Monday, May 10, 2021

Hobby Update: Abyssal Horsemen

I still have only about 1 square foot of desk space to hobby with (shifting to working from home has not been kind to my available space this last year). But painting up the Necrons recently was fun, and I hope to get in a game of anything this year, so I am trying to reorganize a bit, and squeeze in a little more hobby time now that the weather is getting nicer and vaccines in my friend group are on the rise.

I still have a handful of KoM infantry-sized units to do up. Several were even primed last summer, but I failed to work on them over the winter. Even now, with the smaller space I am hesitant to tackle those projects yet (each with roughly 15 minis per unit; all with stands), I so grabbed something else from my "pile-of-shame": some Abyssal Horsemen.

I picked up the models sometime back in 2019. They are Death Knights from the Runewars game. I played a small demo game, and the game had a few neat mechanics (like secret orders, and a up-in-the-air unit activation method), but was pretty convoluted and every gaming tool from rulers to dice was proprietary (I mean, it is a Fantasy Flight game). So the game is totally not for me. However, the minis were surprisingly good. I think the game is pretty defunct now, but have not followed it. If you can find boxes of it, consider picking them up if any catch your eye.

A box of Death Knights comes with 4 knights, just two sculpts repeated. The pieces only fit together one way. All in all, these are not bad sculpts. They were designed to be narrow, and sturdy, and fit over their bases, rather than play around with physics with jumping models and extreme leaning. I liked the simplicity to these. 

Nice and simple. Well-designed. 

While searching for a suitable base, I found one that already had paste and cork board, done up for some Varangur I'd imagine. I decided to re-use that. The cork board was in big chunks in the middle, longwise, which would not be great for cavalry, so I just tore at the cork board, removing what I could.  I needed to make it more flat, not entirely flat. Anything glued down stayed, and the rest I pasted over, spreading some green stuff around for "lava".

The models had some seriously thick stands, which wouldn't play well with the re-used base, so I decided to be brave and remove those. I saw glue around the hooves, so I broke out my knife and managed to pry/cut one off the stand. As you can see, it has little inserts and stuff, which is why the miniature felt so secure. Peg, hard plastic, and glue would do that! I freed the rest from their stands and removed the nubs. The plastic here is quite hard. I don't think I would attempt this with a typical model. A saw or something would probably work better to gently separate the mini from the stand.

They are quite sturdy.

Base conceptualized and models freed, I set about finding a way to make them more interesting. I  had snagged two boxes back in the day, enough for a regiment, but was originally put off from hobbying on them. I was used to more-customizable kits, so when I opened the boxes at the time, the sculpts stumped me, and I wasn't sure how to really turn just two repeated sculpts into a unit that looked decent.

Revisiting them now, I decided that some weapon-swaps and head-swaps is all I can really do with the sculpts as they are. The limiting factor is me! I didn't really want to mess around with any big conversion work since I'm just getting back into hobbying again. I dug out some old Chaos Warrior helms, and a bunch of old Empire weapons, since it looked like they needed hands and not gauntlets or gloves. After cutting off helm horns and arms, I just started fiddling.

Step 2: Draw the rest of the owl. Sorry, I didn't think to take any WIP shots.

One of the riders is grabbing the reins with their left hand. I decided to leave all of those as-is, so most of the swaps are for right handed-weapons. I liked the sculpt pointing, but figured only one should be doing that, and made him the champion. As I got to painting these, I realized that the "faces" are intended to be more masks, so be aware of that, should you pick these up. That's a neat idea, but I needed to have heads facing different directions to get a more varied unit. In retrospect, I probably should have both realized this sooner and swapped out the last three heads as well to go with a more "uniform" looking unit, but oh well. 

With no WIP shots, ya get a few more completed shots.

I do like the bronzy armor, both in these pics and in real life. Several layers of GW's Gehenna's Gold did the trick. I had one bottle myself, and inherited two from someone giving up their collection... so it's nice to find a use for the color. Thinning and layering aren't my strong suits as a hobbyist as I tend to want to play games more than hobby, and so just crank out units that are "good enough" for the table. Both here and with the Necrons, where the goal was to just paint... my painting skills are improving ever so slightly. 

And a shot from the side. I mean, they're cavalry. They should be flanking, after all!

Having played zero games of 3rd, and it been over a year since I read the rules... I hesitate to comment on their use in game. For my collection, though, they should be a good addition as I slowly round out the army. I lack quicker units, so the cavalry aspect should be a plus, and with what looks like very typical typical stats, but Fury, CS and Regeneration (and one more attack) they should hit as hard as typical heavy cavalry, like in the Kingdoms of Men, but do better in any multi-turn combat. Time will tell, but these will be making their way into any eventual Abyssals list!

Friday, April 30, 2021

Hobby Basics: Light Box

One of my purchases in 2021 so far is a small, foldable "light box." After my struggles photographing the Goreblights, I ordered this, figured this would help my photography for the blog. You can DIY one for cheap, but having virtually none of the materials on hand (no extra lights or lamps, no neat paper..), and no great space to setup/store a large light box permanently I opted for the easy way out and just bought one ready-made. 

For those that don't know... the light box can be a great photography tool, emulating the effects of a large set or photo shoot on a small scale. The box has a smooth backdrop for simple backgrounds, and enough lights to both illuminate the object and mitigate shadows from the shot. My photos for the blog here have been less than professional, and have been atop bookcases and countertops and illuminated by lamps. Generally, you'd get what I was going for, but they don't look all that impressive.

With no real hope of any in-person stuff the last year-plus, it's been hard to find any motivation to hobby, and the content here has stalled out, as you will have noticed. But I'm now on the list for a vaccine shot in the coming weeks, and friends are starting to look to the summer for games and potential get-togethers. That generally positive mental shift, plus some recent good weather got me to dig this light box out and do some hobbying for the first time in a loooong time in an attempt to try it out properly. Cuz retaking a picture of already completed hobby items is for chumps I guess.

Not what you were expecting, though, eh?

Over the pandemic, I got reacquainted with Ebay. I had used it as a kid to get some sweet sweet Magic The Gathering cards (ooo, Urza's Saga, how broken you were...), but I think that was the last I used the platform, prior to the pandemic. I mean, I browsed back in my WHFB days, knowing that "ebay armies" was a thing, but never found anything worth pouncing on. Anywho, I took to Ebay, and found some new Necrons. 

I used Necron conversions as Warforged for a lengthy D&D campaign set in Eberron. They were going to be the big bads of the overall campaign, and after setting the hooks literally years prior, the party had just started to uncover the sinister plans of the Perpetual Legion, and their insidious ties to many of the previous adventures. Flying in their battered airship over an inhospitable wasteland, the last session we ran saw the party discover a hidden city for the Legion, which stood up on the legs of hundreds of industrial automaton platforms as the party's airship approached... aaand then the campaign then ran into irreconcilable scheduling differences. 

Scheduling likely won't be any better for that campaign yet (pesky children), but the talk of potential post-lockdown fun got me wondering what kit-bashes I might be able to throw at these players in due time, and wondering what the Necron range might have added since circa 2015-2018.

They are really making you work for an kind of unique looking army... the head pieces in particular are insane to me... so much over-engineering at work here. All the bits had odd-shaped nubs too, making it very hard to mix-and-match. Great for mono-pose (no mistakes), bad for unique hobbying. 

Unfortunately, the kit-bashing was not meant to be! The Destroyers are designed as mono-pose, and ridiculously so! Heads connected to collarbones connected to arms. And the torsos had a nub sliding through everything in order to connect it to/through the leg/spine bits... I'm not even sure if you could even swap the legs between models (that is, assembled trio with a different assembled trio; individual leg swaps should be out since the mini utilizes the hex nubs to get into the base). Basically a year away from any serious hobbying... conversions on this scale was more work than I wanted to engage in. The models are impressive, but are kinda too cute by half? The same poses could have easily been achieved with more of a "classic" design (eg here are the arms, separate from the heads, and torsos, also by themselves). The pelvis had pistons with nubs supposed to fit into the other leg part... but the piston made it hard to push-fit the legs together without busting the piston. Neat poses, but over-complicated design than I am not a fan of.

In the end though, I decided to double down, buying up some kind of Lord model and another trio of slashy Destroyers. I needed a limited project, and despite the flaws, these had caught my attention. 

So, I took a day, and set about hobbying, with the intent to start slow and reinforce some good layering and thinning habits (multiple layers for the metal to get good coverage; sliding scale to white for the face plates; just ... playing around with the blades)... The minis were a nice way to spend a day. They could still use some work (highlights to the metal, washes in spots, that kind of thing), but I'll wrap those details up in the coming days. 

I don't know when they will ever see a gaming table. Perhaps one or two may indeed threaten an adventuring party at some point (hmm... mental note to work up stats for some warforged driders), but the whole crew is likely overkill. I am entirely uninterested in playing 40k, though Grimdark Future from OnePageRules is still something I would be keen on trying out at some point, and these guys could be a heckuva cool unit to field.. We'll see. Even if they are not used for gaming, they did exactly what I needed them to, and were a nice, limited unit to hobby up.

...And because I am a bit of a chump, I decided to dig out my Goreblights from storage for a quick photoshoot do-over. Can't have a post with just weird-lookin robots, right?

Ta-da! First try. No longer blurry.

Will need to play around more with positioning of the minis relative to the light, but yeah, pretty good! You even get to see some of the nice glisten effect going on. Wet undead are gross!

Overall, the light box is neat! It folds up for easier storage, and is secured by buttons when assembled. It comes with a few different fabric colors for the curved backdrop. My only concern real concern is the light apparatus... which is a naked strip with a usb port to power it. I envision that getting dusty or something eventually, but we'll see how I do there! The other concern may be the size of the box... fitting in hordes may be difficult. They'll definitely fit, but it might not be the best shots. Ideally, you would not see the sides of the box, like you do in all these pictures!

Also at play is a new phone camera! My previous phone belly-flopped onto the hard kitchen floor, over the winter, obliterating the screen. The new-to-me phone is still a few iterations behind the times, but should be a step up or two in camera quality. I'll need to play around more for sure with the new phone and light box, but the first shots here seem like improvements to me!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Hobby Update: Undead Goreblights

The last full units I managed to complete in 2020 were a pair of Goreblights for the Undead.

They are probably the unit I was most excited about with the release of 3rd Edition. A monstrous, towering bastion of undeath is a very cool concept! Like many, I went with some Bone Golems from a Pathfinder miniature line. I got mine for under $5, and while the price looks to have since basically doubled for some reason... it still still a pretty good deal. 

Terrible picture; out of the dozen or so shots from start-to-finish, this is literally one of the least blurry or weird. I think I will need to build up a light box or something in 2021.

The miniatures come pre-primed, which is a bit odd for a hobbyist! I've picked up a handful of these kinds of minis for D&D before, but this was the first I've actually painted. 

The mold lines needed some scraping and cleaning. A lot of the seams are right across skulls, which would look funny. Nothing fancy there; just a hobby knife scrape in a few spots, and a small file in others. I decided to not re-prime the mini, and just see what happens. No issues so far... though it hasn't gotten a lot of wear and tear yet. I also ended up trying to fill a few gaps with green stuff, as some of the arms didn't fit well, and the joins were pretty noticeable. After pressing the putty in, I went at it with a hobby knife, trying to add lines/indents to mimic the muscle and sinew of the model. I'm not sure of all that prep work was actually needed though. The mold lines on the skulls, sure, but the model is pretty "busy" already, and the greenstuff may have been overkill.

Yuck. Super sorry on the quality here. I can't remember why I was playing around with the flash option. This is still somehow better than the unflashed picture. Anyways, here you can see where I was using the greenstuff.

I painted these up over a few days. They were quite fun to do, but were unfortunately about all I could accommodate in my dwindling hobby space. Painting up the muscles was fun, as I usually can't get that pronounced of a drybrush effect going, but with all the muscle bits, I was able to get in a red base, then a middling pink, and then a light pink in a few spots.

In the middle of painting. Pre-shading and pre- the glossy effect. The lighting was terrible, so I'm playing around with the flash on my phone. Sheesh. Again, sorry for the poor quality.

On the table, they seem quite strong. They are monsters, not heroes, so should be pretty easy for the Undead to unlock, especially if you are running a horde or two. Shambling is quite often a boon rather than a detriment, and for a monster... well, if you aren't getting (or at least threatening) shambling flank charges with them, I dare say you may be doing something wrong! Their semi-random attacks is hard to plan around, but with CS2 and again if you gen get them into a flank... these should be able to do some work.

Finished pic, back from a sunny day in October. I opted to go for a glossy coat on the flesh, rather than a full-fledged blood effect. I think either would look good. The mini is quite terrifying. 

They also have a special rule that helps their damage output, Cloak of Death, which damages nearby enemy units once the Goreblight has moved. The Abyssal's Chroneas pioneered a similar effect in 2nd, and (if I recall correctly) has this special ability as well in 3rd. While the range is small (6"), this can add up over a long, drawn out scrum, and since it can hit all enemy units within that range these can make excellent damage multipliers.

I figured these beings would be squishier, but instead they have a surprising sturdy Defense 5, and Nerve --/17 and Lifeleech too. They are pretty tanky!

About the only downside I can see is the Unit Strength of 1, which seems typical for monsters in 3rd. This means that arguably, the Goreblight will have a more difficult time holding or contesting objectives... but, if you can just obliterate the enemy units, they won't be contesting it anymore! Additionally, this downside only comes up if the Goreblight is unsupported. 

Other armies with other monsters might try this solo approach... but playing the Undead, I think this will be an unlikely scenario. You have access to Skeletons and Zombies and all sorts of mediocre, but numerous, infantry. So I think most of the time, the Gorebeast should be pretty well supported.

The Goreblight is a really cool unit. Hopefully I will see them in action soon!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Hobby Update: Abyssal's Second Moloch Horde

The launch of Third Edition threw a few of my armies into disarray. My Abyssals were probably the hardest hit at the time, due to Flamebearers being made irregular. This change limited what I could potentially run in Third, as now these units (admittedly only 2) needed unlocks instead of providing them!

Fortunately for me, over the summer I happened on another box of discounted Trollkin Champions and snatched it up. Even with limited hobby space, five minis were easy enough to paint up, and thankfully I had a spare base on hand too!

The second Horde is much like the first. There's... not a lot you can do to mix things up with the sculpts.

Getting a second horde was great, as they would let me unlock all my finished units for 3rd! I was still a hero unlock short, but I have enough spare bits and models to make a Regiment of Lower Abyssals sometime, and also picked up some models in 2018 to run as a Regiment of Abyssal Horsemen, so I would be set for all my unlocks eventually.

Based on when I took the picture, it looks like I finished the unit about concurrently with when Halpi's Rift was released, which actually reversed the Irregular status of the Flamebears. So, hey, I'm definitely back to being good on unlocks.

Slight sarcasm aside, a second Horde of Molochs will still be a good thing for me to have. My Abyssal army is mostly a bunch of glass cannons (Flamebearers, Imps, and troops of two-handing Abyssal Guard), so this second horde will add in some staying power. 

I think in 2021 I'll try to find some better shields and finally do up the Lower Abyssal Regiment, and hopefully get some work in on the Abyssal Horsemen conversions as well. We'll see what I can get done once spring hits!

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Hobby Basics: Rivers

Many a historical battle has been influenced by rivers, whether securing a flank, circumscribing movement, or hindering the chance of safe retreat. They definitely have a place on a gaming battlefield, and back around April 2020, I set out to see what I could manage! 

You can of course just buy terrain if you want (the various Flames of War boxes do look pretty good, and reasonably priced), or maybe 3D print some, but if you're cheap, feeling creative, or a combination of the two, wargaming rivers are easy enough to do up on your own.

The pikemen attempt a crossing in the worst possible way.... maybe someone dropped something upstream?

Good terrain should be durable. While I think cardstock or thin cardboard could potentially work as a base, I've picked up a pair of PVC squares last summer, and have been using it for bases for my recent terrain bases. I've just been using a hobby knife and occasional saw to hack it into the shapes I needed. The PVC may be a bit overkill, but it's sturdy and working well.

For the river, I used a full 12" by 12" sheet, plus some 3" square scraps from the other sheet for the corners. I am least happy with the corners, but more on that at the end. While narrow rivers aren't necessarily safe, eyeballing it, approximately 3" wide terrain pieces and 2" wide rivers looked like reasonable but surmountable obstacles for Kings of War units.

Sketching helps plan stuff out, and line things up. 

I wanted the joining edges as flush as possible, so I used careful knife work to start, and a longer hobby saw for a more uniform cut. The edges on the banks I wasn't concerned with, so I roughly cut them with a hobby knife, and then carved out more interesting edges. Rivers don't flow in a straight line after all!

WIP with paste. In the top right, I added some pink insulation rocks, to create a section that would be impassable. I liked that 

Speaking of.... rivers DO flow, which creates a bit of a dilemma for this terrain. I didn't want to have easily identifiable directional flow like v's or eddies (if you do want that, check out this site here for some visuals). So I opted not to include rocks in the middle, for example, and paint up everything lazily, with cartoony current lines, so that I could orient the pieces in either direction.

The banks are Vallejo Rough Grey Pumice, painted gray as I wanted a kind of mountainous river look. I don't know why, I don't really have any mountainous basing or rugged 

The river's paint job is nothing too special. I did a base coat of GW's Temple Guard Blue, then a metallic teal from Deco Art to give it a glisten, and then current lines with some random blue paints. The intent was to try and show the speed without bringing eddies into the mix.

The finished result.

So, did it work?  Well, it's on the table, so yes, it counts! Are their ways to improve? Oh, for sure! Were I to do this again, the following things would be on my mind:
    • The PVC squares/sheets worked well as a base. It took a little extra work to get the straight cuts (when not on the edge of the sheet, har har), but the effort seems worth it. They seem pretty durable, and should last a while.
    • The basing paste worked too. Those various pastes have continually been pretty slick. 
    • Cutting the bends from one piece helps get everything lined up too. This allows the river to line up with a table edge. This is not of paramount importance, but you don't want things hanging off table edges if you can help it.
    • BIGGER IS BETTER. I think the pieces would look better a little wider, and would want to play around with some wider sections. I think slightly wider banks would also look good, and maybe going muddier rather than rockier would look good too.
    • MORE IS BETTER. You want more pieces than you'd think. This amount can bisect a standard KoW table, but barely, and only on the short end. With a good bend, I can carve out one corner of the table... which isn't really fair. I'd probably want at least 50% more pieces than I have currently, to give more terrain options in a game.
    • LONGER IS BETTER, at least for the bends. The tiny corners do not look great, to put it mildly. I think they have a place, but overall, longer and more curvy river sections should look better on the table, and I will not be making any more tiny bends.
Overall, this worked well though, and I learned a lot. Another sheet's worth of work and I should have a very passable, lengthy, and most importantly bendy river for the table!

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Hobby Update: Miscellaneous Terrain

In 2020, I wanted to beef up my available terrain in general; for KoW and potential things like Fistful of Lead or Grimdark Future. Prior to the pandemic breaking out, I made a few materials purchases, including "Granny Grating", toy pipes, chipboard, a few more bits from the Garden of Morr set via bits shops (finally picked up the statue).

Over the summer, my hobby space shrank more and more as working from home became permanent, but I did manage to get a bunch of terrain pieces done. The most complex piece was the river, and I'll have a separate, more detailed post for that coming up. With any luck, these will actually see the table in 2021! Apologies in advance for the pictures... all of the terrain is in storage right now, and I'm using what pictures I took at the time.

I always liked this statue. Glad I was lucky enough to snag one on its own. 

I had previously lucked out, and picked up a few tombs from online bits stores. This time, I was able to snag some fencing, and the great statue. Frustratingly, the statue doesn't have a flat base, instead having an odd V-base, meant to lock into the specific base from the kit. For a ruined setting though, that works fine! I stuck it on a lipped round base, and the statue leans forward slightly, and the terrain paste covers it up. Some brown paint and a little acrylic gloss makes it all look like the statue is teetering a bit in the mud and muck. Hard to see from the pic here though, so I'll try to point it out in a future battle report.

The fencing is frustrating delicate; the bends to the points all happened accidentally. Though, like the V-base of the statue, this can be an advantage, selling the ruined look. I snipped some of the metal fencing down too, and the result should be a nice, meandering ruined cemetery wall. 

Some potential points of interest for games. Plus some barriers.

In my bits purchase, I also managed to score a steepled tomb from the Garden. I had a previous, still unpainted, one as well, so I painted both up over the summer. The red/blue rooves look a little silly color-wise, but I rather like them. I think they would make great objectives for a skirmish game, or opposing ends of a huge cemetery zone.

The obelisk is from Reaper, and made an appearance back in 2018. Here, I managed to paint it up, and add a nice little glossy effect to it, like it is all damp and stuff. Damp is good for a Cthulhu obelisk, and this will make a nice objective or something.

Lastly in this pic, are some bits I picked up on their own, from the old Chaos Warshrine. I picked up the sides of the shrine years ago, and they've just been sitting around. The actual sides bits (the bit with the little demony face) may get turned into ramparts or fences at some point too, but for now, just the ornamental lattice is being drafted for terrain. A little green stuff was needed to get them more secured to the base, and then a basing paste was used to disguise it all. These make me think of the little energy shields from Halo? These don't seem to really offer much cover, but have a nice feel to them. 

Quick overhead shot of the river. More to come on that later... 

The statues are from a 3D printed graveyard kit I purchased back in 2018, and hobbied on that same year. I did up the tomb and tombstones then, but never got around to the statues. I did them up with the Garden of Morr statue, and this picture shows off the muddy effect a little better. The 3D prints are fine, but can look bad if you get into detailed painting, as the printer results in all the little layers and such. To compensate, I did some very messy painting and more of an "overbrush" for the lighter gray areas than a highlight or drybrush.

Roman barricades, and more statues.

I have picked up a lot of boxes of Warlord Romans over the last few years. One of the Legionary boxes comes with a bonus plastic scorpion, and related siege-y bits, one of those bits being a sudis fence. It looks like I've picked up at least 5 of these boxes to-date, as I found 5 of the fence pieces, and did up a pair of fence terrain pieces, which should look nice matching with my Kingdoms of Men.

Onto the industrial bits!

About midsummer, I started playing around more with industrial terrain, for Grimdark Future, or Fistful of Lead, with the hope that I'd get some kind of tabletop game in this year.

On the left is an oddly long can, turned into a kind of fuel tank with the help of some cereal box to cover the ends and some bendy straws. I think it needs some little warning/flamable signs or something to finish it off, but was my first attempt at an "industrial" piece, so it turned out well.

The pipes are kids "learning" toys, linked earlier. A simple hobby saw can cut through them, and I messed around with an angled cut and a rusted pipe for some light cover, and a more upright piping system spewing green gunk made of hot glue. Both worked out ok, and were good tests. I used up like, 3 of 64 pieces, so more piping terrain will be coming eventually. I think they'll look better incorporated into structures, or as kind of longer "pipe fences." We'll see...

The structure in the back was a cylinder of mixed nuts. If you remove the labeling, there is a kind of cardboard underneath. Adding some plasticard strips, and a Mantic up top, and it makes for a pretty convincing little supply depot. This was mainly a test for glues and paints, and turned out pretty good, considering I just snagged it from my recycling bin on a whim.

The mixed nuts cylinder turned out nice enough, and was a popular snack in the apartment, so I kept experimenting. Late in the summer, I was really deep into the youtube channel Wyloch's Armory. I liked his general approach to hobbying, and just found his videos quite informative. I bookmarked a lot for future use... Getting more into industrial terrain, I was really surprised with his modular terrain, and decided to try it out. Instead of soup cans, I decided to test out a big coffee tin, and that worked out well enough I decided to use up more of the squat mixed nuts things.

Not too bad.....

Mine are unlikely to be modular though. I don't know what it is, but my precision is just not there. While most of these have the 3-layers and space for tabs... my sections are all messy. Perhaps a small ground walkway, like tossing down plywood on a small construction site could be possible, but I'm certainly not going to be able to rock anything as good as Wyloch anytime soon!

Weird, DIY paper mâché.

The last things I played around with were some "bunkers" of sorts, using mushroom containers, which had the right approximate dimensions to seemingly protect a few minis. I snipped the lip of the container off as it looks weird to include it. By itself, the plastic is pretty thin and wobbly, so I tried to reinforce the interior with some PVA glue and a bunch of shredded paper towel, in a kind of odd paper mâché. I can't stand on it or anything crazy, but it can easily support some minis on top, and it doesn't bow or flex as much when handling the terrain piece, so I'm counting this experimentation as a win.

I scuffed up the exterior with some very coarse sandpaper as an easy weathering effect and to give the primer and paint something to adhere to. A juice cap and granny grating was added to make the tops more interesting, and some basic grey and metallic paints were applied. This turned out great for what is arguably "trash!"

The terrain making was a fun endeavor, though these kinds of pieces tends to take up a lot of space. I basically doubled the terrain storage space I needed over the summer! Still, it will be nice to have more fences and the ability to put more (and different) things on the table when gaming does eventually resume.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Recommendation: Wyloch's Armory and One Page Rules

Back in 2018 or so, my girlfriend's younger brother decided to get into 40k with some friends. He really started getting into it, so I gifted around some paints and brushes, and eventually gifted him a bunch of old Slaanesh Daemons of mine (his faction of choice). 

Who could say no to that face? A nice little kitbash with my favorite fantasy warrior helmet and weapon. These got a very shiny Tzeentch-inspired scheme. The power weapon could use a little more work, and the gun barrels are slightly off-center, but it was my first time playing with either thing, so I was happy with the result.

Years previously I had picked up a Chaos Lord kit on discount from a local game shop. Seemed like a cool model at the time, but I never got around to painting it up for fun. And as his interest in hobbying grew, I decided buy a box of Chaos Space Marines and Chaos Bikers and join him in a few casual games.

It ... did not go all that well.

We used the dumbed-down freebie rules for 8th to keep it simple, but despite being college-aged, list-building eluded the young'uns, and they could not manage a legal list, (not with points, nor with power level... they couldn't even get the basic detachment approach down for 8th). Innumerable rules and 8th Command Points were similarly always misunderstood. It just wasn't great. We got (I think) three-or-four games in before Fall 2019 and schooling asserted themselves as priorities.

After the first game, I had been trying to figure out some basic industrial terrain to add to the table, and happened on a fantastic youtube channel: Wyloch's Armory. While on a hiatus currently, the channel is still a treasure trove of great terrain hobbying projects and advice. Seriously, go check out that channel. It's great for D&D, fantasy, industrial, sci-fi... all sorts of fantastic hobby ideas. 

As I delved deeper into the channel, I found some oddly titled battle reports, between things like Robot Legions and Battle Brothers and Alien Hives. The thumbnails all had 40k minis though, so I was confused. As it turns out, these were battle reports for a great ruleset from OnePageRules. I was immediately smitten, and encourage you to check them out as well.

Essentially, their "schtick" is to take an existing game and distill it into something very basic (typically, 1-2 pages of basic rules). They focus chiefly on GW, with rules to mimic 40k, AOS, and WHFB, though they do have a nice selection some one-off games, including takes on Gaslands, the insanely cool Crossfire wargame, and a few oddballs, like a game designed around plastic toy Army Men. Rules are free, though you can join their patreon to help playtest, preview new games, or just get files for 3d printing (and 2d printing, for the ultimate in casual wargaming). 

Grimdark Future is their 40k equivalent, and the ruleset appeals far more to me than the real deal! All of their rules are done by the same group (themselves) with the same points calculator, so while you lose the very granular distinctions for each subset of the big factions (no ultra-distinct chapters here, though you can mess with some special rules and upgrades), in exchange, you get a pretty balanced game. That is a win in my book!

The gameplay is similar to the inspiration, with lists and points and various upgrades and such built ahead of time, but the game takes the I-go-U-go formula down to the unit level, thereby limiting degenerate combos and preventing crippling alpha strikes, while creating a more dynamic battle. I very much like this approach!

While play moves unit-to-unit, things are still tracked by model (wounds taken, can it see enough to take the shot, etc). That's not too bad actually, as their other neat rules trick is limiting the number of models in a unit. If you buy a unit of 5 marines, you can bump that to 10 (if everyone has the same gear, no mixing and matching, for simplicity), but no higher. So Death Star units are quite hard to field. While this limits some army design, when the result is better balance, I still count this as a win. 

Age of Fantasy is ... well, their fantasy equivalent, and follows the same general rules: the I-go-U-go approach by unit; model-level tracking; and limiting the unit size (though with Fantasy, the units are larger, with most starting at 10 and maxing out at 20). 

All in all, I still prefer Kings of War for my fantasy game of choice. Being able to ignore the individual model is still a stroke of genius in my book, and this lets it really capture a mass battle feel. More KoW posts coming soon!  


If you are in need of terrain tips for any wargaming or RPG setting, check out Wyloch's Armory.

And if you need another easy game in your arsenal, definitely consider something from OnePageRules.