Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Going off the reservation

I’m not quitting oldhammer – honest! But sometimes you have to go where the games are, and in my case, that place is called Malifaux.
For those of you who aren’t aware of it, Malifaux is a skirmish-level miniatures game set in (and I’m not kidding here – it’s on the publisher’s website) a magical, Victorian, horror, steampunk, gothic, Wild West inspired alternate earth. Whew.

As you might infer from that description, it’s a game of wildly swinging moods and themes.
It is a game where a group (“crew” in the game’s terminology) of Lovecraftian horrors might theoretically face off against a crew made up entirely of pigs. That’s not a metaphor; I’m talking about actual pigs here.
Despite this “everything that was cool in 2010” approach to world-building, the game’s background is remarkably coherent (certainly more so than Age of Sigmar’s), which has a lot to do with the (often) quite excellent stories that make up a large part of the rulebooks. You can listen to them for free on Wyrd Games’ official podcast, The Breachside Broadcast.

To illustrate just how good these stories are (IMO), let me tell you that, though I’ve settled on collecting a single crew (for now), there are at least five more that I want at some point; three of which I only became aware of when I read a really engaging story about them.

Malifaux has a couple of other good qualities (from the perspective of someone who’s got an infant, a wife and a house to take care of in his spare time).

Most importantly, you only need about ten (relatively inexpensive) figures to play, depending on which crew you choose. This means that, even though I only get about half an hour’s worth of painting done each day, I might conceivably finish a crew before Christmas, which is more than I can say for my dwarf army.

Secondly, Malifaux plays in one to two hours, only requires a small table and a bit of scenery and has an active community in my area, so I may actually get to play it once in a while without having to travel to Bring Out Your Lead (not a realistic proposition for me right now). I was always a gamer first and painter second, so this is very positive.

Game-wise Malifaux is very modern, for lack of a better word. It’s build around a familiar core (you take turns activating a model, each of which can take 2-3 actions), but has some interesting twists.

For starters, you don’t roll dice, but instead draw from a deck of playing cards to randomize results. Wyrd sells custom decks, but you could just use a normal poker set.

Each turn you also get a hand of (usually) five cards you can “cheat” in, if you don’t like your draw. As you can keep cards in your hand from turn to turn if you don’t use them, this lets you do some interesting things with probability-optimization and hand-management. For example, do you keep a really low card in hand, so you won’t draw it randomly, or do you discard it to, maybe, draw something better next turn? Does your answer to that question change if you want to do something important at the beginning of your turn? What about an average card, do you keep that? And so on and so forth…

Another feature is that all models have several special abilities – some of which can be combined into powerful effects. As I said above, a model usually has 2-3 actions each turn, but under the right circumstances, you can get as much as seven or eight (or even more, I’m sure). This sounds broken as hell, but when everyone can do stuff like that, it’s just what you have to expect and plan for – and remember that you only have a few units, so you really need to make each one count.

There’s a bunch of other stuff, but if you’re really interested, you can download the rules for free here.

In a way, Malifaux feels a bit like a cross between a miniatures game and Magic the Gathering. Now that may sound appalling to some people, but it speaks to the board-gamer in me, so I like it.

I personally have very little patience with blogs that go veering wildly off-topic for any length of time, so I won’t bother you too much with all this newfangled nonsense, though I’ll probably post some pictures of whatever I paint up, if only to avoid going totally silent for the next couple of months.


Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Let’s read – The second Citadel Compendium

I figured it was about time to return to my “Let’s Read” – this time with the Second Citadel Compendium (the first one that I actually own a physical copy of). Just like last time you can follow along over at Stuff of Legends, here (I'm only including a sample of pages in this post).
As you can see from the front page, this is the-one-with-the-amazons. We are also still firmly in 1st edition, pre-slotta territory, so a lot of the content is admittedly too old for even die-hard oldhammerers to really care about, unless you really love amazons (and why wouldn’t you?).

There’s nothing really interesting in the “welcome” section (other than noting that Nick Lund’s Chronicle Miniatures was joining Citadel), so we’ll skip ahead to the first real article, the Rigg’s Shrine scenario.
“Scenario” may be stretching the definition by today’s standards. It’s closer to a gazetteer for an RPG with some extra rules for sneaking around and looting thrown in, but then again, 1st edition Warhammer was an amalgamation of RPG and wargame.

Actual scenario ideas only take up a couple of paragraphs on page eight of the compendium, but before that, I feel we need to return to the drinking game from last time, as the introduction mentions the future Lustria supplement for Warhammer *drink*.

Other than that, I don’t have too much to say about the scenario. Zhu has written about it (and Warhammer’s amazons in general), so if you’re interested, I suggest you head over here.
The following article is in response to at lot of questions Citadel had been receiving (imagine that; interacting with your costumers, how very novel) and explains how figures were made back then.

I’ve never looked into the process before, so I found the article to be very informative, and I imaging that the readers back then felt the same way.

Next up are the results from a competition from the first compendium.
Seems like people really got into the spirit of things, and it’s cool to see the three best entries getting made into miniatures by one other than the Perry twins. Quite a collector’s object I should think!

We then get to the Compendium Selection of figures. Like in the first compendium they are line-drawings and not photos, which is sad, but at least the general quality of the drawings has gone up.
A lot of these figures are really iconic, not least because some of them were used in the popular 2nd edition scenarios. The selections also include many stables of the Warhammer world, such as Cold Ones, Chaos Hounds, Goblin Fanatics, Chaos Warriors and Beastmen.
And let’s not forget the awesome Amazons:
After the general selection we get the first wave of Regiments of Renown. These are cornerstones of Citadel’s history and should be fairly recognizable to most of the Oldhammer community (Bugman’s Dwarf Rangers, of cause, being well-known even today).
We then have the Specialty Sets, which, like in the first compendium, are shown in photos instead of drawings, and which, once again, underscore just why Citadel preferred drawings at the time – the pictures are, frankly, barely legible.

Tony Ackland’s Arcane Monstrosities fare better (both as drawings and photos), probably because the models are larger.
I would dearly love to get my hands on these, but I’m not really prepared to pay the monstrous price they command (pun intended).

On the next page we have a model I just might shell out the cash for: The Great Spined Dragon. To this day some people will argue that it is the best dragon figure ever produced in this scale, and I’m inclined to agree.
A few pages later we have another very interesting page: an ad for the newly released citadel paints, along with a short note on how to use these new-fangled water-based paints. This includes some advice you certainly won’t find in official GW publications today, such as: “Car body primer is just as good and usually cheaper”.
A few pages later we have a painting article written by none other than Kevin Adams. Like the one in the first compendium it’s supposed to be a guide for beginners, though this one spans several pages and goes into much greater detail.
The article is actually really good (IMO), and it’s quite funny to glimpse into a time when acrylic paints weren’t the automatic choice for miniature painters. The section about painting skin also really made me want to try out some alkyd paints to see how smooth a blend I can achieve with them.

We also get another great quote from a Citadel/GW that cared about other things than selling more and more stuff, when Kev discusses the Citadel paint range and notes that: “If the price of the artists colours makes them an unrealistic proposition, then this range is a good alternative.”

After the painting article we get a primer on assembling metal miniatures. It’s basic but functional.

The following page is a contest, where you have to try to draw a cross between the eyes if an invisible Balrog. Can you find it (I certainly can’t)?
After a few pages of reader art we get to the Eldritch Epistles (i.e. the mailbox), which is always worth a close read.
There’s an interesting discussion on the merits of using D6’s vs. D10 or D100. The answer ends with the (to my knowledge) first account of GW using a 6+ followed by a 4+ roll of get something close to a 10% chance of something – something they would make regular use of in later editions.

Also of interest is a question about how many different Citadel models there actually were – the answer being “we honestly don’t know”. In this age of 3D-printed master sculpts and titanium molds, this might seem odd, but as we’ve learned from reading this compendium, back then the hand-crafted master sculpt would usually be destroyed to make a rubber mold that might then only last a few days.

Further molds could be made by using cast figures, but usually at the cost of reducing detail on the final product. In the end, the benefits of mass-producing a particular sculpt had to be weighed against the desire to make the best product possible, and to Citadel’s honor, they often chose the latter.

It also suggests to me that a collector of early Citadel figures should try to go for the unlisted (and thus not mass-produced to the same degree) ones, as they’d be more likely to be a “first generation” cast, but that’s just conjecture.

Rounding off the compendium are a couple of ads, including a color add for the Citadel paint set.
So that’s the second compendium. Not quite as many groundbreaking articles as the first, but with an absolutely iconic selection of miniatures. 

Next time I’ll take a look at the Citadel Journal from spring 1985.


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Boom, Headshot!

I finished my Skaven jezzail team yesterday (yay!) and instead of just dropping a picture of the finished models, I thought I’d do a quick step-by-step.
I’m undercoating in grey. It’s a new thing I’m trying, and so far I’m fairly pleased with the results. Nothing controversial here.
Afterwards I wash the models with Army Painter Dark Wash and then apply a very rough drybrush in white to bring out the detail and aid with shading.
I then apply a coat of ink to the fur, wood, leather, warpstone bullets (at least, that’s what I imagine he’s got in the sack) and clothes as a base coat. I’ve tried this with the fur before, and I think it works, but as you can see, the red ink doesn’t cover very well – especially on the raised areas (I’d sort of hoped that the white drybrush would help, but it obviously didn’t).
To salvage things, I gave the red areas a couple of layers of P3 Brown Ink. It worked out fairly well, but in the future I think I’ll just give the red clothes a proper base coat.
I then drybrushed the fur and clothes in lighter tones of brown/red – both to add some further highlighting and to take the shine off the models.
After that, I did some detailing work and gave the skin and wood some extra highlights in different tones of brown to differentiate it from the fur.
Lastly, I painted the metal and leather. Metal gets a base color, followed by an ink wash and a quick highlight, while I paint leather by washing a base layer of light brown with sepia wash (I can’t remember the name right now – It’s an old GW one), then highlighting a couple of times by mixing the base color with more and more ivory, and finally giving it an extra sepia wash.
And here’s the final result. Considering how quickly I did them, I’m fairly pleased. I am, however, becoming painfully aware that red was a bad choice for the clothes, as the entire model ends up looking quite “brownish”.

Oh well… They’ll hopefully look good alongside the rest of my painted Skaven. I’ll have to do a “group photo” at some point.


Thursday, 4 August 2016

I'm back

Que the music:
That's just to say "I'm not dead - honest"

Has it really been almost a month since i last wrote something here? Wow - time does fly.

Between visiting the family, work and keeping the baby fed and (reasonably) happy, I simply haven't had the energy to do any painting.

But now things are slowly getting back to normal after the summer vacation, so I finally managed to finish the warpfire thrower team. Here they are:
They aren't really my best work. I'm fairly happy with the clothes, but the rest could have turned out better and I really, really need to lock down on a method for painting skaven flesh. As it is, I just splodge various shades of brown and pink on there till I get tired and call it a day.

At least they were fairly quick to do. Undercoating in grey works quite well, though in the future I may have to do a quick drybrush in white before applying other colors to brighten the models up a bit.

Next up are some of my favorite models ever - the jezzail team!