Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Assorted Miniatures for 'Dark Heresy'

Hi All,

Last week our gaming group started up our second campaign of 'Dark Heresy'.  For those not familiar, 'Dark Heresy' is a role-playing game set within the 40K universe.  The game was originally produced by Fantasy Flight Games which, sadly, lost the licence a few years ago. This is regrettable as the overall production quality of the rules and supplements was superb and the game had a loyal (if sometimes OCD) following. Being a shameless opportunist, I picked up most of the books at fire-sale prices and we've been enjoying the system undeterred.

Rather than the massed combat of 40K, 'Dark Heresy' instead sets its eye upon the gritty underbelly of the Imperium, with players taking on the role of 'throne agents of the Inquisition'. The overall look and feel of the game draws heavily upon Dan Abnett's excellent 'Eisenhorn' and 'Ravenor' series of novels. It's a setting where the main focus is upon the investigation, pursuit and foiling of the nefarious plans of Mankind's myriad enemies.  Think of it as a mashup of Call of Cthulhu, Terry Gilliam's 'Brazil' and Ridley Scott's 'Blade Runner'. Operatic + dystopian + grim-dark = great fun.

Anyway, the campaign we've recently started is based on one of the module series called 'The Apostasy Gambit'. Not being able to leave well enough alone, I've worked under the hood to fix some inconsistencies, adjust for scaling and to suit to taste.  

In the opening chapter the players are tasked to bring down a debauched aristocrat who has delved into heretical artefacts, proscribed texts and has neglected to file form R451138 in his Imperial Tax Levy (in of itself a crime probably punishable by inquisitorial torture). 

Being an unrepentant nerd, I like using lots of play aids in my games to help make the imagined environment a little more real. Sketches, maps, manipulated photos of NPCs and drawings of the whacky settings, and of course lots of miniatures! 

For the debut chapter I wanted to have more of an 'open sandbox' that what was offered in the stock module and so encouraged the players to plan their own assault on the target mansion. As part of the preparation I gave them a 3D print of the mansion's grounds along with three wee 6mm Valkyrie gunship models (each, of course, full to the gunnels with Inquisitorial Stormtroopers). I find players respond to these analogue objects, helping to drive conversation and planning

(5 geek points for the first person to guess where this mansion's design is from.) :)

The players' opponents were a large and very well equipped personal security force serving the debauched aristo. For these I used the Elucidian Starstriders from the newish Rogue Trader boxed set. 

Red trousers and mustard coats all trimmed in white. Whew, yes, that is a bit loud! I had a lot of fun painting these in the garish family livery of their patron. 

The security detail was also reinforced by a heavy gun servitor. I used this excellent figure from Wargames Exclusive. Yes, he's a bit of a brute.

Ultimately, the player's will conclude their adventure by travelling to a long-abandoned cathedral which hides a HUGE secret to its origin.  In fact, the cathedral itself is just the tip of the mystery... quite literally. :)

The ancient Cathedral, overgrown by nature over the past thousand years...

Here's a couple visual hints. 

Yes, it's rather, um, 'Epic'.

Sorry to have geeked you out on this little indulgence, but I found it such great fun to work on. 

Thanks for dropping in folks! 


Monday, February 4, 2019

Renaissance French Pike ('Mauvais Garcons') and Great Gun

The French, with a few notable exceptions, were not especially renown for fielding effective pike formations. Where the Swiss cantons and German landsknechts had the pike market pretty much sewn-up, the French expertise lay more in their heavy cavalry and artillery. From reading David Potter's 'Renaissance France at War' it was not uncommon for inexperienced pike French formations to acquire foreign mercenaries, who, being more seasoned in the profession of arms, helped steady the ranks. 

The French liked to muster their troops from particular provinces or townships, which gave each unit a bit of 'local colour'. For example, men from Picardy, led by the reported libertine Mssr. Monclou, were known as the mauvais garcons (literally translates as 'bad boys). A bit of a rude chap himself, Monclou was executed in 1523 for his 'depredations' during campaign (not especially surprising when your employer is the Pope, but there you have it).

Last year, my good pal Millsy was kind enough to paint up a schwack of Perry plastic pike for me so I could field another unit for my Italian Wars collection. After the hurly-burly of the summer, and being distracted by other projects this autumn (I'm looking at you 'Titanicus'), I finally managed to get this mob flagged, pimped-out, and based-up to roll with my other units.

My contribution to this mob is sole mounted German mercenary at its head. This is a Perry-sculpted figure from the Wargames Foundry range of Landsknechts. I love these figures as they are so wonderfully characterful and satisfyingly hefty. The Perry's did such a great job in sharply defining the puff-and-slash of the clothing, which makes them a real joy to paint.

It always seems to take me an age to get the figures placed in some kind of sensible arrangement, and since I like having my pike blocks bunched in quite tight, I found that I was a few figures shy to fill all the bases. Not a problem! I estimated the space I needed to absorb and then printed off a few gabions on the handy-dandy 3d printer. In the end I'm happy with the overall look of the unit, slightly broken up, weaving their way around a line of light fortifications.

Both of these units I've based in an autumnal theme to match with the rest of my Italian Wars stuff. (Thankfully I keep a 'hobby recipe book' as I have a bad habit of bouncing between periods and always, always forget how I did things - so it helps keep things straight in my noodle.)

Millsy also painted me a trio of gunners as gift last year. And so like the pike, I've been holding on to these until the Painting Challenge to get them matched up with an appropriate gun (this one from an old chestnut from Warhamer Fantasy). As I had a spare gabion left over from the pike unit, I popped it on the base for a bit of visual interest.

I want to thank Millsy very, very much for the brilliant figures - they're a wonderful addition to my Italian Wars collection. Thanks again mate!

Cheers for dropping by folks! I hope you all have a great week.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Alastair Grimsby, 'Titus' and 'Bigby' aka: The Big Bad Wolf

Hi All,

Here we have the pugnacious Alastair Grimsby and his mastiff 'Titus', minding their business, tending their flock of sheep, while The Big Bad Wolf (or simply 'Bigby', for those who have read the brilliant 'Fables' series) lopes in for a quick spot of lunch.

Both Alastair and Titus have a great, 'What the f*ck. Again?!' look about them. Alastair, I believe, is an Artizan Design figure, but I can't for the life of me remember where I got the mastiff (pity, as he's a marvellous beast). At first I had them based separately but found that they looked much better side-by-side. I have given Alastair a natty quasi-Burberry car coat, probably a bit too stylish for the Scottish moors, but that's just how he rolls. His original shotgun was a double barrel jobbie, but it was so terribly warped that I removed the barrel and gave him a classically simple Mossberg 500.

Bigby is from Heresy Miniatures. This pose is probably my favourite of any werewolf figures that I've seen. I just love the animation of his feral, loping run. Just an awesome mini. His deeply sculpted fur required a little filling at the joins, but not a real problem. As to painting, I kept it relatively simple and gave him a mottled grey timberwolf look.

The herd of sheep are from 1st Corps. As soon as I saw these online I had to pick one up when we were at Crisis last year. While the overall look is great I have to say that I'm a little disappointed with the amount of bubbles and miscast bits. I corrected a couple things, but finally gave up and just made do. Still, a great looking and versatile tabletop scatter piece that can be used for games ranging thousands of years. 

Thanks for dropping in and have a great week everyone!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Pulp Denizens - 'Val' Sakura, Remi Choppinet and Carson Sinclair

I thought it high time to get a little pulp adventure going, so here are a few figures that I've added to my collection of all things noir, eldritch and slightly odd.

Yoshio 'Val' Sakura - 'The Kamikaze Grifter'

1949 San Francisco. Val is a fixer, private eye and grifter operating out of San Francisco's Chinatown. He 'immigrated' to the United States in 1945 via Kamikaze attack, being a pilot of a Aichi D3A 'Val' dive bomber which was splashed just short of his target off Okinawa. (It was in this crash that he lost his leg.)  Picked up and taken prisoner by a US destroyer, he spent the rest of the war in San Francisco.  Oddly he decided to stay after Japan surrendered, not wanting to face the stigma of being a failed Kamikaze in an all but destroyed country.  Haunted, hard-bitten, but also fair, Val has inadvertently made connections to the local Japanese Yakuza, Chinese Triads and other even more nefarious organisations along the US Pacific seaboard.

The figure is from Eureka's very characterful 'A Right Bloody Mess' range. As soon as I started working on his face I went, 'Hey, this guy's definitely Japanese', and the imagination went from there. His tough-guy pose just cried out for a cigarette so got out some micro-thin plastic rod and happily obliged.

Remi Choppinet - 'The Bistro Keeper'

1942 France. Remi runs a popular harbour bistro in Biarritz, but he is also head of the local Maquis (and runs a profitable contraband operation across the Pyrenees between France and Spain). Many of Remi's closest friends and confidants are the outlaws and outcasts of occupied France: downed Allied pilots, Jews, gipsies and Spanish Republicans. He likes his food, wine and other comforts, but under this soft exterior is a hard-nosed businessman with the heart of a patriot.

This figure is from the well-loved Artizan Designs 'Thrilling Tales' range. He has such a great, ''Allo 'Allo!' look about him.

Carson Sinclair - 'The Butler'

1928 Arkham. Carson Sinclair is a character from the 'Mansions of Madness' boardgame from Fantasy Flight Games.  

Carson still often thinks back to that fateful night when his friend and employer, one Mr. Hercule Webb, was swallowed up by a dimensional tear, never to be seen again. With Mr. Webb's disappearance, the Webb estate fell into the hands of the Webb's duplicitous business manager, a man by the name of Dupuis. As the sole provider for the Webb children, Carson has devoted himself to proving Dupuis's involvement in the events of Hercule's disappearance and to restoring the children as the rightful heirs to the Webb fortune.

The figure that came with the game was a little uninspiring, so I picked up this fella from Bob Murch's 'Pulp Adventure' figures. Bob's sculpts are so amazingly evocative that you just want to book a flight to Bombay on a Catalina seaplane, pillage forgotten temples in dark jungles and match wits with arch villians with whacky names. That, or pour a finely mixed drink while fighting off eldritch terrors from another time and space. No matter, it's all good fun.

Monday, January 21, 2019

William Tell's Apple Shot

Early in the 14th century, Swiss legend has it that William Tell was made sport of when Albrecht Gessler, the Austian vogt (officer) of the Swiss principality of Uri, demanded that he shoot the apple resting on Tell's son's head.

Mosaic at the Swiss National Museum

This challenge originated from a situation in which Tell pointedly decided not to salute the authority of the Austrian crown as he entered the town of Altdorf (this being Gessler's hat sitting atop a pole placed alongside the road to town). 

Seeing this act of defiance, Tell and his son, Walter, were arrested by the town constables and presented to Gessler for judgement. The Tells were cruelly sentenced to death for William's temerity of not recognising the power of Switzerland's Austrian overlords. Nonetheless, Gessler, knowing Tell was a renown crossbowman, wanted to make nasty sport from his prisoner's expense, and so decreed that he would commute their execution if Tell could shoot the apple off the head of his son.

From Sebastian Munster's 'Cosmographia' (1554 edition)

The young Walter was tied against a tree, with an apple duly resting on his head.  William silently drew two crossbow bolts from his quiver, socketed one, took aim and deftly struck the apple from atop his son's head. Gessler was very impressed, but wondered why Tell had drawn two crossbow bolts when only one was needed.  Tell cooly looked at Gessler and said the second bolt was meant for him if he missed his first shot. 

William Tell's act of defiance has become part of Swiss legend and lore, being recognized as the first spark of the Swiss rebellion which led to the foundation of the later Swiss Confederacy.

The figure shown here, depicting 'Wilhelm von Tell' in victory, is from Lead Adventure Miniatures.  He was sculpted by Igor Karpov who has a very distinctive, characterful style, with lots of heavy detail to loose your brush in. While the William Tell story is from the medieval period, he's shown here in high Renaissance garb, with slashed sleeves and  wearing a tasseted, flutted breastplate. A great figure to paint.

Thanks for visiting. Have a great week everybody!