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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!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Kiss - "Who sails the ship through stormy sea?

My favorite band is Led Zeppelin as I outline here, but another band I'm a fan of that the critics hate? KISS! And one of their most, if not their most misunderstood album to date: (Music from) the Elder. Its worth noting before going further, that at the time that the album was released it seemed to be the soundtrack for a non-existent movie.

Before you cringe, KISS was in my oldest brother's age-range/wheel house when they first hit more so then they were in mine in the later 70s and early 80s. The same brother actually had a few of the albums in the 1970s: Alive! Destroyer, Rock and Roll Over and I believe Love Gun. I played them on my record player in the late 70s early 80s, but they were never mine. In fact I never actually owned an album back then, it was cassettes then to CDs. Sadly those original albums as long gone. I can remember drawing for long hours my version of the cover of Destroyer because I thought it was so cool.

The same brother and I did get to see the original band members in 1999 during their Reunion Tour which was very cool and I got the 5-disc box set a few years later. Crazy to think even that was almost 20 years ago! So whats my point? Rather then dissect their musical chops (or lack thereof depending on which side you fall) I'm going to talk about (Music from) The Elder... I know right? Like many people I've avoided this album for years, so have the critics, the fans, and even the band itself, but is it that bad? A year or so I got it and listened to it. Here is where it gets crazy, its better than one might think. But as Ace said in hindsight: "the wrong album at the wrong time." And when Ace is the voice of reason???? Crazy!

Reportedly that is Paul Stanley's hand..
So, a  concept album from KISS? A Prog Rock album from KISS? Let me say there is actually some good music on The Elder which is surprising to me. Like their  previous album Unmasked there is some good songs (I'm thinking "Talk to Me”,Tomorrow”, "Two Sides of the Coin" and "Torpedo Girl"; ironically all the songs that begin with T and two are written by Ace Frehley!)

And how does this fit to the theme of this blog? Think about it the imagery that this conjures up? A boy sailing through a stormy sea to become a hero? Trite, simple and cliched, but "Just a Boy" is a great song, certainly a curve ball, but a good one. Its really no different than the imagery of say Jethro Tull's "Broadsword" which I like as well.

The singles were "I", "A World without Heroes" and "The Oath" which are fine for a soundtrack, but not really geared towards commercial radio airplay (see below on "A World without Heroes.") In fact "Darklight" should have been the lead single. It was written by Ace and doesn't really fit with the album, but is probably the most geared towards radio airplay. It also really doesn't fit with the rest of the album in my opinion either.

"Under the Rose" has a unique sound with echoes of a chant and "Only You" is surprisingly catchy. That leaves "Odyssey" and "Mr Blackwell" as the weakest on the album, but I'd also include "Heroes" here as well. Its a sort of wishy-washy to me personally, but your mileage may vary.

To close: While Prog Rock AND KISS might not be everyone's cup of tea (and ironically Im drinking tea as I finish this), the fact they do go together well in this effort. After listening to Pink Floyd who I like its a nice diversion to listen to this among other Prog Rock.

As a last note: the album was not liked all that much by the band themselves and did not tour to support it. Years later with Thommy Thayer and Eric Singer in the band in Ace and Peter's makeup (I refuse to call them the Space Ace or the Catman) they would play some of these songs on the various KISS Cruises or later tours. But for years it was an afterthought.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Yo Ho, Yo Ho the Pirates Life for me

In early December of last year we returned from Disney for vacation. We have been going there quite regularly since 2011. But what does that have to do with the focus of this blog I hear you say. well as you know I'm a fairly keen terrain builder. So when I was at Disney with the family this last time I spent a bit more time looking around and taking in the architecture. As one would imagine I'm a big fan of the prototype model of EPCOT (Walt's original idea). I also look over Frontierland a lot too as I like westerns as I've outlined on the blog here various times.

But to the point of this post: while riding Pirates of the Caribbean several times I paid more attention to something I have only given a scant thought previous: the skull rock at the very beginning of the ride. The skull is pretty cool and is fully detailed here. I wont go into too much detail as that site does a very good going into detail but I'll cover the basics.

The rock when viewed face on looks like a skull which is pretty cool. As the site listed above notes when you're on the ride, you glance at it and then your attention is drawn to the beach scene just beyond. But the thing is the skull is not a solid piece, its a 3D sculpture.

So when we went through I really took notice of it and when we got back I searched out the site above and from my own recollection. I decided to recreate the skull as as a terrain piece for Warhammer Fantasy Battle. 

I don't normally show Work In Progress (WIP) pieces, but this has come out very cool thus far. Like the sculpture it is based on, from the side the skull disappears and becomes just a pile of rocks.But when viewed head on it appears as a skull.

As you can see as it turns the skull "disappears". Basically the structure is  five rows of foam carved with the x-acto knife to create the effect of the skull.

The materials and tools list is as follows and is not that extensive:
  • White glue
  • R4 residential foam-siding
  • X-acto knife.
  • Sand paper
  • Masking tape and cardboard for the base. Although one section is press-board before I realized I had to make the base larger.
  • Some white plaster Spackle to fill in gaps in the foam pieces and sanded.
  • Black, dark gray, light gray and white acrylic paint (don't use spray paint as it melts foam).
The plan for this piece is to create a small section of water to go around it so the skull will represent a small lake on the Warhammer board. In a way this is similar in the moat I'm working on for my Nippon castle (albeit on an on-again off-again fashion)...

Special thanks to Parkeology for the photos and the break down of the construction. While its not exactly as I remember it and I had to modify to create what I remembered its about the only photo I could find.