detail, I won't be going back to Old Glory.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Conquest Games Medieval Archers

I'm planning to run Normans in a SAGA campaign and needed 24 levy archers to finish my warband. I considered Gripping Beast's archers but with only 4 poses, I took a pass.  I eventually chose Conquest Games medieval plastic archers. You get 28 plastics for about the cost of 12 metal figures.

My experience assembling a Warlord Games Soviet army put me off plastics for a time. This was quite the opposite of that experience. With 4 parts per model, I got them glued up in 2 hours.  I build them generic enough that I can run them in other Dark Age warbands and Frostgrave too.  I moved these from sprue to a game in less than a week. Thanks to Conquest, I've renounced my silly "no plastics" pledge.

I like how Conquest put loads of extras on the sprue and I've now got lots of spares for headswaps. Detail are well molded and the figures painted up nicely, especially the faces.  For variety, you can make left-handed archers and command figures too.  They're well worth a look if you want to create your own Storm of Arrows! Here's a quick summary for Smartphone readers...

28 figures.
Lots of options to customize.
Price is right at $1 a figure.
Lots of extra heads and bits.
Work well for Frostgrave and other fantasy games.

Some assembly but its simple.
I couldn't find a US distributor but I did find a UK eBay seller with affordable international shipping. You can order them straight from Conquest Games too. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Curse of Ivo Taillefer

Ivo Taillefer was a Norman minstrel, juggler and knight who earned immortality at the Battle of Hastings. There he asked William for the honor of first strike against the English.  William agreed and Ivo rode out alone. History says Ivo put on a show, juggling his lance and sword while singing the Song of Roland.  An enraged English warrior stepped forward and challenged Ivo to single combat. History doesn't tell us whether he too was a juggler but I suspect as much.  Ivo slew the challenger and took his head for a trophy.  Needing more heads for his next juggling feat, Ivo charged the enemy by himself.  Anyone who thinks this turned out well, raise your hand.  No-one? Quite right, Ivo was pulled from the saddle and hacked to bits.
Ivo's tentmates greased his scabbard to great effect.
After belatedly discovering Ivo, I decided to paint him as a hero for my Norman warband.  I used Gripping Beast's "William the Bastard" figure with a small modification.  I sawed off William's club-armed hand and pinned a sword hand in its place. After all, history doesn't say anything about a juggled club!

My decision to paint Ivo a bannerman activated the Curse of Ivo.  As I was finishing his figure, I knocked over a bottle of Elmer's glue that knocked Ivo right off the table.  I failed to catch it on its way down and the fall sheared his pinned sword hand clean off. Mildly enraged, I redrilled Ivo's stump, repinning & repainthing his hand.

With Ivo and his bannerman complete, I put them on a 60mm base.  Handling this heavy base was tricky and sure enough, the curse kicked in again while I was applying flocking.  I lost the grip on the base, juggled it for a millisecond and lost it again.  This fall broke off the pinned banner and bent Ivo's mount badly.  Many foul oaths were issued and I had to walk away from the painting table.

When I returned, a  few things were clear. First, I'm no Ivo.  I can't juggle a lance, sword or even a 28mm version of our hero.  Also, the 60mm base was too heavy and awkward for the frequent handling in a skirmish game.  Ivo fought and died alone and it seemed his ghost demanded single basing.  I pried the figures off the big base and rebased them, each alone.

The results are not as pleasing as the big base. Still, I'm hoping single basing puts an end to the Curse of Ivo and my poor attempts at juggling.  So far, I've gone 8 hours without dropping him.  I think that means the curse is lifted!  
Now try that with lead figures.