Monday 29 January 2024

A painted D&D party

Hitting the deadline with only a little stress, here's the D&D adventuring party I've been painting up this month...

First up we have the party cleric, Tatum Brightbranch. I did have a bit of an oops on this one - Tatum is a human and not a halfling, and I somehow got this muddled in my head when looking for miniatures to represent him. This is extra annoying as it was incredibly difficult to find halfling models suitable for clerics. Human cleric miniatures are dime a dozen and easy to find. Still, he turned out OK, and the player good naturedly just said that Tatum is very short for a human. My players are very tolerant and kind of my foolish mistakes, and I love them for it.

Prucey Shatterstone is the party's dwarf rogue. For all the models I gave them a zenithal undercoat and then added contrast paints to get the base colours down as quickly as possible. This looked passable, and was done with a day to spare. I then spent the spare day adding detail - drybrushing some clothes and leather to add more texture variation and depth of colour, and adding highlights on metal and faces to have them stand out more.

Hatch Bladestorm is the party's half-elf warlock who thinks he's a Paladin. He's a Hexblade and has mostly been fighting with swords and stuff like that, but recently looted a Spider Staff that does a whole bunch of damage and cool magical effects so he's switched to that. That change did make it a little harder to get the model done, but I cut off a spearhead and replaced with the head of a magic staff, and also swapped out the fighter's head for a more Heroic elf head.

The drama over losing part of the right arm assembly meant he was the last painted, and his magical armour meant I decided to drop in a lot more metallic paint, in the form of Retributor Armour, from the start, as it does a lot of work with a quick wash and highlight. The model's face details were also pretty soft, but as a Heroic elf, I added an additional highlight of Flayed One Flesh over the top of the Kislev Flesh to get him paler.

Puff Marbler is the Gnome Wizard of the party. For all of the party, I tried to match colours on their chosen character artwork to the miniature as best I could. It was a very interesting experiment for me, as I'd had to pick out miniatures to try and best represent the characters, and then choose from the limited Contrast colour range I have to match the colour schemes as best I could. It was a fun exercise, particularly within the constraints of a strict deadline.

The final "party member" is Ferrous Mule'er, Puff's Mule and loyal Carrier Of Stuff. He caused me a number of panics as I was painting five models for player party, and kept having a moment where I knew I'd booked five seats at the gaming café, but five models plus the GM is six . . .

I'll be posting later about the game itself, but these models are now with their new owners - the players in my game. Starting the year off with a small, simple project that hit deadline has put me in an excellent positive mood. This feels like something I should repeat in future to either restart momentum or to set a new year off in a positive way.

Thursday 25 January 2024

Warhammer Store Free Beastman

At the weekend I was in Bristol for a LARP - a player run event sent in the Empire setting, where a bunch of magicians were getting together to discuss magic and politics. I travelled down the night before so I had an easy commute on the day, but found myself with a spare morning. I decided to check out some local gaming shops, and pottered into the local Warhammer store.

I ended up spending all my available time there, as these days you can assembled a miniature which you can then take home and keep. This month's miniature was a Warhammer 40,000 chaos beastman, and they're a bit of the setting I've been fond of for quite a while.

You seem to need to assemble the miniature in the store, but you can use their tools to do so. They also give you a little cardboard box to take him away in. He also came on his own dedicated sprue, so they're casting these up specifically for the "assemble and take away" thing in the stores.

He was a fun assembly job - not too complicated, not too many parts. He's clearly been designed for the younger modellers or newer hobbyists to be able to take part in.

This is the sort of thing that's good for Games Workshop stores to be getting involved in. There were also folk coming in for their Duke of Edinburgh Award to do painting and crafting. In game store activities like this that let people learn about the hobby are how we get the next generation of gamers.

Monday 22 January 2024


We've got some pretty good work in progress on the D&D party. The dwarf rogue is nearly done, the other three all have some of their contrast paints laid down.

If I have a little extra time, I'd love to add some extra highlights on all of them, but I'm away LARPing at the weekend so there's not much painting time between now and the game.

The half-elf warlock is nearly done. It's based on the Female Human Fighter Frameworks miniature, but I've swapped the head for an elf ranger's head, and the speartip for a staff head instead. He's meant to have a left arm with a shield, but it's a three part piece and I dropped a piece of it and couldn't find it. It was significant enough that I decided to just bite the bullet and order another Fighter to replace the missing part, as it has an alternate build I can still use the model for.

This is more stress than I needed in this project, but I think we'll get there...

(All the monsters are already painted, but I'm not talking about those until after the game because some of my players may read my blog...)

Thursday 18 January 2024

Runewars Undead Command

An undead command box from Runewars I picked up cheap after the game folded is my latest commission with Brushchewer. I got them for RPGs such as D&D and Pathfinder, and while they were sold as undead / ghouls, I thought it would be good to paint them up so they could be some sort of living mutants as well.

The "standard bearer" is an aggressive looking wrong-un with flags bound onto his back, and armed with a particularly brutal looking sickle. I quite like the idea of giving him a mechanic around the flags. Maybe he boosts morale? Perhaps he can signal for reinforcements? This is definitely a model that prompts the idea of adding some mechanics based on the look of the model.

This shouty boy with inflated air sacs is the "musician", and is . . . screaming out . . . for some kind of sonic or sound based attack. It's a nice weird little attack that I'd probably put as a short ranged cone of damage. These sort of variants can give players some interesting decisions about which special power is the one they want to focus on getting rid of quickest.

The wizard is classic "evil necromancer / lich" vibes, or a viable ghoul queen or leader of a wasteland gang of mutants. She's got strong villain leader energy.

Finally, we have this champion type with a Very Large Arm. He's the model who made me think of using them as mutants rather than undead. The big arm is crying out for some big strong physical attacks. Does it get a single high damage hit, or does it swing around and hit everyone close to it? I wouldn't want to change its mechanics within the same campaign, but if I were using it for different things, I'd take different abilities.

So I'm pretty pleased with these four. They could suit well in a Pathfinder Mana Wastes or Darklands campaign, in particular.

Monday 15 January 2024

D&D party progress

The metal models for the D&D party are now fully prepared and undercoated. I used milliput to build up around the integrated bases, then glued on Krautcover "Common Earth". I picked mine up from Bad Squiddo, but I'm sure there's other folk selling it as well.

I then added zenithal undercoats to all the miniatures. For this I spray undercoat in black, then make sure I get any spots I missed with a brush. Then, for these, I did a pretty thorough Wraithbone pass at 45 degrees. followed by a lighter spray of white from directly above.

The last party member, a half elf warlock, is getting assembled from three Frameworks sets (I need a weapon and a head from two, but most will be from a single set. This isn't too bad, as there's enough spare heads and arms in the other two kits that I'll be able to assemble them too and have a couple of spare useful models.

Things are getting a bit tight for my deadline, but I'm hoping to still make it.

Friday 12 January 2024

Heresy Miniatures Centaur

Here we've got a centaur made by Heresy Miniatures. I've had him sitting around for a long while, and was looking around for bits and pieces for Brushchewer to paint for me.

He's a big lad, but should do well as a war leader or champion of a group of centaurs.

Brushchewer definitely put some time into making him stand out as a big deal.

The fur pattern on the horse part is taken from genuine horse fur patterns, which I didn't realise at first. It's definitely something different!

Wednesday 10 January 2024

New Year Plans

With the New Year having ticked over, I decided it would be worth having a bit of a think about my plans for 2024. With over a thousand miniatures turning up in the flat, but only painting 42, things need to change. I did manage to paint 85 in 2022, so I can definitely get more done.

I need to change how I think a little bit. I'll only be picking up a miniature if I'm intending to use it straight away, or if its not going to be available in the future. The volume of things I have in the flat is getting in the way of me doing actual hobby - sorting miniatures out is taking up a whole ton of time.

I'm also going to stop running a rolling 12 month count of how many things I've got finished and painted. It was a lot of work to track, and the moment I had a less productive month, suddenly I "should" finish a ton of things before starting anything new, and that could potentially make me miserable feeling obligated.

My new goal, more or less, is to get something done for a project each month, and a couple of small minis finished in between whatever that month's project is. That may vary - I'm working on a deadline for the D&D minis I aim to get done in January, so I'm not going to put that at risk for sake of getting some small things done. The idea is to let it average out over the year.

One thing that's become obvious to me is that for the random individual miniatures I have that aren't for projects, I've got well over a hundred of them already assembled, undercoated and ready for paint... Which means I don't really need to assemble any more this year. This is, again, the volume of miniatures I have giving me a false feeling of progress while taking time away from actually getting them painted.

So I'll aim away from assembling miniatures for the sake of it this year. There's a couple of games where I play miniatures unpainted - like Malifaux and Infinity - so I'll still get those assembled when I can. But the rule will be to assemble things I have a use for - either that I'm about to paint them, or that I intend to game with them.

The hobby room is a problem. It's meant to be a shared space, and my clutter is taking up too much of it. My absolute priority this year is to make half of the hobby workspace is clear for my wife to use, and that the table in there isn't used as a storage space, but either of us can set up there to work when we want to, and then clear up after we're done.

I do want this to be the year that I work out the paint scheme for my Nomads and get at least one of them painted up. I've been enjoying my games with Nomads, and I'm looking forward to having more. The paint course with Roman Lappat last year was what finally gave me the confidence I know enough to get the look I visualise when I think of my Nomads.

I would also like to dip back into my Combiend Army force as well at some point. They have a really striking, simple paint scheme. Getting a few painted will be a good opportunity to settle into something I'm comfortable with that gets good results relatively quickly. 

The plan of actually getting around to playing 40K last year got stymied by a series of bad luck. It's a weird one, because I have a whole bunch of plans for 40K - things to try playing, hobby projects to assemble and paint... But those plans all sit behind having a game, which sits behind having the time to do so, and I've got several busy weeks coming up . . .

In between getting some games in with my Deathwatch, I want to dig out and try my Astra Militarum again. Once the Codex comes out, I'll probably have a bit of a rationalisation of my Guard collection. The idea is to sell some old things, buy some new models, and get them painted up - moving a lot closer to the idea of "buy a kit, assemble and paint it" rather than building up a huge backlog of miniatures.

There's then other games, like Age of Sigmar and Malifaux. The plan was to pop to a Malifaux tournament last weekend, but then I ended up being ill and going precisely nowhere instead. I'm now better, thank goodness, but I missed out on the event. Age of Sigmar, I just need to, again, get a game in. It's sitting behind 40K at the moment because I have more coherent plans for 40K than AoS. In the same way that Dungeonbowl was tempting last year and I never got to it, Legions Imperialis and the Old World loom large this year...

All in all, my main goal this year is really about that tidying and focus - clearing away things that I'm not using, and making space - both physically and in terms of my life and time management. I'm hoping that at least by the summer, I'll be in a better, more "grown up" tidy place. I just need to keep the self discipline of the current tidying that I'm doing to get there.

Monday 8 January 2024

D&D Party Assembles, and a Battletech Whoops

I was doing a bit of a tidy up over the New Year and noticed that the two mechs I've painted in a Lyran Guards scheme for Battletech have different shades of blue. Whoops! I consulted with a few friends and basically everyone said that the lighter blue is the right colour, so I'll be doing a re-paint some time soon.

At the end of January, the online D&D campaign I play is having an in person game. So, I decided I wanted to sort out models for the player characters. Here we have a dwarf rogue and a halfling cleric. The dwarf is a character from Oathmark produced by North Star Figures. The halfling is a Warmonger Miniatures figure. It has an old plastic shield from the old Warhammer skeleton sprues, with a shield boss from the really old skeleton sprue.

The party's gnome wizard is from Oathsworn Miniatures. She's joined by the party mule, Ferrous Mule'er. Because we're doing a dungeon delving campaign, we're using D&D Beyond to track party encumbrance as planning what you take on your expeditions is part of that experience.

The last party member, the half elf warlock, had his parts arrive on Saturday, so he'll be being assembled shortly. I've only got a little time in practice before the end of the month, especially as I'm away for a weekend. So it's going to be very much "heads down" for the next few weeks to get them finished...

Thursday 4 January 2024

Wizkids Seas and Shores Miniatures

One of the things that I picked up last year and hadn't shown on the blog yet were the "Seas and Shores" pre-painted miniatures from Wizkids. I broadly find that the animal and beast type monsters are the best part of these ranges, so I was keen to see what I could pick up.

Hippogryphs are a monster I'm really keen on and they're weirdly hard to find good examples of. This one is fine, so I'm pleased to have picked him up. Meanwhile, giant lizards are a reliable staple that can easily add into a dungeon, cave or wilderness encounter, or as some humanoid's trained monster for a bigger fight.

Two weird fiendish monsters here. On the left is the Hydroloth, one oof the neutral evil "Yugoloth" fiends who in D&D hire themselves out to other evil factions, as well as having their own evil schemes. The Hydroloth is the aquatic variant. The thing is, they're really quite high level monsters so it's going to take a lot of time before you've run enough high level D&D campaigns that you want to add variation to the monsters by adding fiendish mercenaries. I really love the idea, but am already growing very tired of Wizards of the Coast's poor treatment of it's staff and mediocre products, so am already trending Pathfinder-wards rather than using Wizards IP in my RPGs quite so much.

Meanwhile, the Wastrilith is an abyssal demon, so just a straight up awful violence and corruption monster. Demons don't really appeal to me much as a monster because they're kind of just an evil force of nature trying to wreck things and rarely have interesting or complicated plans. So they're fine as generic antagonists, but if you want a campaign with depth and the villains doing something interesting, demons are rarely your "go to" pick. Still, any fiend is useful as a potential bound summon or horrible side quest, so I picked him up despite the dubious pink paint job.

A few larger aquatic creatures come next. The Plesiosaurus is a bit more unusual, but a historically accurately sized dinosaur is something that puts a strong vibe into an encounter or campaign. The giant octopus is probably one of the nicest models in the whole set, and is a reliable and dangerous low level aquatic encounter. Finally, the giant eel is something that can hit people in the shallows or an underwater cave and feel very gritty.

Moving onto the weirder monsters. Here's a Aldani, a Peryton and an Amphisbaena. The Aldani are lobster-folk, originally from the Tomb of Annihilation and the Chult setting. That's a bit niche from a D&D setting point of view, but it was an interesting one to pick up. The Peryton is a weird folklore monster that I've been wanting for ages. It's got a good folk horror vibe, I think. The Amphisbaena has two D&D profiles - one medium and one large, with the medium profile from the Theros setting.

One thing that annoyed me with the Amphisbaena model is these obvious joins that rely on you looking at it from the front angle. I feel like with a bit of smarter planning, the connections could have been made less obvious.

Finally, I picked up three reef sharks and a giant crab. Because the shark is very simple, and often comes in numbers, I bought three. Some of the smaller monsters it makes little sense to only buy one, because you'll never have them on their own in an actual encounter.

All in all, the animal monsters in the Seas and Shores range are fantastic, and figures you'll want to use a lot in marine adventures. This is probably the set with the most "hits" for the set that I've seen so far. I still won't be getting any blind boxes, but the split services are worth a look.

Monday 1 January 2024

2023 in Review

It's not been the most productive of years. I got 42 miniatures painted - almost all individual fantasy figures for RPGs like D&D and Pathfinder.

I made a whole bunch of Infinity tournaments this year - at Patriot Games, the Games Table, HATE, Troll Trader Bromley and Wayland Games among others. It's probably the part of the hobby I'm happiest with right now.

I didn't manage to get in games of AoS or 40K, and lots of other plans such as Battletech and Malifaux didn't happen either. Even the Horus Heresy test paints basically haven't done anything all year.

Things have been too cluttered for a long time. I miss the desk looking like this. One of my big priorities for this year is making the place tidy, and keeping it that way. When the place is tidy, I am more productive, so if I make the goal keeping it tidy, the rest will follow.