Monday, 30 October 2017

Tale of Middlehammer Gamers: Orctober 2017!

Credit to Russ T Painting for the lovely monthly challenge posters!
Howdy folks!

So, the theme of the Tale of Middlehammer Gamers (ToMG) painting challenge for Orctober has been basing. I thought this was a great idea from Russ in terms of helping people keep up productivity and actually get armies fully table top ready. Improving my basing has been something I have been working on (having previously only painted my bases, and often not even bothering to fill in the gaps in slotta bases!), so following on from the success of my project for Da Great Snot Off! I was full of enthusiasm for this one!

I pledged to paint from scratch/re-touch and then base up:

4 Orks/Gretchin for Shadow War Armageddon
3 Ogre Mercenaries (2 existing paint jobs needing rebasing)
4 Assorted Oldhammer Orcs
6 Assorted Old/Middlehammer Goblins
3 Goblin Fanatics
1 Blood Bowl Goblin star player (proxy Goblin Fantatic)
Azhag the Slaughterer's Wyvern (existing paint job needing basing)

I then added two more Blood Bowl Goblin-Proxy Fanatics with existing paint jobs that needed rebasing right at the end... sheesh, that was a lot of basing!

Sorry/Not sorry
Below you can see (almost) my total output for the fantasy side of the Orctober challenge. I also did some Red Period style 40k Orks for Shadow War: Armageddon, which you can see here.

I must apologise for the quality of the photos in this post - for some reason pictures that seemed to display fine on my phone have come out really blurry when uploaded. I'm edging closer and closer to biting the bullet and buying myself a decent digital camera, proving once again that this hobby gets expensive in so many different ways!

First up are three Mercenary Ogres. Two are Blood Bowl Ogres that I had painted quite some time ago and have just been rebased as part of this challenge. The one with the massive sword is a Tim Prow sculpt available for a bargain price from RPE at the time of writing. He's a little shorter than the others, but I like that as it makes Ogres seem more diverse as a race. The look is pure Oldhammer if you ask me. I wanted these guys table ready as I'm planning on including them in my O&G Middlehammer Fantasy tournament force* which is due for a practice outing in November.

*Interesting question here, which I have put to my fellow Middlehammer tournament buds already, but what is the minimum unit size for Ogres in 4th edition WFB? I'm sure I have seen units of three in photo shoots in old WDs for example, but when checking the O&G army book it doesn't have the same exemption as Trolls specifically do about having units of less than 5. But then, neither does the listing for Giants, also under the Units heading, yet we all know they don't have to come in units of five! Let me know your take on this in the comments! :)

In terms of basing these got the previously standard treatment of a base of thin Humbrol Acrylic Matt Green 88, followed by a thin wet brush of Citadel Snot Green, and then a final dry brush of Citadel Sunburst Yellow. It makes for a really vivid green, and is how the majority of my fantasy models have been flocked - but it is wasting my precious Citadel Snot Green, so these are probably the last that will get that version of the treatment.

Other basing components I try and keep consistent include the field stone, which is Citadel Shadow Grew, washed with black ink, then dry brushed with Shadow Grey again, and finally Elf Grey. Together with the bright red toadstools and sunburst yellow dry brush (which I always think looks like it might be tiny flowers mixed in the grass), this field stone treatment forms part of what I think of as the 'fantasy meadow' treatment. I know that sounds naff, but I like the idea of a wooded dell, or mountain top meadow being defiled by battling forces of Orcs and Elves etc... Bwahahahahaha!

The broken weapons and discarded shields and helmet are all from the ever useful Frostgrave Soldiers sprue and were added to emphasise the fearsome nature of the Ogres having caused their opponents to throw down their weapons and run!

As the month wore on and REAL LIFE began to take it's toll this challenge definitely became one of quantity over quality. For a while this was bugging me, and I can see loads of things that I could/should have done better when looking back over these photos. But as JB/Asslessman said in his excellent recent blog post on his entry for a 4 pot painting challenge: "Done is better than perfect." In that spirit I am really happy with my output this month as it has moved me closer to having a second tournament ready force for November.

Next up were some Goblins and Night Goblins. I have large blocks of 4th Ed monopose Gobbo Spears and Archers, but am still in need of more command figures to turn them into fully functioning units. Apologies as I forgot to take a picture of the reverse view, but you aren't missing much.

Basing wise I have swapped to using Coat D'Arms Goblin Green over the darker Humbrol green. This is less lurid than my preferred thinned down Snot Green formula, but is much more sustainable across a large force. Dry brushed with Coat D'Arms Putrid Green, these are now getting the same treatment as my 40k/SWA Space Orks, which is in turn my attempt to match my existing 2nd Ed Ork forces which were painted by a friend's uncle in the early 90s... So Anna B, in anticipation of your objection to the lack of Sunburst Yellow dry brush - it is still "auffentic Ork fashionz from da 90s, right!"

Next we have assorted Orcs; one of Harboth's archers (I think?) which was my second ever metal Oldhammer Orc archer and both have been really lovely models to paint; a member of the Man Mangler crew who, as I sadly don't have a Man Mangler (yet!) will have to do duty on a Skull Crusher instead, an Orc casualty who I have also come to think of as a member of the Skull Crusher crew (lying on his back trying to fix the winch mechanism like a mechanic?); and a Standard Bearer that had been damaged and needed some work. I got the chance to test my new pin vice and fixed in a good length of paper clip.

Basing wise they got the Coat D'Arms Goblin Green/Putrid Green treatment. A piece of loose field stone made sense for the Man Mangler crew, and the Archer and Standard Bearer both got toadstools made out of lentils - all to try and tie the new colour scheme back to that common landscape with the rest of my finished minis.

More apologies now as these photos are both blurred and contain duplicates of the chainsaw wielding loon, but you can see the same strong red and yellow accent colours that dominate my goblin forces are repeated, as are the basing elements of field stone and toadstools - I particularly like those elements for the fanatics, both to emphasise their fungus fuelled mania, and give them something to trip over.

Here you can see the two even more basic paint jobs on two other Blood Bowl Goblins I like to use as proxy fanatics, which I have rebased to fit in with the updated O&G forces.

I have a real penchant for using Blood Bowl minis in WFB as you can see with the two ogres above, and even in RT/40K as with this beast! But, only one of these proxy fanatics looks like a Night Goblin, which led me back to a point I have always wanted to argue - why do only Night Goblins get fanatics!? Yeah, I know it is to do with the special fungus brew etc. but if you think about it, Goblin Doom Divers are just as suicidal (if not more so) and they don't have to be Night Goblins? How much would you object if an opponent wanted to field proxy fanatics in a non-night goblin unit if it seemed in character with the army? your thoughts would be welcome in the comments :)

Finally we have Azhag's Wyvern - who was one of my first purchases from the OTC and painted up straight away ages ago for a special appearance in my D&D campaign, but who remained unbased since then, and still remains unmounted (soon Azhag, soon!).

I wanted to keep the base in keeping with the rest of the force, but needed to break up the block of green to give more contrast against the scales of the Wyvern.

A larger area of broken field stone has helped with that a bit, and has helped disguise the fact the right foot sat quite proud from the base, but given free reign I would have used something other than green as the main colour for this one. Never mind - it's not perfect, but its done, and so is my Orctober 2017 painting challenge!

Big thanks as ever to Russ for running the ToMG challenges, and to everyone who is taking part each month via the Middlehammer facebook group - it's amazing to see so many people taking part!

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

SWA: Orktoberfest!

Happy Orktoberfest everyone! Yes, it is that time of year when the bloggosphere and on line hobby groups give way to the exuberance of the greenskins!

I had been planning on spacing out my various Ork/Orctober blog posts throughout the month, but a combination of work/life balance being hectic, plus lots of actual game playing!! (sadly no Shadow War however), has meant that they are all going to come in a rush at the end of the month.

First up has to be the next recruits to my Snake Bite kill team for SWA. Sadly my Summer of Shadows project has not involved nearly as much gaming as I had hoped for thanks to ill health, but I have enjoyed an Indian Summer of painting up these vicious bastards.

"Wot choo lookin at dog breff!?"
They have all been painted up using the same 'red period' colour palette as the rest of my 2nd Ed and SWA Orks, although I will admit that I ended up using more red on these than I initially intended. They are still Snake Bites. Honest guv!

This is going to be my Mek Boy for SWA, but is actually a Nob from the back of a RT/2nd Ed era Nobz Warbike circa 1990(?) - I slightly regret choosing green for the plasma energy, and bottled any attempts at OSL (object sourced lighting) as a result, having been slightly disappointed with how it worked out on another old school Ork I painted earlier in the year.

Also not that happy with the freehand clan markings on this one, it's slightly off centre and maybe not immediately recognisable as Snakebitey enough, despite being straight out of the 2nd Ed Codex. Ah well, at least it proves he is a Snakebite, despite all the red. Proves it I tells ya!

This is my second Spanner Boy wiv Rokkit Launcha, and possibly my favourite of the bunch. Not only am I happier with the freehand glyph, but it includes some scavenged RTB1 Space Marine parts in true Orky fashion.

I deliberately didn't repair/repaint the missile launcher (other than to tidy up some paint splatter and add a grey highlight to the black metal areas) as I wanted it to feel like he has lifted it from somewhere else. I think it does that without looking completely out of place. I also made a shank out of some left over pistol handle and a combat blade attachment for a Space Marine bolter.

This is obviously my Pain Boy, and a very fun mini to paint. I added a later edition bolt pistol, so I could paint the heavy casing red to tie in with the rest of the band and a prosthetic blade-arm from Gorka Morka which seemed an appropriate choice.

I had trouble with the splatter effect of Tamiya Clear Red up the front of his apron, but a single rogue line flicked up over his mouth and face which I like in a gross sort of way, so I quit while I was ahead. More practice required there however.

Finally we have this rude little felllow! Yes, that is a cricket bat.

Originally sculpted by Kev White for the GoblinAid project a few years back he was a present from a fellow Old/Middlehammerer, the Goblin Bat Man (aka 'Gretchin Anaesthetist' in my universe) is going to act as the Pain Boy's assistant (active in 40k but a non combat role in SWA). The colour scheme is less red period than the others, and not just because there is hardly any red on him. The sculpt just seemed to call out for a paint job that makes him look like a contemporary street thug. Love him!

Anyway, I should be getting on with my next Orctober post! Thanks for stopping by. Do come again and bring some cake.

Friday, 6 October 2017

A Tale of Middlehammer Gamers: High Elves Anonymous

Me: "Umm. Hi. Hello. My name's Paul, and I'm addicted to High Elves.

Group: "Hi Paul!"

Me: "So.... I've been keeping hold of the High Elf army I started when I was 14 and got the WFB4 Box Set, you know the one with all the chunky monopose archers and spearmen that most people hate?"

Group: "Uh huh, yeah, we do, carry on Paul. You are doing great."

Me: "Umm. Thanks everyone. Well, you see, it gets worse. I'm fixated on this concept of painting a whole host of Caledor themed High Elves, in the same shiny metallic green and primary colours as I did when I was 14! Gah! There. I said it..."

Group: *polie and supportive applause* "Well done Paul. That can't have been easy."

Me: "No. No it wasn't. So, can you guys help me kick the habbit? Can you help me get off the High Elf monopose plastic crack!?"

Group: "Hell no! We are going to enable you and facilitate even more painting of High Elves in garish primary colours!!!"

Me: "Wait... What!?"

*Chanting growing in the back ground* "One of us! One of us! One of us!"

And that, dear reader, is almost exactly how it happened.

My indoctrination into the online cult masquerading as a self help group known as High Elves Anonymous (fallen brethren welcome), came swiftly after it became clear that there were a number of us fellow Elf Nuts (sorry/not sorry) taking part in the Tale of Middlehammer Gamers monthly challenges via the Middlehammer facebook group. September's challenge was to pledge a number of minis towards whatever force you are currently (or, rather should be!) working on, and I pledged 4 Archers (to 'complete' a unit of 26), a Silver Helm Standard Bearer (to 'complete' a unit of 10), and Prince Tyrion on his war pony Malhandir- following on from August's Procrastinators Challenge this seemed an apt choice seeing as I have owned Tyrion for just over 20 years, but have always been too scared to paint him!

Here we can see my September pledges at the start of the month
I must confess that I had some help with this project from Son #1, although he did think they should be more worried about the Snotling invasion on the other side of the table!

As I mentioned, I'm commited to completing the 4th Edition (blurring into 5th edition) High Elf Army I dreamed of and indeed started all the way back when I was 14. The thing is that means working with a pretty bold colour scheme, and incorporating paint jobs like this...

Why do you look so alarmed Mr Spearman? Is it your lack of ink wash making you feel naked and unfinished? No....?
Oh, it's because of the garish colour scheme on this archer! I don't know what the hell is going on here. The colours on the wings on the quiver are like the Jamaican fla.... Oh wait, yes I do.
I have two pretty large units of archers already painted, dating back to 1994, and a few rushes of productivity between then and now. They will eventually be two units of 26 inc command, but that means they need sprucing up and a more unified colour scheme as there is a lot of variation in quivers and fletchings. These four will serve as a template for the updates colour scheme.

The first model I actually finished (and for some reason this means it got missed off the solo shots in the light box - apologies) was the Silver Helm standard bearer. I have plans for a pennant banner at some stage, but I need some practice first, so that is for another time.

Even the Silver Helms in Caledor love their vintage citadel Glistening Green scale mail
I have a shield related issue to address at some point. Too many elves and not enough shields. Once I know what my plan is across the whole force then I will come back and sort out the shields, but for now they remain blank.

Here he is with his nine Horse Bros. There are more in a shoe box somewhere for another unit at some point....
Did I mention I was a bit scared of putting paint on Prince Tyrion and Malhandir, king of all Shetland ponies? The stellar job I had done on his brother Teclis (not to be shown here) had not filled me with confidence I can tell you! I needed a boost to get me started, so made sure I had a good lunch.

Well sort of good. Missing two of the five essential food groups - nuts and crisps, but what you can't see here is that I had a Cheese and Salt and Vinegar crisp sandwich first. So this was desert. I'm not an animal.
Right! That was better. Braced by sugar and later some dutch courage I summoned up the courage to go with what I wanted for this model and to paint him up in a Dragon Prince-esque style, slapping on some dark green and fading up to acid greens and yellows, and a matching red to orange-yellow fade on the head pieces of Tyrion and Malhandir.

I have to say I was pretty chuffed with that!
I knew I didn't want the cloth barding to take focus away from Tyrion, but I also knew I didn't want to leave it blank. Referring back to the original studio version I decided to locate a rune in the same front left portion, as it seemed to balance the model well (it wouldn't look right on the side with the sword imho).

High Elf Runes
Keeping with the Caledor theme I decided to go with the rune Sarathai (the World Dragon), which also appears on Tyrion's Rune Sword, Sunfang, so it seemed appropriate for hat reason too.

I added a blue trim to the bottom of the cloth, but other than that have left it as a block of white. It is a High Elf war pony after all!
I regularly put the two parts of the model together to check how the colour balance was going, especially before opting for a dark blue cloak which I knew was going to give Tyrion a much darker aspect than is traditional.
The blue cape was balanced out by a blue sword, with the flesh was given a purple wash to continue the darker look
My intention was to have the blue sword picked out with ice blue-white runes and I shared the version below with the High Elves Anonymous group claiming it 'done' - but even as I shared the photos I realised the blue tone wash had taken a lot of the contrast out of the runes and it looked a bit flat.

Credit and many thanks then to Anna B who advised using the same red-orange fade as for the head pieces, which you can see in the finished pictures below. She was not wrong! Indeed huge thanks to all in the High Elves Anonymous (fallen brethren welcome) support group both for their encouragement and valuable Elven lore!

Tyrion and Malhandir are sporting this season's must have his and horse matching head gear...

What the hell is that thing? It's got a Dragon's head and an eagles wings. It's not a Griffin, it's not a Phoenix. What the hell is it!?

I've just realised I paint my fantasy horses without horse shoes... Huh. Might have to address that.

Group shot of the September pledges
I've often mentioned my love of monthly painting themes and challenges when blogging, especially when they can be tied in with ongoing projects that need a bit of a boost. Well, Tale of Middlehammer Gamers (ToMG) really ticks all the boxes. Not only has it spawned a new set of connections with my fellow Elf Freaks, but across the Middlehammer group more generally there has since been talk of meet ups and mini tournaments and I have thrown my hat in the ring not only with my High Elves, but potentially with my Orcs and Goblins too!

The ToMG theme for October Orctober is to work on your bases to get things battle ready. I have already confessed my sins to the group that I will be putting the Elf(s) on the Shelf for the month to focus on my Greenskins, but this challenge has really given me the gumption to get my High Elf host into battle ready shape. My 14 year old self would be proud!

Thanks for reading. Do stop back for the next instalment in this Tale of Middlehammer Gamers!

Monday, 2 October 2017

Da Great Snot Off!

Blimey! Things have been busy on the hobby front recently with painting challenges and themes coming thick and fast. Following on from the very successful Procrastinators Challenge, Russ from the Middlehammer group launched the "Tale of Middlehammer Gamers" in September which encouraged the community to pledge which models from the armies they are currently working on they would complete by the end of the month. Russ saw a fantastic response with 23 pledges met, and some real beauties among them - check out the album on the Middlehammer fb page! With Orctober now upon us the challenge for the month is to work on bases for your army, whether it be painting them all Goblin Green, or sculpting something more scenic.

As you can see below I opted for a combination of both those approaches for my entry to Middlehammer Mark's Snotling themed challenge:


Snotlings at work and play

There had been a lot of snotling related chatter on the fb page and as soon as Mark suggested the idea of a Snotling themed challenge for September I knew it would be a winner and I had the urge to do something special, so I started to plan a modular diorama (the first time I have ever attempted such a thing) where each base of Snotlings would come together to form a scene.

The main concept is that there are two gangs of Snotlings both serving the same Orc and Goblin army, but they are rivals within their own little Snotling Economy. The dominant gang (in blue/grey/purple) the toadstool patch inside the ring of stone faces in control of the valuable trade in magic mushrooms for the fanatics, doom divers and various other shamanic purposes, they can afford the scrap metal equipment needed for the lucrative but risky enterprise of spider hunting, and can even equip their best fighters in the style of mini goblin units complete with Snotling fanatics!

The second gang are lower on the Snotling totem pole, confined to the less profitable occupations of dung farming, pumpkin growing, and scavenging the scree slopes for poisonous rock urchins. They are clad in cast off scraps of tanned hides and furs, with only a few among them having metal weapons. The idea was for this social stand off to be seen if you bring all the bases together in a particular order.

I drafted a plan on some graph paper and immediately set about gathering my materials together from the bitz box, and the store of milliput bits and bobs I make whenever I have a left over blob, and finally the lead pile to get the snotlings themselves... except I discovered that I only had 9 snotlings!!!

I looked upon the posts of the hordes of snots that others were posting on the fb page with undisguised envy! Clearly some Internet purchasing was in order, and although I did acquire some old school lead snotlings from evilbay at a not too unreasonable price, it was a suggestion from fellow Middlehammerer Andrew that the Demon World 15mm Goblins make good proxies that meant I was able to turn my initial idea into a reality. Cheers for that suggestion Andrew!

Assorted Gubbinz and horrible but cheap MDF bases

I numbered the bases on the reverse so I could keep track during the various stages. I was glad I did this on more than one occassion.

Snotling scale creep!
One issue I was presented with was the obvious variation in size among the various GW snotlings. The Demon World Gobbos are smaller but I was warned of that in advance, and at least they are all the same size! The one in the middle of the pic above is not far off a Goblin Spearman!

Actually, the issue of outsized Snotlings turned out to be helpful in sorting and grouping them together on to bases. The idea became that the larger snots would be champions that other smaller snots would gather around (accepted snotling lore being that they idolise any greenskin bigger than they are!)

The next stages were to transfer the paper plan onto the wooden bases in pencil and place the snotlings where I thought they would go (this changed a number of times as ideas developed), and then to add the putty elements and spiders.

Once I was happy with placement I started sticking things down, including a pile of gravel that would form the rock pile at the back, and some humps of milliput for the Snotling Fanatic bases to give them some variation. Next came sand flocking and... lentils. For toadstools. Obvs.

I'm not normally a fan of Army Painter sprays for base coats (although do use them for scenery occassionaly) but I was certainly glad I had a can of their Greenskin on hand for this project! +1 for Cheat Spray!

Base coats for everything next. The unpainted putty elements were deliberately left off as they would have prevented access while painting, but I regularly checked to see how everything was coming together and made a few tweaks here and there as we went.

It was around this time I changed the layout of the bottom three stands of Snotling Fanatics, this was for two reasons, firstly the two duplicate sculpts didn't look good next to each other and secondly the random scattering of rocks I added to the bases to break up the green then looked a bit lop sided in the original lay out. The new layout separated the sculpts and the three bases seemed to 'fit' better together that way as the scattering of rocks looks more natural. Yes. I spent WAY too much time staring at stands of snotlings...

Once the extra pumpkins had been added and the last two stone faces stuck in and painted, the final job was to add some height to the central pumpkin patch with some putty mushrooms on cocktail stick stalks, and a few more lentils. I mean toadstools.

There are a number of little stories being played out across two or more bases, which you can see below:

Here we can see the two rival Snotling Shamans facing off against each other, the dominant gang guarding the precious mushroom patch from the encroaching mob coming in from the dung pools (one of which can be seen on the left side)

The scree slopes are the hunting grounds for those unfortunate snots sent in search of poisonous rock urchins (the purple things!) which they normally sell to the Orc and Goblin Shamans, but can also be employed as rather dangerous missiles at short range.

Over near the pumpkin patch some unfortunate spider hunters are having the tables turned on them. If they fall backwards over the pumpkins into the rival gang's territory they are going to get beaten up... if the spider doesn't eat them first!

Down at the front you can see more successful spider hunting taking place. The Demon World Goblin troop types give some really lovely opportunities to have snotling proxies of classic WFB Goblin units like Netters and Clubbers, and I can see myself going back for some spider riders to continue this theme in the future. Some shield bearing Snotling Warriors also help blend the main scene into the three 'extra' Fanatic stands.

Sorry the photo is rubbish!

I had initially thought of these as a separate add on, showing what the Snotling tribe might look like on the battle field, but actually once you put them all together they do all make sense as a block of 12 bases, with one of the spiders seemingly stalking up behind the Snotling ranks at the front 😀

The finished mob
Apologies again for the blurry photos
I'm really chuffed with how these turned out, and how I was able to turn my initial vision into a reality of lead, putty and gravel. There are definitely some rough edges that would need smartening up, but if I'm honest I have had enough of snotlings for a while, so any touch ups will have to wait!

Thanks as always to Mark for coming up with the idea for the challenge, and to the Middlehammer group for providing inspiration. This project simply would never have existed otherwise!