It isn’t just the ancient adversaries that have lines in the Book of Grudges. Indeed, the younger races can do plenty to earn the ire of dwarfs. Lately, the humans have drawn the attention of the dwarf king through several border skirmishes that show their artillery has improved over the years. Have played three games of Kings of War by Mantic Games in the last week all against my friend, Ryan, and his Kingdoms of Men army.
I’d already faced Necron_99’s Basileans once in past so thought I had an idea of what humans were like but Kingdoms of Men have hard hitting, armored cavalry, cheap hordes of pike (+20 attacks!), ogres, and artillery that hits on 5s with neither range nor cover modifiers. Ouch, and they are so much cheaper than dwarfs.
The first two battle were fought back to back with the first as a Kill scenario and the second as a Kill and Pillage scenario. When playing Ryan it is imperative to get the first turn because if he does, whatever army he’s running, he is unloading ranged death. His artillery proved accurate numerous times while he deftly skirted hills to avoid mine. Very frustrating for one who’s army relies on its guns.
Ryan was able to keep pounding my forces with accurate artillery while moving his forces forward behind hills and forests. I was able to take out one unit of knights before the other crashed into my Berserker lord on brock. When the infantry units finally closed on one another the bloodshed began in earnest. The game went to twelve turns and ended with a close victory for the humans. Hurrumph, upstart races.
The second battle found us trying to end with units closer to objective markers as well as kill each other. That seems to be a recurring theme in our games, no matter the genre’, now that I think about it. This one was much closer even with his horrifyingly accurate artillery fire raining death from on high. I swear, I don’t understand how the humans get so many indirect fire weapons. I’m just glad the dwarfs finally got one in the form of the Jarrun Bombard. Typical of dwarfs, it is very expensive (100points) so I haven’t added one yet, not yet.
Since he blasted apart my long range artillery on his first turn (did I mention it sucks when he goes first?) it all came down to the combats on my left flank. I was able to kill off just about every scoring unit he moved into the village square but he kept dropping rocks with such accuracy that he even took out the army standard bearer (rolled a six!). My berserker lord was able to take out the rocket team holding an objective and the game ended in a draw. Now, in hindsight, if I had trusted in my Headstrong and not used my Inspiring to make Ryan reroll the Wavering result the unit wouldn’t have been wiped out when he rolled an eleven. Sigh, if I had a dollar for every time I miss judged that I could pay for the next pizza.
I decided I needed a few changes in my force after those last two close ones. We have been playing 1000 points a side and I have really been struggling with whether the regiment of Brocks is worth the points. It is nice to have a high Nerve(20/22) and 30 Attacks but it eats up a lot of points (280 with Brew of Strength) and really needs another fast unit or mounted character to back it up. Again, a lot of points for a 1000 point force. In the end, paint jobs won and the regiment of brocks stayed. I switched to two cannons, dropped the army standard bearer, and traded the crossbows for rangers while kitting out some units with magic. Still felt like way too few units when I saw his army.
Despite getting the first turn, Ryan, rather uncharacteristically, rolled poorly for his artillery, barely wounding one cannon and leaving some wounds on the rangers. Just to show what a fair player I am I also rolled poorly with all my shooting and his knights slammed into one of my cannons while artillery finished off the other. Another game where I would have no long range shooting after my first turn. Meanwhile his other knights charged the rangers. This time he rolled really well on his attacks and Nerve so they routed. My infantry did take some revenge on both units of knights but knew they were all just sitting targets now. The Berserker Lord tore one apart by himself. Everything had to advance or be blasted where they stood. By the end of turn nine I had my Bulwarkers, my Brock Riders, and the Warsmith remaining, everything else was dead or routed so I advanced, The Brocks closed the distance so the artillery couldn’t target them while the Bulwarkers moved forward to face the pike horde.
Ryan’s Priest and my Warsmith went one on one, neither able to score a wound, the two phalanxes faced off, and the Brock Riders, carrying over 15 wounds at this point started laying waste to artillery. At the end of 12 Ryan rolled a five and the game went another two turns. His Priest was just able to reach the Brocks, scored a single wound then rolled and eleven on their Nerve, finally wiping them out. Damn, they were about to charge the sole artillery piece, the rocket launcher. To add insult, the pike block skewered the Warsmith, guaranteeing I had nothing to do on my final turn. My entire army was gone and it looked like and overwhelming defeat until Ryan pointed out he had less than 300 points remaining on the field, those pike horde are cheap, so it was only a close loss. Still, it’s going into the Book of Grudges because my short warriors are going to need some pay back.
In conclusion I must say I am really enjoying Kings of War. It is fast paced, simple, and a lot of fun. We played two games in one afternoon. The time to set up, play twice, and put all the tables and terrain away was just over four hours and that includes lunch. I just have to find a better balance to my army construction. I will have my revenge, Mr Ryan, rest assured. I will have my revenge. Now, back to painting more dwarfs…
In addition to the prehistoric figures and terrain Carmen does it is his amazing illustrations (http://carmensminiaturepainting.blogspot.com/2014/06/when-dinosaurs-rode-earth.html) of dinosaurs that really got me going. He is right up there with Bill Waterson in his ability to blend realistic anatomy, movement, and whimsey. These wonderful pieces gave me the impatus to take on the Hasslefree Miniatures (http://www.hfminis.co.uk/shop?product=dinosaur-%231~hfm028&category=miniatures~fantasy-monsters-%26-animals) that have been in my “Unpainted” collection.
I only have one of each but can tell I will need to build up my herd of herbivores eventually. I like the analogous greens but may still add a compliment. The base hasn’t been finished yet as I want to get a layer of mat sealant on the figure before I start adding on foliage.
The predator needed to be in warm colors, in my humble opinion, because red goes faster after all. After I got his base colors down I feared he would look too much like a tiger if I used stripes. Besides, the hadrosaur was already sporting her own bands. Thinking of them laying in the shade, watching for prey, I decided to go with a dappled pattern. I added a little black to blue green then highlighted with blue green. I finished it off with spots of yellow white. Fun figures that I think I will want more of even though I have no idea what game I would ever use them for though Crom comes to mind. I’ll post some more pictures once the ecosystems have been created.
So I had my zombie fighting Scooby Gang, found a suitable Mystery Machine upgrade, and I had some maskless ghosts and zombies. Time for a base. I did some sketches, moved the figures around a piece of paper before finally heading down to the local craftstore, reasoning it would be easier to plan out if I knew what I was going to build on. Tom (http://www.skullncrown.com/store/) always says to buy the storage box before building the terrain so you know where it needs to all fit into. Words I have repeatedly found the wisdom in the older I become. So with that in mind I found a wooden plaque template that was big enough to hold all my parts and I liked the varied edge. I had played with a number of ideas, the runner-up being the parking lot of the ruined malt shop but in the end I decided on a simple crossroads because I wanted to make the wooden sign as much as any symbolism. At this point I drew the overall shape onto a piece of foam core as well as circles where the bases would be inset, cut everything out (careful right angles for the circles tapered outer edge), and glued it down to the board with some Elmers White Glue.
I built up the area around the road with lightweight spackling and painted the road with Golden Course Textured Medium mixed with deep brown acrylic paint as a base color figuring I might as well save a step. I ran an old flat brush, frequently moistened in water, along the road to simulate ruts and old tire tracks. Once I liked the look, I pressed the tracks of the Mystery Machine against a wet sponge repeatedly between pressing them against the still moist roadway, up to the point I wanted the vehicle to be parked.
I painted the finished roadway with a watered down gloss medium to make it look wet and flocked the rest of the areas with Woodland Scenics materials, finishing them off with some tufts of grass to break up the solid horizontal planes a little. I built the sign post out of bits and pieces laying around my table.
The resin kit I picked out (GZG41 Snow Cat at http://www.daemonscape.com/contents/en-uk/d5_01.html) has some nice detail, is a clean cast, and has wonderful flat panels to paint that 70’s detail onto. I do recommend washing resin kits with a little dish soap, rinsing very well before drying them with paper towels. Otherwise I find my hard work comes pealing off the mini AFTER I’ve completely finished and usually right before I want to show it off. The only issue I had was with the turret as it didn’t have more than a slightly raised cylinder to show where to place it and then the gun hit the vehicle’s ventilator/snorkel (yes, they might have to cross flooded out roadways on their way to “Old Man Brown’s Farm” looking for the zombie of Don Knots) and my gang would need clear arcs of fire. All I needed to do was build a short base to raise the height of the barrel a bit and I found that the trigger block from a can of Montana Gold spray paint was perfect. The hole in the trigger block was almost exactly the same size as the placement cylinder and even tapered into the middle so I didn’t have to sand it off the original. What I did have to do was build up the bottom of the turret and add a plug so it could rotate. I used two part epoxy, or greenstuff, to roughly shape the bottom before pressing it into place, the surface of which was liberally covered in water to prevent sticking when I then removed it. This provided a nice, custom fit plug. After it dried I test fit and sanded it to get a smooth, tight connection and it was time to paint.
Other than the Cosmonaut Horrorclix figure where I wanted to keep his transparency, I primed everything white. Still not made the jump to airbrush I do everything by brush, including my vehicles.
I try to keep my base coats clean as it makes everything else so much easier and is worth the effort once I start putting down washes and stains.
After the base coats the figures receive said stain and washes. While I will coat every bit of a 10mm Warmaster figure (strip of figures?) a solid wash of brown (Agrax Earthshade in Games Workshop colors) for these I prefer to mix it up and tailor the colors more. Secret Weapon Miniatures (http://www.secretweaponminiatures.com/) not only make my favorite washes (huge range of colors made out of high quality materials), my favorite bases (nothing less for Hasslefree Miniatures) but also an incredible line of dry pigments I swear by for weathering. The tutorials on the website are wonderful.
The gang were simple enough as reference materials are everywhere online. I did find a great “print and fold” your own Mystery Machine on Deviantart.com that showed the details on EVERY side of the vehicle. That was wonderfully helpful. It was really a straight forward job of base coats, washes, blend, and highlight on the figures. I was working off of cartoon characters here after all. I mounted all of the Scooby Gang figures on Secret Weapon Corpse Fields Beveled bases with the original plan of adding some water effects afterward. The “Rombies” were all based on simple round bases I didn’t do more than add some texture to. Heroes should stand apart on multiple levels after all. I still haven’t added the water effects because I’m not really sure they need it. Might be a bit of overkill but with zombies that might not be a bad choice.
Such a fun project and I’m rather proud of myself for getting results so close to my original vision. That happens so rarely in any creative endeavor it’s worth savoring. All that’s left now is to figure out a game to use them in.
I have been in love with Hasslefree Miniatures’ (http://www.hfminis.co.uk/) Scooby Doo Gang as Zombie Fighters figures since the first time I saw them. I knew if I ordered them I would find a reason to use them eventually but it wasn’t until KublaCon 2012 when I acquired a HorrorClix Undead Cosmonaut that I knew I had to make a diorama. Okay, a little clarification on my use of “acquired”. Necron99 actually picked it up as part of his Friday night flea market haul. Immediately upon seeing it, I grabbed it and said he was needed to face my Scooby Gang. Being a man who appreciates aesthetics as much as he does classic cartoons he graciously agreed to let me have the radiated figure. Then it was a a simple matter of ordering a Zombie Dog Walker and Deep Sea Diver (would need some conversion) from Reaper Miniatures and my cast was complete.
Now, if they were going to be fighting zombies, real zombies as opposed to guys in rubber masks, then their Mystery Machine would really need an upgrade. I have found that Daemonscape (http://www.daemonscape.com/index.html) is a good place to start for science fiction vehicles and after some looking around settled on the armed and armored, four track Snow Cat.
Now that I had the pieces assembled it was time to plan out the display board and start painting but that can wait for another post.