Sunday, April 10, 2016

Loving Kings of War!

Hi folks!

Long time no update.

So. The way I can tell I really, really like Kings of War is:

- I can't get enough reading about it: blogs, forums, the facebook group etc
- I have actually finished an army for it (Undead)
- I want to paint pretty much  EVERY army for it (I have started on Orcs, Goblins, Salamanders, Varangur, Abyssals, and am eyeballing Empire of Dust and Forces of Nature so far). I'll insert some photos of the stuff I've painted (or WIP) throughout this post.
- I have played no less than 4 games in the last ~ 2 months. FOUR!

Now, that last point is really important. Four...that sounds like nothing right? But I actually packed up my army, went to a gaming club and/or person's house, and played a full game. That is like...unheard of for me. I haven't done that in like 10+ years (i.e. since having kids) and even back then my games were much less frequent.

The first unit I painted - Skeletons!

So yeah, I reeaaallly like Kings of War. It's nice to have finally found a game that is "just right" for me and my current life-style:

- I like fantasy more than sci-fi, steam punk or historical (although I do like pretty much everything)
- I like massed army more than skirmish or "big loose army" games (40K)
- the game I used to play the most was WFB


- my games of WFB were really long to set up, play and take down.
- I have way less time to play than I used to.
- many armies needed lots and lots of figures (usually rank and file) painted. Such as Skaven.
- I have a lot less time to paint than I used to.
- WFB (8th) was relatively complex.
- I have way less mental bandwidth for remembering rules minutia than I used to. Like way less. Work, family and general adulting have added so much stress and stuff to remember that I just get tired even trying to contemplate dense, detailed rule-sets.

Privateer models used as Wights for my Undead army
So along comes Kings of War 2nd Edition. When the first edition came out, to me it just seemed like a weaker version of WFB - I didn't really see the point in playing it. Plus the armies, models, fluff all seemed sub-par as compared to GW.
My very cool  looking Mantic Balefire catapult that never, ever hits a target.

My fast-as-hell, deadly Werewolves
Fast-forward to today:

- The rules are JUST right for my taste. They lead to engaging, tactical games that are very satisfying to play out, and don't bog down or lead to wins/losses based on finding loopholes or getting off one giant spell. As my friend put it "I feel like I can enjoy the spectacle of the game and these armies because I'm not wracking my brain and sorting through books and papers to play it!".  Bingo.  My middle-aged brain loves this game.  It's really easy to learn and to remember, but not "thin" or shallow.

- It's fast to play (relatively speaking). Usually a game of WFB took about 4-5 hours to play for my friends and I. This takes about 1.5-2 hours I think? For a good size 1500-2000 point game.

My zombie horde against a horde of Salamanders!

- I'm not sure what it is, but I've really grown to like the Mantic models. Even the much-maligned Dwarfs!  The only ones I'm not super fond of are the elves and goblins. But I like the Orcs, Abyssals, Undead, (Dwarfs),  Ogres and really like some of the new Forces of Nature stuff coming down the pipe, especially the Salamanders. It seems like Mantic's models are getting better with each new release.

My first unit of Mantic Orc Ax's

- I love the flexibility that fixed unit base sizes allows. That sounds contradictory I just realized....but for example you don't have to have the exact number of troops on a unit tray because you don't remove individual casualties. So you can "multibase" your unit. Meaning you can glue (or rank up) like 50%+1 of the unit size or more (that's the minimum) and you are good to go. And in fact it allows you (me) to try a new aspect of the hobby in terms of making interesting/cool multibases!  And on top of that, you don't have to use all Mantic models (even in Mantic tournaments) so what I really enjoy is looking online (even at GW) to find models to use for certain units. If I don't like a particular Mantic sculpt (which still does happen a fair bit) I just pick something from another manufacturer to use.

Getting a jump on a Salamanders force with GW Saurus
Revenant Cavalry using GW Black Knights
- the rules and forces feel very balanced. All but my very first game were close matches. The first game I got crushed, but it was a great learning experience.

So to sum up:
- easy to learn and play but not shallow or sacrificing depth
- nice, affordable models and high flexibility in terms of model count and manufacturer
- fast to play which fits my busy life nicely

I think I'm going to be sticking with Kings of War for quite a while - as long as I can still find opponents nearby of course. So far Age of Sigmar seems to be gaining steam locally, but there is still a healthy group of KoW players too.  I hope the game continues to grow in popularity.

Mantic, Privateer and GW models in a recent match

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Kings of War - Zombie Horde Painting Tutorial

I started and finished this horde of zombies for my Kings of War Undead army this weekend - from sprues to "ready to multibase" (that's why the round parts of their bases are not painted - they are going to be clipped off).

I thought I'd post a tutorial on how I did these guys in case anyone finds it helpful, given it can be a real slog to paint up tons and tons of zombies and skeletons!

First though, a word about the mindset I employ when painting large units of zombies or other creatures (like Skaven). My approach is basically to go for an effect that looks cool as a total unit, rather than spend a lot of time on each figure individually. It's just not efficient to paint these guys individually and worry about blending and highlights. Plus - they are zombies! They should look messy and gross (but "purposefully" so - not just a giant mess of colors). I should also mention an airbrush helps immensely although in this case I only used it for the priming stage.

Step 1:

I used a (new?) white primer from Vallejo. It's called "Premium" primer. In any case, it's the first time I've used it and WOW does it go on nicely. Great coverage, super fast drying, and airbrushes very easily.  I primed these white (most of the time I use black on models) because I'm going to use washes to do a lot of the shading/highlighting work. Also, using black would likely result in a big dark blob of figures, which is never visually interesting.

Step 2:

The next step is one where you have a lot of flexibility. Basically you want to find washes that have a tendency to darken the underlying primer or base coat. For example, the new line of washes from GW tend to color the flat areas of a model more than the previous formulation. I also find that Secret Weapon washes do that quite a bit. But that's OK - because the trick is to know when to make that work for you :)   In this case, I'm using various tones to create a range of flesh effects on the zombies. For example: secret weapon Stone, secret weapon Sewer Water, and Vallejo Blue Grey. The bluish-grey zombie skin looks pretty cool mixed into the more traditional "dead flesh" looking ones.

Apply this to all the flesh areas. Don't worry about being neat, although try not to let it pool heavily anywhere. Doesn't matter if it gets on the cloth areas right now.

Let it dry.

Step 3:

To add some variation to the flesh, I hit the various "wound" areas, mouth areas, and hand areas (sometimes I skipped the hands, as we are going for a bit of a chaotic mix here). When painting these, think about what zombies do: they grab handfuls of guts and shove them in their mouths. This makes them have bloody hands, mouths, necks etc.

I did this first pass with Secret Weapon Dried Blood. When I first bought this wash I thought it was kinda lousy and couldn't understand how to use it. Now I really like it - it creates a subtle red "sore" area around the wounds etc (tip: make sure you apply it around the wound, not just in the wound).

Step 4:

Once the previous step has dried, I paint the cloth on their waists/legs. Note: this part is highly dependent on the effect you are going for. For me, I painted them half green and half yellow to match my Skeleton Unit (I'll post that picture here as well, so you see what I mean). The idea being a whole army was destroyed and raised from the dead to fight for an evil necromancer, basically.  You can do them brown, red, orange - whatever you like.  No magic to this step.  Another thing I should note: for ~ 20 of them who would be in the front of the zombie crowd, I did highlight the green and yellow (~ 2 highlights for each). But for the 20 who will be in the back of the highlights for them! Not worth the effort.

Step 5:

Once I finished the base coat of yellow and green, I washed with Aggrax Earthshade. I wanted them to look dirty and muddy.

Step 6:

With step 5 dry, I went back to working on the wounds. I used Secret Weapon Ruby inside all the wounds, and the open mouths, to darken the red of those areas.

Step 7:

Very important step. This is where you are truly applying the "blood and gore" of the zombies. Think of the previous red steps as the zombies' blood and wounds, but this step is the blood and gore of their *victims*. So you want to put this on hands (sometimes up to elbows, mix it up a bit), mouths, necks etc. A little splatter here and there is fine too. I use an old, frayed brush to stipple this on. I used GW Blood for the Blood God which is a superb product, but I also occasionally dab a little Vallejo Black Ink onto my brush with it. This way, I ended up stippling on a mix of red and black, both transluscent. This will give you a very convincing blood/gore effect. If you look at blood and gore in movies, it often will appear very dark, almost black at times. It's not all bright red. And it is basically never an opaque, flat red - so don't use "red paint" to do your blood. It looks very unconvincing.

Step 8:

Really in the home stretch now - you could almost use them as-is at this point. Here, I decided to hit all the feet with Aggrax Earthshade, to pull out the details in the toes, and also because I doubt zombies wash their feet much.

Step 9:

Last step, other than applying some matte varnish to the shiny cloth or other areas you think shouldn't be shiny (I suggest leaving the blood a bit glossy).  I washed their eyes/nose areas with GW Druchi Violet. That's a tip from Old Fogey that I decided looks really good on these.:)  I don't bother with eyeballs - this is a zombie horde, nobody is going to care about the eyeballs.


Here are all 40 of them, ready to be multibased (the MDF base I'm going to use is behind them). I will probably do another tutorial for that step. I have to figure out how I'm going to arrange them and what other "diorama" elements I want to add. Hope you found this useful!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Making Dry Erase Kings of War Tokens

I suppose technically these could work for any game where you need to track wounds, status effects etc.  Also there are tons of ready made options out there but I thought this would work well, esp. for Kings of War wound, Wavering and Disordered tracking.

This uses the square Mantic bases (I had lots left over since I'm multibasing some of my army units), some peel and stick Dry Erase material, super glue (optional for added durability) and an exacto knife or scissors.

Here's the dry erase material I used:

I cut a strip of it that was large enough for a few of the bases to sit on with some margin around them for cutting:

Then I peeled the backing (you can remove all or some of it at a time), and after applying some superglue to the base to help it stay stuck on, I pressed the flat part of the base down onto the sticky backing of the paper.

(in the photo above you can see I stuck one down with the round depression in the base facing down - which is the wrong way).

So you end up with a row of bases stuck to the paper like this.  Sorry some of these are rotated the wrong way :|

Then, after allowing some time for the glue to dry, I sliced the paper away from each one with a sharp Exacto knife. Be very careful not to cut yourself with this step. Kids, get a parent to help you!  Once they are cut out, you can also slowly, carefully use your knife to shave any of the paper that is sticking past the rim of the base so it's nice and flush.

Now you are left with several base-sized tokens that have a dry erase surface on one side to use for tracking anything you want!

As a final step I painted the rims of mine with the same color as my base rims. Helps it look a little nicer.  You could even experiment with painting or texturing part of the white area and just leaving a strip to write on.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Kings of War has caught my eye

In addition to flitting between interest in Frostgrave, Dragon Rampant, Age of Sigmar (yes, really) and Warhammer 30K, one game that has really got my attention right now is Kings of War.

As usual, all of my interest is despite never having played it yet lol.

In the past it just struck me as a poor substitute for Warhammer Fantasy, and I have never been very enamored with Mantic's models or production values.

But with WFB basically dead, and Age of Sigmar very pricey and more skirmish oriented, I'm really starting to consider Kings of War as a game to dive deep into.

And in fact I kinda already have, lol.  I bought the Gamers Edition rules, then later the two player starter set (giving me another copy of the GE rules...), the full rulebook PDF, the Uncharted Empires supplement, and now I'm buying and painting models for up to three different armies. 

My main focus is on Goblins for now, but I'm looking to also do Undead and Dwarves so I have forces to use vs my son and/or other players.  Dwarves is mostly because I have some painted for WFB and they make up 1/2 of the starter set. Undead is because the Mantic zombies, ghouls and skeletons are among the models they make that I like the most.  Plus - undead.   Here's what I've painted for the goblins so far. I'm using Battle for Skull Pass night goblins because they are fast to paint (and no real assembly!) and yet very characterful - they are my favorite goblin models from any manufacturer. That said, I'd be happy to use some from Mantic but I've heard such bad things about their goblins in terms of soft details and bad molds etc. They aren't nearly pretty enough to warrant a long cleaning and prepping process basically.

Photo is a bit dark....
 My plan is to paint the first ~ 2 ranks a bit nicer than the remaining ranks - mostly that means one additional edge highlight and some tufts. It will make this project move along just a teensy bit faster. I also picked up a GW Ghorgon to use as a giant, although he's still in the shrink wrap for now.
Ignore the movement tray, it's temporary

 I've also ordered some MDF unit bases - Kings of War is mostly based around specific footprints of units and you don't remove individual models as casualties. Therefore you can also do some really cool multi-basing which I will probably try my hand at. Even as an experienced hobbyist, the idea somehow daunts me. I think it's because I'm so used to painting models individually on bases.

So anyway, for now I keep reading the books and surfing KoW blogs and Youtube vids, and I do hope to play it at one point. I miss the rank and file type armies of WFB, but I don't miss the complexity (I glanced at 9th Age and holy COW - way too dense for me at this point in life). I also like the fact that this is a game you can play in ~ 2 hours. 3-4 hours is just way less feasible nowadays.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Practicing my Miniature Photography

Tried to get better at using my wife's DSLR to photograph my minis/models - pretty happy with how these turned out. Might be TOO bright? I'm trying to find the right balance between bright but not washed out.

My Makeshift Gaming Table

So for a while I've been using two 2x4 plastic folding tables pushed together as a gaming surface, with a mat on top. It has been "decent" but not great, and obviously not big enough for larger games like 40K or Kings of War.

I decided to try and rectify that, but as cheaply as I could. I didn't want wood, because wood is heavy. Basically. I liked the idea of something light and easy to move or even dispose of. I also reasoned that if I used insulation foam board and put a FAT mat on it, the mat would protect it quite nicely from dents etc.

Here's where I landed with it:

The two tables, clamped together from the underside, with a piece of no-slip carpet runner to help the insulation board not slide all over the place.

The foam board on top of that:

My biggest (but also flattest/lightest) mat on top of that: Mars mat by P.Works:

Then I basically added my smaller mats on top of each other to (a) weigh down the table and (b) keep everything flat. The idea being I can remove mats to get to whichever one I want to play on at a given time. The weight of the FAT mats (there are two of them here) plus the non-slip material seem to help keep the table nicely in place. I'm quite happy with this solution (for now)!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Age of Sigmar Dragonfate Dias

I hope I got the name right!

Finished up a piece of AoS terrain today. I really like these kits, very easy to paint up quickly. I'm more fond of the Gates and this one as they assemble so nicely, as opposed to the Occulum and Arch which do not...

That said, I only shoot for a "decent" standard with terrain, and dont get too fussy about blending or messy areas.

I also bought pretty much all the new Fyreslayer kits (except the character blister pack) including the Magmadroth because I am clearly incapable of resisting GW. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Word Bearers Forgeworld Sicaran Battle Tank

Hi folks, long time no post! Sorry about that - life, family, know how it goes. I get lazy and updating the blog takes a back seat.

I've actually been doing plenty of painting though. Right now, my main hobby focus is a 30K Horus Heresy Word Bearers army. My troops and dread etc are coming along but not quite finished. However, today I just finished a Sicaran Battle Tank and I'm really pleased with how it turned out so I wanted to post it here.

My photo setup is dismantled at the moment so this is without proper lighting etc and just taken quickly using my iPhone - I say that because I think the reds are a little washed out in the photos and losing some of the richness. I think this is possible the best tank I've ever painted, using techniques from all over the web, books (FW), etc Also, I was so excited to finish and take pictures I forgot to paint the little view-windows in the top hatch, so I'll have to fix that!