Thursday, 13 July 2017


Kulgin Bachensteiner has sought answers all his long life. From the deep, dank forests of RukenWood he journeyed across the Hard Hills to StoneGrave Moor. Here it was that he discovered the long lost cairns and barrows of an ancient civilisation. Within these cold tombs he sought not the tarnished treasure and ancient gems, but dark knowledge........

It's cheesy I know, but somehow it's fitting for a model like this. It's probably some kind of unholy sacrilege to criticise these much-loved classic figures, but I have always found the undead range to have that clunky, 1980's vibe. I did toy with the idea of removing the ridiculously large skull head and sword blade, but in the end decided to go full on nostalgia and just paint it up as it stands.

Painting the necromancer was a reward to myself for completing the zombies. However, as I have no real love for the model, it was a rush job completed in a couple of sessions. It's not my best work, but it's good enough and keeps the momentum going on the Undead project.

Here's a shot of Kulgin surrounded by his mindless minions. As I had my camera set up I took the opportunity to reshoot the zombies, the butcher and the ghouls.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Barrow Guardians WIP

A little progress on the Undead force. These are the Barrow Guardians of StoneGrave Moor. They are the elite troops, the one unit that might actually cause some damage on the battlefield. Originally I had intended just eight models for two Saga points, but decided that three points gave me more options and makes sense from a Dragon Rampant viewpoint - units of elites are six strong in that system.

They are built from plastic Army of the Dead figures from the Lord of the Rings range. A few have weapons from the plastic GW skeletons, plastic shields from Gripping Beast Saxons, plus a few other bits here and there. Nothing amazing or ground-breaking, but they do fit the bill nicely.

Sunday, 2 July 2017


Two dozen zombies speed painted. These are predominantly plastic figures, mostly mantic with some GW bits. There's also some Wargames Factory historical bits from their Saxon range. The two main characters in the centre of the front row are metal figures from the now defunct Rackham Confrontation series. It's tempting to spend a little more time on these two "leaders" but I am trying to whizz through these figures so will call them done for now.

My aim is to use these figures in several systems. In Fantastic Saga they are Undead levy troops, so two units of twelve - theoretically they could be split into smaller units but I would probably field them big as they are very poor and need the numbers. They would also be similarly used in Dragon Rampant. They could also be ranked up on magnetic movement trays to play mass battle games.

After just over a month I am pretty pleased to have painted up four points of my Undead Saga force - these two points of levy and the previously painted butcher and ghouls. I am continuing with the fleshy elements - some fliers and a necromancer are in my sights. Then I will move on to the bony bits - I have already started the rather tedious task of building a legion of skeletons. Onwards we shuffle!

Friday, 23 June 2017

The Butcher

The Butcher of StoneGrave Moor. You probably recognise this as an ogre kingdoms butcher, at least that was it's title when I bought it years ago. I swapped the head for a plastic one, think it came from the leadbelchers set. I also added a little greenstuff here and there to hide joins. Then it sat in the cabinet for years - I originally had intended using three as Nurgle ogres but never got round to the other two. Now that I am painting an Undead force, I thought it was the ideal model to lead a pack of ghouls. Yes, I may well have played Castlevania at some time in the past.

I am currently working on twenty-four zombies for the force, a task that is testing my resolve to the limit. Any excuse (like writing a blog post) to not pick up the brushes I am jumping at. I can happily paint commission regiments of twice this size, but am very impatient with my own figures at the moment.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

North Star Goblins previewed

I spotted this picture on the Lead Adventure Forum - a preview of upcoming plastic orcs/goblins. These are three ups, master models which are reduced in size - the final versions will have slimmer bases, slightly less defined details. I like the look of these, they are different to the usual orcs available to gamers. I posted some artwork on various interpretations of orcs in the past (here, here and here).

These orcs follow on from the recently released plastic dwarfs and will in turn (according to rumour) be followed by plastic elves. I didn't like the dwarfs much, they strayed a bit too close to the Disney/garden gnome aesthetic for my taste, but it will be interesting to see the elves when they finally surface. I posted a review of the Osprey book on dwarfs (here), though never picked up the orcs or elves books.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

V&V Miniatures Vikings Review

I have been keeping an eye on V&V Miniatures for the past year or so, as they released more and more vikings. Finally, with my birthday around the corner, I gave in to temptation and put in an order. I had read on facebook that they take a while to ship - it was about five weeks in my case, so bear this in mind if you are making an order.

The figures arrive in stout card boxes with the contents pictured on the cover. Each mini is contained in a sealed plastic bag. If you order any loose minis these are placed into one of the other boxes for protection. They did arrive in a soggy jiffy bag (rain is very common around here) - probably a fault of the postman as much as anything - but luckily there was no damage to the contents.

I am amazed at the quality of the castings. They are made from a nice hard resin, with very little mould lines to remove and virtually no flaws - I think I found two inconspicuous air bubbles on the whole lot of twenty figures. That's better than most resin figures I have worked on. You will have to remove the "tabs" from the feet and drill through the hand to receive the weapon on some models. This example also has a head to fit, though most of my models had an integrated head. Note also the lightly textured resin base. I am using two pence coins (UK) for my bases as they give a nice little extra weight for stability on the tabletop and are also handily magnetic. Coincidentally, the resin bases are exactly the same diameter as two pence coins.

The sculpts are wonderful - nice natural body poses, good proportions and an amazing level of detail - how many of your minis have designs on the belt buckles? Or sculpted teeth? It really is incredible how finely detailed they are, certainly the equal of the best fantasy sculpts I have seen and far, far more intricate than any of my metal historicals. Suffice to say, they are now the best in my historical collection, in terms of sculpt and cast.

All this quality comes at a cost of course. These figures are three euros apiece. For many players, this will be expensive, when metals can be had for about half this rate, and plastics can be had for much less. For me, they are worth every penny. If you want quality rather than quantity, these are definitely the minis for you.

Finally, some comparison shots so you can judge the proportions and scale against some other manufacturers. This is the extent of my historical collection, I do not own figures from other manufacturers, so apologies if your favourite brand is missing!

With Drabant Miniatures (metal)

With Foundy figures (metal)

With Gripping Beast (plastic on left, metal on right)

With Gripping Beast Saxon (plastic, left) and Saxon Miniatures (metal, right)

Sunday, 4 June 2017


It's my birthday next week! I usually book a holiday, but unfortunately I was unable to get that particular time slot and had to settle for a week earlier than usual. However, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. For one, it's actually sunny - not always a given in June in England. Secondly, I discovered this little festival purely by chance. A very fortunate early birthday gift from the gods....

Eboracum was the Roman settlement established in the north of England - later resettled by the Vikings and known as Yorvik - now the beautiful city of York.  

There were two main elements to the festival - a military drill and a Roman camp. The drill was very informative and highly entertaining, though a few of the little kiddies were in tears when charged by the fully armoured troops. The camp was a chance to see some of the equipment at close hand, chat with the re-enactors who are always very knowledgeable, and partake of  free samples of  Roman food - though no larks' tongues.  

On to the Roman camp. One of the exhibitors had some model soldiers to explain tactics, which I thought was suitably nerdy for the blog.

Thursday, 1 June 2017


A unit of hastily painted ghouls. As I said in my last post, I am keen to get something painted more rapidly than the usual months (years!) long slog, so these are a bit rough around some edges. Still, I am happy with them for the amount of time spent on them.

These are the plastic goblins from the Hobbit game, perfect ghouls/troglodytes/demons in my eyes. They are based on two pence coins, handily magnetic, cheap and they give a little weight to the model. Onward to the next figure, some kind of super ghoul coming up.....

Saturday, 27 May 2017

The Undead Rise Again

I am feeling the need to complete something. My dwarfs are plodding along as ever, I am still waiting for viking reinforcements, and my Elves are just too overwhelming to contemplate at the moment. I want something to blast through in a short time. Undead are ideal for this as they are fairly easy to paint, so I am planning roughly a twelve point force for Fantastic Saga.

I have made a start, collecting together some already assembled figures to speed up the process. Some of these are already painted (see original post here), but I will probably retouch them a little. I have already made a very rapid start and painted up some ghouls, with zombies next on my list. This old school necromancer will be leading the "fleshy" units. The bone units are still to be built.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Dwarf OakenGuard

The personal bodyguard of the thane of Oakenhammer, the renowned OakenGuard. Hand picked from the most valiant warriors or most trusted family members, these dwarfs are equipped at the thane's expense with the finest armour and weaponry of the hold. In return, they take a blood oath to protect and serve the thane - only death in combat or an honorary discharge can end this vow. 

As I detailed in this post, these dwarfs are mostly plastics, some very simple kitbashing. In terms of painting, with them being mostly armour, I have relied on different metallic surfaces to provide a little variety. The axe head decorations and jewels also help to break up the armour.

These are the first six of a planned "unit" of twelve. A nice round dozen seems a good figure to me, enough to be a sizeable chunk on a battlefield, but not too many to be a chore to paint. This group contains the captain of the OakenGuard and a horn blower. The next batch of six will include the thane's personal standard bearer. I also have made a start on the thane, as previewed in this post. However, I am switching to a different project to give me a short break from the bearded ones, but will return to them later in the year.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Metal High Elves

It's twenty-five years since I bought my first copy of Warhammer Fantasy Battle! It was the fourth edition of the game rules, but the first time that a boxed set containing two starter armies had been released. I can remember playing my first game with my two brothers on my mum's sewing table using the plastic figures and cardboard heroes. Those two armies were High Elves and Night Goblins - possibly to attract latent Tolkien fans, who knows? It certainly worked on me, I bought into the High Elves in a very big way. I drooled over the figures and the articles in White Dwarf and bought the army book as soon as I could. Even though the starter figures were all single pose, it really captured my imagination. But it was a very daunting task to paint up all that grey plastic to the standard in the books and magazines, so I started with something easier (Undead), hoping to come back to the elves when I had more skill.

It was a few years (he said vaguely, obviously unable to remember the exact timeline) before I attempted to paint those plastic elves, but eventually I worked my way through them and even added a few metal figures as I went along. It was a slow process because I was a working man with a young family, hobby time was scarce. I plodded on, grabbing an hour or two here or there every few weekends. After a couple of years (I think), I had painted up the army. It was a huge achievement for me at the time. That army still sits in my glass cabinet, a real milestone in my hobby life. I must get some pictures of it for the blog some time.

Fast forward to the summer of 2015 and the sad news that the Old World had been destroyed. The internet erupted with a storm of rage and indigation, with players abandoning the game, selling off their old armies - there was even one infamous youtube episode of an army being burned. I had gradually drifted away from playing the game by then, but still collected and painted. Luckily not all the rage-quitters were quite so incensed and many expressed their anguish through ebay and forum sales. For a few months, it was a good time to be a buyer. I picked up a sizeable collection of metal elves over that summer and put it to one side. I think it was part nostalgia, part my love of a bargain. 

Most of the figures below are from that era. The archers and spearmen are the metal equivalents of that first starter set, while the white lions I think came a little later. The final picture of shadow warriors and character packs are from much later still, probably sixth edition or so. This represents a decent sized army from fourth edition, units were commonly only twelve or sixteen strong (multiples of four were common as ranks back then were just four wide). I have a large amount of mounted figures too, some of them bought back in the early 1990's, some picked up in the rage storm of 2015. 

It would be nice to do something with these figures, to mark my silver anniversary in the game. Laid out like this, they do have a vaguely jewelled look to them. With all my other ongoing projects it would be complete madness to start another one, but it does seem a tempting proposition. I would base and organise them with Saga in mind, but with fond memories of all those past games of Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Let's wait and see what the summer brings.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

More Vikings To Invade

It's my birthday next month - the ideal excuse to add to my collection of vikings. I have been watching the range of V&V Miniatures expand over the past couple of years, and they have got more and more impressive each time. Now seems a good time to make an order with them. I have read on the Saga facebook page that delivery can take up to a month as they are based in Ukraine - so I am allowing plenty of time for my birthday pressy to arrive. Here's the figures I have ordered, a full review after my birthday of course!

Monday, 1 May 2017

River Skirmish

South Bank Viking bondi advance under Danish arrow fire
Another game from our Age of the Wolf campaign. This was a strange though inevitable situation of having two players controlling four factions - my Vikings facing off against my Danes. Matt took the Danes and we played Battle at the Fords scenario. Points are scored for troops that have crossed the river at the end of the game - the river bisects the battlefield and there are just two crossing points.

At the southern crossing, the Vikings advanced rapidly under fire from Danish archers - no point hanging about to be picked off one by one. It's really annoying losing elite troops to lowly archers, so the poor bondi took the lead and the brunt of the missile fire.

North Bank Vikings line up to defend Danish probes

Over on the north bank the Vikings took a more defensive stance, lining the bank of the river and waiting for any Dane attack. This was my general strategy - to attack in the south, hold in the north. There are never quite enough Saga dice to move everything if you want to employ battleboard abilities, so I was quite happy to do this. A unit of bondi in front with a small reserve of hirdmen to plug any gaps, keeping a watchful eye on the advancing Danish Lord and his bodyguard.

South bank vikings cross the river

The decisive action was taking place on the south bank. The Viking bondi waded the crossing and exacted their revenge on the Danish archers, slaying a few and forcing the remainder back. Unfortunately this left them tired and easy prey for the Danish hearthguard. Their sacrifice was not in vain though, as the Viking Lord and his bodyguard waded across the river.

North bank Danish attack is repulsed

On the north bank, the Danish Lord finally took the plunge and surged forward with his bodyguard, crashing into the viking bondi. Ordinarily this would have been an easy combat for the Danes, but I had kept some Saga dice in reserve on combat abilities, allowing me to reroll misses. Thus, the lowly Viking bondi slaughtered the Dane elite and pushed back the Lord. He waded back to the far bank, his warriors helping him out.

South bank Vikings advance

Back at the south bank, the Vikings took up a position in a patch of boggy ground, just out of reach of the Dane archers. Dane warriors hurtled past them and attempted to cross the river, but were hacked down almost to a man by very annoyed Vikings - back into the river they went and back out again. By now the Danes had utterly lost control of the south bank. In a last gasp attack on the north bank the Danish Lord and his troops faced the viking defending line, but were no match. The Danish Lord fell in battle and limped away, jeered by his Norse tormentors. You can read about the Danish lament on Matt's blog.

Another good game of Saga. As usual, there never seems to be enough Saga dice to cover all eventualities, forcing some hard decisions to be made (or not - in the case of the Danish Lord!). Though each force is practically identical, the Saga abilities means that each plays in a very different way. This is the beauty of the game to my mind.

The campaign system is not quite up to the same standard. Setting aside the very confusing points/units system, the random fate rolls have played a large part in allowing the Vikings to steam ahead. In truth, it's not really suitable for just two players, even though we have four factions between us. It has generated some very enjoyable games, but it's not quite worked out the way we had hoped. Officially we are half way through, it remains to be seen if we will complete the whole thing. If there were a group of four or five players I think it would work much better - and to be fair this is exactly the set up the Age of the Wolf is designed for. Even if we abandon the campaign, there's plenty more Saga gaming to come.
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