Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Pink Horrors - Season Finale





The draw was made in a clearing of torched woodland, overseen only by the Adjudicator and a thousand blackened tree carcases.

And the naked, screaming elf maid.

There was always one of those at these sorts of things.

The Adjudicator could feel the sweat running down his back and his bony fingers were slick with it as well.  It wasn’t the fact that those same fingers were about to delve into the slit belly of the struggling elf as she lay pegged to the floor by her wrists and ankles that was causing him to sweat.  Oh no, it was more the featureless iron facemask behind which the Adjudicator felt his head was beginning to bake.

These Chaos gods didn’t half love their ceremonies, what with all their masks and robes and burning braziers, and they were always so bloody hot.  Just nailing down a human sacrifice or decapitating a copulating goat could really take it out of you.  No wonder every bit of him was dripping with sweat.

Still, the rewards were good (the naked, screaming elf maids for a start).

The modest leather sack gave a sickly squelch as the Adjudicator slipped it from beneath his robes.

‘Now, now.  Shhhh...’ he whispered to the she-elf, before shaking out the contents of the bag into her rent navel.  ‘Just give these a good mix...’  His tone was airy, completely at odds with the task ahead.

He plunged his hand into her warm gut, swirling it around amongst her organs.  Her screams made his ears ring, but they probably wouldn’t last – his entry-level Necromancy wasn’t really up to much and wouldn’t be able to sustain her life for too much longer.  Just long enough to get the job done.

The Adjudicator’s fingers found one of the foreign objects which had been stirred into the gut soup.  He plucked it out and held it up to the moonlight.  It was roughly the size and shape of a he-elf’s testicle, probably because that’s what it was.  It had been branded with a name, and that name still burned in white-hot flames.

‘The Lashor Devastation...’ he mused as read out the inscription, before casting the elf-nut over his shoulder.  

‘Versus...’

He delved once more into the elf’s belly, plucking out another testicle.

‘I think this one was your dad’s,’ he noted to the still-writhing maiden.  She made no sign that she’d understood so he shook his head and read ‘Khorne’s Killers.’

The air was split by a crack of thunder.  The gods had understood.

The Adjudicator snorted to himself.  The Chaos gods certainly had a flair for the dramatic and couldn’t ever let a cliché slip by unnoticed.

He cast aside the testicle and pulled out the next.  ‘The Slaves to Pleasure...’ he intoned.  ‘Versus...’

He was reaching deep into the elf for the final time when a shadow fell across his facemask.

He looked up at the figure standing over him.  ‘Who the hell are you?’

PONK!

***

Coach Lysenko stared out across the pitch, absently rubbing the blisters on his scorched cheek.  He’d probably have the scars for the rest of his life, but the way the league was running, that might not be very long at all.

He still had nightmares about being barbecued alive and he could only thank the gods that Filthy Agnes - the team’s new cheerleader - had burst into the Skin Tent only seconds before the coach’s hair had caught fire.

‘Wait!’ she had cried, brandishing a tattered scroll.

Everything had stopped (except the burning sensation).  The Oozing Gash and He glared at the cheerleader, silenced.  Coach Lysenko on the other hand had barely noticed her presence, his attention being more appropriately drawn to the searing coals towards which his head was being inexorably pressed by the meaty grip of the Chaos warrior.

‘It’s from the Chaos Cup!!!’ she squealed.  ‘ We’re in the last four!’

The Oozing Gash threw up his hands in excitement, but his low murmur of ‘Yay!’ was muffled by his bronze faceplate.  Lysenko was dropped straight onto the flames but, free of his executioner, managed to roll, screaming, to safety.

The Oozing Gash pulled him to his feet.

‘THE... CHAOS... CUP...?’  Even He’s guttural tone betrayed the hint of the excitement which had begun to broil beneath his mouldering robes.

‘What we do now, boss?’ asked the warrior.

The Oozing Gash was looking at his head coach, and not the thing beneath the robes.

The coach didn’t have any choice.  They played.

***

The semi-final against the Slaves to Pleasure had been too close for comfort.  When they had met in the league, their match had been a hard-fought draw, though one that the Pink Horrors had all but thrown away.  This time, though, they had been prepared.

The Horrors had, after extensive training, become inured to the effects of the Slaves’ seductive wiles – helped mainly by the iron spikes which had been sewn onto the inside of their loin cloths.

The match was so closely run that both coaches had spent half of the game planning for extra time.  Luckily for the Horrors however, their star man-goat ‘the Cloven Elf’ had managed to sneak in the winning touchdown as the second half reached its final few minutes.  After a tense and scrappy defence which relied more on the Slaves making errors than on the Horrors successfully stopping their drive, the final whistle blew and the Pink Horrors had not so much sailed into the last game as merely weathered the storm and struck land there by accident.

And here they were.  The Chaos Cup final.

Maybe a victory here would make up for the Horrors’ lacklustre performance in the league and -crucially – save Coach Lysenko’s skin.  But then maybe it was too late for that.

‘Pretty lucky, getting drawn for the Chaos Cup,’ Filthy Agnes whispered to him as they watched the teams file out onto the pitch.  ‘Someone up there must like you.’

The head coach’s blistered face still felt like it was on fire.

‘Oh, I very much doubt it,’ he replied.

He followed the cheerleader’s gaze to the Regal Box, though what lords or kings could dwell there he knew not.  Perched high in the walls of the stadium, a broiling fissure in the skin of the world, it was shrouded by palls of smoke which glowed at their heart with the light of unseen flames.  The wails and cries from within almost drowned the roars and jeers of the exuberant crowds below, and every now and then a monstrous tentacle or flashing talon would strike out from within this unknown hell to snatch more victims from their number.

After both teams had finished squaring off against each other and the occasional fight had been broken up, the referee’s whistle echoed across the pitch and the coach quickly turned his eyes to the game.   The Horrors had opted to receive the ball and, as soon as ‘the Cloven Elf’ had scooped it up into his many arms, the rest of the team quickly swarmed to him.  All except for the minotaur, that is.  Ermintrude Gayhammer had geared himself up to slaughter Viper, his opposite number on the Killers’ team, but soon got distracted by the smell of his own anus and spent most of the first half investigating it further.

Such a large gap in the Horrors’ defences left them painfully unguarded and the Killers couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hit them where it hurt.  Several of the Pink Ones were knocked off-balance by a unified assault from their opponents and then, from nowhere, came a blur of fur and horns which smashed into ‘the Cloven Elf’ and launched him skywards and sent the ball into the waiting arms of one of the Killers’ man-goats.  After that, the Horrors were forced to switch to a desperate defensive stance, trying to keep a touchdown at bay – but try as they did, they could not stop the Killers from scoring as the half-time whistle blew.

This was not looking good.  The teams sloped off the pitch and Lysenko followed them, wringing his hands in frustration.  Across the pitch, the masked face of the Adjudicator was watching the Head Coach intently...

As the second half began, the Horrors knew that all advantage lay with the Killers, who were now receiving the ball.  Throughout the season, they couldn’t help feeling that they’d started to let trying to score touchdowns get in the way of simply slaughtering their opponents.  Had their instinct for butchery been dulled in all of this mess of tactics and ‘sport’?

In answer to their worries, the Horrors had decided to ramp up their aggression.  As soon at the whistle blew for the second half, they surged forwards, fists flying.  Sadly, their blows all but bounced off the Killers and the half began in earnest with barely a scratch on their opponents.  Even the minotaur failed to make any dent in their front line.

So with that, it was back to the tactics.

The Killers grabbed the ball and surged forwards, being careful to avoid the nigh-impotent Ermintrude who was still a bit shaky from a blow which led to him having to be resuscitated by the team’s apothecary in the first half.  However, the Killers’ lust to score became their undoing as the ball carrier rushed forwards unaided and left himself open to a counter-attack.  He was swiftly de-balled in every sense by ‘the Silent Blade’.  The pink half of the crowd cheered as the ball fell to ‘the Cloven Elf’ who managed to lob it down the pitch into the eagerly-waiting hands of ‘the Betrayed Bride’ who was completely unmarked.  The man-goat managed to trot to a glorious equaliser and the Horrors were still in the game.

Time was slipping away fast.  By the time the Horrors had pelted the ball back down the field to the Killers, the second half had almost gone.  The Killers responded to the Horrors’ equaliser with fierce enthusiasm, landing a hail of blows against their opponents.  Half of the Pink Ones were lying flat out on the pitch – or worse – as the Killers sailed through their lines with the ball.  One consolation was the timely slaughter of their minotaur, Viper, which gave the Horrors new hope.

But by the time they had regained their hooves, they could but watch as one of Khorne’s blood-soaked man-goats charged for the line.  None of the Horrors could reach him, and they knew it.  All they could do, like the crowd, was watch the Killers’ victory unfold.  For a moment – just a moment – their hearts pounded and their hopes were rekindled as the Killer slipped, losing his footing on the blood-soaked pitch.  The ball almost escaped him, but his scrambling hands managed to clutch it tight to his chest as his flailing feet found stable ground once more.  The man-goat brayed triumphantly as he crossed into the endzone.

The blackened sky was sundered by lightning and the crowd’s roars exploded around the stadium as gallon upon gallon of crimson blood sprayed from the Regal Box, falling upon all like rain.  Khorne’s Killers collapsed to their knees, punching the air in victory, their gaping jaws drinking the bounty which fell from the sky.   The Horrors hobbled silently from the pitch, their heads bowed.

‘Well, that’s that, then,’ Coach Lysenko sighed.

‘YOU... FAIL...’

Lysenko wasn’t shocked to note that He had suddenly appeared beside him.  As the blood rain fell, soaking him to the skin, and human sacrifices were being butchered in their scores throughout the stadium, it really did feel quite inevitable.

‘Um... There’s always next year...?’ the coach ventured.

‘NOT... FOR... YOU.’   It stretched out a clawed hand, quick as a striking snake, which closed around the coach’s throat.  Lysenko choked and struggled to free himself, but the grip was immoveable.  Slowly, his angry and dejected players gathered around to watch.  His death, it seemed, would be some consolation to them.

Blinding white fire burst up from the palm of He’s left hand, crackling and spitting as the blood-rain fell upon it.  Lysenko could feel its heat as it approached his face and his already-burned cheek began to sting as it drew nearer.  A murmur of excitement grew from the eagerly-watching Horrors players.

‘TIME... TO... DIE...’

Lysenko closed his eyes, bowing to the inevitable, waiting for the –

WHUMP!

Salvation came out of nowhere as the Adjudicator shoulder-barged He, knocking him to the ground.  Lysenko staggered back, gasping for breath.

The coach could barely speak, and didn’t bother wasting what were probably his last breaths by asking what the hell was going on.  He’d given up wondering that about two seasons ago.

In an instant, He was back to what were presumably, beneath the robes, his feet.  The creature drew itself to its full height and was standing  eye-to-iron-mask with the Adjudicator.

‘IMPUDENCE...’

The Adjudicator didn’t cower away, which was something quite new to He.  In fact, the madman in the iron mask actually leaned closer and said:

‘Listen, love, if you don’t bugger off I’ll shove my kitchen set so far up yer jacksy that yer’ll be chewin’ on my pan-handle for a year.’

‘WHAT???’  Over countless millennia and wars which spanned longer than the feuds of gods, no-one had ever dared speak to He like that.

‘Oh, sod it!’  The Adjudicator  reached into his robes and – to everyone’s surprise - drew out a heavy iron skillet.  The pan moved with such astounding speed that those watching could barely follow it as it arced through the air, cracking down onto what could well have been He’s skull.  The thing in the robes dropped straight to the ground so fast that the Head Coach assumed that indeed it was.

PONK!  In years to come, it was a sound that Coach Lysenko would recall with immense fondness.

PONK!  PONK!  Ah!  It was like the first rays of sunlight after the longest and blackest of nights!

PONK!  PONK!  PONK!

Coach Lysenko’s tormentor barely moved, aside from the occasional twitch of its fingers, as the dented skillet rained down blows upon him.

PONK!  PONK!  PONK!  CRACK!

He spasmed violently and then suddenly fell still.

THUCK!  THUCK!  THUCK!  THUCK!

‘I think he’s dead,’ said the Head Coach, in response to the tar-like black fluid which was oozing freely out of every fibre of the creature’s robes.

‘Phew!  Knackered now!’  The Adjudicator threw the buckled skillet to the ground.  ‘Anyone fancy a pint?’

The Adjudicator threw of his robes and suddenly then entire stadium fell still.

It was Filthy Agnes who broke the silence with her scream.  ‘A DWAAAAAARF!!!’

‘ON STILTS?!’ yelled the Spry Butcher.

‘WITH THE BIGGEST BREASTS I’VE EVER SEEN!’  Lysenko blurted out.

Everyone was looking at him.  ‘Sorry,’ he shrugged.

‘I’m lookin’ fer a coach,’ announced the dwarf, hopping to the ground.  ‘You’ll do,’ she nodded to Lysenko.

‘Me?  Oh, no.  I’m through with Blood Bowl,’ he explained.

‘Looks like yer through with a lot o’ things.’  A circle of frothing Chaos minions had begun to close around them and was drawing in on them like a noose.

‘Well, what about him?’  Lysenko pointed to the Killers coach who was by now dancing naked around the pitch, drinking blood-rain from the Chaos Cup trophy.

‘Him?  Yer joking, aren’t yer?  I can’t afford ‘im.  He’s actually good.’

By now, the dwarf and the human were surrounded by a phalanx of frothing beasts and daemons as the whole stadium slowly descended upon them.

‘Look, thanks and all that, but I don’t think we’re actually getting out of this stadium...’

‘Leave that ter me,’ she bellowed over the slavering din.  ‘Are yer in or not?’

Coach Lysenko looked at the carnage around him and, for the second time in his career, knew that he didn’t really have a choice.

He said nothing, just sighed and nodded.

‘Righto.  Might be a good idea to discuss yer fee later...’  She picked up her gore-drenched skillet in one hand and threw the coach over her shoulder with the other.

She shouted something, but the coach didn’t quite catch it, his head, as it were, being upside down and buried ear-deep in cleavage.

‘WHA--?’  he mumbled into her chest.

‘I said “BETTER FIND SOMETHING TO HOLD ON TO!”’

Coach Lysenko’s mind boggled.

‘MHOO ELL ORR UUH?’  Who the hell are you? he asked.

‘Me, love?  The name’s Brimstone.  Belladonna Brimstone!’

PONK!  PONK!  PONK!

PONK!  PONK!

PONK!


TO BE CONTINUED... NEXT SEASON!!


Thursday, 15 November 2012

Starkiron Tony: Painting Mantic's Dreadball Player




Excitement is reaching fever-pitch both in gaming stores and across the internet this month at the imminent arrival of Mantic Games' latest release, the mighty 'Dreadball'.

When Mantic ran their Pre-Release Party at Tabletop Nation, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go along and try it out, and I can honestly say that IT IS AWESOME! It's a very fast game which manages to satisfy the Holy Grail of gaming - to be extremely quick and simple to play, yet with a tremendous amount of strategic options available to make every game a unique adrenaline-fuelled roller-coaster ride.

And did I mention that it's rather inexpensive to boot?

I'm very much looking forward to getting hold of a copy of the game when it's officially released as anyone who followed the Dreadball Kickstarter project will know that there are some great new miniatures coming over the next couple of years.

But anyway, back on topic - what have I been painting recently?

Yes, you guessed it. Dreadball!

I was very excited recently to get my hands on a resin cast of one of the Corporation players whose plastic counterparts will be included in the boxed game and set to work straight away on painting him.

Now, I'm a little bit of a Marvel Comics fan and the minute I saw this miniature, I knew exactly what colour scheme I wanted to use. There is no escaping from it. I can't talk my way around it.

He is Ironman!

So now that all that is out of the way, here's how I went about painting him:

This really was a lovely miniature. Being resin, good quality resin, there were no bubbles or distortions and the mould lines and flash were kept to an absolute minimum. There were a great many different panels and armour sections on him, meaning that the options for painting him in different team colours is almost limitless.

I wanted to make sure that when I came to painting the many different panels and armour sections on this chap, I didn't get confused as to what would be yellow and what would be red, so I decided that once I had undercoated the miniature white, I would glaze the areas with their respective colour to make it a bit easier when it came to the actual application of the paint.

I am hoping to mimic the effect I used for the armour of Mantic's orc Flagger, which mixed metallic and colour paint to create quite a striking effect. This will be slightly more interesting if it works however as I will be using two very bright and vibrant colours, rather than greys and dark blues.


RED ARMOUR

Here is the almost-complete basecoat on the red armour. I mixed Boltgun Metal and Red Gore and thinned the whole lot down with Winsor & Newton Flow Improver.

The main benefit of this over using water will hopefully be slightly more vivid colours on the finished mini - though this is an experiment in its use, I'd never tried it before.

On the plus-side, the Flow Improver simply refuses to dry on the palette and the mix sat there at room temperature for over three hours and did not even thicken, let alone dry out.

Of course, the downside is that the same applies to the paint on the miniature, so painting everything over the course of many very thin coats takes about twice as long!

Having finished the basecoat, the next job was to shade the red plate armour. I took the basecoat (Boltgun Metal / Red Gore) and added Necron Abyss and virtually washed it over several coats into the deepest areas of the armour.

I wanted this miniature to look like it was lit from floodlights in a Dreadball arena, so I also made sure to paint the bottom of the armour plates in shadow and concentrate the highlights on the top parts.

For the final shading, I added Chaos Black to the mix and painted it into the very deepest areas.

At the moment, the miniature looks like it has been dipped in mud, but eventually - once the highlights are added - the areas should look pretty good.

The next stage was to add the highlights to the armour.

I began by applying a mix of Boltgun Metal and Blood Red to the highest parts of the armour.

Once this was finished, I added more Blood Red to the mix, continuing to work it up towards the lightest areas.

Finally, I highlighted the edges of the armour with pure Blood Red.

As you can see in the photo to the right, the armour isn't really finished yet. It quickly became obvious that an extra highlight of Blood Red / Blazing Orange was needed to bring up the red a little before the Skull White 'hot-spots' - the points where the reflection is strongest - were added.




So here is the red armour 'finished' (to a point), ready to have some directional lighting effects from the Arc Reactor (geeks will know...), the eyes and the ports in the hands when the whole miniature is completed.

After neatening up the white highlights a little, I glazed the right side of Starkiron (his right) with Hawk Turquoise and the left with Regal Blue before strengthening the white once more.

It was nice to finish this stage as the red armour formed the bulk of the miniature, so I knew that it would all hopefully be downhill from here-on-in.






YELLOW ARMOUR

The yellow armour was begun with a 2:1 mix of Shining Gold and Snakebite Leather.

Once I had a smooth basecoat, I began to shade it by adding a small amount of Chaos Black to the base. I had to be particularly careful because the pigment is so strong that any more that half a drop and the entire mix would have been too dark to use. Once the first shading pass was completed, I added a touch more black and painted down into the darkest areas.

After the shading was completed, I took the original basecoat of Shining Gold and Snakebite Leather and began to highlight it up, simply by adding small amounts of Skull White over about five stages.


I then added the same Skull White hot-spots to the gold areas before once more glazing with Hawk Turquoise and Regal Blue. As with the red armour, I then re-painted the pure white highlights to take them back up to their original brightness.


After this, it was simply a case of painting the grey metallics, which were basecoated with Codex Grey and then shaded and highlighted by adding Chaos Black and Skull White respectively.

Finally, the miniature was finished by adding the eyes, palm-ports and Ark Reactor on his chest. These were all painted using a mix of Ice Blue with a heavy amount of Skull White added, before building up the colours to pure Skull White. The 'glow' of these lights was added to the metals by lightly glazing the Ice Blue / Skull White basecoat onto the armour in the places which it would naturally fall.

With only four blocks of colour, this miniature turned out to be a relatively simple one to get to grips with.

Of course, were there time, I would certainly love to go back and paint the metallics much more smoothly, and better, but this project was only ever intended to be a relaxing break before the gruelling task of painting an entire orc army in a matter of weeks - and it certainly did the job!

And in case you're wondering, here are the images of the model completely finished:
























That's it for now, but as always, if you want to see any more miniatures from Flare Miniature Painting don't forget to...


Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Pink Horrors 0 - 1 Dhawii Zharr Rockets




The image of the pyres was still burned into the back of his eyes and he could see them as clearly as if he were there again, blazing against the impenetrable blackness of the night sky.  Palls of smoke had filled the air and his blackened lungs could even now barely  draw breath.  In quiet moments his  ears still rang with the screams of dwarfs, elves and men, piled sometimes eight or ten high, burning alive.

The Dhawii Zharr Rockets certainly knew how to celebrate a victory.

It was the night after the Pink Horrors’ final game of the season, the night after they had been denied a place in the league play-offs, the night that Coach Lysenko was being dragged to see the thing in the Skin Tent for the very last time...

The man-goat pulling him along suddenly hoisted him off the sodden ground by his chains and threw him through the heavy flaps of the tent.  He shuddered, knowing that every inch of that tent’s material had once been the skin of one of his predecessors.  Now it was nothing more than tanned hide, sewn roughly together by the hands of who-knew-what.

On reflection, the coach didn't think he’d done too badly this season.  After all, his team had only lost three games out of ten.  But sadly for Coach Lysenko, he thought to himself as he landed face-first before the broiling fire, whatever thing which dwelled beneath the heavy, mouldering robes opposite him didn't take stock in numbers and statistics.  He, as he was named, reckoned in blood and offal and things which no mortal could count without going mad.

And, imagined the coach, He would not be happy.

The Horrors had been thrown from the outset.  Looking at their opponents lined up at the start of the match, the Dhawii Zharr Rockets seemed like little more than huge beards in tall hats, carried awkwardly on stumpy legs.  What they sadly found once the fists started flying was that the Chaos Dwarfs were tough.  Really tough.  In the end, it was only the Oozing Gash who managed to use his Warrior’s strength to garrotte one of their hairy rivals with his escaping innards.  It wasn't long before Ermintrude the minotaur was knocked out cold and had decided, on reflection, that even he was out of his depth and perhaps he should spend the rest of the game recuperating.

Despite receiving the ball in the first half, no matter how hard the Horrors tried, they simply could not get it down the field.  It was a long and slow grind through the centre of the dwarf line, ending in dispossession and a sigh of relief at half-time that the Rockets hadn't managed to sneak ahead before the break.

The Horrors were two players down at the start of the second half, facing a nigh-unstoppable team.  They couldn't help feeling that this was exactly the situation that the term ‘damage control’ was invented for.  The Chaos team put up a good job of defending, but in the end couldn't stop Centaur Moomin Papa from smashing through their line and scoring.

Even as the Cloven Elf, the Horrors’ star man-goat, prepared to snatch up the ball after the resulting kick-off, Coach Lysenko could see the ref checking his hourglass and putting the whistle to his lips.

Coach Lysenko’s time was up; the match and the League were over.

And now, here he sat, staring upwards, watching billows of thick smoke escaping through the smoke-hole of a tent made out of hewn skin; a tent of which his own skin would soon be a part of.  Indeed, he had to admit, Blood Bowl could be a funny old game.

The man-shaped shroud of robes behind the dancing flames shifted, grew taller.

‘YOU.  HAVE.  FAILED.’

The coach thought about speaking, but before the words had even reached his lips, a clawed fingers appeared from beneath the robes and pressed itself where Lysenko could only imagine the creature’s  mouth to be.

‘SHHHHHHHHHHH...’

The coach’s lips snapped tightly shut and he looked up to the hole in the roof, imagining his own dismembered face staring down.

‘YOU HAVE ANGERED GODS.  ALL OF THEM.  THAT NOT EASY, EVEN FOR BILLY-PLUMB TICKLER LIKE YOU.’

Lysenko didn’t dare speak.  He just whimpered instead.

‘VERY DISAPPOINTING.’  Was he..?  Yes, He seemed to be slowly shaking his head.  ‘I AFRAID... WE...’

Here it comes, the coach thought.  A sad end to a mediocre coaching career.

‘WE... GOING TO HAVE TO FIRE YOU.’

Finally, Lysenko broke his silence.  ‘But wait!  Wait!  Hang on, you don’t –  What?’

‘WE MUST FIRE YOU.’

‘Fire me?  Is that all?’  Lysenko laughed.  ‘Fire me!  Phew!  I thought for a minute there, you know –‘

The coach pointed up at the smoke-hole.  ‘I thought you were going to stick me up there!’

The creature He laughed.  It was a rare and uncomfortable sound.

‘YOU?  NO!  ONLY BEST COACHES ADORN MY MAGNIFICENT TENT!’

‘Really?  Oh, well, glad to disappoint you then I suppose...’  Lysenko clambered to his feet, which was tricky, chained as he was.  ‘I’ll just be off then...’

The coach hopped about-face, trying not to trip over his ankle chains only to find himself face-to-face with the Oozing Gash.  Lysenko tried to conceal his shock with a surprised grin.

‘WHERE YOU GOING, ‘COACH’?’  sneered He.

Lysenko turned around to see, for the very first time, the thing in the Skin Tent standing – or at least as best it could in the confines of the tent.  Despite being hunched forwards as it was forced to be, the (former) coach could tell that the creature beneath the robes must have been twice the size of a man, if not more.

Lysenko’s heart began to race.  Something felt very wrong.

‘But I thought...’ he pleaded.

‘GASH.  FIRE HIM.’

The Warrior was faster than he looked.  Before Lysenko knew it, Gash had looped a length of his fetid intestines around the coach’s neck and had pulled it tight.  Lysenko gasped for breath, clawing at the slippery entrails that were throttling him.  A huge, meaty fist grasped his hair and the Warrior pushed down hard.  Lysenko’s legs buckled under the force and he found his face just inches from the dancing blue flames of the fire.

He knew it would be useless to struggle, but then what else was there to do?  He tried to grab Gash’s hands, to claw at his very flesh if he had to, but dripping as they were with the pus from countless weeping sores, his own feeble grip just slid away from them.

All the while, he was being inched closer and closer to the searing coals, He’s laughter ringing in his ears as his cheek began to blister and crack.  The coach could do nothing but cry out in pain and hope that the end would come quickly...

But as with most things this season, the end didn't come quite how he expected.

TO BE CONTINUED...!


Monday, 15 October 2012

Bunker Bowl III!





What can I say?  As always, it was an absolutely fantastic two-day event put on by the Chelmsford Bunker in Essex.  This was the tournament's third year now and I'm proud to say I've managed to attend all of them.

The Saturday was a great day and lots of fun, despite my run of dreadful results.

The first game was played against my friend Tom and his Norse team, the dreaded Jagermonsters.  The Pink Horrors, my Chaos team, had come up against these guys during the CBBBL V league and were absolutely torn apart by them.  And this was no different!  Although Tom failed to do as much damage casualty-wise this time, he still managed to pull off a 2-1 victory.  It was close, but I was definitely beaten by a better player!

The second game was against an excellent coach, Rodders.  He too had beaten me in the league with his Chaos Dwarf team, but this time he had decided to field Amazons.  We were allowed to give our teams five skills for the duration of the tournament and I had chosen Block.  Rodders had cunningly taken Guard across the board, making it extremely difficult to get a two-dice block against him!  It was also pouring with rain for the whole match as well.  Rodders scored a touchdown in the first half and I simply could not manage to pick up the ball to equalise, meaning a 1-0 loss!

The final game of Day One was against a Necromantic team.  I had never played this particular coach and, as he too had lost both his games so far, I hoped that I might be in with a chance of victory.  It was not to be, however.  His werewolves had the run of the pitch, and despite managing to make two 5+ dodges, a 4+ dodge, two Go For Its and a successful block against the ball carrier with one of my Chaos Warriors, my luck just wasn't holding for the rest of the game and I lost 2-0.

Three defeats in a day was my worst ever Blood Bowl performance, so I could rest safe in the knowledge that Day Two could only get better!

And, being paired against three Stunty teams, it did!

The first match was a very entertaining fight with a Goblin team along with all of the Secret Weapons, bombs, chainsaws and Bribes that they could field.  Luckily, I managed to smash my way through them with my superior strength and make it impossible for them to act effectively.  Despite this, I still only managed a 1-0 win!

The second game started badly.  It was against (with the exception of one Kroxigor) an all-Skink Lizardman team.  Skinks are fast, anyone who plays Blood Bowl will know this.  After receiving the kick-off, they managed to score almost immediately, despite one of the faithful Horrors fans Stunning the Krox with a thrown rock.  I honestly though I wouldn't stand a chance here, so I decided to just kill as many Skinks as I could and hope for the best.  Luckily, this tactic cleared the pitch enough for me to stroll home with a touchdown.  And, as luck would have it, I managed to roll a Blitz! in the subsequent kick-off, allowing me to place a Beastman under the ball and successfully catch it.  After that, it was merely a case of stalling the Skinks by smashing them into the floor until I could safely score the winner in the knowledge that there was no coming back for the scaly ones!

The last game was against my friend Erik.  We have a long and bloody history of hard-fought draws and today was no different.  Fielding two Treemen, including Deeproot Strongbranch, the Halfling team managed to relatively easily score their first touchdown.  After that, a catalogue of errors (and the Masterchef staling my rerolls!), most involving failure to pick up the ball, prevented the Horrors from scoring.  However, a second wind lifted them when we managed to kill Puggy Baconbreath who had been something of a thorn in our side.  We still only managed to equalise in the last turn - the ball spent most of the second half sat between  two seemingly-immoveable Treemen!  Luckily for Erik, my fortunate draw didn't stop him from winning the Stunty Cup!

In the end, despite a severe lack of wins, we managed to finish in the top half of the table thanks to a huge number of Casualties scored against the Stunty teams.

Better yet, the Horrors managed to take home the Best Painted trophy - which for me is my third year running!  Hurrah!

I just want to extend my thanks to all at the Chelmsford Bunker who helped to organise this excellent tournament, and to Mantic Games who supplied some great prizes (I got a metal Dreadball Refbot!!!).

Now to start planning for Bunker Bowl IV!!!!




Saturday, 6 October 2012

Clash of Kings! (Part 4)

Well, it's been about three weeks since I last updated the 'Clash of Kings' portion of the blog.  In that time, I have been basecoating orcs like there's no tomorrow.  Except there was a tomorrow.  I knew this because I was scheduled to be basecoating more orcs...

I have to say, I'm pretty chuffed that I managed to get a hundred and ten greenskins ready for dipping in just three weeks!  It was a pretty monotonous job, despite loving the miniatures, so I set myself small, manageable goals for each night's painting, rather than trying to do everything too quickly and just burning myself out.

That said, I was due to finish the basecoating a week from now, but realised a couple of nights ago that this weekend was the last chance I would have to get outside and dip the miniatures for a couple of weeks (for anybody who doesn't know, it's the Chelmsford Bunker's Bunker Bowl III tournament on the 13th and 14th of October!) so I did put in a couple of marathon painting sessions over the last few nights to get them finished:


This morning, I spent a very messy and fun few hours reminiscing about Arnie's death in Terminator 2 as I slowly submerged a thousand points of orcs one-by-one into sticky brown goo.  Sadly, none of them gave me a thumbs up as they went in, but you can't have everything.

And here they are in all of their shiny, sticky, glory:






















It'll be at least another fourty-eight hours before they'll be completely dry, so I'm going to reward myself by spending a couple of nights assembling my Krudger on Gore and four Flaggers.  After that, hopefully it should take slightly under a week to add the weathering to the orcs' armour, add snow to the bases and paint the edges.  After that, a quick blast of matte varnish and they'll be ready for battle.  This can only be a good thing as, apart from a couple of intro games courtesy of Tom Pugh at Cymbeline Games (an all-round decent chap and supplier of all my Mantic wares), I have not actually played a full game of Kings of War yet!  I may have a few 'victory issues' when it comes to the tournament in February.  I'll be the one on the bottom table, drinking beer and watching my army run away...

Anyway, more updates as soon as these guys are done.  I bought a huge amount of plasticard from my friends at 4Tk Gaming in Colchester this afternoon, ready to make my first ever scratch-build movement trays.  Hopefully, it's going to be as straight-forward as I'm imagining it to be...

More on that soon, but in the mean time - bye for now!!!




Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Pink Horrors 2 - 0 The Grenzstadt Gravediggers



The Horrors filed down the slick, mossy,  stone steps which led into the crypt, each of them nervously looking back over their shoulders as they left the moonlight behind them and descended into darkness...

The team’s caravan of lurid chariots had ground to a halt outside the rusted gates of the graveyard and it was the Blushing Doxy who was the first to ask what everyone else was thinking:

‘Um... Are you sure this is the right place?’

The Nav-Mancer looked up from his scrolls and potions and fixed his eyeless sockets upon her.

‘You have weached your deathstination,’ he lisped.

‘It’s just that –‘ she began to protest.

The Nav-Mancer’s cave-like eyes erupted a gout of blue flame, and lightning crackled between the matted strands of his greasy beard.

‘YOU HAVE WEACHED YOUR DEATHSTINATION,’ he bellowed and everyone had seemed to agree that this signalled a fairly definite end to the discussion.

Coach Lysenko leapt down from the lead chariot, gesturing towards the crazed wizard with the flaming eyes.  ‘We’d better put him out of sight, someone’s liable to nick him if we leave him on display...’

The Blushing Doxy nodded and threw a blanket over him.

They passed through the crumbling iron gates and headed up the stony path, lined on either side by its ancient gravestones and broken monuments.

‘Not much of a stadium...’ spat the Spry Butcher, looking around.

But beneath their feet, there was a sight to be beheld indeed!

The tomb door rumbled shut behind them, drowning them in the silent and seemingly endless dark of the crypt.  But as they descended deeper and deeper and their eyes became more accustomed to the blackness, a faint orange glow could be seen in the bowels of the earth, down to which this endless staircase seemed to lead them.

Voices too drifted up from the deep now, thundering chants growing louder and closer until the roar was deafening and the blaze of flaming braziers burned their eyes.  The stair ended and the damp, glistening stone tunnel opened out onto a vast cavern, a hundred feet tall, carved out to form the most beautiful Blood Bowl arena that the team had ever seen.

Vast chiselled tapestries spanned the walls, images of Death in all its guises throughout the history of the Old World; swathes of humans, falling at His feet, their faces bulbous with the Pox; elves and dwarfs cleaved asunder by their own petty wars; rat-men, silently squealing as their kin devoured them alive... Every inch of wall not decorated so was hung with bloodied cadavers, their faces locked in wails of despair.  And all the while, as the Horrors gazed about them in wonder and admiration, the crowd of un-dead, living-dead, re-animated-dead, nearly dead and simply... well, dead, groaned in excitement and anticipation.

The Grenzstadt Gravediggers stood waiting...

It was the Pink Horrors who had won the toss and they elected to receive the kick-off, hoping that they might gain some advantage by keeping the ball from their undead opponents long enough for bits to begin dropping off the zombies.  When the Gravediggers lined up their defence though, the Pink Ones realized from the sight of not one but two eight-foot tall mummies on the front line that the zombies would be the least of their worries.

Using the relative slowness of the Gravediggers to their advantage, the Horrors grabbed the ball as soon as they could and caged their way towards their opponent’s line.  The huddle of goats had an advantage in that it would take the undead players some time to reach them, by which time they could hopefully break through the shambling horde and make a mad dash for the endzone.

As the zombies and wights slowly approached, all of the real action (as far as the fans were concerned) took place on the centre line as Chaos warriors and mummies spent the first half smashing each other into oblivion, a tactic which ended badly for the Spry Butcher, who spent the second half of the match nursing a sprained skull...

The tide of violence had started to turn against the Horrors by the middle of the half, having two man-goats out cold as well as an injured Chaos warrior, and so the Horrors decided it was high time they made their run for it.  The Drowned Lover burst from the cage and the zombie in front of him could do nothing as he pushed it to the ground, tearing his way down the pitch.  It was a comfortable touchdown for him, knowing that there was not a player on the undead team who could match his speed.

The second half started in much the same way as the first, though both teams by this time were down one player.  The mummies and the Chaos warriors pummelled away at each other as the Gravediggers’ gouls took the ball at the kick-off and steeled themselves ready for their attempt to equalise.  It was a fine start to their offence as their mummies and wights managed to floor a swathe of man-goats, leaving a gaping hole in the Pink Ones’ defensive line.

The undead wight, Silver, was left with the perfect opportunity to equalise as the ball was thrown to him.  He caught it skilfully and made a break for the endzone.  In a bizarre mirror of the previous half, he had managed to position himself so that none of the Horrors would be able to reach him in time to stop him scoring without anything less than an elvish display of agility.  Sadly for the Gravediggers, with a cry of ‘Hi-ho Silver!!’ the wight succumbed to a fit of blood-lust and instead ran straight for a crowd of man-goats, intending to do some damage.

The tide sadly turned with his crazed foolhardiness and suddenly the Gravediggers found themselves without a man left standing apart from the ball-carrier.  The Drowned Lover soon convinced him with a hefty smack in the face that he should have a little sit down and so, to a chorus of groans from the festering Grenzstadt fans, the man-goat soon to be nicknamed ‘the Cloven Elf’, danced home to yet another touchdown.

The final whistle blew and the Horrors were elated with their victory against a fine opponent, though they were not so happy when they reached their chariots only to see their Nav-Mancer disappearing over the horizon, carried on the shoulders of a crowd of hoodie-wearing gouls...



Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Clash of Kings! (Part 3)

THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO!

Sorry, that has absolutely no relevance to my Mantic Orc army, but it did a good job of summing up how I'm feeling about them at the moment.

I managed to get my five test-orcs dipped on Sunday, using The Army Painter's Strong Tone (which is the 'medium' tone) dip.  After letting them dry for twenty-four hours (yes, that's how long it takes), I added some final weathering on the armour, using Hawk Turquoise washed with Devlan Mud, before adding snow to the bases and edging them with Calthan Brown - which I have used for the rest of the army.

After that, I varnished the minis with matte varnish - this is essential because the dip leaves them with a very shiny gloss finish - before re-glossing the blood and eyes with gloss varnish.  (At this point, I realised that you could probably drop these guys out of a plane and they would land unscathed!)

Anyway, in all honesty, I was completely blown away by the results!

The miniatures went from THIS:


To THIS:



All in a few simple stages!

Now, I don't know about you, but I'm pretty impressed with that and can't wait to crack on with the rest of the army.

Obviously, they're not as 'polished' as they would be had I painted them conventionally.  Below is an example of a non-dipped regiment I painted a while ago:


Saying that though, these have been photographed 'properly' and it's worth bearing in mind that this unit took three weeks to paint, whereas the dipped orcs took about four hours.

Better yet, I have forty-five 'conventionally-painted' orcs, which should be enough to form a great-looking front rank for each of my units of dipped ones.

So what more can I say?

Let's paint an army.




Sunday, 16 September 2012

Clash of Kings! (Part 2)

Quite a good weekend of work on this project, really, though after preparing all of the miniatures, I didn't get a great deal of actual painting done!


 Here you can see the forces assembled, and what a force it's going to be!  Points-wise, this is actually only about two-thirds of the army.  I plan on buying at least thirty Gore Riders, and let's not forget that in those little plastic bags you can see, I have a Krudger on Gore and A HUNDRED AND ELEVEN (!!!) Orclings.

The good news, I remembered, was that I have already painted about forty-five of the orc Axes, so that's a significant proportion of the foot-troops already done.

The four Ax which are still on sprues will be my army's Flaggers.  As you saw in the last post, I have spent a massive amount of time painting the 'official' orc Flagger and though the miniature is magnificent, I really don't think I could do another four of them!   Instead, I have managed to acquire some banner arms from the Flagger miniature, so some conversions ahead, I think.


The biggest pain before I could actually throw myself into the project properly was gravelling the bases.  This took quite a long time and (as you can see) required a heavy-duty amount of PVA glue!

Once this was done on Friday night, I then left them until the morning when they were all dry so I could then undercoat them.

I am yet to assemble the Krudger or the Orclings because firstly, I don't have any 40mm bases yet for the little guys and secondly, I'm not sure the Orclings will make it into the army if I want to include a giant.

The Krudger on the other hand will be done completely separately from the main force as he will get a hopefully very lovely paint-job, time permitting.



And here they are, assembled and sprayed.  In total, having done a proper head-count, I have one hundred orc Axes, twenty Moraxes, forty Greataxes, four Flaggers, one Krudger on Gore and enough Orclings to make at least ten bases.

Not a bad start really!





Finally, I managed to find the time to (very roughly)  basecoat five of the Axes to run as a test.  As you may see from the picture, the bases aren't quite dry yet - and still aren't dry as I'm writing this - but as soon as they are, these guys will get dipped...

Keep an eye out for more updates over the coming days to see how these guys turn out!





Friday, 14 September 2012

Clash of Kings! (Part 1)




Huzzah!  The family have been packed of to the Abyss for the weekend (Mersea Island...) and so I think it's high time I actually got around to painting my Orc army for Mantic's Clash of Kings tournament which is coming up in February.

Now, let me start by saying this:  The tournament requires a fully-painted 1800pt army.  I currently own around a hundred and fifty un-painted plastic orcs (unassembled in some cases!) and this will take me to about 1200pts.  Not a problem though because Mantic's minis are, despite being fantastic, some of the most inexpensive wargaming miniatures on the market.  I thoroughly plan on buying lots of Gore Riders soon to bulk up the rest of the force, but at the moment I only have foot troops.

But anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that this will be a big job to get them all done.

Now, the orc Flagger you see above took about two weeks to paint, but there is no way I can spend that much time painting rank and file to this standard.  Instead, I will be trying out The Army Painter's dipping method.  Obviously, for a gamer whose first love is painting, this may seem anathema to their hobby principles, and it is.  But this isn't an exercise in fine painting, it's an exercise in army painting.

My plan is to basecoat and dip the entire army (excluding characters, which will be painted to somewhere resembling the Flagger's standards) and then, should I have the time before February, I'll go back and improve on the detail, beautify the front ranks, add weathering to the metallics etc.

I'm going to dedicate pretty much 100% of my hobby time to this project from here on in, and the plan is as follows:

Today I hope to finish assembling the troops I currently have, and gravel the bases.  From tomorrow, I will basecoat all of the miniatures (testing the first few with the dip to see how they look).  If I can basecoat ten orcs a day, then in theory my current horde will be ready to dip in less than three weeks.  Hopefully, having a full day to paint tomorrow, I'll be able to make a significant dent in the numbers.  After that, I'll finish the bases on all of them before buying the remainder of my force.

Simple!

So, onwards and upwards and all that...

Wish me luck!


Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Pink Horrors 0 - 0 Da Turf Trashers




Coach Lysenko roared expletives, but they were all drowned out by the crash of splintering wood as the Turfinator brought the subs’ bench crashing down onto the top of the minotaur’s head.  The beast went down like a sack of steak and the coach knew that he could well be out cold for the rest of the match.  The black orc cheered gleefully, dancing on the spot for a moment before realising that he’d forgotten what he was so happy about.

The match had only just begun and this was not the start that Lysenko had wanted.

The Pink Horrors faced an insurmountable wall of green muscle and teeth in their opponents, Da Turf Trashers – a far cry from the delicate elves that they had crushed just days earlier.

Receiving the ball at the kick-off, the Horrors huddled tightly around the Drowned Lover – ball clutched in-hand – and proceeded to march in a cloven-hoofed phalanx down the pitch.  Frustratingly, several fierce attacks on the orcs who stood between the Pink Ones and the endzone barely knocked the greenskins back more than a few paces, let alone slammed them to the turf and, half-way through the first half, the Horrors had barely managed to advance more than a few steps.

The situation was worsened, noted their coach, by a suspicious-looking old man with grey robes and a pointy hat standing casually on Da Turf Trashers’ side-line, absently twisting his beard around a heavily-engraved wand.  Every now and then, he would look across the pitch and smile pleasantly at Coach Lysenko.  This was not a comforting sign.

Lysenko hadn’t mentioned the potential for a searing bolt of lightning to roar out of nowhere and rend any one of them into a steaming pile of scattered limbs to the players, but by their nervous offense, Lysenko could only assume that they had worked that out for themselves.

In a final push to take the lead, the Drowned Lover broke free of the cage of man-goats which protected him and pelted down the pitch in the last seconds of the half.  With the rest of the orcs tied up in furious melees, there was no-one to stop the Horrors’ star from scoring.  Cursed by fate however, the Drowned Lover spent so long looking nervously up to see if the dark clouds overhead had in anyway thickened or ‘turned lively’, that he tripped over his own hooves.

The rest of the half was spent scrambling the ball between green players and pink players until the final grains of sand in the hourglass ran down.

By the start of the second half, both sides were down two players – the Blushing Doxy in fact requiring urgent help from the apothecary to set her smashed limbs – and still the minotaur Ermintrude Gayhammer was unconscious.

The orcs wasted little time in starting their sluggish yet relentless advance.  Now it was time for the Horrors to form an impassable wall of their own.  Wave after wave of charges crashed against the Pink Ones, but – many times only by sheer fortune – the man-goats managed to fend off each attack.  Time ground on and the Trashers pushed closer and closer to the endzone.  Finally, in the dying seconds, the ball was slipped to the Lawn Ranger who made a final dash for glory.  The Silent Blade reacted instantly, darting away from several opponents, barrelling towards the orc Blitzer.

With a deafening clash, goat struck orc and the ball was sent spiralling into the air beyond the reach of either player.  Before anyone could scramble their way down to scoop it up, the referee blasted his whistle and signalled the end of the game.

Both teams trudged back to their dugouts, heads hung, knowing that they should have won the game but silently thanking Nuffle, sure in the knowledge that they were both damned lucky not to lose it.

Coach Lysenko looked across to the wizard, but he was gone.  It just went to show, sometimes you could earn your money by doing absolutely nothing at all...