Saturday, 30 September 2017

A Tale of 1 Warden #7: Qualified Failure

I hit a roadblock a week or so back. The yellow that came out so well on the Archers came out patchy and horrible on the knights so I had to go back to the drawing board on one of the major colours for this army. So I haven't got much more done than the Archers I showcased a while back.

Still, I've managed to get a better yellow now and should the sun ever come out again I'll hopefully get some pictures up soon. It won't take me too long to finish the Battalion, though the peasant command groups are proving a little more challenging than I expected.

As to this coming month's challenge, to be completed alongside the remaining models from the Battalion, I'm going to keep it simple. The challenge is a unit of infantry or cavalry and I'm going to pick cavalry. In fact, I'm going to paint a second unit of Knights Of The Realm. This one won't take so long, hopefully, as I now have the methods for painting horses pretty much down and this unit will be painted in the simpler colour scheme of the Duke of Gisoreux (red and black, very simple colours to lay down). 

Sunday, 24 September 2017

A Tale of 1 Warden #6: The Horse Barrier

Chipping away at the peasant units in my Battalion I was starting to feel confident with the bright colours and basic methods I want to tie these first few units together so I decided to finally tackle the Knights of the Realm. I'd even found the White Dwarf with the best horse painting tutorial GW ever published (May 2013, the 8th edition High Elves release, and it uses the modern paint system if you ever want to track a copy down).

Now, I only have myself to blame for my current fatigue. I have eight knights, the tutorial has eight methods and I forgot just how difficult the horse bit of the Bretonnia Knights models were to paint.
This is how one reaches what I have come to call The Horse Barrier.

There was this facetious comment that did the rounds back when Age Of Sigmar was about to launch about why Fantasy was meant to die: “No one likes painting horses.” Its an extremely over-simplified, sarcastic and downright odd belief but I am starting to sympathise.

Now, I don't usually mind painting horses but Bretonnian warhorses are amongst the most user-unfriendly models in the Warhammer canon. The way the legs are moulded into the barding, not always distinctively, means you're constantly trying to reach your brush through the middle of the model at odd angles.
Oh, and the one I was painting as a light bay went a bit wrong and now I have an orange horse and no motivation to fix it. I just want to move on. Sir Donald that knight will be or whatever medieval French equivalent I can find.

Moaning aside I know there's an element of Half Finished Model Syndrome going on. Right now the models look dispiritingly awful because I've spent several sessions over the better part of a week getting only the smallest element of the model done and the rest is undercoat. They look terrible but once I have some more of the model done, like the big block colours of the barding and knight's tabards, it'll look better even if the horses aren't up to much.

The yellow on the Archers isn't actually that consistent but once its part of a complete model with other colours around it the eye is a lot more forgiving. 

Saturday, 23 September 2017

My favourite Elf

There are a few models I really regret not picking up when I had the chance and, thankfully, eBay exists so for the most part I've been able to track them down quite cheaply. One that eluded me until last week was a particular High Elves Mage that I always loved but missed the boat on and finally I've found one for cheap:
(Incidentally, yes, I do have the other arm but he fell apart in transit and I need to acid bath him).

It would probably be easier to explain what I love about this model using a properly painted example so here's the version from (I think) an old Army Book:
Now, I'm no metal snob. White metal was a horrible material that hated undercoat, chipped like crazy and somehow hated glue more than it hated paint so the models would just periodically collapse. HOWEVER, for a while in the early-2000s GW used the material to produce some of the best character models they'd ever put out.

Which is where our elf here comes in. He was one of a set of Mages that came out for the seventh edition and I adore the little guy. He might not be the most dynamic model but I feel that works. He's not floating in the air or throwing out fireballs, in fact he's posed more like an Empire Engineer than a typical wizard which is awfully fitting. Elves are the most magical race in the game, naturally, and to them magic isn't a floaty, wibbly mystery its science. This guy is holding a crystal ball as if it were a scientific device because, to him, it is. His clothing is arranged in enough layers that a two tone colour scheme will still look visually interesting but not so many layers that it looks too hard to paint.

He also looks mildly offended, probably unintentionally but that's so very High Elf, isn't it? 

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

A Tale of 1 Warden #5: Overdue Showcasin'

Yesterday, all of a surprise, the sun came out. My house is truly the worst place to take photographs. It is literally aligned against the passage of the sun so even the garden doesn't get good enough light half the time (nevermind British weather) and I cannot wait for that light tent to arrive.

Anyway, the first completed models for my Bretonnians: half a unit of Peasant Archers! The rest of the Battalion is in various states ranging from half-finished to barely started but I'm still very much enjoying the project. So, precious, precious photographic evidence:

These were a lot of fun to paint and quite easy once I'd broken down in my head what was hard leather, what was cloth I wanted to be brown and what was cloth I wanted to paint in grubby heraldic colours. Originally the halved yellow and red was going to be the colours of a random knight champion but I like the contrast so much they're going to be the colours of my general's family (and of the Errants and Realm Knights of his household, just to make my life easier).

I was surprised by how well the yellow came out, actually, which I put down more to the Zandri Dust undercoat than any actual skill on my part. Between these and some Skinks I've been painting on the side using Macragge Blue undercoat I finally feel sold on using different coloured sprays.

As to the rest of the Battalion: the remaining Archer are about half done; the Men-At-Arms are just getting started with just some flesh tones filled; and, the Knights are taking a while to start because I'm painting each horse a different colour, partly as a colour test but mostly because since I'm painting them in uniform heraldry I want something to make the models looks more like individuals.

With eleven days of Month One to go I doubt I'll get everything all the way done but I'm making progress I'm more than happy with.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

The Legion of Substitute Miniatures #1: Female Chaos Marauders

With Warhammer Fantasy no longer being a going proposition I'm always on the lookout for interesting alternative models. The other day I was trawling eBay on my regular trawl for out of production High Elves characters (there are so many great ones...) and after a little link-following stumbled across these:
Shieldwolf Miniatures' Shield Maiden Infantry. Twenty models with options for hand weapons, shields, spears and crossbows. For my purposes the crossbows aren't important but I mention them for completeness.

Now, it may seem unfair to look at these models and see them only as alternatives for another company's models but, to be frank, there's no chance that I'd ever get to play Shieldwolf's own game system so this is the only way they'd get my money.

(Well, that an eBay seller would get my money and they got his money but you know what I mean. Money was got and ultimately it was got because I play Warhammer.)

So, female Chaos Marauders. There's a Kickstarter coming soon for more heavily armoured female miniatures who could easily be their Chaos Warriors. So, if you ever wanted to do Valkia's Horde of Chaos Ladies or just wanted to represent the fact the Norscans are a warrior culture and that maybe their womenfolk might be involved here's a good option.

You could also use them as Kislevite Kossars which would be a good use for the crossbows. I know Kossars are armed with ordinary bows rather than crossbows but they have access to Empire technology so it wouldn't be entirely out of line or you could simply count the crossbows as ordinary bows. Kislevites are quick on their feet it makes sense that they'd have worked out how to walk and aim at the same time.

For my part, though, they'll be Marauders because, as usual, my conception of Chaos is very, very influenced by the less technologically advanced peoples of Game of Thrones so basically a cross between Dothraki, the Free Folk and the Hill Tribes.

Any character I create for them will be less annoying than Ygritte. 

Monday, 11 September 2017

That time I cheated for six years and it never mattered

In my defense no one seems sure how this started but for almost the whole time I used my old Bretonnia army I was cheating with my trebuchet.

In fairness, it wasn't deliberate and everyone seemed to think we were doing it right. You see, back when the 6th ed. Bretonnia book hit the Field Trebuchet was the most powerful stone thrower in the game with its Strength of 5(10). Somehow our entire group managed to convince ourselves that it also used the large round template.

It didn't. It used the small one same as every other stone thrower.

Anyway six years later I'm playing a game with someone who has never played against Bretonnians before (not an uncommon problem, I mean, the only Bretonnia armies I've ever seen in real life are mine and Tom's and half of Tom's started off as mine) and so I had to explain how things worked as we did them. So, when I fired my Trebuchet for the first time I had to read out the rules...

...and found nothing mentioning the large round template.

I'd cheated for six years.

And it never mattered. I had almost never hit anything with the bloody thing. I had been cheating massively, using a template that could easily annihilate an entire ranked up unit of infantry in one round and somehow no one, not one single member of our group, could remember it influencing a game.

If you want a perfect example of my damned luck this is it: I cheated with the unknowing collusion of everyone it effected for six years in a way that should have swung endless games in my favour and it never mattered

Sunday, 10 September 2017

A Tale of 1 Warden #4: Rules Lawyerin'

Its been raining on and off the whole weekend so far and I can't get a good picture of my Archers to save my life. Trust me, I have eight Archers finished aside frim the basing and as soon as light returns to our world photographic evidence will be provided. I absolutely need to invest in one of those light tents people keep talking about and come payday I will.

So instead let's discuss the rules I'll be using to play this army.

The Bretonnia book is fourteen years old and two editions out of date. It isn't bad exactly and its hardly unplayable. Having core troops with a two-plus save does wonders for power creep. The lance formation just doeesn't do much anymore. In a world of supporting attacks a full lance formation of nine knights gets nine lance attacks (including champion) and seven horse attacks. Under the same rules a unit of ten knights in two ranks gets eleven lance attacks and five horse attacks.

The lance is obviously inferior and it shouldn't be. A Bretonnian cavalry charge should be one of the most terrifying things to face down in the Warhammer World.

Luckily, Mathias Eliasson and his Warhammer Armies Project come to the rescue on a shining steed. I'll be mostly using the eighth edition version of the book (his website now hosts a version compatible with his own 9th edition rules but its essentially the same, as far as I can see).

I love this book, for the most part. There is one area in which I'll still be following the 2003 rules and that's peasants. Eliasson has raised Men-At-Arms and Battle Pilgrims to WS3 and that just doesn't work for me. I see why he did it but I want to maintain a distinction between the disciplined and trained troops of the Empire and the grubby indentured rabble of Bretonnia.

That aside, the book is basically perfect. Eliasson's version of the Blessing Of The Lady is much more fitting to the background with a 6+ Ward in combat and a 5+ Ward at range against the cowards' weapon that kills from afar. His lance formation confers Devastating Charge which adds a welcome element of brown trousers time to my opponent's day whilst maintaining the formation's disadvantages, to wit a narrow frontage that won't get you many attacks back when charged and a flank the size of Wales.

He's expanded the Lores available to Damsels allowing them to take Heavens (previously only available to the Prophetess) and Light. The choices make sense: they're medieval knights so they get the astrology lore and the religion lore. There's also a homebrewed “Lore of the Lady” which I might experiment with down the line.

One of most bitter ongoing gripes with the army has been addressed: Pegasus Knights now have barding like the models do.

There's also the fact that the 2003 book had a rather limited range of units and characters. Its not surprising. It was a lower tier army, it was the sixth edition and so that meant the standard load out of two Lords, two Heroes, four Core choices, four Special, two Rare and an extravagant three special characters.

There are a bunch of old special characters with modern rules in the Eliasson book but what interests me more are the new units: Foot Knights, the Merry Men-esque Herrimaults and Hippogryph Knights. There's even a Robin Hood style character class to go along with the Herrimaults: the Faceless. It might not sound like much but it adds some extra variety to an army I know like the back of my hand.

Now I just have to apply the colour scheme it took me over a week to barely finish eight Archers with onto the other thirty-seven models in that Battalion.

Also to buy some things so I can actually provide pictures. 

Thursday, 7 September 2017

A Tale of 1 Warden pt.3: Colours of Gisoreux

Having now built my Bretonnia Battalion (and crossing my fingers I won't need more than four stands of defensive stakes for this army because they are an arse to build), I went looking for some inspiration on how to paint the models.

For a start I want to recommend Youtube as a fantastic source of battle reports, especially the Miniwargaming channel's Olde World Wars series which has more Bretonnia videos than I expected as one of their employees (Steve, I believe) actually has a Bretonnia army. Having not touched my old Bretonnia army since the early seventh edition its interesting to see how they play in eighth. Not badly, as it turns out, though I still think the lance is no longer as meaningful a tactical choice as it should be in the age of supporting attacks.

Second, I dug through my old White Dwarfs and found issue 290 which has a guide to painting Bretonnian heraldry. I may bend the rules a little but I think I'll mostly abide by them.

For a start you have a palette of five colours: black, red, blue, white and yellow. You don't use purple because that's royal (and too expensive) and you don't use green because that's a commoner colour (and too cheap). Yellow and white stand in for gold and silver and you don't use them together because they contrast badly.

My army is going to be based at Castle Desfleuve, a holdfast guarding the Bretonnian end of the Gisoreux Gap pass through the Grey Mountains.
This is a selection of heraldry examples for Gisoreux from the 2003 Bretonnia army book. Red and black seem to be the main colours, which are always a good contrast and relatively simple to paint, with white and yellow mainly for devices. That's also good because it means painting as little white as possible. The characters who will form the family deMartrand, the lords of Castle Desfleuve, will have yellow and red as their house colours. I'll be using mostly black and red on the rank and file Gisoreux knights so the characters will stand out. Also, I just like the contrast of black and red, there's a reason Flesh Tearers are my favourite Space Marines.

Also, if I follow these colours and leave blue out of the equation, I can use blue as a visual key to denote units that aren't from Gisoreux like the Questing and Grail Knights. I also have this concept of saving up the Knights of the Realm champion heads, which have stag horns, and creating an entire lance with stag helms to be the personal household of Duke Hagen.

For the moment, though, I'm concentrating on my Peasants and using them to test out colour combinations. I'm currently painting some Archers in the deMartrand red and yellow and Men-At-Arms in the Duke's red and black. Results, one hopes, will be in a fit state for posting by Sunday. 

Sunday, 3 September 2017

A Tale of 1 Warden pt.2: Terms and conditions apply

Just for once it might actually benefit me to go into a project with a plan. That usually doesn't work for me but given that the whole point of this project is to work at a schedule and prescribed goals it might help to decide a few things before beginning. Also, I had forgotten what absolute nightmares the Men-At-Arms models were to build so I need a short break.

September Goals

Okay, so I have forty-nine models to paint this month and, as of today, exactly four weeks to paint them. Considering that's well above my usual speed I need to break this down into smaller tasks. I've got four weeks, sixteen archers, twenty halberdiers, four stands of defensive stakes, eight knights and one Pegasus Knight.

So, the goal for each week will be half a unit of peasants and two Knights Of The Realm.

Bretonnian Units Beyond The Tale

Obviously not a consideration this month, I've got a whole Battalion to do. However, after that the targets are a little more forgiving. Next month's goal is a single unit of infantry or cavalry and if, say, I choose to do a nice little unit of Mounted Yeomen (for which I have seen an awesome conversion online) I could probably polish that off in a week.

So, I've decided to treat the later goals as more of a bare minimum for the month. I will not work on anything else for the Tale until the month's goal is reached but once that's done I'll branch out a little. At the very least I need more characters than the one “mighty hero” who'll be my Month Four project. There's a compulsory Battle Standard Bearer, for a start.

Other Projects During The Tale

Okay, so I am definitely not going to be able to paint just Bretonnians for five months. What I can do is continue last month's work and concentrate on completing more half-finished miniatures. Also, I'll only be working on one of these things to the side at a time. No big sprawl of additional models on my painting table: just the Bretonnian project of the moment and one other thing to give me a little variety without sacrificing my focus.

The absolute only new things I will start whilst this Tale is ongoing is new Death Guard stuff because I've waited too long for them to be an army with an actual product range to put them on hold for five months.

Telling The Tale

I need to write background for this army. Bretonnians are an army who are all about their heroes and I really want to explore that. I have an idea to make the core characters (my general, BSB, some of the Damsels, maybe) members of the same family and have the army be the standing garrison of a particular holdfast rather than a crusading force. I don't doubt they'll end up going on a crusade or two but I want to establish the characters by writing some stories just about them before having them interact (read: beat the stuffing out of) my friends' characters.

Right, now back to trying to hold those halberds in those awful concave joins long enough for the glue to actually take...

Friday, 1 September 2017

A Tale of 1 Warden pt.1

There was only one choice in the end: I fear painting white more than I fear coming up with individual heraldry schemes and so the project for my Tale Of 1 Gamer is Bretonnia. Ah, fair Bretonnia, my first army, the army that got me into this glorious game, the army that I panic bought so many models for when they briefly came back into production during The End Times (a prescient decision, as it turned out).

Models that included, as it happens, a couple of Battalions so it feels like time to crack one open.
official Games Workshop product image

So, what do we have? There's a lance of eight knights who will be built as Knights of the Realm, a compulsory choice in the 6th edition book (the group is currently debating how much of the Warhammer Armies Project book to adopt); twenty Men-At-Arms; sixteen Peasant Archers with four stands of defensive stakes; and, a single Pegasus Knight who I will build as a unit champion to use as a temporary hero until I have a proper General and the rest of a Pegasus Knight unit completed waaaay in the future.

That's forty-nine models including the stands of defensive stakes. That's a lot but most of them are peasants who I can paint pretty simply using GW's excellent selection of browns which makes it all a lot less onerous. The knights I want to spend more time on and will be painting one or two at a time whilst doing the peasants in batches. What's more, I'm going to plan the heraldry out beforehand so I know exactly what I'm doing.

And I'll build the Men-At-Arms first because for such simple models they are an absolute nightmare to build. The shields do not fit at all! They're getting done right away so they don't become discouraging.