Friday, June 29, 2012

Wildings - Painted and Stat Profile

As I mentioned in the post about Alfyn Crowkiller, I've been working on painting up miniatures for a bit of GRRM skirmish warfare between The Night's Watch and Wilding raiders. Warbands on both sides of The Wall have been coming along nicely and I've been slowly replacing LotR rangers and Wargames Factory vikings (which have been serving as proxies) with more appropriate miniatures as they are painted.

Here are two such Wildings that are ready to take their place on the table.  Just like Alfyn, both are from the George R. R. Martin Masterworks line produced by Dark Sword Miniatures.

Of all the Wildings in the line, the Wilding Warrior with Longsword (DSM5015) is my favorite sculpt.  The pose is quite dynamic and just looking at the miniature head on, one can almost get the feeling that this fierce warrior is about to strike a killing blow.  Kinetic energy seems to be bound up in the stance, with devastating power about to be unleashed from the sword arm.  Now that's what good sculpts are all about!

To honor Martin's vision of his fierce northern warriors, I painted the miniature using mostly organic earthy colors. Living off the land as they do, I wanted their garb to reflect their harsh life.  However, being Wilding raiders, they are bound to find, steal, and pillage equipment and arms during raids south of The Wall or take items from vanquished Black Brothers.  To illustrate this fact, I painted the shield and armor in stronger, less natural tones to suggest items foreign to their culture.

Readers familiar with GRRM's works mostly through the excellent HBO series may take issue with the bases of these minis (and the others in the project). In the TV series, everything north of The Wall is depicted almost as an arctic wasteland.  Basically the scenery looks like it was filmed on a glacier.  However, in the books, the lands of the north are not necessarily always covered in thick snow and much of the action takes place in the Haunted Forest.  I chose to base the warbands with the books in mind rather than the television version.  Plus, I'm a huge fan of double-duty miniatures.  Basing the figures on snowy bases makes them much less usable to me for other types of gaming.

Dark Sword Miniatures calls this next figure Wilding Warrior with Great Axe (DSM5016).  I painted this warrior in many of the same colors as the one above to build upon the raider theme.  The garb is different but I wanted to use the same colors to suggest that a successful raid over The Wall garnered the raiders with a couple of bolts of cloth that was later sewn into garb.  Plus, by using the same colors but in different places, the warband looks like they belong together on the table while still looking chaotic enough to suggest a highly irregular force, as opposed to the Night's Watch regimental-like livery.

The painting of the two forces is not the only facet of the project getting attention.  I've been slowly experimenting and tweaking the LotR skirmish rules to use with my Westeros wargaming.  Most of the rules are just fine as is, but the magic and hero systems definitely need work.

Profiles are taking a bit of time as well.  Getting the right numbers to balance the forces and do justice to the individual heroes is not a matter to be taken lightly.  Special rules are also worthy  of deliberation.  They are a major part of the game and definitely important to the overall flavor and theme of the participants.  With time and additional battles, I'll be able to zero in on the right mix. 

I'm fairly happy with the profile for Wilding warriors/raiders however.  It's a solid stat block that fits well with the description of the Wildings given in the books.

              F      S    D    A    W    C
       3/5+   3    3     1      1     3

            Special Rule:  North of the Wall
            Wildings are at home in the harsh climates north of The Wall and are masters of ambush tactics.  As such, any Wilding warrior may move through difficult terrain without penalty when fighting on home terrain.

I'll be posting more stat profiles as additional miniatures are painted and added to the character list.  I'll also try to get a battle report up as soon as I work out the remaining bugs and kinks.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Help Finding Two OOP Saruman Miniatures

Going through my LotR collection the other day, I noticed that I'm still missing a few miniatures from the line.  Being mainly a collector of the range, I've done a pretty good job over the years keeping up with all the releases GW has put out for the game.  Or at least I thought I had.  Somehow I've managed to miss one Saruman variant and misplace another.  I'd like your assistance in helping me find them.

First up is the Saruman variant that depicts the fallen wizard holding a Palantir.  I'm not really sure how I missed this model.  It's a great sculpt from Gary Morley and possibly my favorite of the four existing versions.  I think it was released early on in the Fellowship of the Ring phase but I could be mistaken.  Either I owned it at some point and misplaced the mini like the one below or perhaps I simply forgot to purchase it.  Either way, Saruman with the Palantir is missing and I sure would like to add him to my collection.

Next is Saruman the White from The White Council boxed set.  I know I had this model in the past since I own every other mini from the set and I'm positive I did not purchase each miniature separately.  Perhaps I misplaced him in one of my several house moves or maybe he ended up in the same mysterious place where some of my socks seem to disappear, but he is definitely missing. 

I realize that the LotR SBG is not the big thing anymore and many visitors to the site will probably have moved on to newer and greener pastures, but I'd still like to ask for your assistance in finding these two miniatures.  I have checked eBay many times over the last few months and have found little success except for one seller that has listed a poorly painted Palantir version for almost $40.  Hopefully someone in the blogosphere can point me in a better direction.

Thanks in advance for any time or consideration readers can provide to my search.

Note:  Not having access to the miniatures themselves, and with GW not cooperating with images of OOP models, I had to use images from the web.  Below are the links to the sites where the images were borrowed.  If the owners of the above images have any issue and/or concerns with my use of them, please feel free to contact me and I will gladly remove them immediately.

The Dead Marshes
Lord of the Miniatures

Edit 1:  Gamers, RPers, and Mini Painters are the best!  Not even 15 minutes after I posted this, I already have a lead on a new eBay post from overseas.

Edit 2:  Thanks to an awesome reader with an extra model, I now have Saruman with a Palantir on the way.  Hopefully I'll get lucky with another seller/trader on Saruman #2!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Whom Do You Serve? Saruman!!!

As I mentioned in the last post, I have had a couple of Saruman miniatures in my painting queue for....well, forever.  While version two is still under construction, I had a moment to snap a few photographs of the first one.

I painted this version from a dark undercoat of brown up to a final highlight of almost pure white.  I struggled with each highlight stage though to keep the white and brown mix from turning too pink but remembered an article I read years ago about adding a bit of yellow to offset the the pink hue.  The technique worked pretty well.  I'm working in the opposite direction in version two where I'll be starting light and washing to get the appropriate shades.  The latter option is certainly going much faster but I'll decide when both are complete which one looks the best.

How do you paint?  Do you start dark and work up to the highlights, in the middle and add both shading and highlighting, or light and wash down to create shades?  I'm assuming most wargamers take the easy route since speed is important for rank and file minis but it would be interesting to hear what technique others use for heroes, commanders, or single minis.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

On The Horizon - June 2012

It's the start of another month and that means another On The Horizon post.  Well, actually it's already a week into June but the idea is still the showcase some of the projects I'll be working on this month.  For this column in the past, I've basically showcased my entire workbench of current models.  At any given time though, I have over 50 miniatures in some stage of completion and at my glacial painting speed, there is actually little change from one month to the next.  Many of the same minis are visible each month, some with little to no progress.  The lack of change makes for a fairly uninteresting monthly column (which also explains why it has been so sporadic). So this month I'll be doing the column a bit differently and only showcasing the miniatures that I keep directly in front of so called "imminent completion" models.  They are the ones that get the most attention and therefore may actually change from month to month.

Here is a quick peek at the first six miniatures:

Harald Hardradda (HVA03) is the top left miniature.  He is part of the Heroes of the Viking Age line produced by Gripping Beast Miniatures.  Harald will be serving as a warband leader for much of my Dark Age gaming.

To the right of Harald is another great sculpt from the Elmore Masterworks line by Dark Sword Miniatures.  She is titled Female Wild Elf (DSM1164). I grew up with the fantasy imagery of Larry Elmore and love being able to paint those images Dark Sword has brought to life in 3D.

On the far right of the upper row is a Barwench (HFV001) from Hasslefree Miniatures.  She is another useful model found in their Villagers line.  She will be serving as yet another female inhabitant of Port Largo in my Legends of the High Seas campaign.

Looking quite dashing and fierce on the bottom left is Damian Helthorne, a bandit from Reaper Miniatures (03201).  I usually avoid the big "cartoony" looking figures but this particular sculpt caught my eye right away.  All the features in the mini are very pronounced and I thought he might be a pleasure to paint.  So far I was correct.

Saruman stands in the center of the bottom row.  He, along with a second version, have been in the queue since sometime last year. I finally finished one and this version is nearing completion as well.  All that remains to finish are his flowing robes.

James St. Johnson rounds out the bottom row.  He too is from Reaper (02663) but unlike Damian, his features are quite a bit more realistic and much more to my liking.

And here are the final seven:

The first in line is the Governor from Black Scorpion Miniatures.  Just a few more details and highlights are all that's keeping this chap from joining the other citizens of Port Largo.

Autumn Bronzeleaf (03492) is next.  She is another Reaper miniature.  Although the name suggests otherwise, I've decided to paint her in very spring-like colors.  Her intricate sandals are giving me a bit of a fit though so she'll remain in the queue for some time.

One of my favorite miniatures from this round is third from the left.  Alejandra (CMN0020) is from Coolminiornot.  She is a wonderfully simple but alluring sculpt from Steve Buddle of Spyglass and Eolith Miniatures fame.  She originally came with a giant scythe but I thought the dimensions looked all wrong so I did a very minor conversion and changed the weapon into a magical staff. 

Speaking of Spyglass, next to Alejandra is Shae (SGM003).  She is another simple but elegant sculpt and I very much look forward to painting her.

Just in front and to the side of Shae is a mini I will be using as a merchant captain in my Legends of the High Seas campaign.  He is from the Pirate Captains (OGP-01) collection by Old Glory Miniatures.  I've had this fellow since Christmas 2010 and it's definitely time for him to make his way from the bench to the table.

I found the next miniature completely by chance.  It's from a Spanish company called Tercio Creativo.  The mini is listed as Mochilero, a rogue warrior, but since my Spanish is terrible I can't be sure I'm reading the label correctly.  Anyhow, I simply loved the sculpt and had to give the company a try.  I can't wait to see how the little halfling-looking guy turns out.

Finally, I have another mini from Black Scorpion to round out the queue.  He is from the Privateers 2 blister.  Just like the Governor and Merchant Captain, he too is destined to walk the streets of Port Largo.

So that's my plan for the next month.  Hopefully when July rolls around I'll not be taking photos of the exact same miniatures.  Doing so would not really honor the meaning of the phrase "imminent completion".