Sunday, January 17, 2016

Frostgrave for February?

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Recently a friend mentioned a 28mm miniatures skirmish game called Frostgrave, and asked if anyone would be willing to give it a go. Generally I don't get involved in trying new systems - I so rarely get a game in that when I get to the gaming table I usually want to just play 40K or Warhammer Fantasy.

In this case though, he mentioned two things that peaked my interest...
"...low model count..."
"...existing models..."
Now when your two current systems generally require somewhere between 40-200 models to play (especially if you plan to play as Skaven) those are almost MAGIC phrases !

Intrigued, I visited the Osprey website to learn more.

Reasonable Price and Simple Setup

The rules are reasonably priced. 11.99 GBP (1,999 yen) for a 136 page rulebook in digital format. Yes, I know Age of Sigmar rules are completely free (and short), but bear in mind that over here a 40K rulebook or supplement costs 60~70 GBP. I'm NOT complaining about the price (Warhammer is a luxury hobby, and I find the materials to be of an excellent quality) but by comparison, Frostgrave seemed reasonable.

I gladly laid out for a digital edition and I'm happy to report that the rules are comprehensive, generally clear and well-written, and beautifully illustrated. Osprey is a publisher who I knew well in my youth. I obsessively collected their "Men at Arms" range, and spent many happy hours absorbing every detail of the beautiful artwork and research that went into them ("The Roman Army from Caesar to Trajan" was a particular favourite, although it must have been updated by now!)

Please visit Osprey for more information about this
excellent book! 
As a complete newcomer to skirmish games (I never played Mordheim) I was happy that the rules and objectives are easy to pick up. You form a warband and search an abandoned city for treasure and magic items, all the while fending off other warbands (players) and wandering monsters.

Things stay simple throughout:

Choose a wizard from one of 10 different types.
Choose a limited number of spells from different disciplines.
Pick and provision a warband with up to a further 9 men/ women using a starting budget of 500 Gold Crowns. (Each henchman has a different cost)
Different models can carry different amounts of treasure off the board.
If playing a campaign, your wizard levels up between games, depending on how many experience points he accrued during the game (for successfully completing various actions.)

In terms of mechanics:
  • Everything uses D20
  • Statlines are basic, with only 6 stats
  • There are 4 phases each turn
  • Players roll-off to see who starts the turn
So far, so good! It looks as though you could play a game in a hour or 90 minutes once you know the rules. 

There is one fly in the ointment however, and that is the issue of terrain. It looks like the game will play best if you use lots of terrain on your table. This replicates hunting through a ruined city, but also sets up exciting encounters in cluttered, narrow streets. If you are WFB player like me, you might have a couple of houses and hills but I'll need to create a LOT more urban terrain to get this to work. Of course you can use books, cardboard boxes etc, but that won't look too good! MAKING terrain is great fun, but can also be time consuming.


The Frostgrave rulebook doesn't discuss races (all the models appear to be human) but there is no reason you can't use existing models (although Osprey has partnered with Northstar Military figures to create a fine range of wizards, soldiers and others). I rummaged through my existing High Elf and Skaven armies to see what I had that I could use.

My High Elf warband might look something like this:

Wizard: (High Elf Arch Mage)

Apprentice: 200 gc (High Elf Mage)

Knight: 100 gc (WFB High Elf Prince Althran)

Man-at-arms: 80 gc (WFB High Elf Noble)

Archer: 50 gc (High Elf Archer) x2 (100 gc)

Total: 480 gc
With 20 gc remaining, to round out my group I could get x2 warhounds or a thug (or thief)...

Hopefully I'll get a game in soon and I can report back on how it goes. Before that though I have to work out how to get lots of cheap ruins made up!


Monday, January 11, 2016

Finished Tau Ghostkeel

Tau XV95 Ghostkeel "Midnight Blues"

*Warning - Lots of Pictures ahead!*

I finished this model today - at least to tabletop quality! It was a bit of an adventure as I made several bad judgement calls that required going back (more on that later).

Since my previous WIP post for this model I added:
  • Washes (Nuln Oil)
  • Highlights
  • Weathering (one layer of Leadbelcher using the foam method, drybrushing feet to match soil)
  • Basing details (tank traps and plants/ scrub)
  • Reworked main lens (on head)
  • Lenses on Electrowarfare suite (right arm)
Looking at the pictures, to take this to another level I would do the following:
  • Add more weathering to the tank traps.
  • Add more details to base (graffiti? discarded enemy weapons? Tau infantry?)
  • Bore out the barrels of all the secondary weapons.
  • Blacken nozzles on Flamers.
  • Add more detail on Fusion Collider barrel (bright blue "Fusion" effects).
Cockpit view
Side view: w/ Flamers and Cyclic Ion Raker

W/ Fusion Collider + Twin Linked Burst Cannons

Head (Detail)

What mistakes did I make?

In my hurry to get on with the model so I could use it last weekend in battle, I didn't think hard enough about the base, so it looked very sparse. 

To deal with that today I located x3 pre-painted tank traps from my terrain box. As I couldn't glue them directly onto the current course surface (not enough contact, and they would have looked "floaty") I had to do some surgery! Holding the tank trap onto the base, I used a craft knife to cut around the edges of the tank trap, down to the base of the plastic. After doing this on all 4 sides of the trap, I then used the craft knife to lift off the "Soil" in a square. That gave me the perfect flat surface to superglue the trap down. To make it seamless I then filled the small gap between the trap edges and the cuts with wood glue, poured on my basing material and painted it up. It was unnecessary extra work (I should have thought of this when I did the base the first time), but I think it doesn't look too bad!

My other mistake was working at night under artificial lighting and layering up the barrel of the Cyclic Ion Blaster to a shade or Mordian Blue that was too bright. This meant it was mismatched with the rest of the model, so today I had to go over the barrel again.

What went well?

I think (you are welcome to disagree) that the overall colour scheme works, and the lenses and freehand insignia came out well (took lots of attempts to get the latter right though!). Also, the lighter weathering applied using a piece of foam was quite easy and I resisted the temptation to overdo it!
Thigh insignia detail.
With 6 Stealth suits already painted I can field this model as part of an Optimised Stealth Cadre. 

Next Project?

There are two options really.
Option 1: Tau XV9 Battlesuits (x2)
Getting back into Tau meant having a good rummage through my model box, where I was delighted to find two of these Forgeworld models. These were pretty much gifted to me by a Tau player getting out of the game some years ago (you know who you are...thank you!) and I never painted them as I moved into painting a Skaven army.

Option 2: A Frostgrave Warband.
Our gaming group discussed trying out this fantasy skirmish game at our last get together, so I downloaded the rules (12 GBP, a reasonable price!). It looks quite good, and with a unit max of 10 models per player (any 28mm models will do) and simple rules it will hopefully be quick to play. 

I thought I should be able to put together the requisite Wizard, apprentice and Men-at Arms/ mercenaries by rummaging through my bits box and Warhammer Fantasy models. Sure enough, I could do the following:
Wizard: x1 (High Elf Wizard or Skaven Plague Priest)
Apprentice: x1 (Old Citadel Witch Elf)
Mercenaries: x 8 (3-4 Empire swordsmen, x3-4 Black Orcs with bows/ choppers.)

Until next time!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Tau Ghostkeel WIP

I've been working on this Tau Ghostkeel that I got for Christmas - just an hour a night after work, but it is coming along.

I've managed to get the undercoats, base coats and some highlights done on the main model and the drones (the Fenris Grey lines you see here). I worked on the pilot before assembling the model, something I don't often do, but I wanted access to the cockpit as it is a nice feature of the model IMHO (and it would be impossible to do a decent job after assembly)

I'm happy with the Mordian Blue and Chaos Black combination. The blue fits in with my main Tau army and regular Stealth Suits, but the combination still "feels" stealthy. In my mind, I'm thinking of this as "Midnight Urban" Camo (which means I am going to have to add an urban feeling to the base later...)

Another point that I'm happy with is the freehand Tau text on the right thigh. Although not authentic Tau text I think it has the right flavour, and I HATE freehand so it felt like a small victory.

In all of these images you won't see any weapons, as I'm working on those separately.


Right rear
Next step will be to figure out what to do with the black. I've highlighted the edges of the Mordian Blue with Fenris Grey, so what am I going to do with the edges of the black armour? 
More Fenris, or straight to chipping/ weathering with metallics? (Shout out to those on G.Plus for the weathering advice by the way).

Stealth Drones (top)
The suit is always accompanied by x2 Stealth Drones, which you can see here. Not weathered or finished yet, but I got a good start on the lenses.

More updates to come later this weekend! (I hope I'll make more progress). Fantasies of adding some tank traps to the base, and painting the suit parts close to the traps in the same grey to indicate stealth capability...

Stealth Drones (front)

Monday, January 4, 2016

Tau Cadre Fireblade - Finished

After picking up the new Tau books for Christmas and with a game planned in the first week of January, I thought I should dust off my Tau army and see what models I have. What formations from the new books would I be able to field with what I already have?

A nice surprise was finding an unpainted Cadre Fireblade - an HQ unit for the core of the Hunter contingent. Thinking that it would only take a couple of hours to do, I got to work, only to finish 2 days later! I guess it is the case that taking a break from painting for months affects your speed...

This was the first time I revisited the army following the experience I gained painting my Skaven. That meant this model got some touches that I didn't really consider when I started painting Tau all those years ago (including simple techniques like washes). I think it looks better for them! The base comes pre-moulded, and it looks nice even with a simple paint job like this. It might look better with some vegetation but I was in a hurry!

I had a go at some freehand on the back of the cloak just to break up the white. I failed miserably about 10 times before getting something I was (almost) happy with. It isn't complicated, but it still required me to try and stop my hands shaking...

Fireblade cloak with freehand hem.

Before washes...

...and after:

with highlights:

So how did he perform on the battlefield?

Not bad! 

There is a lot to be said to having x1 extra shot for every pulse weapon in your unit. That is a very significant increase in firepower from a cheap unit (as described in better detail than I could ever achieve over at the ever-excellent Not only that, but he has his own markerlight and split fire rules (something I completely forgot - doh!)

Fireblade (at right) co-ordinates a desperate stand against a Tyranid
monstrous creature.
Having him attached to a single squad of 12 gives x24 Str5 AP5 shots out to 30 inches, letting you slather on the pain from a reasonable distance. More please!

How many can I take?

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