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)


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:


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.


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...

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Hello Boys... It's the Iron Ladies!

It's a very rare thing to find miniatures that are not only beautiful, but also a complete joy to paint so it's a good thing that Warlord Games have managed to produce one of the most unique and visually arresting fantasy football teams I have seen in a very long time.

These rather short, large-chested ladies are the 'Sister Sledgehammerers', part of Warlord's growing range of fantasy teams and, though certainly not marketed for any particular game, when I saw them, I felt that they would be ideal for a certain popular little game called Blood Bowl.

The set comes with enough variety to be able to create the perfect starting line-up for a dwarf team of two Blitzers, two Runners, two Troll Slayers and six Blockers.  Though the pose and style of each miniature makes it a very easy job when playing to differentiate between the various playing positions, I decided that when painting them I would also use hair colour as another visual signifier of player-type.

For the Blockers, who would form the bulk of the team, I chose blonde hair as this fitted with the Nordic look of the miniatures better than any other colour, while going for brown for the Runners, and the ubiquitous red hair for the Troll Slayers.  Seeing them as being the more mature and experienced players, the Blitzers left the salon with a nice blue rinse.

Just to try something a bit different, and knowing that it was probably the largest area of colour on the miniatures, I decided to paint the skin first.  This is quite unusual for me because I tend to always paint skin last - as this includes the face of the miniature, it is easily the most important part of the finished piece so doing the skin last allows me to make sure that the skin stands out and is the most striking part of the model.

This time, I didn't do that and I have to admit, that meant a lot more work at the end to get things just right.

I used one of my favourite techniques for skin which I often use when painting my Space Wolves.  It generally gives quite a dark and ruddy shade to the recesses while being quite bright at the highlight stage, fitting these dwarf ladies perfectly, I felt.

I began with a roughly 1:1 mix of Vermin Brown and Scorched Brown as a dark base and then added an extra two parts of Dwarf Flesh to this to make a 2:1:1 mix.  Afterwards, I applied a layer of pure Dwarf Flesh for the first highlight.  Further highlights were then done by adding some Skull White.  The final highlight was then a 1:1 mix of Bleached Bone and Skull White.  The final stages, to give the skin a little more depth and colour were to firstly glaze all over with a thinned 1:1 wash of Gryphonne Sepia and Ogryn Flesh, before washing thinned Regal Blue into the recesses.

When it came to painting the clothing on the team, I decided I wanted to go for the classic Viking-maiden look, using mainly white with very light blue detailing.

For the white areas of cloth, I built up to a Skull White highlight from a Codex Grey basecoat, up through mid-tones of Fortress Grey.  This was a little too dark for my liking at first, so I applied several very thin glazes of Skull White to all but the deepest recesses to bring up the brightness a little.

The colouring of the blues were kept equally simple. I began with a basecoat of Enchanted Blue and followed this with a wash of Asurmen Blue with a touch of Leviathan Purple added.  Once this had dried, I worked all of the blue areas excluding the recesses back up to Enchanted Blue.

To build up the highlights, I repeatedly added more and more Ice Blue to the Enchanted Blue until I was eventually highlighting with virtually pure Ice Blue.  For the final extreme highlight, I mixed in a fair amount of Skull White to thisfor the very edges and topmost of the creases.

For the metallics, I chose to go for a gold / bronze tone rather than silver in order to contrast the relatively light colour of the uniforms.

I began with a 1:1 basecoat of Shining Gold and Scorched Brown before washing the entire area with a 1:1:1 mix of Scorched Brown, Chaos Black and Badab Black.  After this, I worked up the highlights in three stages, firstly with Shining Gold, followed by Burnished Gold, with an extreme highlight of Mithril Silver.  Finally, to darken the metallics slightly, I washed them with a thin layer of Leviathan Purple.

I often find hair rather difficult to paint, so I think I put off doing it for as long as I could.  In the end though, I think it worked out quite well.

The red hair of the Troll Slayers was once more painted using an old Space Wolves method.

I began with a basecoat of Bestial Brown before layering on a highlight of Blazing Orange.  This was followed by two Ogryn Flesh washes.  Following this, two simple highlights of, firstly, pure Dwarf Flesh followed by an extreme highlight of Bleached Bone were applied.  To bring out the redness a little more, a glaze of thinned Baal Red was washed over the area.

The completed Troll Slayers.
The brown hair for the Runners was probably the simplest of all the players.  I began with a Bestial Brown base and then worked it up by adding more and more Sunburst Yellow to the mix.  For the final highlights, touches of Bleached Bone were also added to the mix.  The recesses were then shaded with a mix of Scorched Brown and Badab Black.

The completed Runners.
For the Blitzers' hair, I began with a basecoat of Enchanted Blue, with a touch of Codex Grey added.  I then washed the hair (no pun intended) with a 1:1 mix of Asurmen Blue and Leviathan Purple.  I then re-applied the basecoat before adding more and more Fortress Grey to build up the highlights.  Two final extreme highlights of Fortress Grey and the Skull White were added before a glaze of very thin Asurmen Blue was used to finish off.

The completed Blitzers.
Finally for the Blockers.  I began by basecoating the hair with Bleached Bone before adding a Lamenters Yellow glaze.  Once this had dried, I followed it with a thinned Gryphonne Sepia wash.  I then worked the raised areas up, starting with Sunburst Yellow before mixing in more and more Bleached Bone until I was finally highlighting with pure Bleached Bone.  A final extreme highlight using a 1:1 mix of Bleached Bone and Skull White was used on the very tips of the hair.

I really enjoyed painting these miniatures and hope that you all enjoyed looking at them.

Keep an eye out for more exciting projects soon!

And don't forget to...

The Pink Horrors 3 - 0 Vitesse Arnheim

The usual cheers and roars from the packed stadium of the Vitesse Arnheim fell abruptly silent as the home team sheepishly crept out onto the pitch.  The Pink Horrors’ players were forced to stare at their hooves, desperately trying to hold back fits of giggles as the minotaur hid its face and swallowed down the last of its mouthful.

It began with a single chuckle from somewhere at the back of the stands, growing into a smattering of guffaws from several small groups of supporters throughout the crowd before swelling infectiously, slowly spreading to all corners of the stadium until it became a howling roar of laughter from fans both elf and beast alike.  The crowd were shrieking hysterically by the time the elf Marko van Ginkel had stormed naked to the scrimmage line to face off against the newly-promoted captain of the Horrors, the Spry Butcher.

WHERE IS IT?’ the elf spat through gritted teeth.

‘Where’s what?’  The Butcher fought to keep a straight face.  ‘You missing something?’

‘You know exactly what we are miss–‘ van Ginkel  looked down.  ‘Your legs are glowing!’

‘Aye, sonny.  They do that now.’

Where is our kit?

Behind them, the minotaur belched loudly.  The towering creature made a lunge for the elf but the Butcher raised his arm.

‘Easy, Ermintrude.  Pointy’s lost his trousers, haven’t you, Pointy?’

‘Just give us our kit back!’

Lost in daydreams of violently hitting small furry things with sticks, the orc referee obliviously raised the whistle to its lips.

‘Wait,’ cried the elf, ‘we haven’t got our uniforms.  Or our armour!’

The orc shrugged its swarthy shoulders.

‘You not bring kit,’ it slurred, ‘you play in your pants.’

The orc blew for the start of the match and that was the highlight of the elves’ game.  Without any armour and being forced to protect their dignity with at least one hand at all times, things went downhill pretty quickly...

The Horrors had won the toss and, the Drowned Lover having expertly scooped up the ball, the Pink Juggernaut marched its way down the pitch as any man-goat and warrior with a free fist proceeded to punch the elves into the middle of next season.  The lack of armour was obviously hampering the efforts of Vitesse as one by one they were ejected from the game and piled in a bloody heap by the side of the pitch.

The elves’ apothecary was forced to watch one of their journeymen bleed to death after being gored by Ermintrude Gayhammer – who was on astonishingly violent form, taking out no less than three opponents.  Even when the apothecary did spring into action, the absence of armour on thrower Eloy Room meant that though almost certainly saved from a horrible death, his resilience had been as diminished as his once flawless (and now shredded) face.

While Gayhammer, the Butcher and new goat the Silent Blade tore their way through the poor elves, star scorer the Drowned Lover thought he’d have a crack at getting some more of those touchdown things that seemed to please the crowd so much.  By the middle of the second half, the elves were so outnumbered that both he and the Murdered Maid found that they could score almost at their leisure while the rest of their unscathed team were urinating on the prone bodies of what was left of the elves.

By the final whistle, the surviving elves barely had the strength to breathe a sigh of relief.  In fact, as the departing Horrors set fire to the stadium on their way out, most of Vitesse Arnheim barely had the strength to escape the raging inferno...