Wednesday 31 May 2023

Royal Society for the Protection of Squigs

The breeding season for the Lesser Moorsquig is short, and their habitat is threatened. So when spring arrives, the fanatical Royal Society for the Protection of Squigs leap into action to ensure a future for this most elusive of species.

One of my occasional "I'm still around, honest!" posts. It's been a poor year so far with illness and work stresses, and several things have suffered, including this hobby. I've only managed to get one game in 2023 (which I'll blog about shortly) and only painted 6 miniatures... 3 of which were an obviously rushed effort to get something done for the Odds and Sods Painting Challenge, which this month was themed "fanatical lunatics". So here are mine: goblin fanatics by Aaron Howdle protecting a classic 40k Tall Squig.

Hopefully more to come soon - not least as I'm meant to be getting ready for my trip to Gloucestershire to play The Woods in the Woods in a couple of weeks time, which I'm very much looking forward to.

Update: I was delighted to discover that this ensemble was chosen as the Judge's favourite entry for the Odds and Sods Painting Challenge for the month of May! Many thanks to them for indulging my silliness.

Friday 30 December 2022

Jinglehammer: The Unspeakable Terror that Stole Christmas

What day is it today, child? Ahhh, well you might ask, for the darkness of winter seems endless now. There are few left who remember that this time of the year was once an occasion for joy and celebration. Gather by the fire and I will tell you the story of the unspeakable terror that stole Christmas. Is there no wood left for the fire? Alas, I'm afraid we'll have to burn another of your toys, child.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the most wonderful privilege of being hosted at the house of Paul Ede for a seasonal mini-campaign of Warhammer Fantasy Battle (5th ed) devised by Steve Han. As the only one of the three to have a blog (or so I believe), I was tasked with taking the wonderful photos the other two had taken, together with Steve's narrative, and adding my own commentary to leave a battle report online for posterity. All credit to my co-conspirators for most of the narrative and the photos here; I just played and enjoyed the wonderful hospitality! I lined up with a "nice" list (predominantly Empire), while Paul and Steve ganged up on me with a "naughty" list (predominantly Orcs and Goblins).

The background:
Chaos sorcerer, Sanity Claus, has been trying to rid the world of joy for centuries, but he has ever been thwarted by the magic of the spirits of Christmas. Direct assaults on the spirits have failed, forcing him to devise a more subtle plan. Sanity Claus has been warping reality to slowly shift Christmas forwards in time. The shift is reaching a critical moment as the citizens of the Old World unwittingly respond to and reinforce the warp by putting up decorations and playing Christmas songs ever earlier. The time is right for him to hurl Christmas to a time before the arrival of the Old Ones and so remove the protection of the spirits of Christmas. With the magic of the spirits gone, he will be free to bend the Old World to his will.

Scenario one: The spirit of Christmas past - The invention of Christmas Dinner
A chef working in a small halfling village is about to invent pigs in blankets, bringing untold joy for all Christmases afterwards. Sanity Claus has dispatched the Ghost of Christmas Past to prevent this.

Farmer Caleb Peerybingle went to tend his flock of geese and caught sight of the advancing force. He rushed back to let the village know. They despatched their fastest goat rider to let the duke know whilst the local militia assembled.

In this first battle, a combined force of halflings and gnomes seek to defend their village, their seasonal gifts - and, above all, the kitchen where the chef is working on a very special festive recipe.

They look out to see the raiding force that seeks to prevent this culinary achievement from ever taking place; the Ghost of Christmas Past has gathered and Orc and Goblin mob whose idea of a festive dinner is to pull halflings limb from limb like Christmas crackers before feasting on their innards.

While the combined arrows and bolts of the village defenders do a remarkable job of stalling the core of the attack - sending wolf riders fleeing and causing many greenskins to fall before they reached the village wall - the spider riders and pump wagons on the flank pose a more robust threat, relatively unperturbed by the cauldrons of stew raining down from the hotpot catapult.

Over on the other flank, a War Tortoise smashed into a unit of gnomes that had sallied forth - as the gnomes broke, the war tortoise followed up, only to crash against the village wall, upending itself and destroying the crew.

The line of defence was holding, but for how long? Seeing the impending threat, the mayor bravely rushed out to intercept a pump wagon before it reached the villagers...

...only to be charged by the goblin general in his chariot.

Still, the hafling archers in the village bravely defend behind the wall and hold their line. But can they hold much longer? Wait? What's that sound? A trumpet announces the approach of the Duke and his entourage! Reinforcements at last! Surely now the village and its kitchen are saved?

Yet the reinforcements arrive in a position where the snotling pump wagons are alert to the danger

The pump wagon crashes into the flank of the halberdiers, causing them to flee... then, as the pump wagon pursues the fleeing rabble, it crashes straight into the Empire heavy cavalry... who also flee!

The halflings curse as they see the reinforcements flee... "Bloody useless lumbering big idiots... we were doing alright on our own... all they had to do was show up. Honestly..." With the Duke flattened by a pump wagon, the hotpot eaten by spiders and the last defenders surrounded, it's all over. There will be no pigs in blankets.

The surviving Halflings try to rescue as many gifts as possible in the hope of salvaging Christmas.

Scenario two: The Battle for Christmas Yet to Come
Sanity Claus seeks to destroy the great Yule Tree at the heart of Tannenbaum. He is joined by the deathly Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come. The brave defenders of the traditions of the season are joined by the true hope that can save Christmas - jolly old Santa Claus himself with a sackful of presents for good boys and girls and a sack full of pain for Sanity Claus and his evil henchmen.

Santa Claus and Sanity Claus face off in the great battle of naughty versus nice.

The defenders of Christmas approach the battle with a strategy of delaying Sanity Claus' approach to Tannenbaum, with the hope of holding back the attacking forces long enough to take up a position defending the tree.
With this in mind the Satyrs take up a scouting position to bravely sacrifice themselves holding back the giant while the battle line advanced.

This plan did not go well... the Satyrs fled, the Giant's persual robbing the hapless Imperial Knights of their chance to charge.

More effective is the effect of a Magical Blizzard cast by Santa Claus, which has the effect of holding back the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come back while the swordsmen, wardancers, and steamtank advanced into the heart of the town.

Yet a malign influence swinging in from the eastern flank... a swarm of vampire bats causing chaos in the ranks of the defenders of Christmas, causing Santa, the Duke, and their accompanying unit to retreat.

Still, with the steamtank ploughing through as the Swordsmen held the Wight Knights, the forces of light seemed to have at least some cause for hope.

Not least as the Orcs seemed to be in some disarray. The Old Big'Uns flee, get fired on by their animosity failing allies before decided to rejoin the fight. "Ere boss, dat wos a taktikal wivdrawal, but we just couldn't seem to get it togevva until de arrer Boyz stuck Hodgrod, Booger and Bollox in dere arses and we sharpened up quik smart!"

Yet it was the Vampire Bats who did most to influence the course of the battle. Defeating the Elven archers who had bravely charged to stop the bats reaching the Empire artillery, the resulting panic led ultimately to Santa Claus and his bodyguard - who had only just rallied - fleeing once again, this time away from the battlefield.

So the Battle for Christmas Yet To Come was lost. Sanity Claus had seized control of the season.

And yet hope is not lost forever, surely... while Santa Claus lives, Christmas might still be saved - if only some still survive to remember and believe. One day he will return to bring good cheer, the tidings of the season, and the gift we all hope to find under the Yule Tree; the blood of our enemies.

Saturday 24 December 2022

The Swan Ship

The Guardian of the Shifting Isles continues his lonely exile, his only companion the enchanted ship Eala.

I'm taking part in Snickit's "Odds and Sods Oldhammer Painting Challenge", the goal of which is to get us to tackle our leadpile and get paint on things that have been waiting for it for too long. For November the theme was grandeur - and the more I thought about it, the more I realised the time had come to tackle The Swan Ship by Tom Meier, a Thunderbolt Mountain limited edition from 1989 I believe. I bought this for my Sea Elves back in... 2014 I think? Unassembled in its box but at a very reasonable price (before the inflation really took hold of Oldhammer prices). However, at the time I was wary of painting it. I just didn't think I could do it justice. It's been with me through 3 house moves since, and every time my eldest has seen it over the past 8 years, he's asked me when I'm finally going to paint it. So he helped me out with the assembly - only fitting given that it's been sitting around in its box for the majority of his life.

Those of you familiar with the model will spot that I haven't gone with the original passenger Tom Meier sculpted for the Swan Ship. As you can see on the box here, it comes with an Elven Princess - and the boxed set includes a story by Richard S. Kerr to explain the tale of how the Swan Ship came to be and the Princess' voyage in search of true love.

I switched her out for two reasons. First, the Princess is so tiny as to be out of scale with all of the rest of my minis; secondly, I want to field the Swan Ship on the battlefield, so went for a more martial - though still suitable - captain of the Swan Ship. So I chose one of the three "Elven Kings" by Tom Meier - another Thunderbolt Mountain limited edition set (from 1988) waiting for paint - to stand on deck.

Having finally painted one, I thought it was rude not to get the other two Elven Kings in the set ready for battle, so here they are - just finished today.

Anyway, happy Christmas to everyone! I have a seasonal battle report which hopefully I'll be able to share before the end of 2022, but in the meantime, I hope everybody has a wonderful and blessed Christmas Day!

Monday 7 November 2022

I'm holding out for a hero

Bit of a silent stretch on the blog - never got round to posting about BOYL (oops) so will have to do some retrospective posts, and been extremely busy working since then. But thought I should try and get back into the swing of things with the first mini I've painted since August.

Snickit has instituted an "Odds and Sods Oldhammer Painting Challenge" over on facebook to get us painting up some of the things that have been languishing in our leadpile. Each month there's a theme for us to paint, and the theme for the month of October was heroes. Now, I've got a lot of character models but for this I wanted a model that really looked the part and really had that suitably heroic feel to it. After digging through my unpainted lead I found this fantastic Old School Miniatures halfling sculpt by Drew Day Williams. Definitely a hero for the ages!

As a young halfling, Mike's first encounter with knights was when a bunch of them, while hunting, rode their horses through the village's communal vegetable patch, destroying much of the season's harvest of cabbages. From that day forward, Mike swore he would become a knight - but one who acted with respect for even the humblest halfling, never riding through their gardens without proper care or regard. The kind of knight who would never disdain any creature as too small or common, but instead would stand ready to be a hero for the downtrodden.

A rather crude paintjob I readily admit, but I think a reasonably effective one all the same, hopefully bringing out some of the character of this true hero.

Tuesday 19 July 2022

Multipart plastic minis, bloody hell

Not a particularly lengthy or inspiring or helpful post today, but thought I should check in and let people know I'm still alive and getting ready for BOYL.

My big project for BOYL is to finally get the Dolgan Raiders done - and it's going ok, but one of the sticking points has been the archers. Years ago, I saw the Fireforge Steppe Warriors box in a model railway shop in Chester and thought "aha! Dolgan warriors on the cheap!" - which seemed like an inspired idea at the time. In the end, I'm only using them for the archers (I'm using different minis - metal minis - for the swordsmen, characters etc.) but it's my first in-depth experience with trying to assemble plastic toy soldiers, and bloody hell it sucks a lot of the joy out of things and is probably one of the reasons this whole project has taken so long.

Look, it's a really good sprue. They're nice minis. There's lots of bits and pieces, loads of options. Each mini ends up looking unique. But with legs, torso, each arm separate, the head, the quiver, and then any hat and hair still to stick on... that's a lot of cutting and gluing. Some people are probably used to it and think it's a great part of the hobby. Stop whining, you say. Fair enough, I'm just not like you, that's all! Give me a single part metal mini and that's me happy. Laziness? Maybe.

I do understand that having sprues means that you can kitbash, it's great for creativity, I get all that. I believe it. I've seen some wonderful things. And yes, the minis are cheap.

Kitbashers, I salute you. It's just a bit faffy for me. Hopefully finish these tomorrow and then I can get onto the last few metal minis for the army. I'll post everything here when it's ready and I'm not in a pre-BOYL painting flap.

Sunday 22 May 2022

Fimir ranges and size comparison

Finally got around to photographing some fimir that I finally got around to painting last month. Two of the classic citadel fimir sculpted by Nick Bibby, along with the more recent sculpt from Diego Serrate, now available from Krakon Games.

As I was pondering the size disparity, I thought I'd try and do something relatively useful, and photograph the different styles of 40mm based fimir I possessed together so you can see how they line up along one another.

From left to right: Demonomaniac from Krakon Games sculpted by Ross Whitehorn; Citadel 'ogre sized' fimir sculpted by Nick Bibby; Fomorian King from sculpted by Diego Serrate; another Citadel fimir from Nick Bibby; and finally a Forgeworld fimir, sculpted by Steve Whitehead.

What conclusions can we draw from this? Well, not much really; other than that the Nick Bibby fimir are somewhat squatter than many of their more recent counterparts (though Krakon games does have a variety of shapes and sizes of fimir; see below) - and that Steve Whitehead's forgeworld fimir, while atmospheric, has armour that isn't particularly in keeping with the classic feel. All of which is a bit banal. So I thought I'd take it a step further and go for a complete cataloguing of all the different kinds of fimir I have.

Because, famously, the fimir aren't all of a size to be stuck onto 40mm bases. The well known tale (technically apocryphal, though endorsed by some in the studio at the time) runs as follows (Graeme Davis, quoted on the Terminally Incoherent blog:)
"The popularisation of Fimir wasn’t helped by a communications foul-up when Nick Bibby took over making the miniatures from Jes – Nick made them all Ogre-sized, compared to Jes’ and my idea that they should be Orc sized. So we had big, expensive miniatures with low game stats, and nobody bought them."

This issue is reflected in the 3rd edition rules. The rulebook specifies rank and file fimir are on 25 x 25mm; only character models are on 40 x 40mm bases. But by the the time the Fimir list was written for Warhammer Armies, all fimir are on 40 x 40mm bases.

This creates a kind of strange redundancy around the smaller models citadel made - including the most ubiquitous and famous of all fimir.

So on the left we have the Citadel LE fimir sculpted by Jes Goodwin; and on the right the HeroQuest fimir (with a scibor shield). You can see here the size disparty with the Nick Bibby models - and in my view these models would look all at sea mounted on 40mm bases, rules lawyers be damned!

So what other fimir are there that can be mounted on 25mm bases?

Blood Moon Miniatures
These 'bog raiders', sculpted by Nicolas Genovese, only seem to be on sale very intermittently from Blood Moon Miniatures' website, but they come with a variety of weapons and are very clearly inspired by the HeroQuest fimir, while having a certain reptilian quality of their own. I do like them, but they are very... taut, I think would be the word. In fact, they look as though they've been doing a cross-fit programme; whereas I kind of imagine most fimir to have a bit of a paunch. Also, if you look at this picture of one alongside the HQ fimir and a Nick Bibby fimir, you'll see that they're quite tall - taller than the 'ogre sized' fimir!

But still (to my eye) with more of a 25mm footprint. All in all, these are models that are very hard to 'mix in' to a unit, and need to be treated very much in a stand-alone way.

Oakbound Studio
Oakbound produce Myeri for their game The Woods - and indeed it was Geoff Solomon-Sims' desire to produce one-eyed swamp monsters that launched the miniatures range which gave rise to the game. I bought the first set that he cast (now oop), and they're still among my favourites:

Geoff takes very clear inspiration from The Dark Crystal here. Hunched over and wide-eyed, their faces have more pathos than most fimir - less easy to pin down simply as comic-book villains - and they look great as a unit. As you'd expect from the first models commercially released, the casting raised a few logistical issues. He's since sculpted and released another range of Myeri, inspired by - and with permission to use - Alan Lee's painting of the fomorion which was indeed the initial creative impetus for the Citadel studio.

As a result, given this common conceptual origin you can see how the recent range converges with the Jes Goodwin fimir sculpt.

Krakon Games
As I noted above, Krakon games produce fomorians in all shapes and sizes - both Nick Bibby 'ogre size', and Jes Goodwin 'orc' size. In my opinion, Ross Whitehorn's smaller sculpts are exquisite and can keep excellent company with the Jes Goodwin LE fimir and the most recent iteration of the Oakbound myeri.

Another point worth noting is that Krakon games also supply all manner of fimir 'bits' - heads, tails, etc - again in the larger and smaller sizes, for all of your conversion needs.

So that almost concludes our little tour, except for one more:
Impact Miniatures
Impact Miniatures, who have a wide range Blood Bowl-style minis, provide a the ARBBL Chaotic Warrior, sculpted by Clint Staples to a designed by Melvin De Voor. If you overlook the the rugby-helmet style head protection, the fact that theres a football on the armour - as well as the fact that it's not carrying weapons - this is also a very good sculpt and ripe for conversion - as you can see I've given mine a net (from Gripping Beast) and a whip.

Well, that's about all I have to say/show. Here you can see all of the different types of small fimir in a row to get a sense of how they compare:

From left to right: Oakbound (1st series); Citadel LE fimir; Blood Moon; Krakon; Oakbound (2nd series); HeroQuest fimir; Impact

and finally, slightly less clearly but for the sake of completeness, the different small types in front of the different large types.

Monday 4 April 2022

The month of Marsh has been and gone - a Fimir Demonomaniac

We have just passed through the month of Marsh - the time to celebrate those proud one-eyed warriors of the fens, the Fimir. Now, every year I start painting some fimir during Marsh, only for things to remain unfinished on my dask at the end of the month. This year was no exception - but I can now present the horror that has arisen among Clan Slea. This Demonomaniac comes from Krakon Games and is sculpted by Ross Whitehorn. It comes with a choice of heads, and I chose the double-headed variant just to enhance its mutated feel.

Demonomaniacs are introduced in the 1995 Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay adventure Dying of the Light, set around Marienburg. The result of the ritual experiments of a Meargh who seeks to bind demons into her warriors, demonomanics are an unstable horrors: the body of a fimir struggling - and generally failing - to control the demon that has possessed it. In Chapter 5, the party first find the mangled and mutated corpse of a Fimir who has failed in this struggle and been ripped apart by an "an extreme series of mutations". Then, deeper in the swamp they find another thing that "looks like it was once a fimir", towering and in a state of apparent confusion. (My favourite detail is in its profile, the alignment is given as "Too confused for that at the moment"). "Claw marks cover its whole body and worms now ooze from these fetid gashes." It emits gutteral noises of agony. It flails its axe and mutated scythe-claw arm in a state of wild attack.

Here is Pete Knifton's atmospheric, terrifying, and frankly disgusting image of a Demonomaniac. As you'll see, I haven't included worms with mine. I do regret not giving mine a tail that can shoot spikes. Anyway, I imagine the one I've painted to be in a slightly more stable state of possession - though only just.

This is not the only fimir I managed to get belatedly done for the month of Marsh, but I'll save the others for the next post.