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Sunday, November 22, 2020

Painting the Nippon Castle

It's been quite some time since I posted on any progress for my Nippon Castle (or anything in general  on the blog). So with that in mind it's time to show some progress. I completed the construction on the castle around the first of the year and have been working on painting it off and on. I was looking back through the photos of it and it appears that I started working on it in 2013 as outlined here, it's well past time to wrap this up. IMPORTANT NOTE: the painting on this is very much WIP.

The castle started out as just the base keep itself and the layout inspired by Kakegawa castle in Japan. As with any castle in Warhammer and at the 25-28mm scale its bound to be on the larger side, there is really no way around this. 

The great thing about a project like this is that for those who want to create something like this for their own armies, whether a Nippon one or not is that its really not that expensive. The castle is really nothing more than the following: cardboard, white glue, super glue, craft sticks, balsa wood, tooth picks, masking tape, and duct tape.The base of the castle proper and the walls are formed from foam-core boards to keep it light. While it might not make the base as strong as say plywood, it does save on weight.

So with all that in mind, in order, the following are complete in terms of painting:

* the outer walls

* the towers

* the moat sections

* both gatehouses

Now, a note on when I say complete: the large area painting is done, as is about 99% of the detail painting. With the moats there is still a bit more that has to happen with the water area, but those are pretty well finished. I anticipate having to do some more detail here and there to truly finish it up.

For the towers there is still a bit of work to do on the removable roofs. I'm also not sure if I want to add a contrasting color like blue to them. The idea of the color also applies to the roof on the main keep.

So what is all this leading to? My goal is to get this complete by the end of the year. I've been working off and on a traditional European style, Empire castle in the vein of the old Warhammer Mighty Fortress which will be smaller and a bit more practical for Siege games. The Nippon castle has also been going on for seven  years, time to finish it up!

Only snag is simultaneously to this I'm also working on clearing the considerable backlog on the  painting desk.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Top 2 Inspirations for a Nippon Army (and a few others)

Inspiration for actual Games Workshop Asian inspired materials were hinted in the mid to late 1980s, but never delivered on. Nippon and the east in general is mentioned it in the 3rd Edition Rule book, had an Ally section in Warhammer Armies, but then it ended with the advent of 4th Edition Warhammer and teh changes it entailed. It is important to note that 2nd Edition Warhammer Fantasy roleplay did have a Nippon list that with a few tweaks is quite usable.

Fortunately the world of the internet allows for this constraint to be eliminated. 

In Warhammer Nippon (Nihon) is analogous to Japan of our world, duh right? What it is NOT? Its not... mythical China. This can't be overstated because all too often in Warhammer circles I hear suggestions about a Nippon army that would make it more like Cathay... If I wanted to create a fantasy Cathay army out there there is a number of resources, but not the point of this blog post.

So in no particular order here are two of the best inspirations for a Nippon themed world and Nippon army that can help, in my opinion of course.

Shogun- The book written by James Clavell and the TV series are both excellent. It is a pseudo historical in the telling of the late 1500s and the unification of Japan by Tokugawa Ieyasu the first Tokogawa Shogun in the form of "Toranaga".

Shogun is the quintessential TV Mini series of the 1980s and in six parts. Richard Chamberlain starts as Pilot-Major Blackthorne. Blackthrone is based on the real life exploits of an English sailor who was shipwrecked in Japan in 1600, William Adams.

Shogun covers nearly all aspects of late 1500s Japanese life from teh peasants to ninja to the start of the geisha, betrayal, honor, bravery as well as romance. The ambush of bandits at night in a village, ships, ninja! The only thing it lacks is the actual Battle of Sekigahara which it all leads up to.

The rising tension of the plot makes an excellent backdrop for Nippon vs Nippon battles or perhaps more likely as I do: reasons for mercenary Nippon to go and plunder the Warhammer World.

Ran- (pronunciation of "Rhan" to our western ears, at least mine) the movie by the legendary film maker Akira Kurosawa. Ran is essentially King Lear, but far richer in the telling. Ran is widely regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time, I agree. Any Top 10 movie list in the All Time category that doesn't include it is no Top 10 at all.

Ran is rich in its visuals and massive in scale. I think perhaps the only true way to do it justice is to see it in a movie theater (which I never have, but would love too).

A side note is that Ran has one of the best soundtracks for any Asian inspired game. I listen to it often when working on one of my Nippon army projects.

Ran is indispensable to a Warhammer gamer interested in a Nippon army as it has literally all the right army units on display throughout (remember I use the 2nd Edition Nippon list for 3rd Edition Nippon armies).
Other good sources include but are not limited to:

Oriental Adventures by Zeb Cook (1st Edition AD&D)- a lot of grogs have a hangup about this work, tell them to pound sand... A lot of people seem to want it to be "epic China" which its not... I think the rules are quite well done, especially considering the time frame.

Kobu of the Two Strings. This might seem surprising but I found this extremely well done.

The Seven Samurai- many people don't realize that they HAVE seen this movie in the form of the movie the Magnificent Seven. The soundtrack of The Seven Samurai is great too. Oh and it also inspired George Lucas with the droids in the original Star Wars trilogy too.

Japan- Memoirs of a Secret Empire- a documentary narrated by Richard Chamberlain, so short ( I wish this was 40 hours long!) but it is excellent. Its not really a secret but meh its just the title.

As a postscript: this should not be taken that I dislike a Cathay army or its inspirational sources, far from it. I think epic China is a fine topic and if I ever did an army inspired by it I'd go with something like Kung-Fu Panda! Panda bear warriors would be very cool ;) Clay Warrior golems, river dragons, etc

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Part X of the Repainting my 3rd Edition Wood Elf Force- Elven Lords

While I haven't blogged about it lately, I have been diligently working on my 3rd Edition Wood Elf force since Spring. So much so that even though I'm going to post about a single unit today, my Elven Lords cavalry unit- it's actually not the only one complete.

In order, I have finished the following which will be in the next blog entry(ies)?
  • Beastmasters (just the animals and I had to get creative, those guys go for $$$).
  • Another treeman
  • Wizards, 1 on foot and 2 mounted. 
  • 2nd Wardancer unit of 10
  • Army Standard Bearer
  • Bears Monstrous Host
  • A Shape Changer- a Werebear
  • Another unit of 20 archers!
  • Baggage! Only three elves, but I need to find more "elf villager" types anyways.
In short, my Wood Elf army is pretty much complete outside of some Falconer ideas which I may or may not get to and a unit of eight Glade Runners (scouts) made from left over minis from Archer units. Along with that I need to get the actual beast master elves as well for the beastmaster units. If I had to add up the points off the top of my head, its at least 5,000, especially with the dragon. Not bad for a force that started as allies for my Empire army and was maybe around 800 points back then.

But onward to the meat of the post, the Elven Lords which gives this blurb from the Warhammer Armies book:
The Lords of Elven communities and their noble retainers ride magnificent warhorses into battle. Wood elves favor roan and dappled horses, plaiting their mains and ornamenting their bridles with hair-plumes and jewels. 

Like Mike McVey in White Dwarf with his Elven Lord unit featured in White Dwarf #141 I didn't want to have too uniform of an appearance, but I didnt vary them as much as he did. Because of this and the fact that I wanted the flexibility to field them as Wood Riders if I so chose I kept them uniform to the rest of the army. In my imagining of them I take it to be perhaps a single Elven Lord with his retainers, nine in number rather than 10 individual lords.

I decided to keep the horses rustic looking, but uniform with their manes and tails. I didnt want to go all gray as to me this seems more like High Elf steeds so I went with more brown horses. Green and white for the bridles with minor variations on the white patterns. Their bases continue with the autumnal turf to convey middle of the woods late in the year feel that the rest of the army has.

Now some notes on the composition of the unit itself:
  • The champion of the unit: I've disliked the mini since I bought it (around 1990) as I recall. Not sure why, but I think something in the pose struck me as odd. Finally, however he came together with a paint job I liked this time around.
  • The back row of the unit is of special note after a single purchase off eBay I was able to round out the unit, but they were not cheap. I had never seen the rider with the mask attached to the helm before and it struck me as odd.
  • The elf in the front rank with the bow spent a number of years atop a cockatrice for my 4th/5th edition High Elf Army. I debated swapping him out but left him. If I can find some musical instrument "rammage" it will go to him.
  • Several of the elves served as Dragonkin mounted on various dragons for my 3rd Edition High Elf Army when it functioned as a purely dragon force. Real quick- if you wanted, a High Elf player could field an entire army of nothing but dragons... more on that in a post at a later point. Fortunately I kept all the metal horses.
  • The standard bearer I got off of a eBay seller who I do business with quite often. Sometimes pricey, but always reliable. The mini was in rough shape and gobs of paint which I stripped down, primed, painted. The flag itself is inspired from Dark Ages England and I tried to convey an Anglo-Saxon type feel to it while staying with the colors and scheme of the army.

One thing of note is white spiral pattern on the shields... for some reason on these guys it it was a bit wavier then on the other units. Not sure why. I was also short a few shields so I had to use some later edition ones...

Despite all this the unit came out fairly well and are a nice fit for the elites of the army. They did take a bit longer than I expected however.

Next up, as I mentioned and possibly a line on some minis that can stand in for Falconers but that's low on the priority list.. ok so if you ask, I'm looking for Bob Olley Half Elves from the Ironclaw line in the late 1980s. They are not cheap however when they come up on eBay and the half elf with the spear can't be used for the Falconer unit itself.

The next post on the Wood Elf force me be a "catch-all" as i mentioned above encompassing teh last units as well as my thoughts on the army, what went well and what I would change with hindsight.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Realms of Chaos- The Lost and the Damned

Apologies in advance in reading this, I've been working on this post in an off again on again fashion for quite some time so it jumps around and covers a lot of ground.

The Lost and the Damned. Unlike my copy of Slaves to Darkness which I've had forever, my copy of Lost and the Damned is one I've had for...never. I've read through a friends copy numerous times and well as "ahem" other means, but I've largely been very unlucky on the purchase of this one. In other words I've missed out on this on eBay multiple auctions. In fact I've been about as unlucky on it as the quest for the Elven Attack Chariot (which I've been able to secure since I've blogged about it).

"Papa Nurgle looks so plump and full of puss!"
For some reason in terms of collecting this rule book it is very akin to the Deities and Demigods with the Cthulhu and Melnibone mythos for AD&D. In the collecting world (or at least the selling side) people got the idea that is "rare". In fact, neither book is really that rare, but people think they are and thus the price is higher than it might otherwise be. Typically, the Lost and the Damned sells for $150-300 on eBay. So my plan to acquire it? Wait it out and get it eventually. What eBay has taught me over the years that if one is patient you'll eventually get what you are looking for at teh right price. I might need to continue to be patient as its going for $150-300 on eBay and around $350 on Amazon, ugh. (after this its off to get The Warhammer Giant... ugh).

It is true that in the case of the Lost and the Damned that it was a smaller print run then Slaves to Darkness. This is probably due to the fact Lost and the Damned came late in the run of 3rd Edition Warhammer right before the employee buyout of Games Workshop and the rapid move to 4th edition as a result.

That said? The Lost and the Damned might be my favored of the two books, perhaps because I don't have it in my collection?

Slaves and Darkness and the Lost an the Damned are designed to work together and full of the awesome stuff. I think the thing that I like the most about the second book are the various chaos conversions, particularly those representing daemons. Those pictures provided me with countless hours of inspiration. The art is likewise great and really captures the feel of the mid to late 1980s ethos of design and feel. The independent daemon based on a hand from the color pages (pictured to the right) has always been a favorite of mine and even inspired a on-again/off again scratch build of larger greater daemon...more on that in some future post if I ever get around to finishing it.

Like Slaves to Darkness it delves deep into two of the Chaos Powers- Nurgle, Lord of Plauge and Tzeentch the Master of Magic, their daemons, and their mortal followers. Like Slaves to Darkness it documents the path to power for the followers of those gods. For some reason the Gifts of Nurgle that a potential Chaos Champion can receive on his road to power or damnation always resonated with me. I especially like the Trail of Slime gift; highly impractical on the battlefield (what general is purposely having models(s) march across the trail?) but completely in keeping with the pathos of Nurgle -any model within 4" and directly behind the model risks catching Nurgles Rot. This is but one of the chaos gifts and the there si of course the large table of mutations.

Another great thing about these two books is that one can also use them for 40k, but even more than that is that they can be used for "spicing up" the Chaos Army in the 3rd Edition Warhammer Armies. This army represents a chaos "undivided" force and works well and has very good modeling opportunities as well which I'll be covering in a future blog post.

Still want more? Like Slaves to Darkness the book can also be used for 1st Edition Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. It can't be stated enough these books are a masterwork and along with the rules, the Armies Book as well as the maligned Siege a very good set of rules, well not Siege...

I've spent a fair amount of time talking about Nurgle but what about Tzeentch? For some reason I have not been as drawn to Tzeentch as Nurgle, much like I'm drawn to Khorne over Slaanesh in Slaves to Darkness. For some reason the models just don't seem to resonate with me the same way they do with Nurgle. Maybe its the fun factor of the nurglings infesting Papa Nurgle?

For either Nurgle or Tzeentch I have a few minis to form the basis of the respective warbands but not enough (really no more than 1-3) to field anything substantive. My 3rd Edition Chaos warbands is a a Khorne themed one and I am assembling another smaller one of an undivided force in line with the rules for Chaos in the Warhammer Armies book. Obviously I can use these but I really want each force to be independent.

(A brief write up here: Eldritch Epistles Blog).
Should I actually get it it will then be a fair amount of minis off of eBay, but this isn't a bad thing, the idea of a Nurgle warband is one I really like. It also leads to one of the best parts of a Chaos Army: a war altar which only Dark Elves, Bretonnians, Chaos and Slann may have in 3rd Edition. Even with the web there really isn't that many examples of chaos war altars from 3rd edition Warhammer out there. The most well known is from White Dwarf 125.

 In the case of chaos war altars this really is the "grand daddy of them all". There really isn't that much else out there. I've attempted a scratch build of a chaos war altar that really turned out to be a wagon... which the rules say they are. But I'm not so sure I want something this elaborate.In any event a chaos war altar is on my long range of plans I'm just not sure when and what form it will take.

Final Note: war altars for 3rd Edition Warhammer are covered in a blog here including myDark Elf War altar which has since been completed.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The "Diceimation" of my d20s

Wikipedia defines Decimation as follows: "a form of Roman military discipline in which every tenth man in a group was executed by his cohorts." It was used to discipline large groups in the Roman Army for failures like cowardice, desertion or disobedience.

In my case the charge against my d20s was unmistakable: disobedience. Punishment was needed.

With this definition my thoughts turned to the lackluster results of my d20s in far too many gaming sessions over the last decade. It was during last nights gaming session that it came to a head, my underwhelming dice continued their pathetic "performances" and would not turn over a result higher than six over the course of several hours. I finally had enough. I had enough of their mocking, their failures, their sneering at me as if they were saying: "Oh yeah? What are YOU going to do about it?" They were about to learn what I would do about it...

My gaming friends and I then side barred in the game and remarked about how truly crappy my dice rolls have been for at least a decade. This included the fact that I once went six years between rolling a 20 in game. I then remarked I should "punish them." But how? Placing them with my 3rd Edition books "to teach them a lesson" (I don't have any 4th edition ones- but that might violate "Cruel and Unusual punishment"), time spent in the "Pit of Doom"?, making them sit in a corner and other milder methods?

I knew that I had to get the attention of my dice and the method would need to be one that conveyed that how deadly serious I was. I have suffered for their poor performances across gaming systems for far, far too long; from poor rolls in Star Wars, D&D to AD&D to tread lightly now. No more. It was time to make an example of one of them. It was time for them to know fear.
As luck would have it there were twenty d20s in my bag, a perfect number for a decimation. I rolled, the lowest rolling die would be the one to suffer the punishment. It would be they that would decide their fate, not me just like the Roman Legions of old. None were spared from the selection process, not even the ancient dice from my Basic and Expert D&D sets from Christmas 1982, not my (in)famous smoke d20 known for rolling 19s quite often (though not for the last 10 years) from my Junior High and High School years. I rolled the twenty dice and the unlucky die was selected... the blue d20 with the chipped numbers it was.

Off to the workbench in the garage. I contemplated hammers, but realized the die would skip off into the environs of the garage somewhere in a pathetic attempt to avoid its fate... So I decided to crush it  with my workbench vice. I lined up other d20s to witness the "dice-imation" in order to teach them a lesson, there would be no averting their gaze. They trembled in fear, a few sneered not believing that I really would do this. Little did they know how serious I was.

"The prisoner ready for execution..."
With the victim in the vice... it got one last laugh before its fate was sealed. Turns out dice are incredibly solid! The vice would not crush it. No matter how much pressure I applied the die didn't even dent! Its execution temporarily staved off it was as if it was mocking me one last time

Undeterred I moved onto a MAP gas torch. The torch has been very handy for the restoration of my 1967 John Deere tractor, it was time for it to pull double duty. Once heated up I secured the die in the vice and used my sledge hammer... the offending die then shattered and as expected a few pieces shot out across the garage. I gathered up the d20 and displayed its now broken remains its fellows.

The rest of my d20s looked in horror and a few shot daggers at me, hating me for the deed that was just done. Prior, they had not believed that I would do such a thing, to resort to such brutal methods, smugly secure that they could continue their under-performing ways.

I coldly looked at the cohort of dice and warned them if they continued to fail me one of survivors would be next... And if it still continued, another after that. I paused and glared at all of the assemblage and repeated my threat a third time. My words sunk in.

It was at that moment and not the remains of their shattered friend before them that it finally dawned on how much I meant business. Once the execution was over they were paraded past the shattered remains of their fallen comrade. Not a word was uttered as if they could see themselves as the next one.

"The price of failure."
The message was received and they silently went into the dice bag wondering which one of them would be next. Fear now gripped them where there had once been arrogance or casual indifference. No more. As I reflected on the lesson my dice had just learned it occurred to me: the die that broke the streak of no 20s for six years? It was the very blue d20 pictured above that was "dice-imated." Karma is funny like that.

The disciplining of the troops is now over, we'll see in a couple of weeks if the rest of the d20s got the message.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Realms of Chaos- Slaves to Darkness

In the hallowed  history of Warhammer and Citadel Miniatures there are two tomes stand out head and shoulders above the rest. It is a two part series of books with the first being Realms of Chaos- Slaves to Darkness and Realms of Chaos - The Lost and The Damned. The focus of this post will be the first one and the later be covered in an upcoming blog post.

Suffice of to say with these two Games Workshop pulled off a major triumph. From the graphic design to the art to the rules the entire book is nothing short of astounding. The overall cohesive feel of the products is carried between the two as well as the artwork. The color photos within were a source of endless inspiration to me back in the late 80s/early 90s and something I still reference today. Tied into this the 3rd edition rule book (naturally) and the rules for Siege (covered here) form everything that is needed for all aspects of fantasy tabletop gaming, oh yeah along with Warhammer Armies.

Slaves of Darkness covers two of the Chaos Powers of the Warhammer World: Khorne the Blood God, God of Battle, Murder and Death ("Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!") and Slaanesh the God of Lust, Pleasure and Perversion. But more than that, it covers not only the rules for 3rd Edition Warhammer Fantasy Battle, but that of Warhammer 40k as well! And it that weren't enough the rule system also allowed it to also work seamlessly with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

Before I go any further I think its also important to note that any material that included d1000 tables and can pull it off successfully is bound to be good. And to pull off multiple tables so well? Masterstroke!

Slaves to Darkness starts with the idea of a warband and most importantly the role of a chaos warrior on his road to his ultimate goal: that of becoming a dameon prince in the service of his patron power. Random roles determines the characters starting race and characteristics and there can be quite a bit of drift in power here. From there gifts and mutations are determined and not all are entirely beneficial for such is the fickle nature of chaos.

As I alluded to before the most interesting part is the tons of mutations that allow for a nearly infinite  amount of variety. So much so that if the tables are adhered to strictly there is little likelihood that any two mutants will be the same.

One of the things that captured my imagination back in the day in regards to this was the color pages of really cool miniatures. I can remember pouring over them particularly the sample warbands over and over again. The other thing that is great about the book aside from the graphic design (which is top notch) are the color shots of the chaos hordes spilling out of the chaos

In the next post I'll be covering the companion volume: Realms of Chaos- The Lost and the Damned.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Part IX of the Repainting my 3rd Edition Wood Elf Force- The War Wain!

Since last time I blogged about it I have explained my Wood Elf force considerably. This time however with a miniature that has a long history before it finally arrived on my doorstep. To what am I referring to? The addition of a Wood Elf Wain Lord aka the Elven Attack Chariot.

The Elven Attack Chariot was part of the "Machineries of Destruction" line from Citadel Miniatures. These featured minis from the 1980s were mainly siege engines and the like. They also included foot regiments like Prince Uthar's Imperial Dwarfs, which came in rectangular box, cool artwork and a short story of the machinery or regiment on the back.

An exert from the text:
Prince Iolair Gilandiril drove through the forest on a crisp winter's morning. The frost glistened jewel-like on the branches and on the leaves of the evergreens, and the pale sun filtered through the morning mist to wash the scene with delicate pastel shades.

About 10 years ago I actually won this off of eBay. However, as I sadly pointed out here, it never made it to my doorstep. I still hope that someday it might arrive, but realize it is long since gone in the post and having moved since then makes it doubly unlikely. As best a I can figure it was delivered to the next street over from where I lived; same number for the house, but different street name...

So it was that around this time last year I got this miniature for considerably more than the one I lost out on (I paid $25 plus shipping for the other one!) It wasn't until September 2018 that I got around to painting it after a busy summer.

Of special none is the figure Aesllanan Woodmage figure (to the right) sculpted by Jess Goodwin. I've pretty much always liked this mini, so much so that I bought a second one to paint in the same color-scheme as the one on the chariot. Some would modify the mini so you could take the mage off of the chariot and use on foot on a 20mm base... Not me. I liked it so much I wanted to paint it twice! This mini is also unusual for me as its a fairly light tone for the clothing. I always undercoat in thin watery black paint so when I go lighter it presents its own challenges. In all it came out fairly well in my estimation.

As you can see the chariot miniature overall continues with the autumnal foliage I've used on the rest of the  Wood Elf force. I stayed away from painting the white like in the art on the box; to me that has more of a High Elf feel to it. So more browns and tans it was for the paint and with more gold used than normal to denote a high ranking wood elf noble riding in the chariot.

Here are the goods, my Elven Attack chariot at long last!