Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Adventures in Questing – Introduction

The wife and I are visiting her family this week, which means I won’t be doing any painting. I’m slightly bummed out but this turn of events – not because my in-laws are especially disagreeable people, but simply because I’m quite eager to get started on the Dragon Company troopers.

There is a silver lining through, as I now have the time, and lack of excuses, to get started on a project I’ve been putting off for a while; my first (but hopefully not last) Advanced Heroquest report.  That naturally requires playing a game of AHQ, which I actually did back in December. I just never got around to do a write-up of the first session (I told you I’d been putting this off) and as I still need to take a few pictures as illustration, I won’t be able to do it until I get back home.  What I can do, however, is introduce you to the party.

I used the traditional warrior/wizard/elf/dwarf quartet and decided to generate their stats randomly. I’m happy to report that they all survived their first expedition (though they haven’t finished the quest yet), and this is the way they  are before returning to town, which is why they are low on ammunition but, relatively, wealthy.
Remember that stats (for from wounds and fate) range from 1-12, but usually lie between 4 and 10 for starting characters.

First the warrior – Croaker (I’m allowed a single author avatar):
He’s got excellent Strength (S) and Toughness (T) (seven being the maximum for a starting human) and a very good Weapon Skill (WS) and Wound score (W). This combines to make him an excellent tank – the WS being especially useful as it means that most normal enemies have to roll 10 to even hit him.
I gave him the traditional sword, shield and chainmail, making him even more resilient but lowering his, already average, speed (SP) to a not-at-all-excellent four. As long as he doesn’t encounter some sort of trap he’ll be fine I guess.
His only real weakness is a pitiful Bravery (B), which will make things very interesting if I ever encounter a fearsome creature.

Next we have the dwarf – Allum Stonehammer:
He’s a bit more of a mixed bag with an excellent WS of 11 and T of eight (both max for a starting dwarf), a decent S of six and decidedly unimpressive speed of four and bravery five. Yes, that does indeed mean that both my front line warriors are quite likely to curl up on the floor at the first sight of a troll!
Allum’s real weakness lies in his catastrophically (for a warrior) low W of two! (the lowest possible result). This makes it very dangerous for him to be in front, even though his high WS and T gives him some protection. Also, because monsters always attack the target with the lowest WS (using the solo rules), as long as he’s standing besides Croaker, the human will absorb most of the hits.
I figured that I might as well go all in, so I equipped him with a two-handed axe and leather armor. This makes him rather fragile, but he almost always hits, and he does decent damage. Just as long as no one hits him...

Third on the roster is the elf – Ellandiel
He’s… well, frankly he’s not all that great. Low WS, SP and W and average BS, S, T and B. His only really good stat, Intelligence (INT), isn’t even all that useful in a warrior.
I gave him a bow and leather armor and hoped that he’d make himself useful somehow.

Rounding things out is the wizard – Hans Müller:
In a rare stroke of fortune, he’s got near perfect stats for a wizard. Low BS and S (but who cares) but good WS and B – and the maximum possible T, SP and INT! His only real weakness is a W of two (in fact, I got the lowest possible W for three out of the four character). All this combines to make him a very reliable, and surprisingly resilient, magic user.
I gave him a dagger (the only weapon he can use), some spell ingredients (all used up now) and some rope and iron spikes (useful for crossing chasms).

After rolling up the characters, I had to come up with a quest for them. I kept things very basic and decided on the following:
  • Three levels – all rolled up randomly.
  • Enemies are Skaven – rolled from the charts included in the main rules.
  • All randomly rolled staircases lead up – the first Quest Room on each level will include a staircase leading down.
  • The Quest Room on the first and second level will include a Night Runner in addition to whatever I roll up for it.
  • Third level Quest Room will include a Skaven Warlord.

This should be a relatively simple quest, or so I hope…
Planning the expedition


Thursday, 18 February 2016

Let’s read – The very first Citadel Compendium, part 2

Welcome back to this “Let’s Read”. We pick up from Last time, roughly half way through the First Citadel Compendium, as we get to the miniatures.

The compendium immediately diverts from the previously stated policy of using line-drawings by giving us a photograph of the, magnificent, Citadel Giant (though they do use drawings to illustrate alternative heads and hands). I guess this decision can be explained by the sheer size of the figure, which probably made it a lot easier to take photos of.
I’d love to get my hands on this big fella, though, from what I hear, that would require selling the TV to raise the necessary cash. It’s also, strictly speaking, too big to really be practical in a game setting, but it’s quite awesome all the same.

After the giant we get to the aforementioned line drawings; in this case of the early C-series miniatures. The selection is firmly grounded in the RPG scene, with the minis being divided into the standard fighter/wizard/cleric/thief categories (dwarfs getting their own listing), in addition to goblins, armored orcs and so on.

To be perfectly honest, these pages leave me a little cold. It may just be because I’m quite uninterested in most of Citadel’s pre-slotta output, or that the actual figures rarely live up to the sketch, but I’m finding it difficult to visualize how the mini would look like in real life.

There are a couple of exceptions though, the first one being this page:
For all their virtues, Citadel produced preciously few good, and appropriately clothed, female miniatures during the 80’s, but the two in the top row might fit the bill (though I must confess that I haven’t seen the actual figures).

The second page I like is this:
Maybe I’m biased towards the larger figures, but these just look awesome. You can see the actual minis here.

Rounding out the line-drawing section, we have the figures for the Kremlo scenario.

These are quite evocative as well and in general the illustrations in the compendium seem to be better with the more outlandish characters, such as the Slann.

We then encounter another instance of Citadel breaking their own rule with three pages of photos. These perfectly illustrate the reasoning behind the rule – being nigh-indecipherable. I mean, I can see the general outline of the figures, but in many cases I’m left guessing at the details. 
It doesn’t help that many of the figures of this period are quite compact (probably necessitated by the casting process), which further blurs detail in the low-resolution prints. I like the stone thrower though.

Moving on, we return to our drinking game in a major way with two half-page ads for Realm of Chaos and Rogue Trader (and a half page for Forces of Fantasy, but that actually came out relatively soon afterwards). Time to *Drink! (or perhaps *drikn? at this point).

After this, we get something that would become something of a staple of the journals – a painting article. It’s worth dwelling a bit on the faux-articles above the headline for the chuckle it should elicit:
It’s all very basic (as it’s supposed to be), but the advice is good all the same – in fact, it’s exactly the kind of article I wish I’d had access to when I started out myself and didn’t have the faintest idea about how to do the shading on my figures.

We return to game-related stuff with an article about using Sci-Fi in games of Warhammer.
It’s interesting stuff, and the introduction gives a good insight into the original philosophy behind Warhammer. It reads: “The rules are designed to be used – if you wish to change rules […] anything should be possible”. This is surely a sentiment that would give modern tournament players fits, but it very nicely aligns with core Oldhammer values.
The main part of the article is a set of rules for various more-or-less futuristic weapons and types of equipment. Worthy of note is that bolters (for once) are actually as dangerous as rifles firing small self-propelled rockets should be (this includes possibly blowing up in their owners hands):
Remember to add one to the strength to get a contemporary value.

Also included are the, perhaps,  first use of the 2”-apart loose formation that would become standard in Rogue Trader/40k, as well as an outline of a campaign that uses the Sci-Fi rules. I'm actually very impressed by this article - you could likely get some very satisfying Sci-Fi games going just using this and a copy of the main rules (even the 2nd edition would work, I think).

The last article of the compendium is, I believe, another first; rules for generating chaotic attributes, along with an article on how to convert figures (quite useful if you intend to randomly generate your mutants).
Even though many of the exact rules are different from later iterations of the list, I can recognize a lot of the mutations, and there’s even mention of the concept of followers of Chaos gradually gaining attributes and maybe becoming chaos spawn if they gain too many.

Final thoughts
If there’s one thing I’ve taken away from this read-through, it’s just how many of the ideas we (or at least I) usually identify with much later publications are present at this early point in time. It’s pretty easy to see a clear line from this compendium to WFB 2nd and 3rd edition, WFRP, Realm of Chaos and Rogue Trader. I’d even go as far as saying that it should be essential reading for any fan of 1st edition as well as anyone who’s interested in the development of the hobby.

I’m also generally amazed at the sheer amount of stuff they manage to cram in to less than 50 pages. It’s truly a treasure-trove of inspiration.

Next time we continue our exploration into 1st edition territory with The Second Citadel Compendium.


Monday, 15 February 2016

Slaving away

Have you ever tried painting a figure That. Just. Wouldn’t. Cooperate? 
Well I just did – two of them in fact:
 I’ll be the first to admit that the paint-job is decidedly below-average, but these are slaves and were never really meant to be ‘Eavy Metal standard.

I actually began painting these two at the same time as the dwarf bolt thrower from last week, intending to use them as a gap-filler for when the dwarfs were drying. However, I quickly got absorbed by the crew and didn’t really get started on the slaves until last Monday, except for messing about with the fur. And that’s where I first ran into trouble…

I gave them a medium brown base-coat and then inked them with my P3 brown ink. I’ve complained about this before, but that ink is basically a deep red – not brown. Now, I didn’t know this at the time (it was the first time I used it) but as a result I ended up with two “ginger” Skaven – not at all the effect I’d hoped for. I’ve tried to fix it, but I’m not really sure I can get the red sheen entirely off without stripping them and starting over from scratch.

Next came the hands, feet, ears and tail. My previous Skaven have mostly had light brown skin, but I’ve seen some really nice effects with a more pinkish color, so I figured I’d try that out. The finished results are… “mixed” would probably be a good word. I quite like the effect on the ears and hands, but I simply couldn’t find the right tone of pink for the tails, and they ended up rather muddy I’m afraid.

The last major hurdle was the tunics. Here I encountered an issue I’m sure all Skaven players have faced: How do you distinguish the different troop types from each other? To the untrained eye a slave looks much the same as a clanrat or a plague monk, and if you aren’t careful you end up with an unfocused brown mass. On the other hand, you probably don’t want them looking too bright and colorful. 
As I’ve already painted my clanrats with green clothes, I decided to give my slaves yellow tunics. Higher orders (stormvermin, and characters) will then get blue clothes, and I’ll figure something out for the more specialized troops when I get to them. This color coding puts me dangerously close to bright-and-cheerful territory, but as muddy colors seem to be a specialty of mine, I’m fairly certain I can keep the whole thing appropriately muted.
The tunics worked out reasonably well, and after painting the metal and a bit of detailing, the slaves were, finally, done. Only took me two weeks.


Thursday, 11 February 2016

Let’s read – The very first Citadel Compendium

Some time ago I bought these on eBay:

What you see there is almost all of the first round of Citadel journals and compendia (everything except the very first compendium) in excellent condition – near mint in fact.

I got them at an oddly low price through an auction, but I guess that the otherwise ubiquitous inflation that seems to have hit the rest of the oldhammer market hasn’t reached the old journals yet (for brevity’s sake, I’m including the compendia under the heading of “journal”). Considering the dedication it takes to keep paper journals safe for this many years, I consider myself very fortunate, though I’m now facing the problem of almost not wanting to touch them for fear of causing damage – something I wouldn’t worry about if they were in worse shape.

There is an easy solution though. Through the grace of Orclord over at we can all read these old journals right here. You could also get a Scribd-account (something I’d recommend that any oldhammer-fan do anyway), though sometimes the scans at SoLegends are better. I then have the opportunity to (very carefully) browse through the actual journal and take in all the really small details, which is a great pleasure I can assure you.

Looking through the journals, I got the idea of doing a “let’s read” – very much inspired by Orlygg “Acceptable in the 80’s”-series, which you should absolutely read as well if you haven’t already.

The journals were published during the days of 1st and 2nd edition WFB, and as such might be too “retro” even for dedicated oldhammeres. However, appearing at the very nascence of WFB they give a really unique insight into the development of the game and associated miniatures.
They also precede my own entry into the hobby (I was still in diapers at this point in time), so I’m reading them with a fresh face – ready to be amazed at the wonders of a time when using oil-paints wasn’t unheard of.

To keep these posts from getting too long, I’ll only discuss sections of special interest (I also won’t post a picture of each and every page), though I still urge you to read through the entre journal.
Even then, I’ll probably end up splitting each journal into several entries.

So, without further ado (except for noting that I’m looking at the US-version), Let’s read: The first Citadel Compendium

First up, we have an introduction to the compendium itself:

Here we are introduced to two very interesting concepts. The first, and most important, was Citadel’s policy of constantly reworking their range of figures, which meant that a particular sculpt might go out of production at any time. The compendium merely catalogues those sculpts which Citadel intended to keep in stock – at least until the release of the next compendium.
I know that the limited durability of the molds used at the time was a large part of the reason for this, but it still seems like a strange thing in this age of near-unlimited availability of individual sculpts. Interestingly, though I don’t follow GW all that closely these days, it seems to me that they’ve been trying to re-implement this situation with a string of more-or-less limited edition releases over the recent years.

The second concept is Citadel’s reason for initially using line-drawings in their catalogues; which is that printed photographs at the time lacked the necessary quality to fully illustrate miniatures. As someone who still haven’t got the faintest idea what Sigrid and Hilda from the DotR set are actually supposed to look like (and I even own the original poster), I can sort of get behind this idea. On the other hand, the drawings do lack a certain je ne sais quoi, so on balance I guess I’m glad they eventually changed that policy.
Can you identify them?

At the bottom of the page is something that I’ll probably have to make a running joke (or possibly a drinking game) out of; the “near future” plans for the release of something that wouldn’t be published for several years, in this case Rogue Trader (*drink). This goes hand in hand with a mention of the Realm of Chaos supplement for WFB a few pages later (*drink again).

Next is an introduction to WFB.

I won’t go too much into this as 1st edition is very much an unknown quantity to me. Most of the features described seem to line up with later editions though.

After that we have an article with additional rules for WFB, some of which definitely didn’t make it into later editions (return fire, dismounting opponents), though it also includes rules that we’d consider quite natural today, such as firing arcs and the rule against wizards using armor.
We can also see a bit of WFRP in the section on “personal characteristics in special situation”. The two situations in the example, bluffing and persuading, are thing that any WFRP player will have tried countless times and even establishes the later percentage based tests.

Next up is the one thing I actually knew would be in the compendium: The Legend of Kremelo the Slann – A Warhammer scenario.

It’s a wonderfully weird idea. An orphan slann, raised by Norse settlers in Lustria, who’s leading a raid on his old tribe after it attacks his adoptive village. This is about as oldhammer as it gets. Slann, Lustria, alcoholism and a scenario where you can’t be quite sure that your allies aren’t trying to kill you (something that’ll be a recurring theme in later scenarios).

Being someone who previously didn’t have any real interest in Lustria, as I read more of the old stuff about it I’m increasingly saddened that Richard Halliwell’s supplement on the continent (also mentioned in this compendium - *drink, I guess) never saw the light of day.

After this little gem we have something that’s become a bit of a stable in Warhammer; Goblinoid animosity.

The exact rules have changed a lot over the different editions, but the basic concept is a familiar one. If you are interested in the subject, Zhu has written more about it in a broader context here.

We now get to the meat-and-potatoes of the compendium, the models, but I think I’ll save that for next time. 

End of part one…


Sunday, 7 February 2016

Machinery of war

Even though Prince Ulther and his Dragon company is the unit that finally convinced me to switch to dwarfs I wanted paint something else first – namely the bolt thrower I got along with them. War machines are always good centerpieces and usually paint up really quickly, so I figured that it’d be a nice way to kick off the project.

As the two cornerstones of my initial army will be Bugman’s Rangers, with noticeable blue shields, and Ulther’s Imperial dwarfs, with red tabards and shields, I’m going to give the rest of the army red and blue uniforms as well, which will hopefully tie the whole thing together nicely.

Here it is:

The pictures are slightly overexposed, but I hope you get the general idea.

The bolt thrower is a really cool model, as are the crewmen. As an added bonus there’s only a single fully-visible eye between them, what with all the squinting going on, which is quite a relief for me.

Painting-wise I have a few observations. I’m not totally happy with the blue parts of their clothes – it's something I’ll have to work on – but the red turned out really well, and was supremely easy to do. Something about the paints I used just worked together in a way I haven’t experienced before. 

Here’s what I did:

First a base layer of The Army Painter’s “Oak Brown”. It’s a Danish manufacturer, and I’m not sure if you can get it elsewhere, but it’s basically a reddish dark brown – somewhat akin to the old Citadel “Scorched Brown”.

Next a layer of Formula P3 “Brown Ink”. This ink is really (really, really…) red, and, in my opinion, totally rubbish for areas that are actually supposed to end up being brown, but it’s nice when you are trying for a muted red.

After that has dried, and it’s here that something odd happened, I highlighted with Vallejo “Cavalry Brown” (which, like the ink, is more red that brown IMO). I don’t know why, but for some reason these colors just seamlessly blended in a way I’ve never experienced before, and I was able to vary the highlights by simply giving certain areas a slightly heavier coat.

If I’d wanted a brighter red, I could probably give it an additional layer of red (something I’ll try for the Dragon company), but as I wanted a very muted color, I just gave the edges a bit of “Cavalry brown” mixed with white.

All in all a very pleasant experience, and I’m very much looking forward to trying variations of my new "red technique" on other miniatures.


Thursday, 4 February 2016

Princely Points

Last time I wrote about shelving my plans to paint an Empire army, and that it was all because of some guy called Ulther.
Most oldhammeres will probably have guessed that this refers to Prince Ulther and his Imperial Dwarfs – The Dragon Company:

So, what happened was as follows:
I’ve always (since I became aware of them, at least) loved the Dragon Company. The sculpts are awesome, as are their color-scheme, they get a funny bit of story in the White Dwarf add, and the rules… ob boy, the rules. Here they are, as well as the short story:
On the surface they appear to be normal Imperial Dwarfs, but look closely and you’ll notice that they are equipped with pistols. This would ok by itself, except that these are second edition pistols (firelocks), which fire at S5. They are single-shot, mind you (depending on how you interpret the rules in Ravening Hordes), but since each trooper has two, you can get a volley off and still be ready to stand-and-fire against chargers. Or position them five wide on a hill, and attackers have to face 10 shots before having to deal with a rather fearsome dwarf unit in h-t-h. 
The rules for firelock pistols
Despite all this, they weren’t really on my radar in a major way. I was mostly focused on getting figures for WFRP and AHQ, and Ulther’s dwarfs usually sell for non-trivial amounts. But then I saw an entire unit (sans the champion) at a BIN price of less that £24. Only slightly over £1 per dwarf – how could I refuse?
So I bought them, and wanting to complete the unit I went looking for the champion. I eventually found him at a (somewhat) reasonable price, and in the same deal I picked up a flame-thrower team and a ballista. As I’ve been gathering a unit of Bugman’s Rangers for my Empire army, I suddenly found myself the proud owner of a small dwarven army.
My Dragon Company
Since the whole point of focusing on a single army was to avoid having huge pile of unpainted figures languishing in the cellar, I really had no choice but to abandon my previous plans. At the speed I’m currently painting, it’ll take me several months before I can finish my dwarfs, so there’s really no point in pretending that I’ll get around to the humans this side of summer.

So there you have it; My new project: paint a dwarf army!

As of right now, I only have one problem. You may have noticed that the add from WD doesn’t include point values. The back of the original box does though, but the only picture I’ve been able to find is this:
The resolution is simply too low for me to make out what it’s supposed to be.

Now, using the formula from the 2nd edition rules, I calculate them at 15,5 points (10 for imperial dwarfs, 1 for mail armor, 0,5 for shields and 4 for two pistols – with an equipment cost multiplier of 1, since their base value is below 11), but I’m pretty sure that the point value on the box is only two characters. This either means that I’ve made some mistake in my calculation, or that they get some kind of discount/markup… I just don’t know – maybe there’s someone out there who does?