Saturday, 28 January 2012

Battle At the Hamlet

I have finally had a chance to play my first game of Warhammer 3rd Edition. The resulting battle report has been written up sing Comic Life, my first attempt at using this software properly. I hope you enjoy the results! (Note: I do find the default display of pictures in Blogger to be not so good for these style of reports. If anyone knows of a way to change the display setting, please let me know!)

[Edit: I have now resized some of the text boxes and corrected a couple of typos. Hopefully it will be easier to read.]

My thoughts on painting

A comment on my last post got me thinking a little about my philosophy towards painting, so I thought I'd post a little entry exploring this. Now to begin with I want to clear up a couple of points:

Firstly, I would class my painting as 'adequate'. This post is not the place to come if you are looking to learn any funky new techniques or a masterclass. But if you want to know how a struggling painter has dealt with his situation, then carry on!

Secondly, although it is sometimes pleasant to retire to the man-cave and not worry about anything in the world except for painting little metal men, as a general rule I very much find painting a tedious process, a means to an end which is an unavoidable part of the hobby.  That said, I do still find it satisfying when I complete what I am working on.

So, with those points in mind, I thought about my painting process and decided it comes down to two broad elements which I will explore in turn: 1) WHY do I do it? 2) HOW do I do it?

Why do I do it?

I think that people lie somewhere on a continuum between gaming and painting. On one extreme are the folk who don't game, or game very little, and derive most of their pleasure from the painting process. On the other extreme are those who only really want to game and wind up with a load of unpainted or undercoated figures on the table (I have been guilty of this sin on occasion myself!).

I fall somewhere to the gaming side of the scale. I definitely paint in order to game with the figures and would not paint something that will never see action on the table. On the other hand, I really dislike using unpainted figures as I do enjoy the visual aspect of the hobby a lot.

So this really needs to inform my painting process. The longer it takes or the more detail I need to use, the less interest I will be able to maintain as to me it is a barrier to actually getting the figures on the table. I don't paint to satisfy anyone else or to garner praise for my work. I think in the past I have been a little too perfectionist for my own good and have learnt to scale that down.

So identifying where I am on this scale really allows me to get a handle on what I am painting for and what is important to me.

How do I do it?

After having considered the 'why', I can now think about the best methods for going about the process. In truth my process has been the same for a while, probably since I started painting my WW1 figures. Frankly there is nothing more dull than painting dozens of figures in the same browns, greens, greys etc... The route I have chosen will likely make the more expert painters among you despair, but the truth is that, after undercoating, I block paint the main colours on a figure and then apply a brown wash. There, I have confessed! I am not one for painting all the details when I will only be looking at them from a distance and especially if they are going to be formed in regiments. It also helps to speed up the process a great deal.

The other issue I have is the struggle to maintain interest in painting the same colour on a whole regiment. Faced with painting grey uniforms on a platoon of German soldiers I find myself making excuses and flicking through rulebooks at what 'could be' if I was actually any good at this painting lark. To answer this problem I have reduced the figures I paint a colour on at any one time to a manageable number. Alas, this number has turned out to be 3... I did try 5 once, but the burden was too great... 3 figures allows me to constantly change what I am doing and work up a decent production line, thereby maintaining interest in what I am doing.

So there you have it... the truth laid bare before you. Without this, I would not have been able to paint even the small armies pictured in my last post. I would have painted maybe 5 and then got distracted by the next project I have not touched for years. The vicious circle would have continued...

I have the greatest respect for the blogs I see adorned with pictures of wonderfully painted figures. I am somewhat envious of the talent on display. But ultimately, what it comes down to is me having to figure out how to get around my own limitations when it comes to the painting process and really start to enjoy the hobby more. I think I am on the right track to achieving this.

Thanks for reading this outpouring... normal service will be resumed shortly!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Small Armies

Well, it appears my new painting routine is finally proving to be a good idea. I have actually managed to paint two small armies (i.e. 300-400 points and definitely not 'legal' under the rules) for Warhammer 3rd Edition. Hurrah!

First up, the retinue of Baron Gustav. He rules over a small and somewhat embarrassing barony, even his three knights are on loan from a relative. But still, he is prepared to defend his property to the death, which may well occur this Saturday...

All of these figures are actually plastics from the old Battle Masters game by MB Games. The only exception is Baron Gustav, who is the Imperial Noble hero figure from Warhammer Quest.

So far Gustav has seen little threat to his domain. After all, it isn't really worth fighting over. But that is all about to change...

Skreelulz, the runt of his litter, has got a rather large chip on his shoulder and a sack load of the Skaven equivalent of teenage angst. Mocked all his life for his small size and poor constitution, he has finally had enough. Fortunately for him, he is not altogether unintelligent and can command some respect from those who are not related to him. As such, he has built up a small force and intends to use it to prove himself. One night, he sneaks into the clan armoury and steals some armour and a hefty looking weapon (which he can just about lift). Thus equipped, Skreelulz leads his army towards a foe he believes will not prove too much to handle, and whose death will not bring the might of the Empire down on his head...

The giant rats and Skaven Clanrats are plastics from the Warhammer Quest game. The rest are older GW figures, most of which I have had for years but not got round to painting until now...

I hope to play a battle on Saturday and then get back to the grindstone, adding to each force for a followup game.

Incidentally, I should give some credit to Gaj, whose blog has really inspired me to get stuck in to the whole old school Warhammer thing. You can check it out here.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Oh dear...

Well.... I managed to last just over a month on my promise. But I caved and bought something yesterday. Of course, it is all eBay's fault for being such a great place to buy second hand miniatures, nothing to do with me at all really. But I still feel bad.

Well, not that bad... I only spent 99p (plus postage) and it was on an old Skaven Packmaster which I actually need for my Skaven army to keep my Rat Ogre and Giant Rats in line. So at least it isn't the start of a new project or a pile of figures I won't ever paint.

But I just wanted to come clean to you all. Much easier than explaining the packet to my fiancee. But then, the usual will happen, which is that I'll make a massive thing about it, she'll ask how much I spent, I'll say 99p and she'll laugh at me. So it isn't that bad.

I leave you with a picture of the culprit.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


So, dear readers, you may recall that I suggested in a previous post that I was going to focus on the figures I have and not buy any more. Well, I am still living up to that promise! And what's more I am being somewhat more productive and motivated than normal. Here's a picture to prove it:

On the left you can see my 'production line'. Raw figures go in at the front in groups of three and by the time they emerge they are fully painted! It's amazing! Currently it is mostly occupied by Empire troops as I have come on quite well with my Skaven, which you can see to the right.

As with all painting, it is a long and arduous process for me, but I thought it might motivate me further to show you where I am at with things. The Skaven in the middle are waiting to be glossed and have their bases flocked. Then they will be done! The six Empire soldiers at the end of the production line are waiting arrival of a fresh green paint so I can finish their bases.

Given I only started this process a week or two ago and don't have a lot of free time at the moment, I'm pretty pleased with how things are going. I hope to be able to report on my first Warhammer 3rd Edition skirmish soon.

Monday, 9 January 2012

First post of 2012

Well, here we are in 2012 and I am happy to say that I am holding firm and have not made any purchases recently (except for a book on Roger's Rangers, but that doesn't count!). I almost failed though! Something got hold of me and I put a large spread of 99p bids on various eBay auctions, but luckily I was out bid on all of them!

Other things I managed to avoid:

I paid a visit to the Saxon hoard at Staffordshire ( over Christmas. Naturally this made me want to start Dark Ages gaming, specifically I was thinking about the Saga rules by Gripping Beast and some nice 28mm figures (which I kind of promised I would stop collecting for cost and space reasons...). But this desire was put on hold when...

... I watched an episode of a programme about Yellowstone National Park. Okay, no harm in that you might think... But the American scenery (well, certain parts of it) always makes me think of The Last of the Mohicans, which always makes me want to game the French and Indian War... I actually decided that "This Very Ground" by Iron Ivan would be a great set of rules and, as not too many figures are required, I could do it in 28mm again...

Luckily I managed to ground myself after Christmas and settled for starting work on my Skaven army for Warhammer Fantasy 3rd Edition... Phew...

So what have I got lined up for the year?

Warhamer 3rd Edition: As I mentioned above, I am painting a small Skaven army and also an Empire force. Now I typically have very little time for Games Workshop, but their older rules still appeal to me and I have a lot of figures from when I used to play Warhammer Quest, so I figure why not?!

The Great War: I'm determined to get all my 28mm WW1 painted this year so I can have a bash at these rules. I don't have too many figures for the period yet, so it should be a manageable project

Zombies: Ah yes, what would life be like without some zombies in it?! I want to finish off my current store of 15mm figures from Rebel Minis and play both All Things Zombie and No More Room in Hell, so I can decide which of these rule sets I prefer. I'm working on a 15mm urban environment which is coming along quite nicely too.

I think these will be the big ones that I really want to see progress on this year. Of course there are always other little side projects... I want to play some more pirate games and work on my Lord of the Rings campaign. I also retrieved my copy of the original Star Wars rules from West End Games over Christmas and just flicking through brought back some good memories of my childhood, so I'd like to do that too.

It will be interesting too look back in a few months and see what progress I have actually made on the above!

So, I'd like to finish by wishing you all the best for your own projects this year and hope you have a very happy 2012!