Thursday, 2 September 2021

Finally, the ground!

So, I finished drybrushing those tiles that are the last piece on my checklist to be able to play the first Rangers of Shadow Deep scenario! 

  • Mystery additional structure
  • Trees
  • Cart
  • Well
  • Woodpile
  • Crates and barrels
  • a playing surface!
  • Treasure tokens

Here’s one in situ with some of the other finished pieces:

So, how I made them! Plans started earlier in the year, during one of our many lockdowns, when I asked my wife to grab me a sample of some wallpaper that looked like scale cobblestones. And she furnished me with this:

Flicking through the rulebook, I saw that I’d need to be able to make a variety of different sized playing areas. I’d grabbed a dust sheet with the intention to dye it grey to use as a playing area, but it turned out to be plasticky rather than material like I’d imagined so I needed to come up with another plan. At which point my eye alighted on a pack of floor tiles in Poundland…

I left some of the foot square tiles whole, but cut some in half and quarters (until I had 9 12” square tiles, 6 6 x 12”, and 4 6” square, which would allow me to make a variety of different sized boards, including the three 18” square boards needed for Tor Varden). The adhesive tiles were paper backed, so I started peeling them off:

Thinking that it would be better grip having a rubber bottom rather than paper. Experiments with removing the adhesive with WD40, sanding, and prayer largely just made a mess…

So I decided to stick each tile to some newspaper and then trim the edges off, before applying some masking tape to each edge to try and give it a bit more ‘tooth’ to stop it sliding around on the table. In hindsight, I probably could have achieved much the same effect just slapping some tape onto the original backing paper, but at least this way there’s less chance of it peeling off and sticking my terrain tile to the dining room table and having to explain that to my wife…

Then, it was a case of decorating and texturing the tiles! I ripped, tore and cut suitably ruinous looking shapes out of my textured wallpaper

And stuck them willy-nilly onto some of the tiles 

Not worrying too much about where they went, as they’d be slightly buried by textured paint, hopefully making them look like partially submerged areas of street in the rubble. I left enough tiles blank to be able to make a sizeable enough playing area for the ‘outside’ scenarios in the initial Rangers of Shadow Deep campaigns (although admittedly a little bit of paving in the middle of the woods surely just adds to the mysterious feel of the area… or could be covered with a tree)

The tiles were then textured up using my usual textured paint recipe (sand, plaster, paint, water) and globes on with a large brush, taking care to try to avoid leaving any obvious brush marks (lots of dabbing rather than brushing)

At this point I also discovered that I had a plastic crate that was the perfect size to store the tiles in a stack, which was very pleasing:

Then, one sunny day (back in March!) I set about giving everything a liberal dousing of grey spray 

Yes, there’s still a grey line in my garden where I overshot somewhat, that’ll wash off when it rains right?

Then in June (because opportunities for big project stuff rather than a sneaky hour here and there painting a miniature are rare when you have two children, work and whatnot) everything got doused in a brown wash:

Some things are a lot browner than others, due to variations in the mix when making up more as it inevitably didn’t go as far as I’d expected. The first batch had too much washing up liquid (which you add to break the surface tension), and so was bubbling up and settling weirdly when I brushed it on; the next batch I added barely any and it just didn’t spread out right. So, I bodied my way through - trial and error, the bread and butter of the wargamer! 

As seems to be a pattern with this, two months pass and now it’s August (although admittedly it’s not that I’d not been doing anything, having knocked the rest of the checklist off in the intervening time), and with two weeks off work and everything else on the checklist completed I was determined to get these tiles over the finishing line! And so, armed with a Poundland makeup brush and three tester pots from Wilkos (a grey, light grey and cream, which are close enough to the colours I use when painting miniatures’ bases) I got to work:

The first two shades of grey admittedly didn’t really look like much had changed when applying them, but when it came to the cream the magic really happens:

I was initially going to skip the cream step, having read something where someone said that they tended to paint their boards darker than their miniature bases in order to make them stand out more, but I’m glad I didn’t in the end as they would have looked a little bland and flat otherwise!

I also drybrushed some Amera craters that have been sat for years waiting to get some love since I picked them up from their stand at Salute many years ago:

I think I might have gone a bit overboard with the final pass, and they’ve come out a little paler and chalkier than I had initially envisioned, but for some cheap and cheerful difficult terrain I’m not fussed enough to go back and repaint it, truth be told. I guarantee that at least one will see use in Frostgrave, with a treasure token at its centre, because it amuses me no end to imagine a wizard seeing a pair of boots in the middle of a crater and sending a Thug off to go fetch it rather than picking it up themselves lest it still be a bit explodey…

And here it all is again in the perfect sized box, but finished this time:

On the non-task-completing side of things, it was my birthday on Monday, which came with a hit to the Tally:

The Reaper Fungal Queen because it’s lovely, and also this Oglaf strip:

And the set of Bandits & Brigands (giant compared to some rangers, but lovely regardless) is to jumpstart my Ronin of Shadow Deep project, as there are some lovely minis that will work perfectly for a roving band of Ronin wandering the land dispatching evil and presumably posing dramatically all the while. 

These bring the Tally to:

19 vs 19 = +0

Still in the black, just!

I also got a paint shaker, having seen a multitude of videos where people espouse the virtues of them for salvaging old paints (of which I have many). My first attempt was on a pot of Liberator Gold which is so separated it’s just orange paint now… the initial shakings just smoothed out the orange with the assistance of the glass bead I’d popped in, so my wife suggested scraping the metallic pigment out of the bottom of the pot where it had seemingly settled and set, and whilst further shakings did make some strides towards unifying the paint it still isn’t what I’d call useable. This might not have been a fair test though, as that pot is probably beyond salvaging…

So, what’s next? Playing a game of Rangers of Shadow Deep! Although I should probably paint some miniatures too, as I treated myself with some birthday money to a copy of the updated Rangers book, and added some miniatures on to the order to get free shipping, so I’ll be back in the red on the Tally sooner rather than later!

Friday, 27 August 2021

What a mess!

As previously alluded to, I’ve also knocked something else off of the checklist! 

Loads and loads of lovely crates and food supplies - a set from Bad Squiddo and one from Zealot Miniatures, but both sculpted by the talented Ristul’s Creations so they all go together perfectly:

Technically there’s an extra piece here, as I had a duplicate piece and one missing, which was swiftly sorted once I’d noticed - I was looking for the piece with pumpkins on and couldn’t find it anywhere; I’d assumed my children had had it away, but on further investigation discovered that I had two of one of the sculpts, can you spot which one appears twice in the above picture?

So, RoSD scenario 1 checklist is tantalisingly close to completion:

  • Mystery additional structure
  • Trees
  • Cart
  • Well
  • Woodpile
  • Crates and barrels
  • a playing surface!
  • Treasure tokens

In other news, while I might be sworn off GW currently (Cursed City made me reassess my relationship with GW, and I realised that I’m not the target audience, and that I was still buying White Dwarf despite not really finding anything in it useful or interesting except for a modelling article, so I figured I should just cut ties for now and focus on more indie stuff) I’m apparently not sworn off a bargain:

Two packs, after a miscommunication, but I’m sure I can find a use for another space marine and robot lad.

Thanks to previous sales, the Tally is still looking fairly healthy:

19 vs 8 = +11

Although it’s my birthday on Monday, so it might not look that healthy for long…

Monday, 23 August 2021

More barrels than Donkey Kong

 So, having two weeks off of work as usual this time of year (as my wedding anniversary and birthday fall in the same fortnight period) to take a break from looking at checklists about Operational preparedness for Christmas I… pulled out my checklist of things I need to finish before I can play the first scenario of Rangers of Shadow Deep. Then, presumably subconsciously rebelling against the tyranny of checklists, I of course finished something that wasn’t on it:

Barrels! The four at the back are two thirds of a pack from Fenris Games (excellent product, excellent service), the other two being saved for any future barricade scenery building needs, and the front one came with the same lot of bits from Sippin’ on Paint Water as the previously posted crates and whatnot.

So what’s next? You’ll be delighted to hear that my checklist rebellion was short lived and I knuckled down to knock something else off…

Saturday, 14 August 2021


…my stuff:

So, in order to play Rangers of Shadow Deep and Frostgrave, I needed some treasure tokens. A number of people have made some cool looking tokens that feature heaping piles of golden coins and whatnot, but flicking through the rulebooks for the two games you’re mostly likely to find a scroll, a small amount of money, maybe a weapon (or in the case of RoSD, you’re more likely to find herbs than you are a rune-encrusted axe of destruction), so I started rooting through my bits box looking for suitable odds and ends to make some slightly more sparse representations of claimable wealth.

The first one I made obviously ignored everything I’d previously planned and was a four foot tall solid gold statue:

It started life as a Game of Thrones Risk Lannister piece, and gets a pass because the image of some poor thug having to lug that giant thing through the ruins of Frostgrave amuses me. I used the same textured paint on its base that I did on my trees, which for some reason looks terrible here.

I also picked up some of the official Northstar treasure tokens:

The little treasure chest because it was cute and cheap, the lamp because I think the genie scenario is great and want to adapt it for solo play, and the armour and book lectern because I didn’t have much in the way of grimoire looking pieces in my bits box. The armour stand got a transfer from an old Bretonnian sheet to jazz it up, and will also serve double duty as a bit of dungeon dressing for other games like D&D too.

I used a fine pen to add some squiggles and magical looking symbols to the open pages of the book (thanks live action Fullmetal Alchemist movie for inspiration) as well as trying to make it look like an illuminated manuscript which you can’t really quite see in this picture. There’s also a tiny cat paw print on one page, as occasionally appears on medieval manuscripts (presumably much to the chagrin of some poor ancient monk):

I also used some resin pieces from Zealot Miniatures:

Tiny, but absolutely great. I put them on bits of cork to make them stand out a little more (especially the potion bottles, which would have gotten a bit lost if I’d just buried them in basing sand). Grimoires, scrolls, potions, check check check. 

And then, the rest, which I tried to make as accurately multi-representative as possible:

While I understand suspension of disbelief and using my imagination (being that we’re playing wizards with little metal men) I wanted to try and create pieces that could represent whatever you rolled, despite the randomness.

Clockwise, starting top left:

GW bow and quiver and a tiny Bretonnian treasure chest. The bow could be a magic weapon, or just scrap to sell if you rolled money instead. Maybe the chest is full of rare herbs, or a spell scroll instead? Works equally well for wizards or rangers to find!

One of my favourites, suited more for Frostgrave - the death mask is a piece left over from a (still unfinished) conversion I started years ago (at least ten?) using Dante as a base, the hand of glory is a zombie hand and the scroll is made from tomato purée tube foil carefully cut and rolled up, with another long thin piece wrapped around it and carefully superglued to make a tie. Gold, spells, magic items, all covered no matter what you roll. 

A Renedra barrel with a Frostgrave pouch and an axe from a Mantic skeleton sprue leaning up against it. This one was made more with Rangers of Shadow Deep in mind than Frostgrave. Is the pouch the treasure, or the axe, or the contents of the barrel? Depends what you roll… 

Another Remedra barrel, with a skeletal hand still clutching a sword (probably magic, that) and a solid gold chicken statue that started life as a standard top on an Atlantic Halflings sprue. Just an excuse to use that bit as a gold chicken, if I’m being honest.

Skull in a fancy and probably magical hat, next to an elaborately decorated sword from the Khorne Berzerker sprue. My only complaint is it’s a bit hard to pick up given it’s low profile. 

I’m sure at one point I recall having made thirteen tokens, but there’s only twelve finished now so if it turns out my children have had one away at some point I’ll have to paint it and add it to the set later!

So, where do we now stand on being ready to play Rangers?

  • Mystery additional structure
  • Trees
  • Cart
  • Well
  • Woodpile
  • Crates and barrels
  • a playing surface!
  • Treasure tokens

Truth being told, these were actually finished last weekend, but it took me a week to get the blogpost written, so I’m already about halfway to having finished the next item on the list!

Sunday, 8 August 2021

More mise en scene

I mean yes, I know I was strictly focused on the last few bits needed to play the first Rangers of Shadow Deep scenario, but I somehow seem to have finished these instead:

In my defence, the missing bit of scatter terrain arrived from Bad Squiddo and so I sprayed these at the same time to avoid wasting undercoat, and they were largely drybrushed to completion.

They (alongside the bucket on my well and a couple of barrels that are either half finished or didn’t get undercoated because they need a little green stuff love to fill some minor bubbling) came in a lot I won from the original Sippin’ on Paint Water blog many many moons ago - there’s a new one called Still Sippin’ on Paint Water here, but it hasn’t been updated in over a year now unfortunately, so I’m assuming it’s dead, which is a shame because look how lovely that coil of rope is!

So, next time: the actual things I need to finish painted!


Sunday, 1 August 2021

I am a robot…

 …I go beep beep beep boop bop, to quote a song that my six year old regularly seems to have stuck in her head.

Just a quick post to show off what I received in my trade with Tales from Farpoint:

A fully sculpted robot! He’ll see use as a warbot or perhaps a bounty in Stargrave, and I can’t wait to paint him! Although my children seem keen to get their hands on him too…

The Tally also looks much healthier this week too, as something I listed on eBay weeks ago finally sold, partially offsetting the money spent on this year’s Hellboy board game Kickstarter and leaving the Tally looking like this:

19 vs 4 = +15

What next? I’ve still been chipping away at the last few bits needed to play the first Rangers of Shadow Deep scenario, but painting time is rare currently - I had planned to get some done last night while watching a movie, but when the movie is Dynasty Warriors you can’t take your eyes off it (or keep them open, at one point, but that’s more to do with tiredness than the quality of the movie). Also, I added to the pile of ‘last few bits to do’ with some more lovely resin scenery, because I couldn’t help myself…

Oh, and I might have challenged some pals to build Warhammer armies, as the announcement of Warhammer the Old World got me tempted, and the as yet unannounced release date is far enough away that it feels like we might actually show unprecedented levels of focus and finish the project in time, so if anyone has any old Skaven in their trade pile let me know…

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

…and Wells!

 And here is the third post, a well posed here with some miniatures:

Nothing says fantasy village like a well does it? While I could just as easily start playing with just the scenery I had, I wanted something to add a little more character, and a well is what I decided to make! I watched plenty of YouTube videos for inspiration, but almost every single one basically said ‘cut out blue foam on your foam cutter’, neither of which I have, so I decided to forge on with what I had on hand!

First of all, a tube to shape the body of my well - this came from a roll of kitchen foil, as it was more slender than most of the tubes in my overflowing box of useful looking bits of rubbish!

Cutting out bases for terrain is so much easier now that I’ve realised that I can just cut them out with scissors! 

My daughter was also building along with me, so here is her well WIP

(the triangle has since fallen off - I warned her that those tiny contact points wouldn’t be enough, but she insisted it would be fine)

Then I set about building the frame - I cut down balsa for the posts:

And made a cardboard piece that would support the roof - I didn’t worry about not detailing this piece, as once the roof was on you wouldn’t be able to see it at all.

And then, bricks! As ever, cork was my go to material. I still have a kimchi pot full of randomly sized cork bricks that I cut while watching the Witcher at some point in the distant past (for another project that I realise I haven’t finished or posted about on here, so this might be their first public appearance). 

I globbed on PVA, poked bricks into it in a vaguely overlapping pattern, rinse and repeat!

To make the top piece (the cap? Is that the right name for it?) I found an existing cork circle (presumably from making bases at some point in the past) that was just about the perfect size to cover the well:

and then cut a ring of bricks out of it to form a rounded lip:

Next stage is the most important - douse everything in cheap superglue to harden it all up! If you skip this step, prepare to have a bad time if you try and drybrush that lovely cork texture as the corners crumble and reveal the original cork colour…

Lastly, I needed to make a roof. I made a simple frame from matchsticks and cereal box card:

And then trimmed the matchsticks down to the desired length:

(You can also see a step that I apparently didn’t document, drilling a hole through the posts to install a cocktail stick bar. A tiny handle was made from a sliver of matchstick and a tiny rod)

For the roof tiles, I forget where exactly I got inspiration for using corrugated card to make overlapping rounded tiles like this, but full credit to whoever it was!

I left the flat bottom layer of card attached to give it some additional strength, but if o were to do it again I’d probably remove it as I’d probably prefer not being able to see it…

I made two separate eaves, glued them onto the card support, and then hid the join with another length of corrugated card.

Then it was just a case of adding a resin bucket (won from a competition on Sippin on Paint Water years ago when it was still the original blog), sanding the base, and dousing everything with watered down PVA!

Then it was on to painting, drybrushing aplenty!

I also wound a thread around the bar that I doused in superglue (this piece is presumably solid enough to survive a hammer blow at this point with the amount of glue it’s been soaked in) for a rope, which I washed with some dark brown tones to try and make it look less like a bit of thread!

I chose blue for the tiles rather than a more standard red mostly because I fancied making it look a little more fantastical, but not so much that I couldn’t use it for a non-fantasy game… 

Which brings my Rangers of Shadow Deep checklist to this point:

  • Mystery additional structure
  • Trees
  • Cart
  • Well
  • Woodpile
  • Crates and barrels
  • a playing surface!
  • Treasure tokens

The last three things on the list are currently all about half done, so hopefully if I can grab some more painting time at the weekend you’ll be seeing more soon!

Thinking about it, these last few posts definitely let me cross of something else on the Challenge:

  • Finish something old
  • Finish a piece of terrain
  • Finish some scatter terrain (3/3)
  • Prep all of the monkeys in the monkey box
  • Paint all of the miniatures in a boxed game
  • Play a game with fully painted miniatures
  • Finish a complete skirmish force for a project (at least 16 miniatures, unless it's for a much smaller scale game like Frostgrave)
  • Repaint something (either a miniature that I have previously painted, or one that was received painted
  • Convert a miniature and show WIP pics
  • Finish the last member of the Nextwave team
  • Complete the classes project (and when I do that, start a project to have painted miniatures to represent all of the Races in the Players Handbook)
  • Add at least 3 entries to the Monstrous Alphabet Project
  • Average at least a miniature a week by the end of the year (so, paint 52 miniatures)
  • End the year with the Tally in the positive!

I mean, several more of these look very achievable, but I’m not going to tempt fate by pledging to complete anything in particular!

Finally, in Tally related news, I sent off some minis to Tales from Farpoint as I got in touch with him to offer to trade some bits for his Dark Ages Brutal Quest project, which leaves the Tally currently at:

19 vs 11 = +8