Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Age of Sigmar Siege Warfare: The Great Wall

Due to a lot of other things happening I have nog been able to paint this week. Instead I thought it might be fun to make a quick battle report of my first siege battle with the new Age of Sigmar rules presented in General's Handbook 2017. I rather fondly remember drooling over the pages of the venerable Warhammer Siege expansion for Warhammer 3rd edition. It contained a lot of detailed rules for simulating sieges that eventually resulted in battles (to be fought on the tabletop). Unfortunately due to (among other things) a lack of time I never actually got to put any of the fancy rules to practice. To me it is a bit like the old Realm of Chaos books, even to this day wonderful to drool over, but never really practical to play. Having said that, let's take a look at the Age of Sigmar ruleset.

A ragtag unit of fifty Moonclan Grots managed to line a rather large part of the wall.
This should come as no shock to anyone: the rules have been simplified. The General's Handbook 2017 offers two battleplans for those of us too lazy to come up with our own. The siege battleplans don't assume you have a fortress and can work just as well if you use different terrain. As an example the book shows a picture of Sylvaneth defending a forest outcrop against invasion by Khorne Bloodbound. The two battleplans assume a 'fortressy' shape to your terrain. Battleplan one: The Relief Force marks out a rectangle that needs at least five pieces of terrain as the defenders deployment area. Battleplan two: The Great Wall draws a wall shaped line over the center of the table. This is the plan we picked for our battle. I fought with 2000 matched play points of Greenskins versus a Gutbuster army. I took the plastic fortress I had at home and we sprinkled some club terrain on the board.

With a roar the hungry Gutbusters assembled to eat my supplies (and probably the Greenskins themselves too).
In both Age of Sigmar siege battles you place objective markers on the board. In this mission the table half on the defender's side of the wall contains two objective markers (one about nine inches behind the gate, and the second one nine inches from the small table edge).

My Grot artillery clusters around an objective marker made with Rendera barrels.
To balance ownership of walls (or other terrain) at the start of the game, the defender has to deploy one unit in reserve for each one fielded on the table. You start the battle taking on the enemy with about half an army until reinforcements show up. To simulate the preceding siege, the attacker chooses to focus on starving the enemy, battering the walls or tunneling. The defender picks between gathering supplies, re-building walls or counter-tunneling. You check both choices against a small table and this gives a bonus on three pre-game rolls you make for: starvation, battering and tunneling.

After the initial battering of the walls, a tower and a section of wall completely collapsed. This was expertly simulated by a badly glued wall, a random ruin of just about the right size and a lot of squinting and imagination.
In our case I assumed my Orruks had been feasting after taking a 'umy fortress' (Gather Supplies), the Ogor player did what any brute would do and chose to break down the walls to take the Greenskin's food (Batter). First we took a starvation roll for each Orruk unit. Normally a unit would suffer D3 mortal wounds on a 5+, in this case it was a 6+ thanks to the Gather Supplies action. After that we rolled for each piece of terrain, usually it would be breached on a 5+, that turned into a 4+ thanks to the Batter action by the Ogors. Two sections of the wall collapsed before the battle began. Luckily for me the final roll-off showed that no tunnels were dug beneath the walls.

Moonclan Grots and Orruk Arrer' Boyz tried to shoot the Aleguzzler Gargant as it advanced towards the breach.
AoS Siege makes it possible to play a quick and fun siege battle in an evening. It does require some creativity. For instance the Batter rule actually states that no abilities for a battered piece of terrain can be used, but that it still provides cover. As GW has only produced terrain rules for their plastic kits (and my opponent and I had not planned any homebrew rules in advance) it would have had no effect on the fortress walls. We decided to replace the broken tower and wall section with 'ruins' as a result of the 'broken' action. Another thing we agreed on beforehand was a way to quickly simulate defenses. The movement rules of AoS state that a model can move over terrain by measuring horizontally (assuming it climbs). To give the walls a bit of spice we decided that moving (or charging) onto a garrisoned wall required a deadly terrain test (roll for each model, on a 1 it is removed as a casualty). This made the breaches extra valuable to the attacking player.

With a roar the mighty Stonehorn charged the gate...only to bounce of it on the first attempt.
Another rule we decided on was for the gate. We gave it 8 Wounds and a 4+ Armour Save. The Stonehorn made some horrendous die-rolls, taking two turns to bash the gate out of its hinges.

With two mighty blows from its horns the Stonehorn battered down the gates and charged the courtyard.
As mentioned the garrison is waiting for relieve troops (in both siege missions). In this mission I got to roll a die for every unit not on the table, it would move onto the table in the rear of my deployment zone on a 5+. I was not very lucky with the reinforcements. My General actually failed to appear on the table during the game. The sneaky boss probably saw his troops failing at defending that part of the wall and decided to fly off on his Wyvern and 'get sum lad frum over 'zer to 'elp out'. Perhaps I should rename my army 'Da Lads Frum Over 'Zer'.

Slowly but surely reinforcements entered the fray to support the archers on the walls. Unfortunately the Orruk Warboss never turned up....
In the final turns I tried some heroic moves to stop the Ogors from taking my stolen supplies. It was to no avail. The Ogors managed to claim both objectives and had a fantastic lunch on my Greenskins expense.

Being a sporting player I immediately upended the table and started stomping on my opponents models while yelling the rules where bad between tears of rage (either that or I'm subtly trying to cover up that I forgot to take a picture of the table in the last turn ;).

All in all the siege rules work quite well and lead to interesting themed battles. They will work better if there are some homebrew rules for general terrain (like walls with ramparts). This might be a nice community project, especially in combination with the unofficial Warscroll Designer. The basic scenery rules for Age of Sigmar should serve as a decent starting point. Now to find the time...

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Orctober has begun, and I already have a head start...

The season of 'named' painting months: Orctober, Nidvember and Deadcember has begun. Usually I get around to observing these by the time the months end, but this time I have a head start as I've already started working on my old Orruks in September. This Monday I finished the second chariot from my restoration project.

Don't know why, but I'm a big fan of this Orruks expression.
This chariot has been featured in my earlier post here. It was missing the entire yoke so I replaced it with plastic chains from a couple of old Bretonnian sprues. A few riders for my chariots were missing so I purchased a small box of four extra (snap-fit) Orruks. Bad idea, these have their shields lumped on their arms. The sprue is now stuck in my bits box. I'll find a use for it someday.

The chains to replace the missing yoke work well enough (just don't allow any real charioteers to look up close ;)
Instead of these Orruks I've used the body of a 40K Runtherd as the boss in this chariot. I've also remodeled the great spear so he's holding it straight up. No mystery as to who is the Da Great Khan of this unit (even though there are no rules for a commander I still want one). I'll probably go back to this unit later to fix a slight gap in the large spear.

So you managed to survive a big Orruk lance, biting boars and scythes? No problem, I'll stab ya!
I've turned the boy in the back around as there was no way to fit him in facing to the front without either looking silly or as if about to stab his boss. As he's no Skaven I turned him around, ready to stab the hell out of any hapless survivors.

Two chariots are ready to ride, three more to go.
So this brings my painted chariots to a grand total of two. Work has already begun on the other three. Here is a quick older picture of where I started out from last month.

The five chariots at the start of September. 
I've taken the last three of the chariots and started out by stripping of as much of the paint as possible. As always I've used Bio-strip 20 for this miracle.

Plastic model covered in (un-thinned) layers of paint? Apply Bio-Strip...

...wait a bit....
The nice thing about Bio-Strip is that (after a bit of a soak) you can use an old toothbrush and water running from the tap to get rid of it. It leaves no smell behind and for a lot of paint jobs a single application is more than enough. For some of these old Orruks two did not quite completely do the job.

...rinse under running tab, apply toothbrush (sorry toofbruz) and the problem is solved.

As you can see the chariots are clean enough to repaint properly. Some of the old glued connections broke and had to be fixed as well. I also had to co-opt a few left-over 40K Ork bodies to fill out the chariots, luckily these are reasonably compatible (just watch out for bolts and bullet jewelry and it is ok).

The trick with chariot crew is even though you have to paint them separately, you do want to make sure they will fit.
Above is a test build of one of the other chariots. And here is are a few more shots of the 'final three'.

My final three chariots with their crew failing to keep their feet (drunk Orruks).
The same chariots with their basecoats applied. 
I'm not going to talk too much about these as they are not finished yet. As you can see the chariots have been covered with the Mournfang Brown base coat from a rattlecan (this speeds up the paint work a lot). The bases have been decorated and sprayed with a cheap black base coat, the orcs themselves have been basecoated with Vallejo Black (for the airbrush) and I've airbrushed their basic skin tone on as well.

Is there such a thing as too many Snotlings? (answer: yes, they are quite useless to be honest (but the sculpts are fun!)).
Of course chariots are not alone on the menu. I've also been working on and off on two Stone Trolls (almost done), and on the unit of 20 boyz (not even close to done), a shaman, pump wagon, a unit of Moonclan Grot Spearman and a number of Grot war machine crews are also on the table. I added my blob of Snotlings to the pile. Somehow these give me the feeling I can paint them quickly, making it possible to take both the bases of these guys and the pump wagon of my 'to-do' tray. In other words, time to apply more green.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Warhammer list building from Fantasy Battles to Age of Sigmar

The first wargame I played (somewhere in the eighties) was based of AD&D rules. My brother bought it at a gaming convention where we were both impressed by a (static) wargaming table featuring a bearded man (who filled his day yelling 'don't touch' at us kids). The AD&D game was chosen because the ready to use counters looked practical and more affordable then the metal miniatures. I remember the game was awful but I can't for the life of me recall its name

Undaunted by this bad experience my brother decided to invest more pocket money in the book featured to the left here,. Yes the start of the addiction for me was Warhammer Fantasy Battles 3rd edition. The book not only contained comprehensible rules for playing wargames, it also featured all the information you needed to play in the back. Points cost per race, special attributes and so on. The AD&D game taught us you could skip dropping pocket money in miniatures by grabbing the lid of a shoe box and making your own cardboard warriors. Our first Fantasy Battle featured four players (no GM) battling with 20.000 points each....

....I'm going to assume that the older readers have by now wiped the coffee of their screens ;) I don't think we ever got past round two, but we did enjoy the spectacular scenery (a grey 110mm diameter PVC pipe serving as a tower and green and brown crayoned paper serving as area terrain). We had some ways to go and the first step consisted of mail ordering miniatures.

Luckily in 1988 Warhammer Armies arrived on the scene to sort us out. This venerable tome featured a collection of the races with their special rules and army lists. A dab of nostalgia is probably in play here, but I still love this format for two reasons. First you could pick up a single book, check out the armies and pick the one you like. Second you had a chance to check out the rules of opposing armies without having to buy another book. Here is a spread from Warhammer Armies Orcs&Goblins list (as I'm currently stuck in an Orcs&Goblins frame of mind, I'm going to follow development of Da Green Skum here).

From 1988 on Warhammer Armies helped us pick a reasonably coherent army.
Before moving on I'm going to take two steps back. A year before third edition and Warhammer Armies Games Workshop released Ravening Hordes as a supplement to second edition. It had general rules for every race but offered no real structure for building lists. Here is a sample from the Orcs&Goblins as the rules stood in 1987.

This was the way Ravening Hordes gave a helping hand with the same task before that.
Before this tome appeared players had to just brew their own lists. I did find an even older (1983) book of battalions. The intro is wonderfully telling of early days at GW. "This volume has been compiled by the many Warhammer players living in and around this bit of the East Midlands (Nottinqhamshire and Lincolnshire). This isn't part of Forces of Fantasy - bul a free supplement. It has been written and produced partly at night and week ends, and is based on the forces of the players listed below." I opens with a Goblin army.

This free publication from 1983 gave us the army lists of (by the look of it) most of the original GW staff. 
All nice and fun for collectors, but not much of a guideline for playing, especially competitive play. Let's zap back to 1987's Warhammer Armies. Here's the second spread from the Orcs&Goblins.

The other Orcs & Goblins page from warhammer armies. Lots of familiar models on these pages.
Warhammer Armies tried (in part) to solve the old problem of having narrative gamers/collectors on the one side versus the competitive players on the other. In my opinion both types of wargaming are equally valid as long as you don't mix the two types of players (there is nothing sadder then seeing a lovingly assembled army with a backstory getting wiped of the table at high speedby a highly competitive kill all comers enemy). Warhammer armies maximized the number of certain units you could take and gave a minimum ammount of some others. So in this case every Orcs&Goblins Army had to take at a minimum 20 Boyz, 20 Arrer Boyz and 20 Gobbos. There were also separate rules for the general and unit commanders as these heroes had to be bought separately.

The first Orcs & Goblins Army Book gave more freedom to pick our own basic units, opting for a percentage based system instead. 
Warhammer 4th edition was the last one I played before going on a 'hobby hiatus'. It made the rules smoother and faster paced (no more endless pushing back and forth over the table). It also introduced separate Army Books for each faction. I had the Skaven Army Book way back then (and still have it somewhere in the book case. The picture above is from the fourth edition Orcs&Goblins Army Book
(1993). From this point on armies no longer had a minimum number of certain troops instead a quarter of the total points allowance had to be spend on 'Mobs' (basic troops). Orcs&Goblins could spend up to fifty percent of their allowance on heroes. I only hear the term 'herohammer' later, but it does quite accurately describe second edition. I recall kitting out a Dark Elf general with a potion of strength and a sword of dragon slaying to kill an particular High Elf general that was dominating all battlefields. Also a lot of fights against undead devolved in using stone throwers to find, hit and kill the cowering necromancer leading the lot. Good times/Odd times/Silly times...hey its a wargame, don't take it too seriously!

Prior to sixth edition a new version of Ravening Hordes helped players use their armies in the new edition.
Looking at the source of all my 'date of publication knowledge'. GW published army books for all races between January 1993 (The Empire) and May 1996 (Wood Elves). The concept of all these was as described above. The army books lasted for quite some time, being usable for both 4th and 5th edition Warhammer. The period after the first army books sees the release of races I still see as new and odd (as I missed their original release way back then) like Bretonnia, Lizardmen and Vampire Counts as well as a freash tome for Chaos and High Elves. All these army books where replaced by a new edition of Ravening Hordes in 2000 (pictured above). Ravening Hordes was meant as a bridge to the new Warhammer Edition (6th) and it harkens back to Warhammer Armies.

The last Orcs & Goblins army book was more of an iteration of the first one then a radical new approach.
Between 6th to 8th edition Games Workshop replaced most of the army books, but the publication did not keep pace with the newer Warhammer Fantasy Battles editions. This is a big problem for competitive ones as newer armies tend to feature newer rules that help win games. I came out of my hobby hiatus around 2008 with the release of Warhammer 40K 5th edition. I really wanted to get back into Fantasy but by then I had trouble making sense of the vast array of army books and options. In the end I bought the Isle of Blood box and an 8th Collectors Edition book. Played a few games and got wiped every time by purple suns, invincible dwarven cannons and the like. It quickly soured me of gaming and I just painted some models while sticking to 40K.

AoS was not met with a joyful reception everywhere.
(I'll give you old timers another brief break to wipe yet more coffee from the screen).
That lasted right until the release of Warhammer Age of Sigmar. The first release reminded me of my 20.000 point Warhammer Fantasy Battle. With absolutely zero guidelines on how to make an army most games consisted of a table filled to the brim with models. That was actually quite a lot of fun although we never got to finish a game during gaming club evenings.

As with Warhammer Armies the appearance of the General's Handbook solved this problem by reintroducing points values, giving us all a handle on how to arrange a battle that can actually be finished in one evening (around 2000 points assuming the club starts at 19.00 and plays until 23.00-23.30). It also gave the competitive games a chance to do their thing again: finding the ultimate 'kill them all lists'.

The past month saw the release of the General's Handbook 2017 (I think there is a hint in the title as to what we can expect in the future ;). The new book updates the previous version, changing points values, updating (abused?) rules and giving more missions, extra campaign rules and so forth. For old timers I think a comparison to the old 'Chapter Approved' books/White Dwarf articles is fair. I like this approach as it keeps the game fresh without completely turning all the rules upside down.

So far so historical, but how does list building in Age of Sigmar compare to older editions?
I'm going to approach this from two sides: narrative and competitive. I'm also going to take the safety off my very (un-)humble opinion. I'm going to assume you play a point valued game as this helps narrative players get a sense of the time required and keeps a lid on the worst excesses by competitive players. To summarize the previous methods for balancing armies. Warhammer Armies gave some mandatory troop choices and capped the number of models per unit type at a maximum. The Army Books introduced percentages of points you could spend towards different types of unit. Age of Sigmar takes some of the old, adds some new things and leaves a lot of wiggle room.

For points you can just use the values as guidelines and go from there. If you take the Matched Play rules you get a mandatory amount of 'Battleline' units you should take (3 for a 2000 point battle). These would be the Orruks (Orc Boyz) for instance. And the maximum amount of certain other models is capped (no more than 4 artillery pieces at this size). The keywords every unit in AoS have are used to determine which is which. These keywords also determine allegiance, which is the force that helps theme armies. You can have an army that mixes everything (Chaos Lords fighting side by side with High Elf Princes) this looks strange (unless you are a painting god with narrative skills to match) and gives you a disadvantage. If you make sure all your models fall within one of the four Grand Alliances: Order, Death, Destruction or Chaos you're army get a special ability, an ability for your general and a magic item. You can roll for these or pick them. As they are different for each alliance they help theme armies to a great extend. Destruction forces get advantages on closing the distance, Death is harde to kill, and so on. You can also pick a more detailed alliance. For instance make an army that consists entirely out of Tzeentch worshippers (all units have the Tzeentch keyword). In this case you can use special items and army rules from the Disciples of Tzeentch battletome. General's Handbook 2 adds a simple rule for allies to this. It allows you to add units up to a small value of points (400 in a 2000 point game) without the required keyword (but within restrictions) to a themed army without taking away the special rule.

I'll get back to some other intricate details on the competitive side, and maybe foam at the mouth a bit at the end. Lets look at narrative gaming first.

The AoS app.
Narrative list building in AoS
For a narrative gamer Age of Sigmar offers the easiest list building in the world. If you (and your opponent) are really laid back you just select the warscrolls of your units. If you want to keep the battle size within a certain constraint (for time purposes or other). Each unit has a points value for a certain amount of models. These are listed in the General's Handbook. Count your models, check their values and you are ready to go. Weapons, banners and other stuff is entirely dependent on what you glued onto the models. Points are not factored in for this. You can pick a battalion and take advantage there (more on these later), but it is not strictly necessary. The only step after selecting your units is checking your allegiance and game on. With the app containing all warscrolls you can be up and running a game within ten minutes (including calculating the points from a table in the General's Handbook). You are quite free to add complexity based on the 'matched play rules'. Assuming you're playing an actual fellow casual or narrative gamer this works out quite well and maximizes the fun you can have with your precious Warhammer time (I have a wife, a kid and a job, free time is precious).

Narrative list building in older editions
A casual gamer in older editions has a more work cut out. You have to calculate points cost for your models based on equipment and type. Then you have to calculate percentages for your army. You also have to take a bit of time to select magic artifacts and banners. Bagage trains and other details can also be sorted out with a wink and a nod, but basic calculus is required for a game. Preparation time can vary. All the way to zero minutes if you play with a standard army up to as long as you like if your collection has grown to big for normal games (insert uncomfortable cough here).

Competitive list building in older editions
Yes, I went for a switcheroo here and started with the older editions. Competitive list building in older editions could get very involved very quickly. The first step is finding the best combination of rules to get a maximum advantage for your army (exploit is such a strong word). This usually involves finding a combination of magic items, character abilities and spells. For example (my personal trauma) adding a fortified dwarven cannon to a ruin giving it an almost unbeatable armour save, add a dwarf engineer to the back so it never misses or misfires and using that to mow down the enemy as the mandatory Dwarf Warriors lean on their axes and discuss brewing through the ages. For a lot of players the hard work of searching for this magic combination could be solved by hopping onto the internet and reading the best combinations there. Yes this is not my cup of tea, but it still works as long as both players get onto a table with these kind of lists.

Competitive list building in Age of Sigmar
In competitive games AoS does not give points value to equipment, so the unit as a basic building block has a fixed price. A competitive gamer in Warhammer Age of Sigmar looks for two important things: drops and battalions. A battalion in Sigmar is a collection of units. For instance if you take three to five units of Orruk Brutes together they can form a 'Brutefist'. This gives the group an advantage, grants the player and extra magic item for use by a hero and it allows you to place the entire battalion on the table in one go. Placing a unit, or 'drop' as it is called is important. The player who sets up his entire army first determines who takes the first turn . As AoS has developed you now have battalions consisting of other battalions. This makes it possible to set up an entire 2000 point army in one drop whilst getting some extra advantages and magic items. On the plus side this forces a bit of narrative, as even highly competitive armies are forced to take a reasonable wide range of units. On the downside, as always over the years, certain rules combinations are more powerful. From a building perspective it works out reasonably nicely, until you hit the foam at the mouth part of Age of Sigmar (as far as I'm concerned).

Foaming at the mouth over Age of Sigmar part one: battalion confusion
Playing with battalions is quite an important aspect of AoS. It even plays a role in casual games. It helps theme armies, motivates you to pick coherent groups of units and helps formulate a basic narrative in the even the most competitive player's army ('this is a Freeguild Regiment that has joined my Stormcast Aetherstryke Force'). Unfortunately it is also a bit of a hot mess for the following reasons:
  1. As AoS developed battalions have popped up in background books, Battletomes, as part of 'getting started' boxes and so on. It has gotten near on impossible to keep track all battalions. The AoS App has most of them available (except for instance for the getting started ones). This has turned forming an army of battalions into a tough administrative task.
  2. GW differentiates between narrative battalions and matched play battalions, giving the former no points cost in the General's Handbooks. This makes it hard to impossible to use these even in a casual game that uses points for scale purposes. 
  3. General's Handbook 2017 has taken battalions that previously had points out of the lists. It is unclear whether the old points are still in use or if these have been removed from matched play considerations. As a lot of the missing battalions are from the original free rules pdf's this makes older armies unplayable in a competitive setting.
  4. Because battalions are everywhere the app is the logical place to look them up. However to see what is in a battalion you need to buy the associated book (rules pack, whatever) in app. Owning a hard copy means nothing. Also for the points cost you need to buy the General's Handbook in app. I bought the previous version which is now useless as the new version has cancelled out my ability to see points. The only useful remedy is using hard copy, Excel and leaving through lots of books and tomes. 
All in all if it where up to me I would like to see all battalions given a points cost and get access to at least one place that brings all the available ones together. It would've been nice if all pointed battalions were listed in the latest edition of the General's Handbook. A bit more like Ravening Hordes and Warhammer Armies in that regard. 

Foaming at the mouth over Age of Sigmar part two: lack of generic Battletomes 
The other thing that I'm missing in AoS as far as lists are concerned is the lack of generic Battletomes. Since its release in 2015 we've gotting five hardback Campaign Books, 4 Grand Alliance books collecting the general warscrolls, 1 fortifications book, 2 expansions, 2 General's Handbooks and 17 Battletomes for different subfactions. That is one hell of a lot of publications in the span of two years. But (being a greedy gamer) it would be nice if we could get a few battletomes that help us get the most out of our existing armies. Regular Greenskins, Skaven, Elves, Humans and Undead really need a bit more attention. Their miniatures fill the shelves but without a book to support them it is getting harder and harder to keep on building armies with them. At least, that is what I think. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

My first Orruk Boar Chariot rides eternal, shiny and chrome

As my local GW organised a small AoS tournament I had no time to paint on Saturday. I did have a chance on Sunday to finish the crew for the first of (hopefully five) painted Orruk Boar Chariots.

One stick to poke the boars, one stick to find them.
Painting and modelling these is a lot of fun as they are all wrecks I found in second hand sets which gives an added challenge to model them back to life.

One stick to poke some gitz and to the chariot bind them.
Being slightly lazy I picked this chariot first as it is nearest to complete (excepting the Orruk driver who is actually an old boar boy (I think). I had to use an arm from the regular Orruk boy set as I did not have a functional right arm for him, but this just adds to the display of aggression, so it is all good.

How to fix a slightly to bare base? Take an extra clump of grass and glue it down.
I also fixed the not quite finished base by adding a single extra clump of grass (yes, that was an incredibly difficult fix ;). Not shown in this post are the first Orruk Boyz getting a paint job and the second chariot getting painted (and some other Greenskins-related side projects). Slowly but surely I'm getting more Orruks ready for the tabletop (and out of my project box).

Slaves to Darkness versus Khorne Bloodbound, fighting over a spiky fortress I painted for the local GW last year.
Meanwhile on Saturday I joined a small 2000pt AoS tournament in my local GW. Booking a solid zero wins (I'm not a tournament player) I still had a lot of fun. The new General's Handbook does add some extra spice to the game, although I do think AoS is getting bogged down when it comes to building lists (this is only a problem when preparing a more or less tournament ready list (going by all these parenthesis I should consider a separate bla bla post on the General's Handbook)). My Tzeentch inclined Slaves to Darkness warriors tricked Skarbrand into joining them. This did not help. At the fist match they had their collective backsides handed to them by Khorne Bloodbound. The Skullreapers managed to impress Khorne by killing Skarbrand extremely quickly (all five of them dying in the process). Those guys are a nightmare to face on the tabletop. I should get some painted up as they look amazing too.

Same table, different enemy. This was just before the Sylvaneth magicked the table full of forest.
My second game (on the same table) was played against Sylvaneth. This was the first time taking them on and it ended with another ignominious defeat for my poor hayfever suffering Slaves to Darkness (yes I make the silly narrative up as I go along, even during tournaments). I guess the spawn-destined 'hero' of the day was my Chaos Lord on Manticore who failed to score a single wound through sheer incompetence (or was it the hand of Tzeentch?) during two battles. AoS moment of the day my Darkoath Chieftain getting himself impaled on an Exalted Deathbringer's spear. I've nicknamed him (the chieftain) 'mr. Useless' as he managed to land only a single wound during two games. Perhaps he was 'inspired' by Lord Halcofax the Hayfevered (and his manticore mr. Sniffles).

In spite of all the bad dice rolls, foolish tactics and duh-moments it was a fun day. Hopefully I will find more time to paint next weekend (and through the course of this week).

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Tutorial: building a ruined bridge base

Yesterday I completed my Orruk Warboss on Wyvern that included the fancy base you can see below. It is supposed to look like a ruined bridge or highway (or something similar). As it was rather easy and fun to build I thought people might like a tutorial on this. Luckily I actually remembered to take some pictures while scratch-building.

Never mind true line of sight and hiding behind terrain: a big model needs a big base, it just looks right.
To start off I took an leftover bit of dense polystyrene and used a scalpel and a metal ruler to cut three pieces to size. As this was going to be a ruin, the process did not have to be very precise. I used my scalpel to cut edges in the sides of the long pieces to sink my road into.

Don't drink and model....or do and make silly mistakes.
For the sharper readers among you, yes I made a stupid mistake. Both side pieces have their edge on the same side. I could easily solve this by making a new piece but that would require a walk back to the shed. As I was going for quick&dirty I just cut the offending bit off and glued it back on at the right side.

Quick and dirty building technique #1: ignore mistakes, just keep on building.
Next up on this very precise project closing the rest of the rectangle.

Add more polystyrene.
With the basic shape complete I cut a few pieces of cork to size. I spotted this technique on a model in my local GW and decided to steal it.

Stacking bits of cork makes for a nice looking ruined roadway.
With this completed I used the rest of the polystyrene to cut a few loose blocks.

If only the Egyptians new about polystyrene, we would've had so many more pyramids (and found no remnants of any of them, but that is another story).
I proceeded to use a pencil to mark block shapes in my bridge. With a bit of extra carelessness this quickly turns into rough blockwork (mental note: next time I should be slightly neater).

Later on I used a q-tip to flatten out the globs of PVA.
I stacked the blocks I cut earlier around the back, hiding the ugly joins.

Rough ugly edges are no problem when making ruined stonework.
I cut 2 cm by 1 cm bits of 1mm cardboard to cover the top of my construction.

Cardboard is the best option for making tiles and shingles.
After measuring them on top I took them off again, marked out where they hung over the edge of the block and cut those bits off with a scalpel. O made sure to keep the bits I cut off handy as I needed them later.

Add damage and remember to keep the bits you cut off.
Next I covered the top in PVA and glued the tiles on it.

With the tiling in place, this thing is coming together.
After that I added sand to the bottom of the base, used a leftover bit from a Skaven kit (for no real good reason, it was sticking out of the bits box). I also added the cut off bits of tile to the front of the bridge.

Add sand to give it a sense of place in the world.
At this point I felt a bit of regret at not putting siding on the project. That's what happens if you fail to do any planning whatsoever. I picked up a few mismatched bits of polystyrene and used glue and pins to stick them to the sides.

Add sides to cover up for my lack of planning.
I finished the first part of the construction process off by covering the entire base in watered down PVA. This is always a bit tricky when you've marked out patterns in polystyrene as the PVA tends to fill up the carved space again. In the end I took a bit of extra care to remove extra glue from the stone pattern.

Cover everything in PVA to give it a bit of durability.
To finish off I added some skulls from the GW's Citadel Skulls box.

As this is Warhammer: add skulls.
After an afternoon's worth of drying time I came back in in the evening and used some liquid green stuff to hide the needles on the siding of the bridge and cover some other gaps and mistakes.

Use some liquid green stuff to cover up more mistakes.
After this I basecoated the base with the airbrush (don't base coat polystyrene with a rattlecan as it will melt (unless that is your intention).

Airbrush Vallejo Base Coat (black) on it be sure to hit all the recesses. 
With the base coat dry I painted the bridge Mechanicus Standard Grey, washed it with Agrax Earthshade and gave it a drybrush of Dawnstone. After that I added Athonian Camoshade washes to the sides and to bits of stone to add a mossy look. The sand is painted Dryad Bark and drybrushed with Tyrant Skull.

For the future: don't forgetto snap pictures of the painting in progress.
I painted the skulls Rakarth Flesh, washed with Vallejo Sepia and highlighted with Ushabti Bone.

I rather like the effect of the broken tiles on the ground.
To make the stone look more interesting I added a few strategic local washes of Nuln Oil, Reikland Fleshshade and Seraphim Sepia to different tiles. The grass and flowers are from Gamers Grass.

Gamers Grass makes flowers that serve to add some (non-skull) character to any base.
All in all (I think) it makes for a nice looking base that was quick and easy to build.