Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Another Slice of Pi

My latest 28mm figure is one that has been on the painting desk for some time. I am not completely happy with the highlighting on her legs in particular but she is at least ready to lead my Syntha forces into action in Urban War now.

Neo Pi (click for a larger image)

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Shadowforge Dark Temple Slingers - Mid-September Update

Just to prove that I am actually still painting figures, here is a shot of my newest unit. These ladies are some of Shadowforge's finest and will feature in my warband at the Wargods tournament in Canterbury this November.

I like the Shadowforge figures, but agree with their critics that some of the figures have a distressing tendency to look like inflatable dolls. Well, at least their faces do. Still, I like the figures just the same. They have clean lines and nice animation.

I originally bought these figures to use with a Wargods of Olympus warband. Wargods of Olympus is the Greek variant for Wargods of Aegyptus. It has been in playtest since before I can remember now, so I do wonder if it will ever see the light of day, but at least the figures are pretty and I shall probably use them in our Warrior Heroes: Armies and Adventures games instead.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Demonworld Elves

For about three or four years now I have had a unit of Demonworld Elven Unicorn Riders sitting undercoated on my desk. I finally decided to get them painted and so here they are in all their Elven glory (click the pics for larger versions):

I can honestly say that I did not enjoy painting them. To some extent this is the fault of the figures; they are too nice. These castings are exquisite, beautifully detailed and beautifully proportioned. They have little details on them that set them off just right too. And this is the problem. I wanted to paint them quickly and clear them off the desk. The figures wanted to be painted with oodles of shading and highlighting. They demand a level of attention that most would lavish only on 28mm figures and I did not want to do that. I wanted figures that look good enough at arm's length and I wanted to clear them quickly off the desk to make space for the next phase of the Towton project. Poor Unicorn Riders!

Some time back I painted these Demonworld Elven Heroes, so I thought I would photograph them while I was at it since they have not been seen here before:

I did not have the same problems with these heroes. Instead, my real problem with the heroes was that I was out of practice painting detailed figures. At the time I painted these, I was in a groove speed-painting 15mm Peter Pig figures for AK47 Republic and PBI2. I was out of practice painting the additional detail that these figures have.

Still, overall I am happy enough with the final outcome on both sets of figures. They are not great but I would not be shamed in front of the wargaming community putting them on the table. That leads me to my next dilemma. For the sake of completeness I have based them up for Demonworld. I have Demonworld and Empires and have actually played and enjoyed Empires, which I originally intended to use as a campaign system for other games. I have not played Demonworld yet and really wonder if I ever shall. I have enough figures for a small Elven army of about 1000 points (5 units plus characters) but the specific figures for it are OOP at the moment so I cannot add more of the same to my army and I do not have an opposing army, although I do have Harpies and Goblin Spearbearers. I could expand the armies using other ranges for the most part. Some troop options (e.g. Goblin Bear Riders) are not readily available though but I could proxy other troop types instead if need be. The problem is whether there is any point to this. After all, how many people actually have the rules and how many would want to play? So, what do I do? Sell the armies? Finish painting them and just keep them for display? Rebase them for another system?

I could always rebase them for HotT, which I have and have enjoyed in the past. That would give me three or four Elven armies and most of a Goblin army. I could add additional troops to the Goblin army from other ranges to complete it. I am tempted to use the Harpies as 6mm minor demons and 28mm imps for our Warrior Heroes campaign. That could certainly work. Whatever I decide in the end, at least I have cleared a bit more of the lead pile.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Black Tree Design

BTD have a terrible and well-deserved reputation for abysmal customer service. On 4th August 2008 I ordered some BTD Normans to use as Border Kingdoms armies in our Talomir Tales campaign. About three months later, part of my order turned up. The infantry were fine but I was not impressed with the quality of the cavalry; one of the horses only had three legs and others had minor casting defects. Still, given how long it had taken to get even these figures, I was not going to send these horses back. For all I knew, I might never see them again or any others besides! So, I painted these figures up and waited for the rest of my order. A couple of months down the line, I enquired about my order by email and through their website queries forum. I received no reply. I repeated this every couple of months, even adding a couple of written enquiries by post. I received no reply. Then suddenly I actually received a response completely out of the blue on 31st July 2009 informing me that the rest of my order would be due in a few weeks and offering me a free pack of figures of my choice. I replied immediately that I still wanted the figures and informed them which free pack I would like. It all went quiet again and I never expected to see the figures.

- Cue fanfare -

Today (12th September 2009) I received the rest of my order! One year, one month and one week after I originally sent it in, it turned up on the door mat. It even included a pack of free figures as an apology. The freebie pack was not the one I had asked for, but it is still useful to me, so that is all to the good. I doubt I shall ever use BTD again. I shall certainly not use their mail order service again despite the hefty discounts available. I might consider buying from them at shows if they are present, because I do like the style of the figures. At least at shows I could check that the figures are not miscast, and I would know that I was getting what I wanted when I wanted it. It's a good job I still want these figures for our games. The Border Kingdoms can now recruit some new troops to their army.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Bwendi Heroes Save Bwendi From ADF - FWC BatRep

Once more the perfidious aggressors from Albion have tried to invade Bwendi and been thrown back by the heroic Bwendi people. Their technology is truly no match for our spirit and elan. Thus spake Throckmorton P. Gladiolus, President for Life, at a press conference late yesterday following the startling news of a new Albion incursion onto Bwendi. The Albion invaders had landed in the back country of Bwendi near a vital industrial facility that produced much-needed fertiliser for the stout Bwendi yeoman farmers. The Bwendi Fast Response Team had reacted quickly (well, obviously!) to deal with the threat and had rapidly neutralised it. This is the story of that heroic action.

We played FutureWarCommander last night. It was my second game ever and Steve had not even read the rule book, so it was all down to me. I had played one game previously against Steve Kelly, who had played before so I had some grounding in the game but not much. At least I had read the rules though. That did help a bit. Nevertheless, I am sure that when I re-read the rules I shall find plenty of things that I got wrong.

The scenario was a simple 2000 point encounter battle. I had two troops of Thor MBTs, each with one Smart Missile carrier to provide heavy fire support, and one platoon of infantry in IFVs (Breakpoint 7). Steve had three troops of armour and two platoons of infantry, one of which was in APCs (Breakpoint 12). The game began with me taking the first turn.

The leader of the FaRTs looked at the oncoming enemy armour and ordered his tank commander to engage it at long range. There were a lot of guns heading their way and the FaRTs looked a little thin on the ground. His radio hissed and squealed as he spoke into the microphone and he watched as the entire armoured column advanced at full speed before suddenly stopping without even firing at the enemy. Fire was coming in thick and fast but the FaRT tankies were happily just motoring along. What the heck? Then he ordered the infantry forward to the small township of Gladioli ahead of them. The radio hissed and squealed some more and then it went dead. The IFVs stood stock still. Meanwhile the ADF commander was making the most of things and firing for all he was worth. Very soon three FaRT tanks were in flames and others were buttoned up and hoping for the best. Confusion reigned among the FaRTs and there was no doubt that their CO would be raising a stink about this if any of them survived. Things improved marginally as the missile tanks began to engage the enemy and smoked two of the enemy in return. The IFVs engaged an APC heading for the town, leaving it a blazing wreck too. "Well," thought Colonel Neryngia, "at least we are giving a reasonable account of ourselves."
(Click the pictures for larger versions)

Turns 1 to 3 passed very quickly in a welter of command blunders and failed command rolls for the FaRTS, while the ADF used the opportunity to engage and destroy a bunch of FaRT tanks. The FaRT HQ blundered with his first two command rolls, while the FaRT CO just failed the first three completely and my troops did nothing except fire using opportunity fire at the enemy. At least that did some damage although I was still losing on points at this time. Every vehicle of mine that was hit in these turns also managed to be suppressed, while none of Steve's were. It looked like the game would be a total walk-over for Steve.

After performing some percussive maintenance on his radio, Colonel Neryngia was finally able to talk to his troops properly. An ADF recce vehicle had taken up station in the woods near his command post so he ordered his infantry to assault the woods and clear them. This they did very easily before mounting up again and heading towards Gladioli. Enemy infantry had been sighted within the town and his men would have to clear it. The enemy armour was now advancing on the FaRT tanks though and another of his precious Thor MBTs was in flames. Things were really not looking good and it looked worse when one of the IFVs was hit as it tried to flank enemy positions within the town. Fortunately the infantry inside were able to dismount in time and survived. The rest of the infantry pushed into the town and assaulted the enemy troops there, only to find that they were power-armoured and pretty tough. The men retreated back through the town. At least Colonel Neryngia's radio was working properly now.

Turns 4 to 6 were much better from my perspective. My armour still spent most of its time suppressed, but at least my troops were able to do stuff as I passed a couple of command rolls. The ADF meanwhile was still pressing on and getting their command rolls just fine.

Then the battle really started to improve. Seeing the casualties caused by assaulting in the town, Colonel Neryngia ordered his men to just lay down as much fire as possible against the enemy. They would drive them out by superior firepower. The IFVs and the infantry concentrated their fire against one enemy position after another. Very soon they had cleared large areas of the town for only a few casualties. The armour was starting to get the range too. Several more enemy tanks went up in smoke. As night fell, the enemy withdrew in good order. The FaRTs held the field.

Neither of us reached our breakpoint by the end of the game. My force had taken 6 casualties in total and was one point away from breaking. Steve's force had taken 8 or 9 casualties and was further from its breakpoint than mine. We totted up the casualties. I had amazingly caused more damage than Steve had so I won a minor victory, which the Bwendi press wrote up as a stunning defeat for the ADF.

All in all it was a good game despite lack of familiarity with the rules. We played it straight and removed hits at the end of each turn. There is an option for retaining hits. Had we done that, I would have had no armour by the end of Turn 3 and the game would have been over much more quickly. Steve would have taken more casualties too, but not nearly as many as I would have done. My main problem was that most of my armour spent about half the game suppressed and unable to do anything except fire in opportunity fire. One it got moving though, it was able to do a bit of damage. The command system is really good fun in FWC. It is frustrating that you are not guaranteed at least one action per turn, but it also offers the opportunity for some really good bouts of action. At the end of the game, in the final turn, I managed to make loads of command rolls with my infantry and we were able to clear a large chunk of the town as a result.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

September's Targets

I just realised that August is over and that I have not set any targets for September. Eek! Time really does fly by, doesn't it. Anyway, looking at what I need to get finished and how much time I actually have spare for doing it at the moment, I am rather concerned that painting will have to go by the board for a bit. Still, I need some kind of distraction and there is the big Wargods tournament in Canterbury in November. As the reigning champion I must attend and ignominiously lose my title to some young whippersnapper. I have had an idea for a warband for the tournament but will not announce it here just yet. Suffice to say that it is a rather silly idea that has tremendous potential for amusement rather than for winning games. I look forward to seeing my opponents' faces when I lay out my army. Mind you, I did the same last year and won the tournament by accident. Oops! What I am trying to say here, in my usual, rather rambling manner is that my target for September and probably October will be to paint the additional elements I need for my warband. Pictures will follow as and when pieces are completed.

I have begun fettling my GHQ Terrainmaker hexes. Many have been damaged in the years since I first started collecting them. I am also not too keen on the shade of scatter material I used on them, because it is too dark. Given that I have a load of this scatter material left, I have mixed it with a lighter 'spring mix' and am much happier with the new colour. So, a secondary objective will be to fettle the rest of my hexes and finish the terrain for Helsingborg since I already have the armies. I am also planning to build more hexes, especially with a view to creating some pieces specifically designed for modern and future wars games in 6mm. The hex-fettling will also include additional detailing on all the hexes and finally getting around to texturing and finishing off the roads. The rivers need some additional work too, so they will receive a new coat of paint and probably a colour change. I just need to decide what colour to use for them. At least the blue indicates 'river' to people. Were I to go for a more realistic hue there is no telling what people would think my rivers were, especially given my inability to mix colours properly.

Old style hexes on the left, new style on the right (click for a bigger picture)

With the hexes fettled properly, I plan to use them a lot more for our games. I have more than enough to cover my 6' by 4' table and the addition of new hexes will help ensure that I have enough pieces to provide plenty of variety.

And finally, the other project is the Towton project. I shall continue with that over the next year. It will certainly be part of every month's project for the next year or so to complete several stands for this project each month, and it may well actually be a whole month's project in its own right.

But first, before I can properly begin on these, I need to complete the unit of Demonworld Elves that are sitting on the painting table taunting me at the moment. The figures are absolutely gorgeous, but I am really not enjoying painting them so they are taking an awful lot longer than they should.