Thursday, October 19, 2017

Hobby Update: Vampires

My Undead army started out as a few spare units I figured might be fun to have on hand to lend out to my Undead-playing friend. That's still their main purpose, but the collection is growing. Here are 1000 points of vampires!

That really is 1000 points. Vampires are expensive...
The vampire hero is just a Reaper model, and has the benefit of being cheap, dollars-wise. In game, she’s pretty expensive! This isn’t a great sculpt, but I already had picked it up a while ago for some Dungeons and Dragons, so I decided to paint her up while I was finishing up the units. She can now pull double-duty. Reaper has a number of more… practically-dressed vampires, which I may splurge on at some point down the road.

The Soul Reavers are Perry Bros Foot Knights with some head-swaps from Mantic’s Ghouls to showcase the vampirism better. These models are fantastic. They also make a similar-looking mounted knight kit, which I may pick up at some point for fun.

36 of the 38 models come on copies of this sprue. Then there is 2-body sprue for a kingly model and a potential bannerman.
I chose the Perry Bro's kit because of its "gothic"-looking armor. I thought it would lend itself nicely to a vampire aesthetic and guide my future undead hobbying in a later-medieval direction. I really like these models. Each body has a slightly different pose, which actually you build a pretty dynamic unit. I would highly recommend these, and I was anticipating a great deal more head-swapping, but the knights had a lot of Sallet helmets, which, with the open jaw area, I kept. They seem fantastically appropriate for vampires!

Not too much to say about these with respects to the game. They are a very strong unit; with a staggering number of powerful attacks, Lifeleech, and pretty good defense too. However, they are also a very expensive unit, and still just infantry, meaning they may get picked apart by artillery or other ranged attacks or hit by speedier cavalry or monsters if not property protected. Most Undead lists I see online shy away from them, so having three regiments on hand is probably overkill by several magnitudes for a practical, balanced list, but oh well. I like how they turned out, and they should provide a very powerful addition to my little collection of Undead!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Hobby Basics: Water/Mud Effect

There are more advanced tutorials out there to get you some splash effects or ripples or sea foam or wading pools and such, but this method embraces my simple approach to hobbying; providing me with a neat little effect for very little time, money or effort.

My hobbying experience is largely limited to wargames, so I am not familiar with a lot of things at your typical craft shop. After trying a few different clear nail polishes trying to get this effect, I ended up buying a bottle of what I suppose can be termed a "glaze" product. I ended up with Winsor & Newton's Artists' Acrylic Glazing Medium, which promised a transparent, glossy finish. And it worked well to create the muddy effect, so I'm sharing it with you.

You will need:
-A painted, finished base, with flat spots (presumably the water or mud).
-An older, flatter brush
-The glaze
-A small test base, to see how thick you need to apply the glaze

The process here aims to do one thing: make things glossy. I assume your muddy or watery spots are painted the way you want (and dry). I recommend these areas also be flat, because of gravity and realism.

Some spooky Soul Reavers traipsing through rocks and mud and blood... it helped to use a few different colors for the mud, to give it a more deeper, layered look prior to glazing.
Apply some of the glaze in varying amounts to the spare base in a few spots. Let it dry overnight. This should clue you into how thickly you need to apply it to your bases, and approximately how long it takes to dry without wasting a ton of your time. 

Out of the bottle, the glaze is a milky-white fluid. I you apply it to thin, it looks transparent from the start, and doesn't dry well. I applied it until every area I wanted glazed had a kind of milky-white look to it, and let it dry overnight. It was fine by morning.

When you are ready to work on your bases, simply apply it to the parts you want glossy, in the amounts your test determined, and let it dry When everything is done and dry, you should have a nice shiny effect without obscuring the paint job below.

You can almost hear the squelches...
In terms of "technique" this is pretty easy: just apply it. Good job. The  difficult parts are all the prep and planning stages: making sure your have enough smooth or flat terrain on your base to use this effect, and then painting the effect (along with a few brush strokes against the feet of the models to "sell" it). 

All in all though, this is still a pretty simple effect to replicate, and one that I am happy to both have in my repertoire and to share with you.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Hobby Basics: Basing with Stands

A lot of the models I have been working with lately (Mantic Undead, Warlord Romans, Halflings, etc) have a stand as part of the model. While this small disc helps with painting, as you have a spot to hold while you paint the model, it can be a pain when it comes to basing the model, particularly with regards to multi-basing.

One could do all the basing first, blending little hills or rocks among the stands, and then paint everything. However, that seems crazy to me. Depending on the models, or size of the unit involved, it could easily be a nightmare to get the paint brush between legs or around weapon tips and into those middle models to paint. And that’s even ignoring the frustration of trying to paint any details (belts, gems, etc).

So, we'll have to paint and then base. Still, we'll need to deal with these stands. How? 

There are three basic approaches I have been using recently, regarding basing models with stands, which I figured I'd share here. Nothing below is particularly revolutionary, but a new hobbiest may find something helpful.

Basing with Paste

I still really like Vallejo paste, and am still using it frequently.  If you want to use the paste with your stands, it’s actually pretty easy, and I've been doing this currently, with a lot of my halfling units. I start with painted models.

-Base the stands of the models with the paste, and wait for it to dry.
-Paint the now-based stands
-Glue a rank of the models to the base.
-Add paste around the stands of that rank. Stopping short of where you want the next rank to be. I use a toothpick to move the paste around narrow areas, like in between feet. (It’s a cheap tool.) 
-Repeat. And repeat. And repeat… Keep adding a model or whole ranks, and pasting around it until you are done. Wait for it all to dry.
-Paint the newly pasted areas from above.

Add a rank... add the paste.
Above is a WIP pic with some halfling ponies I was testing out the process on. These models had been pasted and then primed and painted. This eventually led to a mismatch in color, with the parts under the ponies being darker than the surrounding areas due to the black primer on the stands. While painting can overcome this, it may be easier to paint first, and then add the paste, so all the paste starts out as that uniform color. 

Finished! Using a few shades of paint helped to blend the disparate paste color.
Using paste is relatively simple, though depending on the stand size and height, you may need to add another layer of paste to certain areas to better camoflage the stand, or you could be lazy and use grass tufts to obscure the bumps.

Basing with Milliput or Sculpting Putty

Greenstuff is usually the putty of choice for hobbiests, as it holds detail well, however, for basing, I prefer Milliput as it is cheaper and easier to smooth out. Whichever two-part putty you use, the general process should be the same: combining a bit of each part and kneading it together. For basing, we are looking to gently grade an area around the stand of the model, and have a "rolling hill" kind of result.

-Knead the putty, and just add little bits around the model. Use a wet tool or wet fingers to press it around the stand and smooth it all out. Wait for it to dry.
-Paint it up.

Milliput won't do much to make your base interesting on its own.
On the left, you can see the combined efforts of putty and paste. On the right, you can see an earlier stage. Some models have been puttied; the rest of the models have pasted, and are waited to be glued to the base and pasted around.

The putty doesn’t add a whole lot of interesting things on its own, so you should add flock or static grass or pebbles or something to get it to look interesting at the end. I

Remove the Stand

Depending on your dexterity and/or tools, you may be able to deftly slice the stand from the feet of the model. A sharp hobby knife or small hobby saw should be enough to deftly cut it, but ankles are generally weak points on models, so you have to be very careful. Additionally, it can be hard to get the cut flush with the stand, so you might clip a few toes accidentally… Depending on the model involved, this can be a difficult approach. However, you can prime/paint whenever you want with this approach. Priming/painting prior to cutting helps, as the stand does give you something to hold on to while you paint. Basically, the final steps are:

-Cut off the stand
-Finish all your basing, whatever it may be.
-Glue model to the finished base.

This technique can help you group your models closer together for a visual effect (like a swarm of tightly packed zombies), or if you only cut off a few models, it could allow for easier painting of the base itself, as you could glue these models on after everything else is painted.

To make a more interesting base, I’d recommend you combine some of the techniques above. Below is the start of a third Soul Reaver regiment. The models have been pasted, and glued down. I'm just about ready to add paste around the stands. Off to the side, you can see a model who has had their stand cut off, so I can still them close to the horse.

The last pic, below, is all three regiments of Soul Reavers, still works in progress. The back two had a combination of milliput and paste to create some rocky ground and flatter, muddy-looking areas, while the front unit had that, plus a few stands clipped to get the vampires closer to the slain horse. The work was spread over a few evenings to allow things to dry: the first the putty; the second to paste; the third to paint. Even combining all three approaches, this was a pretty painless way to work. It just took a little time to get it all squared away.

Not quite finished, but close. The bases aren't fancy, but they work.
So there you have it. Some basic tips for working with models with stands. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Hobby Basics: Snow Effect

I've been meaning to write this up for a while. Previously I did snow bases with just Elmer’s Glue (basically PVA glue) and lots of baking soda dustings. However, the process was terrible. It took a lot of time; was messy; and arguably most importantly, after a year the glue starts to turn yellow as the glue got older. All in all it was a bad system.

That approach was pioneered a few years ago. In the interim, I’ve grown a little as a hobbiest.. so here is my new method for snowy bases. Admittedly it is probably similar, if not identical to anything you will find on the internet regarding snowy bases. You will need the following:

-Painted, Finished bases
-Elmer's Glue (PVA Glue)
-Baking Soda
-White Paint (Don’t use paints for your miniatures; buy a tube from an art store, it's cheaper)
-Something to mix everything up (toothpick, or a plastic utensil, or something else)
-An old brush to apply it to the base.
-A disposable picnic plate. Mixing everything together there and throwing it all out when you are done is nice and easy.

Behold! Supplies!

The itself process isn’t difficult, and you can experiment a bit with the proportions to see what you like. I start with roughly equal portions of paint and glue, and start mixing it together. Then I stir in baking soda... adding more and continuing to stir until the mixture starts to look grainy. If it is too thick for your liking at any stage, a few drops of water can dilute it.

A pile of stuff to mix.
Once the mixture is all ready, take an old, broader brush, swipe it through the mixture, and start applying to your bases. The mixture basically destroys brushes, so use an old brush, and rinse it out frequently (I usually rinse after each base) to prolong the life of the brush.

Some bases drying, along with my current snow brush. The bristles have flayed out due to the mixture...
If you want a “wind swept snow” feel, brush only in one direction, similar to dry brushing. The mixture will cling to the basing. You can also just slop it on thickly, more akin to deeper snow drifts. The mixture takes some time to set, but should be ready to go after an hour or two, depending on how thickly you applied your mixture.

This approach works easiest with stand-less models (where you can do up the base, and then just glue down the painted models at the end). If you models have stands, get your basing and models painted and finished, and then use a smaller brush to apply the snow mixture as a finishing touch.

Some finished, snowy units.
This is producing far superior results to my earlier approach. The process is quick and the materials are cheap... all contributing to a nice, simple basing effect.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Hobby Update: More Halflings!

The halflings had an enjoyable first outing, and since games tend to drive my hobbying, instead of focusing on finishing up other projects already in process, I’ve been hobbying on some more halflings. Oops. I’ll get back to my other projects later…

The new recruits!

My goal with the halflings was to build a fun, slightly under-powered army for me to field for smaller introductory games, which I’d say has already been achieved. 

However, I still have a ton of models sitting around from my original purchases. This surplus, coupled with the game, has led to the formation of a second goal: boosting the army up to 2000 points! I still have a goal of playing some epic, large-scale games in the future, and I’d like to have the Halflings guys on hand as additional good guys.

The new recruits (3 Troops of Halfling Rangers, a Regiment of Knights, a Troop of Knights, a Volley Gun, a mounted Sorcerer and two Master Sergeants) bring me up to about 75% of my goal for the halflings. Up next are:

-A Horde of Spearlings
-A Regiment of Archers
-A Battle Shrine

I have all the models (and still more to spare), so thankfully, no new purchases are needed to reach 2k, so it’s just a matter of time and hobbying effort. I’m hoping to finish off one unit a week, and be done with the halflings soon. We’ll see how that goes… More to come soon!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Battle 13: Ankle Biters Unite

Work has been bonkers lately, so I gladly embraced some escapism and played an intro game of Kings of War. The game was to be a group game: me and some Ratkin vs a large host of Undead. I decided to bring the Halflings along, to see what they could do. Here is the list I ran:

Halflings-only is a bit rough for a list. Their “knights” are only Thunderous Charge 1, and they lack any units with Crushing Strength, as well as access to Bane-Chant. Dealing damage was going to be an issue for me. Good charges with the knights had potential, but most of the heavy lifting was going to need to be done by the Halfling Volley Gun, as it has piercing. My general plan with the army was to stick the infantry and volley gun together, and then deploy my cavalry on a flank to try and intercept the enemy.

My Ratkin ally brought his splendidly painted army, though I am hazy on the details of the list. The gist should be a Mutant Rat-Fiend, a Warlock, some regiments of Blight and Shock Troops, and I believe a Crier. I think a magic item was taken to cover the last few points, but I do not know which item.

Our Undead opponent brought a rather legendary army. (Possibly as a result of me forgetting to remind him that I have some undead units sitting around for him to borrow… my bad.) Mhorgoth the Faceless and Lady Ilona, along with an undead ASB let the host, which consisted of a regiment of Skeleton Archers, a regiment of Soul Reaver infantry with Blessing of the Gods, a horde of zombies with the Brew of Strength, a horde of Werewolves, and a Balefire Catapult. Totaling that up, he too likely had another small magic item to cover the difference, though again, I do not know which item.
Long view of most of the table.
When I arrived at the shop, the board was already set up, so we quickly got down to it. Deployment was a bit of a mess, in that we decided to alternate deployments… but also decided that each player would drop something in each round, so that the Undead player didn’t get too obnoxiously out-deployed. The Undead took the center of the field.

The center. Undead left-to-right: Werewolves, Ilona, Soul Reavers, ASB/Catapult, Horde of Zombies, Mhorgoth and Skeleton Archers.
The field had a fair amount of obstacles, which looked like it would serve to funnel the action into corridors and the middle of the map. My early deployments were my knights and mounted halfling ASB on the far left. I figured my ally and I would have a bit of a my-side/your-side thing going on, but that was not the case, and I soon had some rats near my knights and in the center… so my infantry and remaining forces took the other side of the board. As a result of me occupying both flanks.. the pictorial reporting is a little rough, as I spent most of my time on the right flank.

The ranging cavalry quickly found themselves surrounded by a chittering swarm of rat-folk, cut off from the trudging infantry. However the ratkin seemed more interested in eliciting the aid of the halflings than fighting them, and the reason was soon made apparent. Shambling into view on the other side of the grassy field was a large host of undead! With no time to reform into their respective armies, the halflings sounded their war trumpets, falling into line, shoulder to shoulder with the rat-folk…

Turn 1: Ankle Biters

Not wanting to get immediately flanked, the Undead player elected to go second, hoping we would meet him half-way and his large units could slog it out.

The view from the hill. The Halfling ASB forgot his flag.
On the left, the halfling knights took the hill, with some rats in tow, trying to methodically take that flank away from the speedy werewolves. The center, with the regiment of Blight and Mutant simply held, while the halfling braves inched up to occupy the rocky terrain just ahead. The Warlock loosed lightning at the Undead ASB, but the distance was too great, and the slack-jawed skeleton remained untouched.

The Ankle Biters have a cautious center...
Too far away to hit anything, the war machine and archers elected to hold, though the halfling sorcerer inched forward, eager for an opportunity to contribute to the fighting.

Turn 2: Undead

The Undead advanced trying to maintain a line of battle as much as possible. The speedy werewolves repositioned to try and scare off any flanking actions from the Biters’ left flank, while the Balefire Catapult lobs a shot and connects with some Ratkin Shock Troops, dealing 4 damage. A high neve check threatens to route them… but the Crier prevents disaster.

.... almost as cautious as the center of the Undead. 
The Skeleton Archers advance, but find that the stealthy halflings are really hard to hit with all the penalties involved. However, the practiced undead sorcerers bring their skills to bear; and Lady Ilona zaps the Mutant Rat while Mhorgoth does the same to the halfling sorcerer, each suffering 1 damage. Both hold.

Turn 3: Ankle Biters

The halfling sorcerer sped up into the flank of the undead. At this point, I don’t really have a plan for him. I had deployed hoping that something would be gunning for my Archers/Gun, and that I could push it away with Wind Blast. That wasn’t happening, so the vague goal was to get him in the flank this turn, and into the thick of the undead next turn to hopefully mess with things.

Softening up the zombies was an option… but they were supported by two casters, so I figured anything I did to them would be undone in the next turn, so the Archers and Volley Gun unload against the Skeleton Archers, dealing a fair amount of wounds. Following the halfling’s lead, the Ratkin Warlock also shoots at the archers, though the unit holds.

The center of the line stays put, and the left flank continues to inch forward, claiming territory bit by bit while staying outside of the range of the speedy Werewolves.

Turn 4: Undead

The Werewolves again reposition, looking to protect the powerful regiment of Soul Reavers as they move onto the rocky terrain to anchor the undead line. If charged, the Soul Reavers would prove very hard to move from here. The Zombies shamble forward, and two Surges from the legendary casters are aimed at them… but the grasping horde falls far short of connecting with anything.

The Undead approach!
Turn 5: Ankle Biters

The two regiments of halfling braves charge the zombie horde, and the Mutant Rat Fiend follows them in. While the braves hack at the shins, the Mutant lays into the rotting host, and the zombies are obliterated in one go. We discover later that the zombies had the Brew of Strength, so it was really fortunate we were able to take that out in one go. Victorious, the Mutant Rat repositions, and one unit of braves advance while the other falls back to the safety of the rocks.

A crushing multi-charge against the zombies.
Meanwhile, the regiment of Blight advance into the rocks to face the Soul Reavers. I don’t remember if it was a tactical decision not to charge, or if it was a range issue. Regardless, they stopped directly inform of the vampires, taunting them will all that rat blood flowing in their veins…

Unfortunately, the left flank is just too slow to do much. With battle starting in the center, one regiment of knights positions to try to make a break for the balefire catapult next turn, while the other inches forward as well… both units still trying to avoid the larger charge range of the werewolf horde… The rats on the left continue to shuffle around, probably mulling over whether they really want to attack the undead or take the halfling knights from behind…

On the right, the mounted sorcerer gets directly behind the skeleton archers, though is too tired from the quick march to do any casting…. Still, he is around now, and in the thick of the undead as planned. In the coming turns, I’m thinking that he may be able to push away a source of inspiring, or push the werewolves or soul reaves into harm’s way and force an engagement. The ineffectiveness of my left flank is starting to frustrate me… as we have a lot of points tied up there doing nothing.
C'mon guys..
The Volley Gun and Archers take another go at the skeleton archers… though both fail. I don’t think the archers hit at all, and the Volley gun only gets 3 hits/2 wounds. A low nerve check, and the archers stick around for another turn. Shucks.

Turn 6: Undead

Losing their nasty tarpit, the Undead are forced to hastily counter attack. Lady Ilona charges the Mutant Fiend, and will slip 6 damage through.

Before combat... unfortunately
The Werewolves and soul reavers decide to charge the Blight regiment, do an amazing amount of damage, and easily see them off the table. Both undead units victoriously advance.

Mhorgoth zaps the Ratkin Warlock for a few points of damage, and wavers him.

End of turn 6. Not bad for the Undead... though the left flank is starting to wake up.
Turn 7: Ankle Biters

On the right, the halfling archers and volley gun make up for the last turn and really lay into the skeleton archers, dealing over 10 new damage, and routing them.

The mounted halfling sorcerer is just having a rough go contributing to the game. Now, with most fot he undead in combat… I opt to have him push the Balefire Catapult towards the advancing halfling knights. Whoopie.

The Mutant Rat regenerates much of the inflicted by Lady Ilona, and strikes back. One regiment of braves charges the Undead Standard bearer, and slips 3 damage in, though is unable to rout him. The other braves advance and pivot, hoping to somehow get in on the action next turn.

On the left, one unit of knights goes wide, hoping to get to the enemy catapult soon… but they are robbed of the last few inches this turn by the wall. Meanwhile, the last unit of rats slowly swings towards the center...

Sportsmanship claims another victim. Poor Werewolves.
The werewolves are within charge range of the injured Ratkin Shock Troops, which slam into the flank of the hairy beasts. It’s too close to call on the halfling knight regiment, and my opponent graciously suggests a roll off to see if they can charge in too or not. I win the roll and in they go, contributing 8 damage to the fight. The Ratkin also connect, and the werewolves are routed!

Turn 8: Undead

The Undead standard bearer counter charges the halfling braves, but is too busy holding the flag to connect with his single strike.

The braves watch as the Mutant Rat is cut down. It's creepy, so they are kind of glad it's gone, even though it was technically on their side.
Lady Ilona is healed my Mhorgoth, and she and the Soul Reavers charge the Mutant Rat and eviscerate the writhing beast. The Soul Reavers reform to face the finally-advancing left flank of the Ankle Biters, and Lady Ilona reforms to threaten the halfling braves.

The balefire catapult lobs a shot, but misses. The war machine has struggled (well, failed) to hit anything after that first resounding impact.

Turn 9: Ankle Biters

The positioning of the outriding halfling knights is rough. They would clip the edge of the stone wall obstacle… preventing them from moving at the double towards the catapult, and are just of of range for charging. They canter past the wall, and pivot to face the flank of the war machine, getting out of its line of sight. There actions against the enemy artillery have been... underwhelming.

With nothing much to do, the halfling sorcerer pushes the catapult closer to the knights with Wind Blast.

There he is. The super awesome sorcerer everyone has been ignoring all game.
The volley gun and archers fire at Mhorgoth, land some lucky 6 hits and inflict a few wounds, but the master necromancer easily holds against the nuisance.

The halfling braves continue their scrum against the undead standard bearer, again dealing three wounds, but roll just shy of seeing him off the table this turn.

The other regiment of braves spy their chance, and rear-charge the Soul Reavers. Unfortunately the positioning is such that their charge is over the rocks, and they are hindered. Despite rolling lots of 5s… only 3 damage slips through.

The Braves are stoked. A rear charge means lots of Achilles tendons just waiting to be played with!
Other units also charge the Soul Reavers, hoping to bring down the vampires with a hog-pile approach. The halfling knights charge… but are hindered by the other grouping of rocks, and contribute little to the fight.

With the Halflings hindered, the Ratkin Shock troops are left to try and carry the fight, but it is too much to ask. The Soul Reavers hold (on the reroll though, it was close).

Turn 10: Undead

The balefire catapult fires off a last, desperate shot, before the halfling knights can overrun them.

Ilona attacks the flank of the reckless braves, and cuts the halflings down. Meanwhile the Soul Reavers trounce the Shock Troops. A combination of Lifeleech and Heal from Mhorgoth sees them recover most of their damage…

The Undead are clawing their way back, and even the Undead ASB scores a hit against the braves who have been stabbing him, though the halflings hold.

End of the game.
We started the game a bit late, so with the shop starting to wind down for the night, and us not remembering what turn it was, we decide to call the game here as a draw. While I do lack the exact lists… a draw is fairly accurate. The Undead lost about 505 (Archers, Zombies w/ Brew, and Werewolves) and the Ankle Biters lost about 535 (Braves, Mutant Rat, Blight, Shock Troops). Not a bad outing for some rusty players!

Much of the Undead were back in the ground where they belonged: hamstrung by their tiny foes. But their champions still stood tall. Unable to prevail against them or their last contingent of mighty vampire warriors, the short fighters disengaged, fleeing and withdrawing to the safety of their respective burrows, while the necromancers began the tedious and gruesome work or raising a new army…

I am always happy to get a game in, and we all had a good time.

I will concede that it was an odd game though, mostly stemming from a very odd deployment phase. The Ankle Biters deploying 2 for every 1 Undead drop was goofy, but not terrible. I think the Undead player did himself a disservice by deploying in the center... but that may have been due to group dynamics. Turtling isn't fun. The Ankle Biters had our own deployment woes, namely having the rats deploy all willy-nilly. If the two units (and hero) that deployed with my knights had deployed more towards the center instead, nearer the rest of the rats and making a solid battle line, or a line with reserves, I think we could have had far more decisive moves against the Undead, particularly against the Soul Reavers.

I forgot to remind my opponent that my Undead collection was available to him, so I think any of his list’s shortcomings (using legendary heroes; using only a few huge units) can be pinned on me. Downgrading even just those heroes for more units would have served him well I think. Hopefully he has more units next time!

Given my limited understanding of and experience with the Ratkin, I felt my ally brought a good list for game. Likewise, I was happy with what I brought, even if it didn’t perform as well as I would have liked. I attribute the under-performance to user-error. I think playing objectives, or deploying differently would have let the list perform much better. Oh well. I’ll just have to play it again sometime I guess!

Wind Blast: Wind Blast still intrigues me… but this was a horrible test game for it. The split deployment really messed with my general plan for the list, and the sorcerer ended up facing off against nothing I wanted to push around. Putting him with the Knights or even in the center to push the Soul Reavers away/around would have been a far more interesting use of him. I’ll try to do better next time…

Halfling Knights: These were sort of frustrating to use. I felt I had to play very conservatively here to contain the werewolves, and with their little ponies they always seemed to be an inch short of what I needed. I think if I added some Ranger Cavalry or a troop of knights to help screen the larger regiments I could be bolder with them and would probably have more success. Despite the lower speed, they are still cheap light cavalry, and should have been more useful that they were. I’ll have to use them better too.

Halflings overall: As units, they struggle to deal damage, though I think they could be a simple, viable army on their own with some tweaking. I still have tons of models leftover from my original purchases, so I will likely expand the army eventually.

The main goal for the halflings right now though was to have a fun army for me to play for intro games with, and I’d say I nailed that. The halflings were definitely fun to play despite their *ahem* shortcomings, and provided a lot of amusement for us. They also got some nice comments from 40k players at the shop, who dug our game.

It was a good game and a fun evening. Can’t wait for the next game!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hobby Update: Varangur Monsters

Whenever possible, I like to hobby in batches, gathering up some (hopefully all) the models or units I have that need something done, and then doing it. The biggest con of this approach is that it can take a lot of time to get things finished off, particularly if you have a lot to do, since everything inches towards completion together. Fortunately, I managed to get a little over 1k of Varangur across the finish line recently! Unfortunately, these are the low-hanging fruit. The rest of what I painted up recently is going to be a slog.

Bloodsworn Horde

These dudes have been in-process for about a month. Being a bit lazy, I didn't really want to repaint them, so the red armor stayed. However, they did get a good amount of touching up: repainted cloaks, touched up weapons, and shading effects all around. The banner will likely get something down the line, but I haven't quite decided on what just yet. We'll see.

Hot dang, a horde!
This is the last of the Bloodsworn. I still have a sizable contingent of old Warriors of Chaos models, but I have enough big halberd-like things (mostly Chaos Knight spears or conversions using the Warrior's banner man arm) that the rest of the models will be run as 3 regiments of Sons of Korgaan infantry... which I probably won't get to for a while.

Regiment of Reavers

These guys were originally done up for Warhammer, then converted over into Age of Sigmar. My intent was to do a spawn-themed Tzeentch army, but that project collapsed. These guys managed to get finished up though, so they've been dutifully guarding a shelf for two years. When I went to box them up and make room for other things, I realized I had 11 models... which meant I could field them as a regiment of Reavers, and all I'd need to do was rebase them. Done!

Lots of kitbash conversions here. I liked building these guys back in the day.
They are a bit of an odd unit, in that they are an infantry unit with Thunderous Charge, and a good number of attacks relative to their unit footprint. Provided they can get the charge, they should deliver a lot of damage.They should be pretty versatile, and look like they will be able to be run anywhere I need things to die. Looking forward to seeing these in action!


I've been wanting to add some monsters to the Varangur for a while. They are single models worth over a hundred points each, so they are a nice way of boosting my overall army total for not a lot of effort. Since they are plastics from Reaper Mini, they are also a cheap way to expand the army. Wins all around!

Om nom nom...
The Devourers (Great Worm) ended up being real wins. Not having seen these scaled up against anything else, I was concerned that they might be too small, but they ended up looking great. I painted them up with a light flesh color, then a blue wash to try and get a "chilled" look. The paint job turned out ok (hard to get a good pic of the model's mouth, but you get the idea) and I'd highly recommend the models!

The Cavern Dwellers (Ankheg) models also ended up being really nice too. Paint-wise, I went for a dark blue body with tan plates, and I think the scheme turned out ok. I may give them a blood effect or something down the line (they seem like they are missing something), but they are perfectly fine for now.

These newcomers push me up over 4000 points of Varangur, so the army is coming along nicely!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Hobby WIP: Vacation Edition

I just got back from a splendid little vacation. Being gone a little more than a week, I decided to bring along a box of things to potentially hobby on. As it turned out, I ended up making a ton of progress on a bunch of models across a variety of armies. All told, about 1500 points is now ready for basing. Add to that number the projects that got a little paint, and also the nearly complete Bloodsworn horde I left at home... and close to 2000 points of things will be appearing in the blog as "updates" relatively soon.

Most of the progress. Some KoM Foot Guard got some paint after I snapped this picture.
Most of the progress was due to a curious girlfriend. Near the end of our respite from jobs, we were due to meet up with another couple for some 5e Dungeons and Dragons. As the DM, I kicked around a few character ideas with my girlfriend, as she was new to the game. As a hobbyist, I picked up a few models to potentially represent those ideas. In the end we went with a model from Reaper to for rascal soldier known as Lareo Qindi. While I hobbied on some other things, she set to work on her model, and as she worked, she found that she really liked painting minis.

Lareo and some zombies. Not bad for your first models!
Fortunately, I had brought along just the thing for her to cut her teeth on: Zombies! I picked up a Mantic Horde probably close to two years ago, quickly assembled them... and let them sit in a box since. With the exception of a few test models, she did all the painting work, and did an amazing job. Now, I just need to figure out how to base them... I'll think of something. Anyways, much, much more to come soon!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Battle 12: The Varangur Throw Down

Last week, I played a game of Runewars (which has some really slick models and interesting mechanics), and was repaid with a game of Kings of War this week. While my opponent does have an old Warhammer Fantasy collection (Ogres and Wood Elves) from back in the day, and had technically played before, we opted to have me just build up both lists for this battle. This would be basically a large intro game. I opted for Kingdoms of Men vs Varangur, and as I was having trouble with list-building, we ended up at an unusual 1300 points.

I was hoping to fit in the newest Bloodsworn units and some gifts for them, but was having issues juggling points, so their debut will need to wait. I opted to run the duo of old Bloodsworn instead. Below, is the Varangur list.

I did manage to fit in the Horse Raiders, the Sons infantry troop, and some Ogre allies. Honestly, the Ogres were why the lists ended up at a wacky points level. I wanted to see what they could do! I figured the core of the Varangur list (Bloodsworn and Mounted Sons) would be intuitive for my opponent, and forgiving of any misplays due to their good stats, while these other special units would be available for more complicated strategies if desired.

I had 20 points left over for gifts, and picked Brutal for the Sons troop and Lifeleech for the Mounted Sons regiment. We’ll see how they do.

Most of the army is quite tough, with 5+ Defense, and the army-wide Nerve boost. The weakest links unit-wise in the army are the Horse Raiders and the Ogre Allies. Both are Def 4+, and the Raiders can probably be picked apart if I prioritize them, due to their lower Nerve. The Ogres, while lacking a source of Inspiring, cannot be wavered, and still have a decent Nerve value, so while they are a weak link, I doubt I can do much to them before they make it into combat. I think the Ogres are going to be really fun shock troops for the Varangur!

Regnum Aeternum
I really need to get hobbying on more Romans! Foot Guard and Shield Wall units are all on the horizon, but for now, my list options were a little circumscribed. Here is the Regnum’s list.

I waffled between adding my General on a Winged Beast, or running the Beast of War, and in the end, opted for the Dino and Ballista. I needed to run the Spear Phalanx units, and so needed to find a way to both get them into the game and support them enough so they stick around. The Beast would help with both. If I deployed the Beast with the Spears, they should make a good solid line, which should allow my mounted units to hit my opponent in the flank.

My two important units this game are the Knight Regiment and the Beast of War. If I can protect them and use them wisely, I think I can win.

The aged wizard shook his head, regarding the glinting of metal off in the distance. The latest scouting report were yet another nightmare made real: armored raiders from the north, along with rapacious, frenzied ogres. He drew his hood to shield his wrinkled brow from the midday sun. If he survived, the hallowed Tactica of the Regnum Aeternum would need to be amended yet again…

The battlefield was rather mundane: some forests; some height 1 hills, and some obstacle hedges and rock piles. I still don’t feel like I have a solid grasp on all the terrain rules, so apologies in advance for any goofs there.
The table, in all it's fuzzy, felty glory.
When devising my initial strategy of going wide and trying to outflank my opponent… I neglected to consider the board size. Oops. My opponent opted to be very aggressive, deploying everything besides the heroes right on that starting line, ready to pounce… and stretching from one end of the board to the other.

Oops. Instead, I have the strong center, and am in danger of being enveloped. Plus, look at those Ogres poppin' wheelies. How can I compete with that??
I revised my strategy, deploying the bulk of my forces in the center, pairing a Spear Phalanx and inspiring source with both the Dino and Knight Regiment. The Militia stood ready to take one for the team. On either flank, I deployed a troop of Scouts, with Sergeants on my left flank and Knights on my right flank. Hopefully, I could still take at least one flank, and then be able to relieve my center before it crumbled.

Turn 1: Varangur

The Varangur advance most aggressively.
My opponent had won the roll-off, but was hemming and hawing. I convinced him to take the first turn, pointing out that doing so would mitigate my shooting against him. He agreed, and moved everything up as far as it would go. The Militia got zapped by Lightning from the Magus, and wavered. (Being on the hill, I figured they would be visible, and didn’t want to delay the game by looking it up.)

Turn 2: Regnum

On the left, my Scouts advanced a bit, and landed a shot against the Horse Raiders, pivoting slightly to protect the Sergeants, and maybe bait a charge from the Mounted Sons.

The puny humans are not eager to get into combat. No sir.
On my right, my nimble Scouts pivot, move and pivot again, and manage to score a few hits against the Ogre Berserkers nearer the center. I decide to fire the dino’s light ballista into them as well, but roll 1’s to hit. I then decide to commit to this focus-fire thing, and send some Lightning, courtesy of my mounted Wizard into the Beserkers as well. I roll well, and they are routed!

Turn 3: Varangur

On the left, the Horse Raiders go into my Mounted Scouts, wavering them. This was not what I was hoping for at all. I wanted them to somehow hold, or be routed. Wavered just puts them in the way.

The Mounted Sons arrive a little quicker than anticipated...
The Mounted Sons decide to get into the thick of things, and charge through the hedge into my regiment of Spear Phalanx. Even with a hindered charge, the Sons prevail, landing about 10 wounds, and are able to rout the unit. My opponent decides to overrun, and succeeds on getting out of sight of my Knight regiment.

End of Turn 3. Even hindered, the Mounted Sons easily destroyed the Spear Phalanx.
In the center, my opponent advances, but lags well behind the Sons. The Magus lands a wound on my wizard via another Lightning Bolt. On my right, the Ogres cautiously advance, looking for a flank charge once battle has been joined in the center.

Turn 4: Regnum

I am in a bit of a pickle, and not really liking what is going on. The Mounted Sons are already through my lines, so I decide I need to commit to some fights. Hopefully, I can knock out a threat or two, and then regroup in order to deal with those Mounted Sons.

Slightly desperate charges were declared while the Mounted Sons are out of position.
On my right, the Mounted Scouts advance, getting in the face of the Ogres and shoot some arrows... hitting nothing. While the ASB flees, my Wizard gets 1 Bane Chant boost off on the Spear Phalanx, who along with my Knight troop, charge the nearest Bloodsworn. The Dino and Knight regiment charge the troop of Sons infantry. It’s a little overkill there, but I felt I needed to deal as much damage this turn as possible (while the Mounted Sons are out of position), and charge targets were somewhat limited given the initial positioning. Even the plucky Militia get in on the action, and charge the other unit of Bloodsworn.

On my left though, things are gummed up. The Wavered Scouts can’t get out of the way, so they sit there, along with the Sergeants.

Things turn out ok.

Right-to-left, the Ogres are unscathed; the Bloodsworn Wavered; the Sons infantry routed; the Bloodsworn ok, but with two wounds. I reform my Knight Regiment to face the Mounted Sons, and back the Dino up D3

Turn 5: Varangur

It’s now my opponent’s turn to feel the heat a bit. Most of his army is engaged at this point, and his heavy hitting cavalry, while safe, also can't do anything this turn. The Mounted Sons change facing, eager to present their front to the enemy Knights.

If only they started out in this position...

The Ogre Beserkers eagerly charge the Mounted Scouts on my right flank and punish them for their ineffectual shooting. While the Ogres do 4 wounds, they roll 1’s for the Nerve check, and the Scouts stick around.

Those Ogres look hungry.
The Magus sneaks another round of Lightning into the Wizard, and assassinates him. No more magic for me, and I'm now down a source of Inspiring. Lastly, the Horse Raiders again charge the Scouts on my left flank, finishing what they started last turn.

Most of the board, at the end of turn 5. The Magus is juuust out of frame.
Turn 6: Regnum

The Regnum commits to heavy combat again this turn, with everyone but the ASB getting in on the action.

Clashes all over the place!
On my left, the Sergeants gleefully charge the Horse Raiders… but they rested too long, apparently. They inflict only a single wound, and are unable to budge them. The Knight regiment of the Regnum charge the Mounted Sons, and the Dino goes it alone into the unwavered Bloodsworn, does some damage, but is unable to punch through.

The charges are repulsed.
Again, the Spear Phalanx and Knight troop charge the wavered Bloodsworn, but are unable to rout them (rolled a 3 for the Nerve check… totaling 16, wavering them again). On the right, the dauntless Scouts charge the Ogres, and manage to actually deal 3 damage. While they outperformed the Sergeants (who had Thunderous Charge) this turn, the Ogres stand their ground, and the fate of the Scouts is all but sealed next turn.

Turn 7: Varangur

The Ogres retaliate, this time obliterating the Scouts, and reposition themselves slightly, eyeing up the Spear Phalanx and Knights for the next turn. The Magus tries to Lightning Bolt the knight troop, but the rolls aren’t there.  

The Wavered Bloodsworn sit there, and the unwaverd Bloodsworn attack the Dino, dealing a some damage, but rolling just shy of wavering it.

The rebuttals hurt.
The Mounted Sons counter-charge the Knights of the Regnum, absolving a point of damage with their Lifeleech gift, and dealing 6 damage to the Knights. Thunderous Charge is out of the picture, but with more attacks, innate Crushing Strength and higher Nerve (and Lifeleech, even if it is just "1")… the Sons have the edge in this grind. I need to reinforce this fight as soon as possible.

End of Turn 7
Unfortunately, the Horse Raiders easily overwhelm my Mounted Sergeants in one go, winning that flank. The superstars had hewn their way through two of my units for the just two points of damage for their trouble. I really dig these Raiders, and this is using them on a crowded battlefield! They reposition victoriously, eyeing up the flanks of both the Dino and the Knight regiment…

Turn 8: Regnum

The Varangur had unfortunately coopted my “outflank” strategy. The Horse Raiders had their pick of targets right now, so I needed to finish these fights and regroup.

The combats... continue, with the Horse Raiders looking on eagerly.
The Dino charged the Bloodsworn; and the Knight regiment charged the Mounted Sons. They apparently understood the urgency, and even without Thunderous Charge, both were able to inflict a lot of damage on their respective targets. The Dino routed the Bloodsworn, repositioning to see the oncoming Horse Raiders, while the Knights got lucky, slipping in 6 more damage and wavering the Mounted Sons!

The Spear Phalanx went it alone against the wavered Bloodsworn, and slipped another wound through, forcing another check, and finally routed the unit this turn. The Knights had elected to charge the Ogre Beserkers, but were unable to punch through. In victory, the Spear Phalanx changed facing slightly, to try and threaten the Varangur characters, or help deal with the Ogre Beserkers next turn.

Turn 9: Varangur

Despite being down only a little in points, the Varangur were in a hard spot. Both Bloodsworn units had been lost, and the Mounted Sons were wavered, meaning my opponent would need some bold moves and some luck in order to claw his way back.

Not the best view, but not the worst either, provided you are a gamblin' man.
The Ogres attacked the Knight troop, dealing 4 damage, but unfortunately weren’t able to shake their foes.

The Magus zapped the Dino for another point of damage or two, but it stuck around as well, unfazed. The Skaald, meanwhile, ran up to Inspire the Mounted Sons, hoping they’d be around for another turn.

The gambit was a charge over the hedge, into the flank of the Knight regiment. Unfortunately, despite their previous successes, the Raiders were unable to land single wound due to the hindered charge, and the daring assault was rebuffed.

Turn 10: Regnum

The Horse Raiders bounced back 1”, opening themselves up for a flank charge from the Dino, and were driven ignobly from the field. The Mounted Sons were likewise “escorted” away by the Knight regiment, while the Knight troop was able to mop up the Ogre Beserkers this turn, leaving only the Varangur leaders alive.

Darius was nowhere to be found; his steed had run off, and a badly singed purple robe was all that remained on the hill where the wizard was last seen. The standard bearer rallied what remained of the expedition, and shepherded them back to the road home. There was much to report.

A big thank you to my opponent for the game! The Varangur were very aggressive, and very frightening to play against. This game could have easily gone very differently.

For my part, I think I deployed a little too far forward, and a little too congested (as evidenced by the gumming up of my left flank). I could have made better use of the forest in my deployment zone too, but other than those things, I think I made good decisions this game. The Scouts performed well, and I really liked seeing the new Knights on the table. They look good, and with a little more attention to the bases, they’ll look great! The Romans-only army is coming along!

After a long time avoiding it, I tried out the ubiquitous Wizard again, with the typical kit of Lightning Bolt, Inspiring Talisman and Bane-Chant. I understand him a little better now, and appreciate better what he brings to the table. I think he did a good job supporting the Beast and infantry, and may try him again later. I am also interested now in running a Mounted Wizard with Lightning Bolt to help support my Mounted Scouts with a little more damage… we’ll see what future lists hold.

As for the Varangur, they performed very well, and my opponent made a lot of good calls. Deploying everything forward was probably his first good call, as this made it difficult for me to outflank, and then with his high Nerve, it would be hard to break through. I felt the walls closing in a little on turn 3. All the fighting was done on my side of the board, highlighting just how much pressure the Varangur can bring to a fight... and this was without monsters, or the popular Fallen! My opponent played a good game, despite being essentially new to it.
Expanding further… those Horse Raiders are my kind of units, even on smaller tables like this. Hindered Charges are rough, and hard to evaluate, especially with a flank charge involved… These seem like worthy units to run every game and explore further.

I really liked the Ogre Beserkers as well. I can’t speak to the viability competitively, but for these casual games, they seem to fit nicely with the Varangur as mean shock troops. They can’t be wavered, and also have good Nerve, which somewhat mitigates their lack of Inspiring. I think they could provide some versatile support for my Varangur, but I will need more experience to develop a playbook for them.

While it could be argued that the Bloodsworn didn't actually do all that much besides take a beating, oh man did they endure it. Splendid little anvils!

Not having much experience with the Varangur yet, I've been curious about the various gifts of Korgaan, and their possible uses. The Guise of the Deceiver (granting Headstrong and Fury) has been very popular in online lists... so I've avoided it. However, I believe twice now the Mounted Sons have been hobbled via a waver and then removed the next turn. From now on, they'll get it.

Mask of the Reaper - Lifeleech

This is what I had tried running on the Mounted Sons. The gift is awkward. Since it recovers damage, you want to give it to a unit that will get hit. However, since the effect is so small, you don't want the unit to get hit that much. I think I may take a page out of the Undead playbook and grant this gift to the Bloodsworn or other small anvil unit instead. Again, the effect is small. Sticking this on your main anvil probably won't do all that much, as they will be taking a lot of fire. However, sticking it on a smaller anvil unit to "off-tank" for you; like to hold a flank for a few turns, or delay something a few turns would work well I think. I'll probably try it on some Bloodsworn regiments in a future game.

Brand of the Warrior - Brutal

I think this will work best on smaller "hammer" troops, like Mounted Sons, or even Sons infantry. Those units already deal good damage, and the gift will help you rout the target unit and go on to other things. I could also see Chieftains grabbing this, as with their base size (mounted or not), they could sneak into a combat, and do horrific things.

Guise of the Deceiver - Headstrong, Fury

This was the internet favorite. It's a good bet for just about anything, and will be what the Mounted Sons regiments get going forward. It doesn't actually protect the unit... or boost it's combat prowess... but it gives you very good chances to get one last charge in, and with the Varangur, one charge can be huge. I think this will go on big expensive units that I really don't want losing, like primary anvils (like a horde of Bloodsworn), or large heavy-hitters, like the Mounted Sons.

Thanks for reading, and thanks again to my opponent for the game!