Wednesday 29 September 2021

C is for…

 …Carrion Crawler!

Two, in fact:

As a little palette cleanser between more project focused things (and with the Challenge which I set at the start of the year and then largely ignore until the end of the year starts looming niggling at the corner of my attention) I finished off these two, allowing me to add another entry to the Monstrous Alphabet.

They’re another sculpt from that old D&D board game (that I’m fairly sure I picked up in the Works for a fiver or less that occasionally pops up on Facebook marketplace for thirty quid) and are quite nice despite being monopose plastic board game pieces. One got some bones on his base to set them apart a little, and a smattering of flock largely to hide a couple of spots where I’d managed to lose some of the ground cover through over enthusiastic application of diluted ink…

Here’s what they’re supposed to look like:

Finishing these brings the Tally to:

21 vs 23 = -2

And brings the Monstrous Alphabet to:

A is for
B is for
C is for Carrion Crawler
D is for
E is for Elemental (More than one)
F is for Flameskull
G is for Goblin
H is for
I is for
J is for
I is for
L is for Lich
M is for Mind FlayerMyconidMummy
N is for
O is for Owlbear
P is for
Q is for
R is for
S is for Shambling MoundScarecrowSkeleton
T is for
U is for
V is for
W is for
X is for
Y is for
Z is for Zombie

Which is also one third of the way to crossing another line off 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 (1/3)
  • 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!

So, how hopeful are we that I’m going to end the year in the positive having painted 52 or more miniatures? I mean, I’m nearly halfway there, so it’s not the most outlandish goal…

Plus, coming soon, Zomtober! I’ve not seen anyone talking about it this year, but as ever I’ll be aiming to paint and post at least one zombie related mini every Sunday in October, and shouting into the void over on Instagram and Twitter too.

Friday 24 September 2021

Finally, a game!

 So, the weekend before last I actually managed to play the first scenario of Rangers of Shadow Deep that I’ve prepping for for… well, a year and a half at this point!

So, to set the scene: there’s a blog post breaking down my party, but for a Tl;DR rather than a ranger it’s a Paladin from Lorenthia, the kingdom that was swallowed by the Shadow Deep, who whilst zealous is not particularly adept at politics, and so was manipulated into being outside of the kingdom so as not to thwart the ambitions of some less savoury types at court. Joke’s on them though, as their kingdom was destroyed and they’re presumably all dead, whereas the Paladin survives, offering her services to Alladore, leading raids into the Shadow Deep to have her vengeance.

I won’t do a turn by turn breakdown, but here are some pics snapped during the game:

The abandoned village:

I made dozens of trees and bushes, and only ended up using a handful! Not to worry though, the next scenario is set in a forest so they’ll get their time in the sun I’m sure.

A zombie shambles into the village past the outhouse:

The posse form a circle to defend the village:

I was very lucky at the start of the game, being able to pick off single zombies at range before they threatened anyone, and being very luck in what event cards I drew, resulting in far fewer zombies bundling onto the board than there could have been!

I was able to split the party up to grab the majority of the clue tokens in the first few turns, almost immediately finding the missing Rangers body in the woodshed, resulting in my Halfling Rogue acquiring a shiny new magic sword, and the Paladin finding a treasure token (which was later revealed to be a Herb that I can’t see myself ever using, but not every roll can be a winner)

My Savage also cleaved his way through multiple zombies, managing to roll two critical hits during the game, and generally being an efficient murder machine

I do also enjoy that entirely randomly I ended up finding a surviving villager cowering in the outhouse:

I was admittedly tempted to use him as backup for some of my characters to gang up on zombies, but decided not to risk him getting eaten and so he spent the rest of the game shrieking in terror and scrabbling round the well trying to avoid being seen by any zombies (which is fair enough, as they were probably his friends and family…)

My initial luck with dice rolling ran out a bit towards the end of the game, and my Savage barbarian got mauled by a zombie (he’s strong, but with no armour when he gets hit he gets hit hard), and my conjuror who had been sent off to stay out of trouble and grab a distant clue token getting ambushed by a zombie…

My wounded Savage was able to sprint round the outside of the village to rescue him though - that ganging up bonus really helps!

(That die showing a six is how many health he has left after a single hit from a zombie previously!)

So, with the party pairing up to gang up on any remaining zombies I was able to clear out the rest of the village in short order, and the Paladin rushed over to Heal the wounded Savage. While this was going on, the next Event Card flipped revealed… a building collapse, so I was quite pleased to be able to replace the building with a suitable footprint of rubble pieces:

So, at this point, it’s just my models on the table with a couple of turns to go. I was tempted to call the game there, but figured I should probably play it out to the end in case any more zombies appeared (plus, out of game, I could always do with killing some more zombies for the XP!). And appear they did, with four appearing for the last turn (see what I mean about being lucky earlier in the game, it might not have been such a smooth ride if they turned up four at a time from the very beginning!), starting a mad rush to try and wipe out as many zombies as possible before the game ended!

I managed to wipe out a couple, gaining enough XP to gain a level when the scenario ended. Having found the missing Ranger, some strange tracks and an eyewitness, we were able to discover that the zombies were a result of some weird spiders that have some sort of be romantic venom, so it’s off to the woods for us next time! Well, as soon as I’ve made some more trees to use as nest trees:

(Some old salvaged Citadel trees taking a bath in a baggie as they were too awkwardly shaped for the pot I was originally going to use to strip them in)

Obviously, in order to get to this point, the Tally took a hit when I spent some birthday money to get a copy of the updated hardback RoSD rules, and added some miniatures to the order in order to qualify for free shipping (which is just sound financial planning, after all):

Which takes the Tally to:

19 vs 23 = -4

So dipping into the red, but not so far that I can’t get out of it with a little focus on clearing some half painted miniatures out of the queue.

Obviously I’ve not been doing that though, instead I’ve been planning for the next Rangers scenario (all I need is some nest trees and cocoon tokens), prepping a staggeringly ridiculous number of miniatures for undercoating based on what I like the look of rather than anything sensible like what I might need for future scenarios), and also dealing that it’s almost Zomtober, so prepping even more miniatures for that!

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!