Wednesday 21 June 2023

If in doubt, accessorise!

 I've been very busy for the past month or so, and have had little motivation to set up and play a game or to paint figures. It happens every so often. Also, the weather is nice here, so walking in the hills and visiting fjords I have not previously visited is higher on my list of things to do. However, I managed to stimulate my interest in gaming once more by buying a packet of foamboard!

One of my gaming goals is to focus on the figures I have rather than buying into new things. I've been quite successful in this. I've bought new rules like Five Leagues from the Borderlands to use with existing figures, and I have bought new figures to expand existing collections, but I have not been distracted by entirely new projects. Obviously, stopping expanding existing collections and ceasing to buy new boardgames would also be a good thing, but I have not quite managed that yet. One way to slow these processes down is to accessorise existing projects. This is where the foamboard comes in.

Over the past week I have cobbled together a dice tower and card holder for Warfighter, and a dice tower for Five Leagues from the Borderlands. They are built from foamboard and decorated with artwork from the respective games that I printed out and glued on. I could have spent more time resizing the artwork and making the images fit better, but, honestly, I just could not be arsed. The Warfighter dice tower was the first one I made, using a pattern from Instructables and it is a bit wonkier than the Five Leagues dice tower. If I make another, I am sure it will be less wonky still. Doesn't matter though. I have new dice towers and am satisfied enough with them. Also, dice rolling through the foamboard baffles sounds really cool. I need to stop rolling the dice to hear the sound long enough to actually play a game!

The card holder is from Adventures in Creative Software:

I needed to cobble together an insert for the Warfighter action deck using boxes the cards came in, because this card holder is not large enough for the 100 or so cards in the action deck, but it is functional and keeps the cards together better than just placing them on the gameboard. Like the first dice tower, the card holder turned out a bit wonky, but it is still satisfying to have for the game, and keeps the cards together.

Sunday 18 June 2023

Aberrations: The big, bad monsters of Five Leagues from the Borderlands

 Aberrations are the big, bad monsters of the Five Leagues from the Borderlands world. You only ever encounter one of them at a time, but they are tough to take down. Remember the Hulk-esque fight against the giant on Turn 5 of the campaign? That was an aberration. I loved that turn, by the way. In my head, it was the scene where the troops all pile onto the big guy and it looks like he is buried under them all, but suddenly he stands up and they are all thrown away to land twenty feet from him. Great stuff!

So, my general approach to aberrations with a few exceptions is that they should be imposing. That means that they should have Ray Harryhausen monster proportions where they are meant to be big critters, so I am using a lot of 28mm models for them. I have also taken some liberties with the descriptions of the monsters with a view to using figures I already owned rather than buying new. While a few are new figures, some have sat in my pile of shame for decades and are just grateful for the chance to finally be used. So, here are my aberrations listed by the name given them in the rule book.


The ogre is a basic bad guy. It is kind of tough but not the hardest foe to defeat. I chose a Gloomhaven Cragheart to be my ogre. In Utavoll, ogres are born of the earth, so a rocky-looking miniature seems appropriate.

Gloomhaven Cragheart


Trolls are also born of the earth, but are tougher than ogres because they regenerate. They are living rock, so I chose a Temple of Elemental Evil boardgame Stone Elemental to be my Troll.

Gloomhaven Stone Elemental


The minotaur is a normal 15mm minotaur. Nothing fancy about this guy but he is still tough enough to give the heroes a hard time.

Alternative Armies Tabletop Fantasy Minotaur 578


This guy is a fairly normal werewolf who is drawn from those I painted as The Corrupt for the Synod of Reason faction. No point painting extra figures if I do not have to.

Ral Partha Europe 4506 Wolfmen


The golem is a Doppelganger from the Temple of Elemental Evil boardgame. It has clearly lost its programming and is on a mad rampage ... or maybe it is just trying to live a quiet life, but other people keep interrupting its contemplation of the works of Saint Julius of Rhino, and it gets annoyed. Who knows? Either way, it's really not something you want to be on the wrong side of.

Temple of Elemental Evil Doppelganger

Giant Lizard

Five Leagues from the Borderlands suggests a Giant Lizard for this monster. I did not have a giant lizard in my collection so it is being replaced with a giant armoured bear from my Gloomhaven set. The giant lizard is big, though not as big as the monsters with the big trait and it is tough. Nothing about these traits requires it to be a lizard though, and this is a thing I like about Five Leagues. It gives you a lot of flexibility in deciding which minatures to use for what.

The armoured bears are magical constructs that occasionally appear in Utavoll. No one is certain who created them or how, but it is rumoured that they come from the island near the coast where the twisted vivimancer Moreau is supposed to experiment on animals and people with equal enthusiasm. If it is he, his motive is unknown and none have ever dared sail out there to ask him.

Gloomhaven Armoured Bear

Spitting Lizard

This medieval wyrm looked cute and I figured that a spitting lizard need not be huge because it relies on its ability to spit venom. They come in a pack of two, so I have two painted up in case I ever need them for something else or maybe I'll just field them as a pair and remove one when the monster gets down to half hit points.

Alternative Armies HOT110 Medieval Wyrm


Nothing much to say about this. It is a 15mm Manticore and represents the monster in the book exactly as described.

Alternative Armies HOT28 Manticore


This is where my rule of bigger is better has been completely ignored in favour of these incredibly cute griffon hatchlings. They are just so cute! Man-sized bundles of feathery fun that will rip your head off in a second if you let them. The Griffon has 3 hits, so I shall use all three of these to represent the griffon as a flock of small griffons that are fast and vicious. Each figure removed represents one hit on the flock, which will save a little bookkeeping.

Nolzur's Marvellous Miniatures Gryphon Hatchlings


We met the giant before when it caused the locals, and thus the party, some problems. It's a giant. It's big and it's tough. There is not much more to be said about it. The only difference is that I did a little work on the figure since that last encounter. I could not be bothered doing too much, but I did paint parts of the miniature that did not appear to have had any colour applied before that, despite apparently being a Mage Knight prepaint.

Mage Knight Murderous Berserker


Wraiths are wraiths. We all know pretty much what they are and why they will come after you if you steal rings from strangers. They came in a pack of four, so my plan with these is to field multiple wraiths as the one monster. That way, I can remove figures as the monster takes hits and save on some book-keeping. These are perky wraiths, not like your more common goth wraiths.

Alternative Armies HOT114 Wraith


The wight is another fairly tough undead monster. It should make life quite difficult for the party if they encounter it.

Alternative Armies HOT12 Wight

Death Knight

The death knight is an especially tough skeleton warrior. Maybe it has magical weapons and armour, or maybe it was created by an especially powerful necromancer. No one knows. All that matters to the party is that it has defeated many other parties of adventurers, and that means that it is standing on a massive pile of unused beer tokens just waiting for the right group to plunder and spend them.

Alternative Armies HOT12 Skeletal Knight


The fiend is a creature from another dimension. There seem to be a lot of those around in Utavoll but this one is quite senior in the hierarchy and not one that an unprepared group would want to tangle with.

D&D Miniatures prepaint Gargoyle

Undead Construct

Once upon a time, there was a necromancer whose name no one wishes to remember. They were a powerful necromancer. So powerful that eventually they lost their mind and disappeared into another dimension, but they left behind a terrifying undead construct pieced together from the bodies of a hundred heroes. The construct is said to roam Utavoll looking for its master, and any that try to impede it get torn apart.

Nolzur's Marvelous Miniatures Boneclaw


So many elementals to choose from. I picked a water elemental because it rains a lot in Utavoll. I have others in the pile that I can paint for future games, so expect to see a fire elemental in the desert at some point.

Temple of Elemental Evil Water Elemental

Giant Spider

I already have giant spiders for other uses in my games, so I chose this giant scorpion that I have had lying around for years to use as my excessively large and fearsome arachnid.

Reaper(?) Giant Scorpion


This is a totally standard wyvern apart from being a bit larger than the average. I figure this 28mm wyvern should look imposing enough to count as a terrifying beast for the Thrappled Lemmings to fight.

D&D Miniatures prepaint Wyvern


I nearly bought a hydra, instead of using something I already had, but my wallet refused to open. The white dragon represents a specific breed of hard-to-kill dragon. It may not be the biggest of its kind, but its progrenitor supped from the Well of Life, and some of that healing power has been passed down through the ages and giving this dragon the power to regenerate.

D&D Miniatures prepaint White Dragon

Monster Lizard

I was looking around for monster lizards to buy, but suddenly remembered this Scarab-ogre that I have had for absolutely ages. It has sat in the unpainted lead pile until now, so it is grateful for my desire to play Five Leagues. The monster lizard is a huge, very tough opponent, and there is nothing in the stats that prevents it actually being a forty foot high, heavily armoured, semi-intelligent scarab.

Crocodile Games Scarab-ogre


The drake is an enormous, massively tough dragon. This green dragon seems to fit the bill.

D&D Miniatures Green Dragon prepaint