Friday, September 30, 2022

Hobby Update: Abyssal Titan, Chroneas, and Well of Souls

And so the hobbying pendulum swings back a ways... my Abyssals started the summer with about 2500 points of stuff, but were a very top-heavy collection, with about 1,000 of the total points tied up in heroes. I didn't even have enough unlocks available to run everything! I've since hobbied up a bunch more things over the last month or so, emphasizing units. I still have some more Lower Abyssal minis to hobby up, but I'm not sure what I want to run them as yet. So, to wrap the army up for now... I decided to hobby up a few "build around me" kind of models, to help me with my list building.

The Abyssal Fiend.

The first up is an Abyssal Fiend. The model is a Minotaur Labyrinth Guardian from the Pathfinder Battles line. It comes on a smaller base, something like a 50mm circle, but I thought the model would look fine on a 75 mm titan base. It mostly does. It's a little stocky, but bigger than everything else in the collection, and fills the dimensions of the base nicely with the cape and sword, so this works for me! 

I am pleased with the sword. I went for the dark blue / light blue that the Abyssal Guard have, and had the cracks emit some of the Citadel "Hexwraith Flame" technical paint. The paint functions a bit like a shade or wash, but a little more viscous. I just went for a plain and simple white dry brush for it, and that works, but I think better painters could really get some good ghostly mileage out of this technical paint. 

The Fiend just looks really versatile for the table. It Inspires, has Fireball, some decent combat stats and is still pretty cheap at 175 points. That seems pretty decent! This should slot in to just about any list,  and are cheap enough I'm considering picking up a second one now... I think we'll see how good it is on the table before I buy another.

Next up is another exploration with the Hexwraith technical paint, a legendary Well of Souls! I was surprised to find that this was a real-world term and not a fantasy invention. I considered replicating this with a hole in the ground and a bit of a diorama.... but I am not competent enough to make that happen. I know Mantic has a model, but I didn't really like it and was feeling cheap, so I went with an alternative model.

The Well of Souls, from the front. 

This was purchased from Layers of Hell Printing, and comes from Mini Monster Mayhem. There were a lot of flaming and screaming skulls online, and several in this collection. I went with the 50mm centerpiece. It shipped with a solid, circular base, so after rinsing the model, I added some putty to the corners, and then some basing paste and finally some pebbles. I primed it all white. Then painted up the ground and skull, then touched up the spirit bits, and then got to work with the technical paint. Dry time for the rinse, putty, and paste, ate up the most hobby time for this miniature. The painting was very quick.

The more artistic view. It's a neat print for sure.

It took some work and a few brushes to get the viscous technical paint everywhere, but it worked nicely. Again, I think a pro painter could have a lot of fun with the paint, but I finished it off with just a simple white dry brush. I probably could have even gone starker with it.

The Well seems neat on the table, and I'm not quite sure what to make of it yet without having played a game with it. It costs a lot, but is relatively maneuverable. It has the highest Lifeleech value I've ever seen at a staggering 5, and the special rule plays around with moving damage off of nearby units and onto itself. Those seem like some strong interactions, and this seems like a really cool and really unique unit. I think this will play a bit like the Kingdom of Men's General on Winged Beast, but with more intra-army interactions and considerations. I think this unit will have a pretty steep learning curve and take me a few games to figure out how to "properly" use, but seems cool and I am quite looking forward to it!

A decently creepy Chroneas. But admittedly feels a bit small.

Last is the Chroneas, a model that has just confused me over the years. Having a small collection of Abyssals, I loosely followed updates to the army, even if I wasn't playing games with them, but the Chroneas broke my brain as it seemed to be overhauled every time I looked at it. I swore the official model was on a 75 mm, but it looks not to be, and currently the creature is just a monster on a normal 50 mm base.

The new Chroneas has the cool Cloak of Death special rule, for some area of effect damage, as well as a Temporal Fissures special rule, allowing for some damage manipulation in the melee phase. This time stuff reminded me a bit of the Shrike from the Hyperion novel by Dan Simmons, and from some old purchases, dug this model out. It lacks the spikes of the Shrike, but still evokes that weirdness I think.

I am still not quite sure how to quickly credit 3d prints. I picked this up via ebay, but this looks to be from the Crippled God Foundry, and was a stretch goal for their Curse of Hollow Hills Kickstarter. Like a lot of what I have worked on recently, he seems a little small, but I like it. Small is good, letting me transport things around.

I painted this one up first by a few weeks. Before I even ordered the Well. I went for some blue and white flames, but after the Hexwraith experiments, I am considering repainting them white and using the technical paint. Unfortunately, I am now considering do this to all the Flamebearers and Efreets too. The technical paint is pretty neat! For better or for worse, that much repainting is way too much effort for the moment, so things will remain as-is for now.

...and with these, I am caught up on my Abyssal hobbying! There are still some odds and ends to do up if I want to, and the Fiend might get a doppelganger if it plays well, but over the last like, two months, I finished up nearly 2000 points for the army, and rounded out the collection by quite a good bit. Like the Kindgoms of Men, my Abyssals should have a pretty deep roster to draw upon now, allowing for a nice variety of builds and things to test. I am looking forward to seeing a bit more of what this army can do!

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Hobby Update: Smashy Lower Abyssals

Up next off the hobby perch are some more Lower Abyssal bodies, hobbied up this time as a regiment of Lower Abyssals! As I recall, Lower Abyssal Hordes were common for a while in 2nd Edition, and while I had the models, I just never got around to hobbying any up due to a lack of motivation. This is wrapping up most of those old minis, but I still have a little more than dozen bodies around. We'll see what those end up being down the road. 

So smashy. These are some proper weapons!

In the box, there is one sprue with 5 minis. This sprue repeated over and over to get to the box total for the minis included. This is a bit of a bummer, since you end up with tons and tons of drums and banners, but only one of each weapon option, so you really need multiples of the kit to make a good looking unit. For anyone starting the army, the boney scythe looks like it would do ok for another big weapon, and there is a longer trident thing with similar potential, and the silly looking banner can probably be chopped off and repurposed to make your kits go even further. But since I had the bits after building up so many Flamebearers, I decided to make the unit uniform in its armaments, as I like that look better overall for most of my units.

I think the smashy version here will do ok on the table as a regiment. All in all, they seem like good generalists for melee combat. Having Regeneration, they should endure chip damage a bit better than other similar units in other armies, and should be able to take a decent hit, hold objectives, and hit back ok in a fight. They won't be stellar, but they should be a reliable source of a few damage. I wouldn't recommend spamming them as regiments, as we've been over that math before, but at 115 points, and with decent enough stats, they should be cheap enough to play around with as a one-off for sure.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Hobby Update: Redone Varangur Horse Raiders

In the midst of finishing up all the Abyssals, I decided to touchup some models for the Varangur as well for an afternoon break this week. That army still needs more supporting chaff! I have (hopefully) three regiments worth of Draugr built and primed, as well as some Night Raiders with Axes ready... but those are significant hobby endeavors, and I need to free up some space before I can tackle those. 

Previously, I had a troop of Horse Raiders, and some old Mounted Skaalds. In the transition to 3rd Edition though, the Skaalds apparently forgot how to ride. Thegns don't have the horse option, and these didn't look imposing enough to be Lords, so I had slated these to be ignored or repurposed, likely added into a small warband for trading games. But... looking at the stats, I realized that I quite liked them, and decided some touchups were in order instead.

Unit 1
I found two marauder horses on ebay, and picked them up, replacing the two horses of the two old Skaalds. I actually have a third Mounted Skaald, but left them as-is for now. If I pick up another box of 5 down the road, he can bump that unit up instead. 

Unit 2

Four horsemen filled the base originally. Three look a little sparse, but should work for now. The new horses needed painting, so I touched everything up while I was at it. The old gold was replaced with with Retributor Armor paint, the purple/grey shields with a dark blue, and the metallic pauldrons and such got a striking light blue. They look very Tzeentch-like now! I was trying to make them bright and unique, like the Varangur units are a variety of clan colors coming together, but this was a neat result.

So, what caught my eye with these Horse Raiders and why did I revisit and retouch them? Well, I like my KoM Scouts! The Scouts are cheap, pretty quick, and well, these are darn similar. They should fill a screening or escort role quite nicely for something like a Frostfang Horde or especially for Varangur knights. However, for 5 points per troop (10 per Regiment), I lose 1 speed but gain TC1 and Def4 while still retaining a ranged attack option. All of this sounds cool to me. My Scouts tend to die against everything, so I thought the additional Defense might be worthwhile; the Thunderous Charge will definitely make them more dangerous in a chaff war or as a flanking unit; and keeping the ranged options is really nice. I opted to not to add anything bits-wise to them to show the ranged attacks, so I could try out both the bows and the axes down the road. There should be nothing else like them on the table, so I think my opponents should be fine with this.

Regiments of these Raiders seem fun too, and I hear that the formation for these horsemen is pretty good, so that might be something to build towards in the future. The added Defense should make them a bit more survivable than the Regiments of Scouts I've tried out previously. Unfortunately, I arranged both troops relatively similarly, so various horse tails are getting in the way of other horse snouts, so these don't really work well in tandem. The bases are a little incongruous too, with one being heavily dry brushed and lighter than the newer one I just did up. I think I'll have to stick with troops for now, but that's fine by me! These Raiders look slick and should provide a little more support to the army until I can hobby up some Draugr and such. We'll hopefully get them on the table sometime soon and see what all they can do!

Friday, September 23, 2022

Hobby Update: Abyssal Oathbreakers

One thing I have really struggled to do in my wargaming career is embrace "legendary" things for myself. They were neat and I appreciated the lore and world-building, but gameplay-wise, I never really "got" them and avoided them. For Warhammer Fantasy, I think it ruined the immersion for me, with every battle in this supposedly massive and uncaring world having the same larger-than-life characters show up every time just felt weird. I wanted my little army to be skirmishing with other little armies and leave the big boys out of it except for rare occasions. This approach hamstrung me a bit, as often times, those legendary choices had a greater amount of survivability or other cool abilities that made them worth taking. In retrospect, the game wanted you to jump into the big clashes and ignore the skirmishes. The game wanted you to take these paragons and build around them and I missed that boat. 

I've gotten a little better, comprehension-wise, when it comes to legendary stuff. Kings of War is building up its own lore still, and there are powerful players to be sure. But a lot of legendary things are more generic, limited more for balance than because there is only one around in the world. There is only one Gnaeus Sallustis for the Basileans, but Kingdoms of Men Captain is unnamed, limited because of their special ability. Formations are another thing: legendary and exceptional elite units to utilize, but elite enough that they can't be spammed no matter the size of the army. I am slowly coming around to utilizing these for myself.

The Oathbreakers.

I made a bit of a speculative purchase over the summer and picked up some Frostave Demon sprues via ebay, seemingly my go-to retailer these days. I decided to turn them into the Oathbreakers, a legendary unit from the Forces of the Abyss. 

The Oathbreakers, from another angle.

I know virtually nothing about Frostgrave, but I really liked this kit. Each sprue has 5 minis and a small assortment of weapons. The weapons are limited, but for outfitting a skirmishing warband, this has a lot of options. While you can't uniformly outfit a group of 5 from one sprue, each sprue does come with multiple weapon options (two sword sculpts, two crossbow sculpts, etc),  giving you a little more variety than usual so even kitted the same, things won't look too "samey" if you want to build up a uniform unit. Being a warband, the sprues also come with shield options, which are extra-nice as they are distinct and don't have arms already attached. If you are starting up an Abyssals army, consider buying a box or two and using these as your Abyssal Guard!

The sprue.

Hobbying them up took some extra effort though. The minis came with stands, which would be great for a skirmishing warband, but were not going to play well as a full unit with my basing scheme of paste and lava pools and cork rocks. Thankfully the stands were thin. I kept a few around to help get the feel of the unit, but clipped it off about 2/3 of the stands from the rest of the unit, going back with a knife to clean it up around the feet. 

WIP shot. I figured having a few with stands would help me organize the rest of the unit.

Game-wise, they are kind of an elite Abyssal Guard unit, but with a fluffy Vicious vs Heroes special rule, and an odd Rallying 1 to other nearby infantry. I could see them supporting some Lower Abyssal Hordes in a wide line or something... but lacking those hordes myself, I'm not quite sure how I will utilize this unit quite yet. I guess I will just have to experiment and see who they play well with! I will try to give these a try in my next Abyssals game.

A little tiny, but he'll do for now. 

As a bit of an afterthought, I also hobbied up a mini for Zaz'u'szu the Betrayer, trying to really embrace these legends. I originally thought it would be an infantry-sized bloke, like, a famed commander of this regiment, and be a more feisty Abyssal Champion. Instead, he looks to be more based off of the Abyssal Warlock, a large infantry spellcaster.

A while back I picked up some 3d printed minis online from a  shop, and figured I'd put one to use. This was Aaron, the knight. It was a little too big for the D&D stuff I had planned on using it for. it seems a little bit small for this. He seems at home on a 32mm base, and does stand head and shoulders above the Lower Abyssals, so I'm ok with this use for now. I added some horns to tie him to the other abyssal units, and a cape to spruce him up, and then a few skulls to the base aesthetically set him apart from everyone else. The big sword might be a bit much since he lacks CS, and nothing about him screams spellcaster, so I feel I am slightly lacking on the wysiwyg front, but he should be the only thing that size on the table, so should do just fine for now. If I see a better model, I can always upgrade I suppose.

On the table, this guy looks like a lot of fun. He inspires, which seems odd for someone known as a betrayer, but is a definite boon for running him. Bane-Chant and Lightning Bolt are desirable spells as well, and being able to boost his Bolts up to LB 8 seems awesome. The betrayed unit won't be able to Regenerate the same turn, but with so many regenerating units in the army overall, I think Zaz should be very fun to run. We'll try to get him on the table sometime soon!