Monday, June 17, 2013
With the start of our fantasy campaign only a few days away, I put the finishing touches on my warband, the Night Herons of the Black Crown. These are mostly character figures, and like my earlier postings, most were acquired at Little Wars.
Corvin Vunzeister, Arch-Mage of the Black Crown
This year we've made it mandatory to include a magic-user in each warband, so I painted up this Reaper wizard. I had a bit of trouble with his wand, which snapped off at the hand, but I carved the stub out of his palm and glued the wand back in his hand. I particularly like the little creature on his shoulder, which looks a lot like Salacious Crumb, the nasty little pet of Jabba the Hutt.
Vunzeister was once a young apprentice mage of the Silver Tower. His prodigious skills marked him early on as heir to the White Seat. However, a miscast spell by a fellow student nearly killed him, and young Corvin turned to the dark arts to repair his broken body. His health quickly returned, but the phenomenon drew the attention of his instructors, who could sense the presence of ill powers. As soon as he was able, he fled the Silver Tower and sought our the Black Crown to complete his training among wizards with less aversion to the forbidden arts.
Valspan, Half-Giant and Horg the Ogre
Anybody know the origin of these two figures? Neither came with any marks. The ogre was missing something on his belt, so I covered the hole with a sword in sheath. He had square pegs under his feet, presumably for a base, but he didn't come with one. Unfortunately, the picture obscures the impressive double-sided greataxe he is wielding.
Valspan and Horg have been fighting side by side for as long as Horg can remember. Neither is particularly likely to wax emotional about their long friendship (or anything for that matter), but they are comrades of long standing. They have both already lived more than an average human lifetime and they've fought for just about every kingdom. Presently their services have been retained by the Black Crown.
Digging in the lead pile, I found a Ral Partha Chaos Knight to add to the Night Herons' foot knight unit. He's a bit shorter than the Grenadier figures in that unit, but I bulked up his base a bit and now he fits right in.
He has a pretty cool shield also. One more knight and the unit will be a full 10 strong!
Lastly, I painted up this Dragon. He's part of a two-pack of toy "Paint and Play" dragons that was given to me by a fellow on the Reaper forum. The material seems to be about the same PVC vinyl as Reaper's Bones, and it takes paint well. Though not finely detailed, the sculpt is pretty good also, and looks kind of old-school-RPG to me. The base is four cavalry bases glued together with a big piece of pine bark cemented on top. This is my first try at painting a dragon using a purple highlight over blue.
Singetooth Clawback is a dragon of great age and fierce reputation. Adopted by an unnamed servant of the Black Crown several hundred years ago, he has long been a mythic character among the small-folk of the Darker North. Vunzeister is presently the human he has chosen through which to communicate with the Black Crown.
Here's a shot of the entire warband together. At this point it would work well for Song of Blades and Heroes or WarEngine. I'm looking at a few options for enlarging it to be suitable for small games of Kings of War. More on that if and when it develops.
As a bonus, here are three figures I got in the recent Little Wars lot. Normally all such models get stripped, but these were already painted enough that all I had to do was rebase and brush-dip them. A warrior, dwarf and squire all seem like pretty useful fantasy tropes to have on hand. Their bases were obscured with goo, so if any one can help me identify them I'd really appreciate it. I'm nearly positive the dwarf is Ral Partha, but I'm not sure about the barefoot swordsman and the squire/standard-bearer.
-- Karl, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member
Friday, June 7, 2013
Last night CSW met at Games Plus with some folks from Hyacinth Games, developers of Wreck-Age, a new post-apocalyptic skirmish game. They ran a special four-player event for us called The Battle of Ten-Pike.
Wreck-Age, as you might have heard, takes place on a future earth that has been abandoned by the rich and powerful, leaving the unwashed masses to fend for themselves. Various apocalypses were visited upon this desolate earth, and the survivors are just beginning to claw their way back from the rubble as the game begins. It's rich with fluff and boasts a well-developed back story (some of which will be published as an upcoming RPG companion).
Ten Pike is a trading settlement located near the ruins of Mt. Prospect, Illinois. Perhaps one of those shacks is a ruined Games Plus!
The town was populated with numerous civilians -- some armed, some not. Many of the civilians minis were Mordheim figures, though the majority of the minis on the board were official Wreck-Age models.
We split into teams. Tim and Mike controlled the Drifters, a ragtag group of bandits and thieves. They were tasked with escaping off the board with pack boars loaded with stolen loot, while causing as much havoc as possible on the way out.
Pat and I controlled the Stitchmen, a faction comprised of hunters who prolong their lives by harvesting organs from other humans. Our job was to assassinate the villagers and cut out their organs, and most of our guys had non-lethal (yet still powerful) weapons to aid this task. The Stitchmen are fairly powerful, so Pat and I only had three minis on the board.
The civilians were controlled by Matt and Nick from Hyacinth Games.
Matt began by explaining the setting and the basics of each turn. Players dice off for initiative and then alternative activating one figure at a time. Models have a number of Activation points that allow them to perform actions on the tabletop, such as moving, running, shooting or harvesting internal organs (in the case of the Stitchmen). Here are some highlights from the game.
One of Pat's Stitchmen started off the fun by stealthily knocking out some of the town guards.
The drifters made an efficient dash toward their board edge after snatching up the pack boars. (Sidenote: Boars serve a variety of purposes in Wreck-Age. In addition to working as pack animals, some factions rig them with explosives and use them as pig bombs!)
On the way out of town, the Drifters cut their way through a swathe of innocent civilians. Here they are, attempting to fight back against the raiders.
My lone Stitchman hid behind some barrels while planning his attack.
He decided the best course of action would be to storm the bridge and slaughter one of the guards. Unfortunately he was swarmed by two townspeople as he harvested the guard's organs. The other guard shot him with a net gun, so he was unable to fight back.
One of Pat's hunters assisted by tranquilizing the other guard from afar, allowing my Stitchman to free himself from the net, whereupon he killed and harvested both civilians. At this point, the short game had come to a close and we tallied up victory points. Overall, the Stitchmen managed to harvest organs from seven townspeople. The Drifters caused more havoc, and also managed to escape the town, so Tim and Mike were declared the winners.
Thanks to Matt and Nick for running this event for us! We are looking forward to playing Wreck-Age again soon.
-- Josh, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member
Thursday, June 6, 2013
I've been hard at work painting more miniatures for our summer fantasy campaign. Last month I showed off the Night Herons, a group of Chaos Warriors and their mutated champion. Now I've added some lightly armed skirmish troops and cavalry. As before, all of these figures came from that bin-o-lead that Pat and I picked up at Little Wars.
This first batch I'm calling Half-Elf Tribesmen. When I pulled them from the bin, I thought they were just Celts. After priming them, I noticed that they have elf ears -- turns out they are Sidhe Faerie warriors, a line of figures for Alternative Armies "Erin" game based on Celtic mythology.
Regardless, it's neat to see Celtic equipment and imagery on elves, when such decoration is much more common on human barbarians and dwarves in fantasy settings. Alternative Armies figures are typically large (30mm or bigger) and well-detailed. Thus even these 90s-era miniatures scale very well with current fantasy offerings. There was a bit more flash than expected, but it cleaned up fine. I think the leader figure is particularly well done.
The children of men and elves, Half Elves are born without the near-immortal lifespan of their pureborn kin. Pureblood elves call them "Stillborn," as they are considered to be dead already. Their numbers have increased in the past few generations and they have begun separate themselves from men and elves. They are now mostly found in tribes who prefer to establish seasonal lodging in protected canyons adjacent to the grasslands and forests where they do their hunting. Half Elf tribes are disparate in geography, culture and belief.
My savage Half-Elf shaman is a Grenadier Barbarian Shaman. The figure is a human, but you can't see his ears under the horse skull, so he makes a fine Half-Elf shaman. Interestingly, he also has a small medallion on his waist that matches one on a couple of my chaos warrior figures.
Half Elf Shamans perform a vital religious and ceremonial roles for their tribe. It falls to them to take from the beliefs and cultures of men and elves and to create a narrative that will shape the folkways and traditions of the tribe. Though outcasts from both cultures, Half Elfs are not as reticent as purebloods to become involved in the affairs of men, and when war comes, it usually falls to the tribe's shaman to discern which side to support.
Now let's take a look at a pair of vintage Ral Partha cavalry figures that I am calling "Beast-blood Knights." The first is "Perfidion, Knight of the Chaos Lords." He's stock except that I glued a skull (cut from a piece of Space Wolf iconography) to his shield to avoid having to display my poor freehand skills.
The second is a "Champion of Chaos." He was originally sold in a pack containing horse, rider and dismounted rider. Unfortunately, I do not have the dismounted version or the correct horse, but I think his replacement horse looks fine.
The fierce warriors known as Beastbloods are a mix of humans and beastmen. Usually the progeny of a liaison between woman of partial beast blood and a chaos knight, Beastbloods who show promise as warriors are often reclaimed by their father when they reach a sufficient age to join the Black Crown. Many of the strongest and most successful Beastbloods are the sons of the Night Herons.
With a bit of searching, you can see both on this page. However, as far as I can tell, both of these are long out-of-print and are not amongst the Ral Partha figures currently reissued by Iron Wind Metals. They both appear to share the exact same legs section, and as far as I can tell are the only two Ral Partha figures that do, so it was extremely lucky to find both in the same lead bin.
It's no surprise that these figs all painted up pretty fast with my usual prime/base/dip/matte technique. I feel I can confidently recommend buying of any of them if you're into vintage figures. Look for an upcoming post containing a set of notable characters in the service of the Black Crown.
Appendix: Why so many figures in your warband?
Astute Song of Blades & Heroes players will note that I have already far surpassed the standard 300-point Song of Blades & Heroes warband size for the Night Herons. We're using 500 points as the starting point for our campaign warbands, but I'm sure to exceed even that amount. So why keep painting? Well, it's not only because I enjoy it (though I do). This year we are also going to dabble in larger engagements occasionally throughout the campaign. We are planning on trying WarEngine a few times and I'm even becoming intrigued by Kings Of War. More on this as the campaign progresses.
-- Karl, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member
Friday, May 31, 2013
A few guys from the club got together in my basement recently for an off-week game night. Our goal was to showcase some newly painted fantasy figures and terrain that we've been slowly accumulating ahead of the summer fantasy campaign. We were all collectively itching to play some more Song of Blades & Heroes, a fantastic ruleset that has served us well since the club's inception in 2010. (Spoiler: for readers who enjoyed last summer's Iron Isle campaign, get ready for a treat. We're going back to that wondrous world with this new campaign! More details to come...)
For this game night, we tried a slightly different table configuration for my small basement game area. It turned out really well -- everyone was basically sitting by everyone else, so we could chat and talk trash and sort of watch all the other games unfold. We played 6 separate 1-on-1 games of Song of Blades & Heroes, switching seats between each game so people could play against different opponents on different boards.
As you can see from the photos, we set up three distinct 3x3-foot skirmish boards: a medieval village, a wooded glade and a grim canyon dominated by a fortified watchtower.
Rather than attempt to reconstruct the chaos and fury of last night's games, I'll just present the photos and try to examine the little vignettes that played out on the tabletop.
In the first game, Karl's chaos knights (the Night Herons of the Black Crown) faced off against Jon's orc raiders. The two sides came to blows quickly, and both factions were kitted out for close combat. Karl's knights started the game by lurking near the crumbling walls of the fortified watchtower.
Here are a couple typical brawls from that game.
And here is Jon's orc warchief, mere moments before he was slain in a cascade of bad rolls that ultimately spelled defeat for Jon and victory for Karl.
Across the way, I sent my undead skeletons creeping into a sparse forest in search of Tyler's dwarven adventurers. The dwarves, for their part, advanced in a stout, bearded line of armor and axes, backed up by the considerable threat provided by a large bear named Rolf (pictured below).
Alas, I overextended with my cool, newly painted skeletal dragon and was punished for it. The dragon was cut down by the stunty dwarves as he smashed into their armored line. In game terms, I forgot that the dwarves had the fearless special ability, which rendered my dragon's terror ability irrelevant!
This would prove to be a theme for the night: send my dragon in to attack, and watch it die horribly. Oh well.
Across the table on the village board, Tim's monster-demon-dudes squared off against Josh's newly painted warband of adventurers. Here's Josh's team -- in true old-school fashion, he has a little bit of everything in here: dog, mouse warrior, elf archer, etc.
Here are Tim's guys in action. The scenario (Tim was defending a pumping station and Josh's guys were crippled by thirst) meant that Josh was on his back almost from the start. Their game was definitely among the first to end.
It didn't help that Josh's adventurers had to face off against THIS THING while scurrying through the streets of the village. (Tim often brings cthuloid monstrosities to the table as part of his SBH warbands, and this evening was no exception.)
After those games concluded, we chatted a bit and swapped seats for a new set of games. Of course, my notes got even sketchier at this point in the evening, so bear with me (Rolf pun).
In the medieval village, Tyler mustered his dwarves to assault Karl's chaos knights. That game ended up lasting for the rest of the evening, and they were still playing it out as we were packing up our models at the end of the night.
Here's a closeup of the fight that was developing in the center of town. It took the dwarves a while to get their (because they move a little slower than their human counterparts) but they arrived in force, and only bear-ly won (another Rolf pun)!
On the fortress table, Josh and I set up a scenario whereby my undead had captured a border outpost owned by his adventurers, so he was tasked with taking it back by force. I began the game by assembling my skeletons in a shieldwall near the gates of the fort's main yard.
Another team of skeletons ventured out into the burnt-out ruins to try and flank Josh's team. His archers did a good job of keeping them at bay, though, and that darn dog proved to be a capable combatant.
Here's the scene as some more skeletons hasten to join the battle that has been joined just outside the supply depot. Despite my overwhelming numbers (skeletons are cheap, but ineffective in combat) Josh managed to get Roland, his mouse warrior, into contact with one of the creates.
I was ready for this move, though, and my wraith swooped in with his gigantic sickle and lopped off poor Roland's head, thus snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
We were all very pleased to get back to our roots with some Song of Blades & Heroes. This was also a great chance to take stock of our fantasty terrain and tabletop accessories and see if we need to fill any holes before the campaign starts. I think we discussed making some Mordheim-esque ladders and walkways for our village table so we can add some more tactical options to our games. I've also got some Lemax Christmas Village accessories (walls, fences, etc.) that need to be repainted.
-- Patrick, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member