I hope all my readers have an excellent day today. Happy Christmas to those who celebrate it, and to those who observe other festivals around this time, may they be pleasant and delightful.
Friday 22 December 2023
Along with last week's Stormstrike Chariots, I also got Squiggle's Studio to paint up another ten Vindictors I picked up from some partworks magazine or other. Vindictors are useful defensive line troops, and I thought I might not have enough with a single unit of ten, so grabbed these to bulk my basics out.
Wednesday 20 December 2023
I'd picked up a few bits and pieces of the Wizkids "Bigby Glory of the Giants" release as well as the limited ones, so thought I'd share what I picked up.
In a fit of disorganisation, I got the normal release Frostmourn as well as the one I got in the limited set. Still a big tall spooky girl, still got some freaky weird posing because of a naughty artist using AI to help his posing.
A Spectral Cloud is an undead Cloud Giant. A good mid level scary monster that doesn't feel like a boss fight, but more a tough challenge when some dungeon delve suddenly goes horribly wrong.
A Firegaunt is an undead Fire Giant. I've got a proper old set of dead giants from this set - ironically, more than the number of living giants I own now! It feels like a good premise for an old tomb of some lost giant empire or something.
Here's a Deinonychus and a Dilophosaurus. The first has a simple profile for a low level beast, while the second doesn't have a published D&D profile. A good acid spitting dinosaur would be a good addition to a combat. I wonder if it got cut for space in the book?
Ettercaps are a classic D&D monstrosity. This is one of the best monsters I've seen from the Wizkids pre-painted lines, and I kind of love him. It's definitely a monster that you'll get use of in any traditional D&D campaign.
Finally, we've got a giant lynx and a giant badger. This is a different paint scheme to the limited giant lynx I already have, which mean I could do an encounter of a pair of giant lynxes now. A giant badger is a low level threat, but could work as a summoned ally by a PC, or part of a swarm of animals summoned by an evil druid.
Oddly enough in this set, I'm more impressed by the medium sized creatures than the big giants. There's a few gems hidden away in the line, but I certainly wouldn't buy any blind boxes in the hope of getting the few I like out of the set - a split box service is definitely the way to go from my perspective.
Monday 18 December 2023
Here's an undead ogre I've had lying around in my painting stash for ages. It's a fan sculpt by Justin Coutange I bought over Facebook years ago. He passed away a few years ago, but the sculpt is now available from Ral Partha Europe. (Thanks to Chico Danks of Oldhammer on a Budget for letting me know where you can buy it these days.)
I was quite suspicious of the undercoat I'd used for it, so started with a black base coat on all the metal and a dark brown base coat on everything else, then built the colour up from there.
I was part way through painting him when Midwinter Minis posted a tutorial on speed painting Heroquest skeletons, which was quite close to what I'd been intending on doing. I'm always nervous when trying something new, so seeing someone experience recommending the kind of thing I'd been intending was very reassuring.
It's coming up to the end of the year and I'm probably not going to get much more done this year. I'm going to try and have a bit of a sort and get rid of a bit of clutter for the New Year. The end of a year is always a time for a bit of taking stock and setting new goals. I'm optimistic for the future, but making things better takes work, so its best I don't forget that simply thinking about how things can be better isn't matched by rolling my sleeves up and getting things done.
Friday 15 December 2023
Squiggle's Studio finished painting up a couple of Stormstrike Chariots for me that I purchased on a whim.
Still not played a game of Age of Sigmar.
I should really get that sorted.
Wednesday 13 December 2023
I noticed some older models from before I started picking up Wizkids pre-painted models were going out of stock at my usual supplier, so I picked up a couple. These two are both from the Pathfinder Mwangi Expanse line, a setting I'm really excited about. It also has a whole bunch of unique monsters so grabbing any that aren't painfully bad is a priority as it's unlikely to be easy to find another in the future.
The big lad is an Asanbosam, a large humanoid predator that lives in the jungles. Based on a Ghanan myth, they have cold iron teeth and claws, and drink blood. Paizo have linked these, saying it needs large amounts of iron in its diet to maintain its claws and teeth.
The Rompo is another beast, but this one is a lone scavenger who usually prefers to feed on leftovers from another predator's kills rather than getting into a fight directly itself. This could easily be used as an encounter in itself, where PCs need to retrieve something from or investigate some dead bodies the Rompo is feeding from. The other encounter idea that springs to mind is the idea of a Rompo starting to follow the PCs from a distance and picking up the remains of their kills. If a PC notices it, it reinforces the skills of PCs who know about local wildlife as being useful - and is also a small detail that makes the wider world feel more realistic and complete.
This model was sold as a "Kobold Warlock", but neither D&D nor Pathfinder has a stat line for a winged Kobold spellcaster. D&D does have winged Kobolds, while Pathfinder doesn't so it's most likely going to be useful as a custom monster stat line in D&D.
Monday 11 December 2023
A simple paint job today! These are a set of giant centipedes by Otherworld Miniatures. I've had these sitting at the side of my paint table for a good while, and I decided that it would be great to just bash through them and get them done. I did a grey drybrush on the stone, catching the legs a bit, then drybrushed dark brown on their bodies and legs, followed by a red drybrush. Finally, a light drybrush of Karak Stone brought it all together. I dotted a little yellow into the eyes to give a little variation, but not so much as to massively stand out.
These are a reliable dungeon monster that can lurk in dark corners and get aggressive and territorial when some adventurer tries to sneak through their nest to bypass a trap or a more well trodden route. They're a low level classic.
Friday 8 December 2023
Alongside the usual Wizkids pre-painted blind boxes, they also released two "limited edition" monster sets that consisted of alternative paint schemes. One was a Death Giant Necromancer, the other a box of five miniatures. The "should you buy these" really comes down to whether you like the sculpts and paint jobs. Both the recent Phandelver and Planescape limited boxes have models I actively dislike in, so I gave those a miss, but these ones had some models I liked, so I got them.
Here they all are. The big giants are nearly action figure sized, but are to scale with the intended size of them by the D&D rules. I've been quite annoyed by the incorrectly sized minis in this range, so "actually the right size" is a low bar I'm pleased to see they're hitting.
One box was the "Death Giant Necromancer", which matches the art of the Death Giant Shrouded One. I suspect the miniatures were ordered before the book was finalised, and some names changed before final publication.
This is a really lovely miniature that will work well as a boss encounter, whether end boss or mid adventure mini boss. At a very chonky challenge rating of 15, this is a high level campaign antagonist. The spooky ghosts floating around her and fancy scythe are really nicely done.
The profile is an interesting one that probably needs some reading by the DM before running the encounter. I don't want to give it away, but it has some nice mobility, and a bit of self-synergy with one thing that causes the Frightened condition and an attack that gains a benefit if the target is Frightened.
I feel like some low level flunkies who can cause the Frightened condition would significantly add to the tactical choices of an encounter with a Death Giant Shrouded One, but you'd need to be careful about how much better that makes the Shrouded One.
The two normal sized models in the set are a Goliath "chef" armed with a giant fork, and a giant lynx. The Goliath is a bit of a niche model, but would work well as an NPC in a giant focused adventure, or a quirky PC.
The other model is a giant lynx. Its lore is that it is an intelligent fey, which sometimes works with some types of giants. That's plenty of flexibility for encounters - whether a wilderness fey encounter, a 'pet' of a giant that holds a secret, or an intelligent ally to some other creature.
A Fire Hellion is a fire giant that has entered into a pact with a devil for additional martial prowess, and has ended up becoming a fiend themselves. It's a hefty mid level brawler who can be a real threat to a party. In particular, it's ability to instantly kill any humanoid or giant it reduces to zero hit points rather than have them begin to make death saving throws something that can be a major threat to PCs.
The Stone Giant of Elemental Evil miniature is a bit cartoony for my liking. I've never quite clicked with the "Elemental Evil" antagonist group. They're quite a simplistic villain, without much explanation as to why anyone would join or be interested in their goals. I've yet to see a good idea for how to adapt them to something interesting.
The stat block itself is a nice brawler profile that's a bit tougher than a typical stone giant. It's nothing special, but perfectly serviceable. It's got an interesting look. Perhaps the elemental evil cults see someone doing something destructive unwittingly or for their own reasons, and offer them support and muscle to meet mutual goals? Otherwise, I'm a bit unsure when I'd get any use out of him.
The Frostmourn is an undead Frost Giant. The weird posing of the right hand is due to the original artwork the miniature is based on having used AI in the artist's early posing process. It's a pretty shoddy, disappointing pose and look, and the replacement hand painted art is such a step up from the AI. While Wizards didn't deliberately use AI, the problem artwork was all relatively shoddy. It's a bad sign for Wizards' quality control, and very disappointing.
Again, the undead giant profile is fine. It's nothing you couldn't homebrew, but is a solid profile. Vengeful undead ice giant is a niche but viable idea. I think I'd be most tempted to use it in a ruin of an ancient giant empire.
All in all, I think the set is OKish. The Necromancer / Shrouded One came separately and is, I think, the far better purchase than the wider set. The five model set is "fine, I guess", but I'm not as keen on it as the Death Giant piece. In many ways, the comparison between the two reinforces the difference in quality of both sculpts and paint jobs in the Wizkids pre-painted lines, and reinforces my decision to be more selective about what I pick up.
Wednesday 6 December 2023
Another batch of fantasy figures for RPGs today, painted by Brushchewer Inc. These are two Kickstarters. Originally I'd thought I'd paint these myself, but they'd been hanging around for long enough that I decided to get them painted for me so I could get some use out of them...
The first set was from a Kickstarter called "The Fantasy Four". They were sculpted by Lewis Collins, who shortly after the success of this Kickstarter was hired by Games Workshop to sculpt, and rightly so! There's some lovely characterful sculpts here - a flamboyant fighter, a couple of knights, and a more martial priest type.
A later Kickstarter, by "Ye Alchemist" also had a few Lewis Collins sculpts. I love these slightly less, but they're still nice useful models - a Zweihander wielder, a knight on foot with a lance, and a pair of less western European fighters with swords who can populate games like Pathfinder's regions.
The second Kickstarter had a few free dog miniatures. The central one is more supernatural than the other two, but dogs on sensible 25mm bases are often quite difficult to find. These are really excellent models to have from an RPG utility point of view. They're also good options to add to things like bandit or urban criminal encounters as a bit of variation from the criminals themselves.
Monday 4 December 2023
Here's a dwarf watchman from the sadly closed down Bear's Head Miniatures. He's just a little guy. It's a nice simple sculpt for a simple concept. He's got a crude halberd, a lantern, and a chain shirt with a jacket thrown over the top.
I'm particularly pleased with how the lantern light turned out. I was just playing around with colours and it just kind of turned out like that. I painted it orange, dropped a yellow horizontal line across it, then a white diagonal line over that, which I lightly washed yellow so it wasn't too white.
Friday 1 December 2023
A while back, I got a Galeb Duhr from the Wizkids Sand and Stone range (pictured in the centre). What I didn't notice until it turned up was that one of his powers in 5e is to create two identical looking buddies...
By the time I noticed, I couldn't find Galeb Duhr from the Sand and Stone range. Then I spotted these two for sale on eBay from an old Wizkids range called "Against the Giants". I thought it would help to keep track of which was the parent creature too. So, I have a nice little earth critter encounter all ready to go now.
Wednesday 29 November 2023
I've had Thunderbrush Studio paint up a few models for my Qapu Khalqi force. I had one model lying around, a box of minis that I'd grabbed as they were going out of production, and a box that are used in the new Reinforcements rules.
First up is Rahman Rouhani, a special character that first turned up in Defiance. He's slightly tougher than a Ghulam Doctor for a few more points. That does make him a sometimes choice, but the times he takes a wound and stays up when the Ghulam Doctor would be down, he'll be absolutely worth those points.
The Hakims aren't usable in Qapu Khalqi in normal games, but are one of the Haqqislam Reinforcement options. They're all doctors, with short range weapons. They can either join a reinforcement fireteam or have a Nasmat help them out. They can also sometimes self heal when injured. All in all, a pretty useful thing to pick up.
Corvus Belli recently announced they were discontinuing the Alguacile Support Box, and they're a valid pick in Qapu Khalqi. They're currently not a particularly optimal choice, but I'm a bit of completionist, and if they suddenly become a really good pick, it would be very annoying trying to hunt down the old models.
Qapu Khalqi got a bit of an overhaul when the Reinforcement rules came out. Once the Reinforcement pack comes out, I may look at giving them a bit of an outing... In the meantime, I've got plenty to learn with the Nomads.
Monday 27 November 2023
I was down at the club the other week, trying to get a few more reps in with my Nomads. My opponent, running Ariadna, rolled for a random mission and we got Cutthroat. With the Lieutenant public, I went with an Interventor Lieutenant, and took a Taskmaster HMG to act as the Key Ops.
I also brought a Vertigo Zond - a Guided Missile Remote - for the first time. These are a controversial piece that some folk feel might be over-powered, or a negative play experience. Personally, I reckon that they're a useful tool (and one that's quite key in Nomads), but the orders you need to make them work balance out their strengths.
I was slightly caught out by an infiltrating Grunt who ended up deploying within Heavy Flamethrower range of my Reaktion Zond.
I sent a Morlock over to take out the Grunt, and managed to get the E/M Close Combat rules wrong. We only Isolated the Grunt - however the way it should work is that you make two BTS saves, and any failure causes an injury and isolation. Whoops!
Bran do Castro bounced over a building to get the first Lieutenant kill, using his breaker rifle to put down Voronin.
I was then on the wrong end of an aggressive bear attack. The Zondnautica got incredibly lucky holding it up, but didn't last very long.
I'd considered using my Interventor to put down a White Noise Zone, but then decided against it. But as a result, I'd forgotten to spend her Lieutenant order to put her into Cybermask to hide, and she ended up falling victim to a tragic bear attack.
My Hellcat dropped in and successfully took out a second Lieutenant. Things were going well...
I pulled off a pretty classic Nomad play - a Heckler managed to get close to Knauf, the Ariadnan Key Ops and fired off a Fast Panda. Jazz then spotlit him, allowing the Guided Missile Launcher to drop a targeted missile on him, critting and turning him to mist.
The Unknown Ranger then went on a rampage, taking out quite a few ARO pieces and tanking a pair of mines.
He managed to put down the Vertigo, and Jazz, who was the new Lieutenant, tying us for Lieutenant kills.
Uxia then went after the Taskmaster Key Ops, who I'd played very conservatively after getting two kills to keep alive. Unfortunately, I'd totally forgotten three of Knauf's four kills and was convinced in my head I was ahead on key ops kills. This was not smart, as even through Uxia failed to kill the Taskmaster, I didn't have enough points left on the table, and ended up losing the game with more points lost and fewer key ops killed. Tied Lieutenant kills and being up on the key op kill wasn't enough to bring the game back.
Still, this was a solid learning game. I still need to work out how to stop bears, and position ARO pieces better to not be so vulnerable to getting murdered by snipers...I'm very pleased with the guided missile play, though, and am comfortable I know how to use that tool if I need to.
Friday 24 November 2023
I decided to pick up the next box in the Classic Monster Collection series. These are Wizkids boxes of pre-painted miniatures based on illustrations from the original Monster Manual. This set wasn't one that was high on my priority list, but a couple of solidly useful miniatures and my completionist nature won out.
First up is the Gorgon, a weirdly named monster that's a weird monstrosity with iron skin that breaths gas that turns people to stone. I'm not sure where I'd fit it into a traditional fantasy campaign, but in Eberron there's a specific Daelkyr who is all about petrification, so it could easily be a monster involved with one of its cults.
I've already got a griffon model or two, but they're low enough power you could do quite a fun medium level encounter of a straight up flock of them.
Hippocamps in 5e were published in Mythic Odysseys of Theros rather than a core book. At some point I'm going to look at all the aquatic monsters I've slowly picked up over the years and realise I really need to run an aquatic campaign to use them all...
Team Undead in this box are a ghoul and a ghost. I have a bunch of ghost models already, but spooky hooded figure with a lantern is a lovely traditional look. The ghoul, meanwhile, is rarely met alone, so will need to be combined with a few buddies from other collections or ranges.
The imp miniature is full of character, acting up and being troublesome. Meanwhile the hellhound breathing fire means it's clear that it is, in fact, a hellhound and not just a dog of some kind. Both will be excellent minions for a wrong-un villain and add some character to an encounter.
A nice traditional harpy is something that makes a good travel encounter that's a bit higher threat than bandits. I will need a few more harpies for a full sized encounter, so will need to dig through the stash to work out what I already have.
This is definitely one for the collectors, or of use for DMs who have the basics already and want to add some interesting extras.