Saturday, 30 January 2016

The great Empire project / Plot twist!

Some time ago, I promised to eventually reveal just what the theme of my empire army would be. Well, the time has finally come…
… and the answer is: It’s going to be based around the town of Bögenhafen, or more specifically the army of Graf Wilhelm von Saponatheim.

In keeping with the overall topic of this blog, I always wanted to base my army on some of the older WFRP material, and as Reikland is by far the best described region (maybe except for the city of Middenheim), that province was a natural choice. I also wanted a smaller force – perhaps a town garrison – which ruled out Altdorf itself.
From there, Bögenhafen became the next logical setting. It is both the largest Reikland town and, by far, the easiest to find information on.

I figured that I’d need to settle on the following:
  • Uniform colors
  • Flags and heraldry
  • Army composition

If you google “bögenhafen army” you’ll find a lot of pictures of soldiers in white and purple. I don’t know where this idea originated, but I’ve traced it back at least as far as the 6th edition Empire army book

This is obviously utter hogwash. If you’ll excuse me getting way too worked up over an inherently silly subject, but that is a terrible color-scheme for common soldiers. One; as anyone who’s spend a great deal of time outdoors will tell you, the white is only going to be white for about ten seconds. Two; purple was a really expensive dye in medieval (even late) Europe, and should be the same in the Empire.

Now, Teugen wears purple on the cover of Shadows over Bögenhafen (SoB), which might cooperate the idea that it’s the “town color”, but he’s rich merchant and can actually pay for expensive clothes. 

I know, I know – this is fantasy medieval Europe, and if I’d really liked the color, I wouldn’t let history hold me back, but I don’t really like the scheme all that much, so this is a deal-breaker for me. Besides, speaking about the “army of Bögenhafen” doesn’t really make sense, but I’ll get back to that later.

So what colors am I going to use then?
Well, Von Saponatheim himself might get the purple-and-white, and if I do some kind of personal guard, they’ll get it too.

As for the common soldiers, the only thing I’ve got to go by is this passage from SoB, regarding the town watch:

That’s much more reasonable – yellow tabards with the town crest on, over leather or mail. Incidentally, the two soldiers I painted for the army some time ago are supposed to be watchmen:

I’ll paint the rest of the common soldiers in similar colors, maybe with a purple sash or armband.
I’m taking my inspiration for the color-scheme from a picture I took from my basement window this fall:

This was a bit easier. You can see the Bögenhafen flag in the color map from SoB (the middle one):

I found Saponatheim’s coat of arms in a much later picture (from WFRP 3rd edition). It’s a bit grainy, but it’s basically a purple stag’s head:

The man leaning against the tree is Sigfried von Saponatheim, (I think) Wilhelm’s younger brother.

I’ll use some variation of the stag for the army standard and guard units and the Bögenhafen standard for the town watch.

Army composition
I said earlier that the idea of an “army of Bögenhafen” was silly (while being very aware that I’m talking about an imaginary town in an imaginary country in an imaginary world). Here’s the reason:

This is a page of the gazetteer from Death on the Reik. You’ll notice that Bögenhafen only has 300 poor quality (the denominated by the “c”) militia. These would include the town watch and could hardly be classified as an “army”.

That’s why I want to make this the army of Graf Wilhelm von Saponatheim instead. If you look at his seat of residence, Castle Grauenburg, you’ll see that he can field 50 “a”-class and 100 “b”-class full-time soldiers (probably knights/men-at-arms and footmen, respectively). Add those to the 300 militia from Bögenhafen, and it becomes much more interesting.

I also want to include some fantastical elements, to keep the army from feeling too generic. A unit of dwarf mercenaries (mentioned earlier), a wizard and maybe a unit of ogres should do it.

I think I’m going to do something along the lines of:

From Castle Grauenburd (i.e. using the purple stag banner and including elements of purple in the uniform):
  • A general (Wilhelm) and a unit of stadtsknechtes (knights) as his personal retainers.
  • A wizard
  • 1-2 cannons
  • A unit of kriegsritter (mounted crossbowmen)
  • A unit of hakbutschutzen (handgunners)
From Bögenhafen:
  • A hero (watch captain)
  • 1-2 units of town watch helblitzen (halberdiers – yellow tabards)
  • A unit of town watch armbrustschutzen (crossbowmen – yellow tabards)
  • A unit of fleglers (flagellants – they are cool and I’ve already got the models)
  • Bugman’s Rangers
  • (Golfag’s Mercenary Ogres)
It’s a rather ambitious project, I know, but I can get most of the models from Wargames Foundry, so it should be doable.

And now for the

You see all that stuff I’ve just spend a lot of time researching and writing about? Yeah… I’m not going to do all that – at least not right away.

“What!” You cry, “Then why would you waste out time like that?”

Well, the short answer is that I’d already done most of the work, so I thought that I’d post it anyway – and besides, I’ll probably do it eventually, just not right now.

It’s all Prince Ulther’s fault really, but I’ll get back to that next time…


Monday, 25 January 2016

Actual tangible progress

After last week, I was determined to make some headway into my pile of unpainted miniatures, and as I’d like to get my ranger unit assembled, I decided to paint another batch of troopers. To mix things up a bit, I also picked up another three clanrats, as I’ve found them to be wonderfully simple and, dare I say, stress-relieving to paint.

After some soul-searching, I concluded that I’d been a little too sloppy with the first two rangers, so I spend a little more time on highlighting and detailing this time around, though I’m not sure if it shows up too well on the pictures.

I didn’t really expect to finish the skaven – they were primarily there to give me something to do when the dwarfs were drying – but to my utter amazement, I managed to get them done as well, which means that I’ve painted a personal-record-setting six figures in a week! Yay!

Sadly, I haven’t yet discovered exactly how to get consistently good photos of the minis, and something messed with the colors this time around. I’ve tried to correct it in Picasa, but they are still a little washed-out. Oh well, just one more thing I need to practice, I guess.


Monday, 18 January 2016

Ranger up! / Trouble in paradise

Once again, I had a very unprolific week, though this time it wasn’t for lack of trying – I’ll get back to the reason why later.

Even so, I did manage to finish two figures – these guys:

“What’s that?”, you ask, “Weren’t you supposed to be painting an Empire army? - So what are you doing messing around with a couple of dwarf rangers?”
Well… that’s a good point, but the two things don’t have to be opposites. I always intended to include some fantastical elements in the army and a unit of dwarf mercenaries seemed like a natural place to start. Besides, I got a good deal on a couple of rangers, and once I saw them up close, I immediately fell in love with the sculpts – they are absolutely lovely. So I bought some more – a whole unit in fact, including Joseph himself: 

I’m afraid that my very basic paintjob isn't really doing them justice, but I really wanted to finish something, so I kept it very simple. Just a base layer, followed by a wash and a single highlight (except for the faces, which got a little more attention). In the end, I’m reasonably proud of the shields, which worked out well, but the rest is probably too simple (bordering on simplistic).

That aside, I’m trying to limit the colors to buff, brown and grey, with the shields adding a little color, in keeping with tradition, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing the completed unit, once it gets done.

As to the reason for my slow pace this last week, It’s really all due to an error of judgment on my part. Here’s a picture of my workstation:

It’s really comfortable, close to the stove (which is nice this time of year), and I can even see the television, if I angle it a bit. In fact, I’d inadvertently created the best working space in the house, which naturally came back to bite me in the arse when the wife eventually caught on. 

She’s a teacher and needed somewhere to grade mid-terms. I could have expelled her to the dining table, which is in another room, but like many women she seems to freeze all the time, and she just seemed so happy sitting right next to the fire.

So I relented. The dining table isn’t really optimal for painting (too little light and I wouldn’t want to risk spilling paint all over it), so I contented myself with the couch until she was done, which meant that I only really had a couple of hours left this week to get something painted up.
In the end, we decided that we’re going to get a desk with room for both of us, so I guess it's a net win…


Sunday, 10 January 2016

Scum and villainy

Happy new year everyone. I’ve been back to work for a week after an unusually long Christmas vacation, and for some reason I just couldn’t get back into my usual rhythm, so I really haven’t been doing much painting – and what little I did, ended up being so appallingly bad that I put the figure right back into the jar of acetone.

Instead of showing painted, I want to talk a little about some minis I got a while back. First, though, I have to ask a question: How old and/or well-known must a story be before spoiling key elements of the plot without a warning is o.k.?

Maybe it mostly depends on the type of story. Certainly, mysteries should be treated with greater sensitivity than the average romantic comedy, but at some point, it just seems overbearing to assume that your audience doesn’t know certain well-known plot-points – the ending of Romeo and Juliet comes to mind.

I’m asking because I want to talk about the villains of The Enemy Within (TEW), and though it’s quite old (as role-playing campaigns go), it’s really impossible to do that without ruining a lot of the fun of the campaign for anyone who might play it in the future. Even showing pictures would be thoroughly spoilery.

Therefore, for the benefit of the two people in the world who are interested enough in the subject to read this, but still haven’t been exposed to TEW, I’ll but in a break.

Heavy spoilers hereafter.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

First of many

As a part of my effort to paint a full set of figures for Advanced Heroquest I’ll eventually have to paint a ton of Skaven, which is actually slightly scary for me. You see, I once tried, and badly failed, to paint a Beastman army. I simply couldn’t motivate myself to paint all that brown (this was back when I thought that all Beastmen had to be brown-furred, goat-headed bodybuilders).

There’s a little more leeway with Skaven (for one thing they tend to wear a more clothes) but there’s still no way I’m getting out of painting lots and lots of fur, so I have to stay on track, and my usual four-hours-per-miniature routine simply won’t cut it.

So, to maximize my chances of actually finishing all those rats, I tried a very speedy style for my first three clan-rats. Here’s how they turned out:

I’m really very pleased with them. Though the paint-job is quite basic, it took almost no time at all and I actually think that the overall effect is rather striking.

Basically, I dry-brushed the models with three layers of increasingly lighter brown. I only applied the last layer, which was almost buff, to the skin-parts (hands, feet and face) and, lightly, to the fur.

I then treated the skin and fur with different washes (red-ish for the skin, dark brown for the fur) which gave a nice variation to all the brown – though my camera sadly didn’t pick it out (probably because I’m using artificial lighting, but It’s cold and rainy outside, so that’s just how it’s going to be).

After the washes had dried, I painted the metal and clothes. Both got a base color and a layer of wash to bring out the detail, but no highlights. I figured that if there’s anything I can get away with not highlighting, it’s Skaven, and it saves me a lot of time on each figure.

Lastly I painted the claws, teeth, eyes and shields, and did a tiny bit of touch-up on some of the leather.

You’ll also notice that I’ve actually done the bases this time. I figured that it was about time to pick a style, but as I’d like to use some of my figures for both dungeoneering and field-battles, I didn’t want all-green bases. In the end, I decided to try Orlygg’s basing guide which seems to give a nice all-round effect. You’ll probably also notice that I didn’t quite manage to replicate the style. It might simply be because of my lack of experience or it might be because I’m not using inks. A proper set of inks are high on my to-buy list anyway, so this may be a good time to get them. Vallejo does a nice set.

I really enjoyed painting these three little critters – and I wasn’t expecting to, so I’ll call it a success.