Sunday, December 31, 2017

Year in Review

'Tis that time of the year. I didn't do this last year, but thought it might be beneficial for me to do a recap of sorts this year. So, armies progress and hobbying first! What have I accomplished in the last year?

Regnum Aeternum (KoM)
The Regnum kicked off the blog, but started out as GW repaints. However I don't currently count those models in my collection of Kingdoms of Men. Mid 2016, I shifted from repaints to the Roman/Byzantine style I wanted. I've added around 1500 points of things in 2017: more infantry and some knights, and the General on a Winged Beast.

It's a respectable collection at juuust over 3000 points (again, this excludes all of my old GW Empire models). I have a few more things in store for this army in 2018, as well as a few ideas for possible new plastic to buy if the mood strikes. Fireforge is adding some Byzantine models that I have my eye on... especially if they release some honest-to-goodness cataphracts!

The Halflings were a small (sorry, sorry) project I started for fun in 2017 as I searched for knightly/cataphract models for my KoM. I liked the idea of a "little brother" army for the Kingdoms of Men, and the idea snowballed from there.

I've painted up a little over 2000 points of Halflings now, and am boxing up the rest. The models aren't that great to hobby on, and I have more than I think I need at this point for a fun army. We'll call them 2000 points painted.

My Undead started in the tail end of 2016, working up a few Skeleton Warrior and Archer units. In 2017, I've added a lot. Wights, Wraiths, Vampires, characters... with a ton of Zombies, some more skeleton units, and more characters all on the way and already in various stages of progress. The end goal for the Undead is to hit somewhere around 4000 - 5000 points, and to have a nice collection of Undead to draw on. All told I'm a little over 3000 right now, with about 2500 points being added in 2017.

The Varangur were my big project in 2017. This year, I've painted up well over 5000 points of Varangur. Lots and lots of armored units, as well as some monsters and characters! I have about another 2000 points of things still sitting around, so I will have more Varangur coming in 2018.

The eventual goal with the Varangur (and Herd, and Abyssals) is to run a huuuge game sometime, with the Varangur taking center stage and supported by the quick Herd on one flank and the ranged Abyssals on another. I think this trio of baddies would look really cool on the table, and provide for a great, fluffy battle report.

A few test units were finished up on 2016, but most of the work has been done in 2017: some Tribal Longhorns, Guardian Brutes and Beast Packs all ready to hit the table. I'd say about 500-700 points has been done in 2017. Let's just call it an even 500 though.

Despite some purchases, the Abyssals haven't gotten a single unit table-ready yet. That's ok though, as I still don't have much of a plan for the army as a whole. I don't want a large collection; just 2000 points or so. I already purchased a horde of lower abyssals earlier in the year, I should be able to get this army going in 2018 with a little planning.

So, for hobbying/painting, I've painted around 11,500 points spread over 5 armies this year. I don't recall making any particular hobby goal last year, but I'm guessing I would have exceeded it.
How about gaming? You know... the reason for all this hobbying?

Well... I had a rather modest goal of playing 12 games in 2017. I really like Kings of War, and figured that I could probably fit one game in every month, rotating through the friends I know who play and not bugging any one person too much. However, I fell far short of my goal, and I only managed to play 5 games all year, with most of them under the typical 2000 point level. Shucks.

And now... what will 2018 bring?

Hobbying-wise ...probably not as much as 2017. I like hobbying, but I painted a lot of things and don't think I can duplicate that in 2018. I have a loose goal of painting up 6000 points or so. This would finish up a lot of the armies and projects and plastic I have in the works. The Undead will get another 1000 points or so; Herd and Abyssals probably about 2000 apiece. The Regnum is pretty well set, but could have a few things sneak onto the table. And we'll see about the Varangur.

Gaming-wise, I will again aim for 12 games. I wasn't all that diligent in pestering folks for games, and I can probably achieve this with a little planning and persistence. If I can't do this locally... I may have to check out a tournament sometime this year. (Oh shucks.)

And, the last, miscellaneous goal for 2018... is organizing and playing a big mega battle. Huge group games is what really hooked me with Warhammer Fantasy. I think Kings of War will scale up much, much better, and now that I have all these armies painted up and available, I think this would be a fantastic way to spend an afternoon.

That's it for me. Happy holidays, happy New Year, and I'll see you all in 2018!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Hobby Update: Halfling Army

My collection of Halflings started off accidentally. I picked up a box of Cataphract minis on a gamble, and found that they were about half the size I needed... and then the idea took root. I decided to build up a "little brother" army for the Regnum, using 1/72 minis to represent Halflings from KoW's League of Rhordia army.

Here is my list. Well, really my collection. This is everything I have ready, and all I really want for the foreseeable future, as I don't want to "main" the League.

As mentioned elsewhere on the blog, the models almost exclusively come from HaT minitures, purchased indirectly, through a third-party online store. The only exception to the above are the volley guns, which are Games Workshop Helblasters from their old Empire range.

The models here are at a 1/72 scale, which makes them a pretty great size to represent halflings for Kings of War! I decided to add various green stuff "tufts" around their feet, to try and represent the notion of halfling furry feet home, and give the army a little personality. The prettiness and effectiveness of the end result is debatable though.

On paper, the League of Rhordia looks to play much like the Kingdoms of Men. Both are broad armies; not specializing in any one thing, but rather having access to a wider variety of tactics and units, like armored knights, gunpowder and a gradated range of infantry and ranged units, from chaff units to tanky units to killy units.

The League gets even more options by mixing halflings into their ranks, who serve as chaff/specialists (Halfling Scouts and Ranger Cavalry), artillery (Halfling Howitzers, Volley Guns), monster handlers (Halfling Iron Beast) and very cheap tar-pits (Halfling Spearlings, Braves).

Despite all these options, I decided to be a weirdo and go with halflings-only. And while they can field a variety of units resulting is a legal, generally balanced army, halflings all on their own is a rather underpowered army...

Under-powered, but not under-staffed!
The halfling infantry is decidedly sub-par. Stealthy is an alright special ability, but the halflings lack both stats and special rules to really endure or deal damage in melee either. The cavalry options are better. While slower than what other armies can field (and losing Stealthy), the halfling cavalry can at least compete, with near-average stats to allow the Rangers to serve as good cavalry archers, and the Knights to serve as decent medium cavalry.

What would make halflings-only real contenders are their "special" choices: things like the Howitzer, Volley Gun and Iron Beast. All of those choices have a lot of damage potential and can be unlocked cheaply, given the overall low-cost of the halflings. However, I didn't want to build a gunline, and things like the Max Duplicate Rule for Clash of Kings could hamstring such an army in an event setting. 

Having only fielded the halflings indecisively in smaller games, I can't speak yet to the tactics this army will adopt, but generally speaking, this army is meant to go out and try to do things, even if that is the more difficult path for these little dudes. The guns will blast; the knights will charge; and the infantry will (hopefully) hold the line.

The few outings they have been on have been really fun, as fielding they kind of demand to not be taken seriously. I hobbied them up with an eye to playing them in any intro games I run, and I think that's probably the best place for them. Again, this is not really a competitive list, and the army isn't geared that way. Win or lose, I play to have fun with folks, and this army exemplifies that approach. Can't wait to field these donks again sometime soon.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Hobby Update: Last of the Halflings

One last thing I was hoping to get done (hobby-wise) before 2018 rolled around was finishing up my Halfling army, which I started on over the summer, as a bit of a joke. Halflings-only is a bit silly... Surprisingly, I'm going to make it! Another post will focus on the army as a whole, but for now, here are the last three units I needed to finish up.

Halfling Spearlings

Like the rest of my Halflings, the models are from HaT miniatures. These are their Romans, at a 1/72 scale - too small for a "normal" Kings of War scale human, but pretty great for halflings. The spearmen are from a few different boxes, ass mixed up. Since the Halfling Braves are 4+ Defense, and the Spearlings 5+, I decided to cut the shield parts off of the minis. They would probably look far better with their shields, but I think this resulted in a good feeling of fragility.

Kind of a bad pic.. but the paint-job isn't all that much better in focus. These are definitely just to a basic tabletop quality.
Like most of the other halfling-themed units utilized by the League of Rhodia, they have the Stealthy special rule, which will make it harder for them to be removed from missile fire. Interestingly enough, in the few games I've played with the halflings, my opponents typically decide to shoot at something else. Gamers don't tend to like penalties to their rolls!

Stealthy makes them more likely to survive and get into combat... but they are still halflings. As mentioned above, they only have a 3+ Defense, so most things will tear right through them. Additionally, they don't have a great chance to hit back with no Crushing Strength (or Thunderous Charge), and only a 5+ to hit.

My plan is to run them as a horde. The extra Nerve should let them stick around for a few turns and actually tank something. Fortunately, they are really cheap!

Halfling Archers

While their stats aren't great (5+ to hit; no offensive bonuses), they do have Stealthy. This should let them more efficiently trade shots against other archery units, somewhat mitigating the bonuses of 4+ elves, and getting a bit of an edge against other basic archer units.

As mentioned elsewhere and shown here... I'm not sure the furry feet really turned out all that well either.
This is my second archery regiment for the halflings. I don't expect much from either of them, though the occasional wound would be welcome. I think I will use them mostly to sit on objectives. Their regimental size along with Stealthy will make them harder to dislodge with ranged attacks or lucky Nerve checks. Plus they can still shoot.

The army could probably use a touch-up here or there, but is ready for the table. I've got a little over 2000 points of distinct units, but combining a few regiments into hordes can get me to an even 2000 point list, which seems like a great place to stop.

I probably have another 600 points of halflings sitting around, but I don't really feel like expanding the army more. The "foot fur" effect I tried is really tedious, and has dubious results aesthetically. The plastic itself is soft and a little difficult to work with too (so soft it was impossible to file off mold lines; the whole model just got mangled). Painting them up also turned into a bit of a chore. Hobbying is supposed to be fun, so it's a good time to give them a break and move on to other things.

That said, these 1/72 scale models are cheap. HaT's boxes were around $10, and had tons of minis. There are also tons of companies producing at 1/72, and covering a wide variety of timelines and regions.

All in all, this was an alright project. I probably bought too much (I would have liked to have kept this around 1000 points), but they will see the table sometime I hope. If you have a League of Rhordia army, and want some halflings... check out stuff at this scale! Army update coming soon...

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Coloring Vallejo Paste

I am a big fan of Vallejo pastes, and have used their pumice and sand pastes in my basing for a while now. Recently, a reader asked if it would be feasible to color the paste before applying it to the base of a model. The thought had never occured to me, as so often I paste and then prime the base. It seemed plausible to me, but I wasn't sure. So I set up a little test to see how well it would work. Dan, this post is for you!

Clock-wise from the upper left: black; a mustardy yellow; brown; and a kind of sky blue.
I decided to use a few generic acrylic paints to mix. Such paints can be acquired cheaply as part of a set (indeed two of my test colors came from such a set), or as larger tubes. If you are painting up an entire army's bases, these paints (especially the tubes!) will both last through your project, and not cost you much. That said, Reaper or Army Painter paints could be viable alternatives, as their bottles are pretty cheap and can squirt their paint out. I think I'd avoid the GW paint pots though...

A day later, everything has dried out alright.
As it turns out, you can totally mix paint and paste to save some effort! One thing to be aware of though, is that the wet white paste will tint the color you are working with. You can see it most strikingly with the blue color above, but all of the test ended up a little lighter and whiter than the original color.

So, it is completely viable to mix paint and paste. That tinting, however, is somewhat bad news, on two fronts. First, you will need more paint in order to make the mixture. I tried to ballpark a 1:1 ratio with paint to paste. Second, it will make duplicating your new colored paste more difficult. If you want to mix up paste in order to base a new unit a month later, or a year later, it may be difficult to get that exact color again.

But it works! If you want to save yourself a little effort, you can totally mix paint with Vallejo paste. 

I also tested out one more thing. I scooped up some of the unapplied mixture, and placed it in a small plastic portion cup, like you might get from take out or food cards. I covered it with plastic wrap to try and make it more air tight. The intent was to see if it would be possible to mix up some paint/paste, and save it for later.

A day and a half later, and the mixture is still nice and damp and workable. This is good news! Provided that you take steps to prevent the mixture drying out, if you mixed up a big enough batch, it should keep for a long while, and you should be able to use it as you need it. Heck, if you knew you only needed one color, you could probably just dump some paint into a Vallajo tub and mix/store it there.

With some planning ahead, creating colored Vallejo paste is completely viable, and may save you some precious hobby time. Thanks for the idea Dan!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Varangur: Sons of Korgaan

One final update for the week. I still have a bunch of old Warriors sitting around, all with big nasty-looking weapons, which I intend to run as units (three regiments, probably) of Sons of Korgaan. Most of the models need to actually be assembled, primed, etc, but this unit of Khorne Warriors was actually painted up fully back in my Warhammer days, and I figured I could transition this unit over pretty quickly while ill/recovering.

The unit is a little crowded..
I was right! Some washes here and there, and a few touchups and we're all set. As mentioned before, I have a lot of these Warrior models. Anything with the smaller weapons from the kit I'm running as Bloodsworn. These bigger halberd-toting models, are Sons.

Game-wise, they have a solid stat line and can both take and give hits freely. In fact, looking at these guys, I am reminded of my lengthy post from yesterday regarding Mounted Sons of Korgaan and Direfang Riders.

This is an interesting unit to add to that discussion.

Mounted Sons are still Knights; fantastic on the charge. Their slower counterparts on foot are similarly durable, (same Nerve even) but better able to grind out fights, owing to their Crushing Strength attacks. 

That... sounds familiar. The Direfangs were grinders as well, so these Sons on foot almost seem like a  (slightly) cheaper version of the Direfang Riders: something durable (again, exact same Defense and Nerve), slow, and murderous. Both can serve as powerful anchors in an army.

The Sons are cheaper, and will put out respectable damage while they hold the line.

The Direfangs, however, I think are meant to be the Varangur's best counter-punching unit. It's as tough as they come, but with those extra attacks and Strider to help make sure things get hit. It is meant to not only hold your line, but actively and fiercely push back.

Again, this is all theory; I have not gotten a game in with these units, or in a while. I will have a lot to test when the Varangur hit the table next time!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hobby Update: Direfang Riders

I've been off of work this week, and although I'm just now getting over a nasty cold (some week off), in between numerous naps and bowls of soup, I am also making some blog and hobby progress, as evidenced by all these recent posts.

After posting yesterday, I was tidying up, and I realized that there was one project in-process that got a lot of painting done in November, but I had not touched on in the blog yet: Zombies!

So there are (heh) 69 Zombies waiting to be based... this will take some time.
My girlfriend has been hobbying on these bloody guys for a few months now, and finished the blood effects up on the last of the models a week or so ago. So now... I just need to base them. I am planning on basing these guys on four regimental and two troop MDF bases; and running the whole gang as a Horde and a Legion... eventually. I had hoped to get started on this this week, but 5-6 hazy days of a cold made me forget about them entirely. I'll finish them off as soon as I am able... hopefully by the end of the year.

I have gotten some repaints done though! Here are two brand new hordes of Varangur Direfang Riders!

The first group.

The original models were painted up in very Khorne fashion. Silver for the metal joints of the Juggernauts, red armor all-around and gold/brassy metallic highlights for all the raised metal accent bits. Very Khorne.

The second group. I think this one turned our better, spacing-wise.

I don't have a consistent paint job for the Varangur, but I wanted the new paint job to be different for these guys. I browsed online for a bit, and found these guys painted up by someone known as Flint13. They were crazy well-done. I knew I couldn't hit that level of a paint job but I figured a scheme like that would fit in well with what I have already. I mean, I already had some things with black armor and some with white armor... As expected, my painting is no where near as good as Flint13's, but it works. 

Game-wise, they are a bit of an odd unit. I am obviously tempted to compare these to the Mounted Sons. Both are mounted dudes, after all. 

Here are the stats for those unwilling to open up their book or a new tab. See? Look at all those similarities! Same Nerve values; same option for Gifts; same exact costs for the smaller and larger unit sizes... a comparison is begging to be made!

The obvious difference, Large Cavalry vs regular Cavalry, isn't that big a deal. Frontages gets a bit bigger with the Large Cav, but they grant more unlocks, if you need them. Not much to say.

The first big difference in these units, is Speed. The Mounted Sons are typical knights, with a decent 8" threat range. Direfangs apparently have stubby legs, and are gimped 2 inches, making them barely faster than normal 5" infantry. Ouch. So, right off the bat, Sons are knights, good charge-you-from-far-away cavalry. The Direfangs? Cavalry really in name only.

The second big difference is the attacks. Mounted Sons are pretty typical knights. They have a few more attacks than a normal knightly unit, but hit on the typical 3+ for comparable knights. They can be stuffed up by terrain or phalanx units. Direfangs, however, seem to be more berserker-oriented. Like Elves' Hunters of the Wild; or the Varangur Reavers; or Abyssal's Succubi, the Direfangs shift to a 4+ to hit, and then gain a more attacks. They gain Strider to make sure they enter combat unhindered, ready to unleash all they have. 

The third big difference in these units is how and when they can deal damage. Whereas again, the Mounted Sons are pretty typical knightly units, relying heavily on Thunderous Charge, the Direfangs rely on Crushing Strength, meaning the 'Fangs can grind out combats more, and aren't nearly as concerned with getting the initial charge.

So... how would I run these units? Well, the Mounted Sons I'd still run as normal Knights and your typical heavy cavalry. That's what they are, and how they perform. These new Direfangs... I'm not entirely sure. So permit me to brainstorm a bit.

Gift wise... I still think Lifeleech 1 is generally not worth it. Depending on your list, you may be able to eek out some use from it on these guys.. but you can probably do better if you have the points to invest. Given their high number of attacks and CS2, Brutal is probably overkill. They'll be doing enough damage to break things, particularly if there is any other unit helping out. I think giving them Headstrong and Fury would be the way to go. You need them to do their damage, and their low speed means that they may be hurting by the time they reach combat. Giving them the ability to make a final counter charge could be huge.

In a faster list, with chaffy wolves, Horse Raiders, and some Mounted Sons... the Direfangs could be that final push. A unit or two of them, any size, advancing slowly behind the rest. Whatever survives that first onslaught, still has to deal with them.

In a slower list, say an infantry list, they could simply anchor your line... a stalwart horde with a solid 5+ Defense and 16/18 Nerve tying up important enemy units while Bloodsworn, Sons and Warbands clash alongside their savage bastion. Or conversely, a group of Thralls or Warband could tarpit something in order to allow the Direfangs to crash into the enemy flank. Imagine that. A whopping 60 CS2 attacks against something...

Ok, so, howsabout a more typical list. A mixed, balanced, toolboxy list. One that brings some light and heavy cavalry, light and heavy infantry, chaff units, and maybe a spooky monster or two? This is probably a good place for the Direfangs. Your faster elements are more likely to both chaff things up and draw early game fire, allowing the Direfangs to either arrive later and then support/clean up fights, or just be free to do other things with the mid-speed Monsters and slower infantry. Their biggest liability is their speed. In a list with other, speedier, more imminent threats occupying your opponent's attention, the Direfangs should arrive in combat mid-game largely unharmed, and given their durability, serve you until the end of the game, deleting units all the way. 

Enough theory for now; I'm rambling. I will be giving these a try sometime, in a mixed list. They seem like a pretty powerful and unique unit to explore. And, I'm glad they're done!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Hobby Update: Herd Tribal Hunters & Varangur Chieftains.

The Herd have not gotten a lot of love recently, and even this attention is pretty mediocre. No new paint. Not technically even a new unit. Just some rebasing.

Uh.. yay?
I painted these guys up over a year ago. Back then, I still wasn't decided on basing, so one troop was largely based individually, to give me some flexibility. Since then, I've decided that 1) I like multibasing for Kings of War, and 2) I don't want to use these minis for D&D. So I spent an hour or so semi-recently redoing this troop.

So, not a big update for my Herd. I have about 1000 points of Herd painted, out of a goal of 3000. That said, the majority of what I have ready right now are Troops... so I can't legally field the entirety of my collection. My intention is to run a bunch of Lycan units as my primary unlockers for the army, and I was hoping to have some ready by the end of the year, but I think that finishing those is probably unlikely. So, the Herd trudges along.

The Varangur also didn't get a lot of love in November, but that's ok, they've got 4000+ points of stuff already this year, and even more on-deck. Up now though are two new Chieftains done up in late November to help lead the Varangur to victory.

My WHFB Chaos army made heavy use of core chariots. While most of these were converted Tomb King chariots, I did pick up some actual Chaos Chariot kits, one of which was cannibalized for parts. The chassis for that kit became a Warshrine, and the Gorebeast and warrior were built up into this Slaanesh hero.

Originally, I wanted to add chains to this guy, and have the rider yanking his mount around, but I gave up on that idea. Instead, a few blobs of greenstuff was added and colored green to suggest magical control of the beast via the little rod in the warrior's right hand.

Another component of my old Chaos army were two units of Skullcrushers, because they were just so darned powerful! Then, like now, I wanted a big collection in the hopes of playing bigger group games, and ended up buying 3 kits, to make 2 units of up to 4 Crushers and have a hero to spare. All are being transitioned over into KoW right now.

All my Khorne heros were painted with black armor back in the day, so this model didn't get any real touchups; just a new base. I don't have a unified color scheme for the Varangur, so I'm not too worried.

Game-wise, these are not a bad choice at all. They have an pretty impressive stat line, as you can see here. They can take a hit very well and will take some concerted effort to remove from the game.

On the offense, they've got a great number of attacks for a 50mm frontage, and a lot of special rules that will help them really bring the pain. Strider is helps them get there, Hindered Charges can really ruin things. Elite also helps the attacks land. Mix in Crushing Strength 3 to all that, where all but Def 6 is wounded on a 2+ roll... and you have a hero that is leading by example. 

Additionally, being able to take a Gift is also a boon (Brutal would probably be my top pick). Lastly, the lack of Thunderous Charge is another benefit, meaning that this guy can grind out fights if needed. All around, a very powerful unit.

There are a few strikes against him though. First up is the Speed, which at 6, isn't stellar. He can keep up with Infantry, but struggle to keep up with the faster elements of a Varangur list (Fallen, Mounted Sons). The second strike against him is the cost. While quite powerful, he will not be worth it for everyone. Still, I look forward to seeing these chiefs on the table sometime.

And... this actually brings the blog current with the things I was working on in October/November. With the time off of work, I've been hobbying up some more Varangur, which will be posted soon, and hopefully the Halflings will be finished by the end of the year too... but we'll see how that goes. There's just so many little models to paint for them...