2016: The Year of Zombicide!

Looking back over 2016, I note that I painted from scratch about half as many figures as the year before (27 compared to 60). But it’s easy to see what I did spend a lot of time on – Zombicide: Black Plague! I spent more time playing Zombicide than any of my usual RPGs, or any other game. My game review of Z:BP was my most seen post, with 771 views (8 times as popular as the 2nd place comer) Of the figures I did paint – 12 were from Zombicide.

On New Year’s Eve, I ran my third playtest of Gamma World 4.5 (my d20 rule set is pretty much complete now) and played two games of Zombicide!

2016 was a pretty good year for the blog. Compared to 2015, I tripled my number of visitors (3041 views, 2045 visitors from 67 countries!) I had a lot of fun – revisiting old game systems that I hadn’t looked at for a decade or more (MERP, Gamma World), finishing a major part of the D&D campaign I run, and starting a Greyhawk/Pathfinder project for Hero Lab.

This year has started off with me enjoying my annual leave break (but I go back to work tomorrow) and I’ve spent a lot of it playing World of Warcraft, some more Zombicide, and a lot of sleeping in. I’ve been reading through the “Sword of Truth” series by Terry Goodking (in book four now) and had a couple of sessions of Pathfinder.

 

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Yesterday I finished my first miniature painting of the year – the Abominatroll from Zombicide: Black Plague.

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He was enjoyable to paint. Mostly a dark green base coat, some brown paint and dark tone ink for give some depth and shading, then a lighter “field grey” (more dull green than any grey) for highlighting. Touches of yellow, pink, red, white etc for various detail. Mostly flesh and white, then brown ink for finger & toe nails, with a distict “light olive” for the lumps. It’s a bit brighter in colour than the images make it look.

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I still have the minotaur and wolf alpha to go – then I hope to get onto painting heroes/survivors!

 

A Brave New World…

…complete with people like a four-eyed flying monkey, a three-armed cat-man, an ambulatory vine that throws exploding seeds, a dark-skinned female human with gills who stands over eight feet tall, a normal looking man who levitates and controls the actions of those he touches, and a small rusty-looking cyborg who enjoys taunting computers and lesser robots. Maybe they need to recover healing fruit from an ancient building with an overgrown arboretum, or maybe they are helping a farmer learn what’s killing his six-legged blue sheep.

 

This is the Gamma World – a futuristic RPG set on earth after the ravages of nuclear and biological war. Mutants (creatures changed by radiation, genetic modification or biological effects) are common, as are the artefacts of the pre-war society – some undamaged and functional, others ruined, broken or decayed. Humans are either the descendants of those who lived through the worst in bunkers, were frozen embryos or clones (Pure Strain), or “altered” – those who survived, but aren’t entirely human any more. Larger, sentient animals exist, many with mutations or defects. Robots and AI’s, some functional, others with damaged programming and memory loss can be encountered, along with mobile intelligent plants.

Gamma World, first produced by TSR in 1978 is now into its seventh edition. I was first entranced by the idea of this game from three pages in my 1979 Advanced D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide which described converting D&D characters to and from the “Boot Hill” and “Gamma World” game systems. I didn’t get to play until the late 1980’s, when at University I started a short 1st edition game. One of the guys in my gaming group ran a short 3rd edition campaign in that time too. I bought the 4th edition when it came out (TSR 1992) – loved it, but never played it. (It’s mostly based on 2nd edition D&D rules, but looking back it’s obviously a precursor to 3rd edition, with defined class skills, DC’s, three saving throws, etc.) A friend gave me a copy of the Player’s Handbook for the sixth edition of Gamma World (2003) and this got me interested again. This is a d20 version produced by ‘Sword & Sorcery’ with three hardback rulebooks and three supplements, mostly based on d20 Modern and requiring that rulebook. It’s very good at defining the world and background, but has a lot less mutations and equipment than earlier versions.

The “people” of the Gamma World mentioned at the beginning are sample characters I created with my new system for play testing with my gaming group. Both sessions have been a lot of fun, and helped my tweak my rules and tidy up skills and abilities. I’m nearly at the stage where players could create their own characters with the rules.

I’ve considered merging the rules presented in both the 4th and 6th editions for a long, long time… this year I actually started doing it. The fourth edition allows plants as character races, has 102 mutations and 18 defects, and about 40 pages of equipment, weapons and artefacts. The sixth edition has no plants, but allows “synthetics” – robot player characters, 45 mutations (about half are defects), about 20 Cybernetic/Psionic powers, and only 18 pages of equipment. My system – I’m calling it 4.5 – is based mostly on the 4th edition material converted to d20 (3.5 D&D), drawing from Pathfinder, d20 Modern and of course the parts I like from GW 6th edition.

One thing I never liked about early GW versions was the randomness of mutations. You could have one character who was really powerful (laser eyes, immunities, regeneration) and another with bad eyesight, three legs and ability to levitate small rocks. No balance. Unless it was a campaign where you expected to die quickly and make up another character, it could be really annoying. My system gives most genotypes a number of points to buy mutations. Each mutation costs one to three points. You roll on a table, if you can afford the mutation you take it, or you roll again. If you choose to take a 1 or 2-point defect, you get extra points for good mutations. During game-play, radiation exposure may randomly grant 1 or 2 points of good or bad mutations. At character creation, it’s a choice.

I have five Genotypes – Pure Strain Humans, Altered Humans, New Animals (15 subtypes), Green Folk (6 plant subtypes) and Live Metal. There are ten base classes: six from d20 Modern (Strong, Fast, Tough, Smart, Dedicated, Charismatic) and four from 4th/6th edition – Enforcer, Esper, Examiner and Scout. All of these have been adjusted to balance out more evenly than their d20 originals. My skills list is mostly based on Pathfinder with some GW/d20 Modern additions, with revised or new descriptions when required. I have 30 fully detailed skill descriptions, 78 Class Abilities, and 100 Feats.

I’m currently converting all the 4th edition mutations to my d20 version, and then I’ll add in some of the powers from 6th edition. Equipment will be predominantly from the 4th edition and I mostly need to make range adjustments (from metres to feet), and “monsters” from the 6th edition almost as is.

Once it gets a bit further along, I’ll put detail up on my Resources page.

Have you ever played Gamma World?   What edition did you play and would you play again?

 

Zombicide: Black Plague – Painting Necromancers

I have two of the standard Necromancers, plus four specials (two of which are also player survivors). That’s six figures done and they were fun to paint and look good on the board – in particular it’s great having the standard necromancers stand out from the regular zombies. I’ve followed the standard images as a colour guide with small variations for all but one figure.

Standard Necromancers – front

Back when I painted my dark elves (Drow), I’d been reading about how black doesn’t always come out well when painting figures – its hard to shade and highlight to pick out detail. The necromancer cloaks are painted with black mixed with some grey, making a very dark grey. Red for the cloak sash and arm bandages. Silver over the dark grey with the armoured legs and boots, brown then copper for chains, brown rods, dagger hilt and beards. Straps/bindings on the bottles and raised skull proved a nuisance – I need a new brush for fine lines. Some ink to shade the face, skulls and bandages, and a then white highlighting on skulls.

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Necromancers – rear

I may come back to these later. They could do with a little more shading and highlighting on back on the cloaks.

Now the special necromancers – Evil Troy, Grin, Ostokar the Pale and Queen Medea.

 

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Evil Troy – front

Evil Troy – better known to many as “Evil Ash” (Bruce Campbell) from Army of Darkness. The figure wears a breastplate (rather than armour banding over his shirt as shown on the card and in the movie) so I went a dull gun-metal with silvered edging. I choose a red cloak to match the movie rather than blue-black on the card. I don’t believe the eye sockets are well formed on the figure and were very difficult to paint. My final result is mostly black with a bright orange pupil in the middle – which hadn’t come out in the image above. Light reflection makes the skull helmet look silver rather than the white it actually is. Gameplay: When killed, put him back in his spawn zone, unless killed with a 3 damage attack/Dragon Fire.

 

Evil Troy – rear

Grin – or more commonly known as a medieval “Joker”, from the Batman comics. I pretty much ignored the card colours. The Joker usually wears a purple jacket and pants, yellow vest and green shirt – so this became the basis for the clothes on the figure. I liked the blood effect across the chin on the Z:BP image, rather than just red lips, so kept that. I don’t like the jawbone on the end of the staff – at some time in the future I may cut of the end and replace it with a standard human skull (with red mouth?). Gameplay: When he moves, he moves up to two zones instead of one.

 

Grin – front

 

Grin – rear

Ostokar the Pale – a “Naiade” special guest figure from french artist Xavier Gueniffey Durin. You can look at more of his stuff here. Originally I was planning on grey rags that got darker with each lower “layer”, and ended up with a bit of both green and brown over the grey and shaded that. Mostly gun-metal on the chains with some silver highlight and various colours to detail belts, sheath, straps, etc. Gameplay: Each time he gets an extra activation, all zombies in his zone also get an extra activation.

 

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Ostokar – front

Ostokar has been used as a survivor in one of our games so far (I enjoyed using Zombie-link), but not as a necromancer. I like the look of the figure and there’s some flexibility in the chains, which means they are less likely to break through handling or being packed in with other minis.

 

Ostokar – rear

Queen Medea – or “Queen Ravenna” (Charlize Theron) from the movies Snow White and the Huntsman and The Huntsman: Winter’s War. There’s some debate that CMON should have used the pose on the card rather than the final sculpt (dagger held in front not over the head) and I agree – although it’s still a nice figure. The red lips look a bit too bold in the image here, but don’t stand out so much on the actual figure. I found an online image where someone painted her in dark blue (rather than the black from card/movie) and liked the shading to almost black in the dress folds. I’ve used a lighter blue for the bodice than the image I saw, and managed a better effect with shading/highlighting than I usually try for or achieve. Gameplay: Cannot be eliminated if there are other zombies in her zone except with Dragon Fire.

 

Queen Medea – front

 

Queen Medea – rear

That’s all for now… I’ve got wolfz and abominations I can start on, but I might spend a week on something else before I come back to Zombicide. I hope you enjoy the pictures and have fun if your playing Zombicide!

Zombicide: Black Plague – Painting Abominations (Part two)

The regular abominations seems pretty minor in gameplay now (we have the wolf abominations, two rat cards and two blob cards in our regular spawn deck), except when they show up very early in a game!

 

Two standard abominations ready for use.

Painting these guys was fairly straight forward – pale flesh, coloured in the rope & bits of clothing, and light brown ink for shading. I did try something different in the middle of this, after the initial flesh base-coat.  I mixed a little green and grey with my flesh and mottled patches of the skin. It looked a bit too strong and overdone, so I went back over most of the exposed skin with a paler skin colour (called “fair maiden” – I use it mostly for pale ‘elf skin’, or highlighting) and that blended the skin tones nicely. The ink then darkened everything to a nice finish and I spent a little bit of time highlighting muscles and then teeth, eyes and blood on the fists and arms.

 

Abominations – Rear and slightly out of focus

 

Abominations – side view

The Ablobination has been the most annoying figure to paint of all the Zombicide miniatures.

Originally, I wanted to copy the appearance from the leaflet – a greyish flesh with purple tinges. I started painting this right at the beginning alongside the ‘rat, and it was the very last to finish (even after necromancers).

 

Ablobination – front

I looked at a few online versions and didn’t like the look of the one purple toned figure I did see. I didn’t like an all green one I’d seen either, but wondered if I could get something between the two that would look okay. I started with a light grey base coat and then some green shading – not happy. I repainted most of the skin in flesh tones and only felt that was a slight improvement. I could have gone the same style as the Abominarat (flesh, browns, etc – there’s spikes and warts!) but I wanted something with its own distinct colours. At this stage I was only happy with my brown leather/clothing scraps on the figure. My next thought was to go with a more fleshy style so I used a red ink over the entire figure. This replaced all the remaining green and gave me a dark shading which I didn’t mind. I then spent time going lightening the flesh and adding some dark pinks and red/browns to emphasise shading or detail the markings on the skin. The claw got a bit more red to suggest muscle rather than just stretched skin and my fair maiden on claws and the head. Some ink darkened the claws and helped pick out head detail, with a little white highlighting – trying to make the head as skull-like as I could. Black spikes, hints of yellow on some of the lumps/warts, and orange in the eye sockets with yellow pupils.

 

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Ablobination – rear

That only leaves two Abominations to paint – the troll and the minotaur. Like the rat, these are very large figures, so they should be easier to paint, and I expect to have a lot of fun with the minotaur – probably something between my existing minotaur figures and the leaflet picture. They have been undercoated and I’ll probably start them during the week unless I get stuck into another project.

Next – assorted Necromancers!

Zombicide: Black Plague – Painting Abominations (Part one)

It’s taken me a week (multiple attempts, time and lighting) to get a good set of photographs. The painting itself was over three or four weeks and has been some of the most enjoyable miniature painting that I’ve done. The largest figure is about 90mm high, making a wonderful change from trying to get detail on something like a 20mm halfling. I had a good idea of colour schemes for these figures – mostly following the published images/cards/rulebook. Most of them got used in a game before I’d finished everything and they’ve had plenty of favourable comments from friends over the last month. They’ve all had two solid coats of clear acrylic since I expect to continue playing Zombicide fairly often – and the figures get a lot of handling.

 

“A dire rat can grow up to 4 feet long…” (D&D 3.5 Monster Manual) By scale, this guy stands 13 feet high.

The first figure I really started with was the Abominarat and I had a ball! If I had spent that much time on anything previously I would have been really tired of the painting and just wanted to finish and get it out of the way.

I started with a base coat of flesh, then started building up the fur and trying a few different colours to bring out the skin folds, spikes, lumps, etc. Brown ink shading (I’m so happy to have been introduced to Army Painter Quickshade – thanks Azazel) darkened everything and brought out some of the detail. I slightly prefer the lighter flesh tones on most of the rat that I had before the quickshade, but to highlight most of the skin back to something lighter was too much work. I highlighted some of the fur and went on with pinks and yellows for all the growths, then spikes, teeth, eyes, etc. The ‘rat was impressive on the game board simply because of it’s size – with colour it really stands out now – as do the other abominations.

 

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Abominarat – Rear view

 

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Side view… I don’t think he has a “good” side.

 

As well as looking through my rulebooks & leaflets, I spent some time browsing the internet to see what other people had done and watched some YouTube painting video’s. There’s some very good stuff around. I’ve kept images of most of the abominations, necromancers and survivors to use as a guide. It’s easier to load an image on a screen than be peering at a card while painting.

 

You really don’t want both of these on the board at once…

I thought the wolfbominations (I’ve got two) might be easier to paint than most of the other minis so they came next. One wolf was base coated in light grey (mid grey fur) and the other in mid grey (dark brown/black fur) – and that’s most of the work done. White on ribs and teeth, a dark pink/red for exposed flesh and around the mouth, touched up after ink shading with bright red. A little bit of highlighting on the limbs, black on nose and claws and fluoro orange in the eyes. A little extra red for blood near teeth and on the raised claw.

 

Side and rear view

They came out very well, and I’ll use the same principles to paint all 24 of my wolfz later. They are already undercoated, and will be good to see how I go with a large group of multiple similar figures. I’m considering three base colours – light grey, mid grey and light brown. I don’t plan on painting all the general zombies (walkers, runners, fatties) but the wolf abominations were fairly quick and the zombie wolfz should be too. Plus, I don’t have any wolf figures in my general D&D miniatures collection and if I don’t paint the exposed flesh of some of the wolfz they can double as normal wolves in other games.

 

Now when they turn around, everyone hide!

 

Next post: standard abominations and the blob.

Painting: Citadel Dwarven Trollslayers

It’s nice when free time, good weather and the desire to paint can all happen at the same time! I completed this pair of dwarves yesterday and they are outside drying after a spray coat of varnish. This now means I’ve reached having about 99% of my hero/adventurer figures (human, elf, dwarf, gnome, halfling) painted. It leaves a lot of “monster” humanoids to go.

 

A pair of troll-slayers ready for battle!

 

I bought these two together in a blister pack to use in Warhammer Quest a long time ago. (One of Azazel’s posts dates them to the early 90’s.) They are Citadel warhammer metal figures and they have a nice pose and reasonable detail. I didn’t go for anything fancy, just simple colours.

 

Dwarves – about face!

 

My next painting project is Zombicide – Black Plague. I’d undercoated a bunch of figures a month or two ago. While I didn’t get to start painting, the white has helped the necromancers stand out on the game board from the general zombies. I started painting flesh last night and should do more today. I’m aiming to paint the necromancers and the full range of abominations. Later, I’ll also start to paint the survivors.

 

I don’t want to see all of these on the board at the same time!

 

After painting my black orc recently, I really would like to paint a set of orcs. While unlikely to see use as army units, they do get used as NPC’s and in small groups in my D&D games. I’m sure that all my orcs (about thirty) are Citadel Warhammer figures, from a few different sets over a short space of years. There’s some variety of pose and equipment, but they have a uniform look. I really like the idea of painting a group of miniatures all with a very similar (or the same) colour scheme – as opposed to the very different work that all my unique heroes and adventurers have required.

Painting: A few more adventurers…

I finished these three a while ago and I’d have two dwarves done as well if I hadn’t spent most of the last week with an annoying cold. I’ve spent most of my time reading or watching TV, or simply going to bed early. I’m determined to get the dwarves completed this weekend!

 

Wizard, Sorceress, Barbarian

These three figures are all from very different sources.

  1. Citadel Wizard – Plastic figure from Warhammer Quest. I finished the elf and barbarian from the same set two months ago, having done the dwarf warrior nearly three years ago! I wanted bright colours for this mini and had a lot of fun painting it. The staff originally had a very large ornate top with “wings” that I thought was way over the top, so I cut it back to something much simpler.
  2. Reaper Bones – “Juliette, Female Wizard”. This was my first ever bones figure and I’m happy to do a few more after this. I’ve seen other paints of this figure and if I have some time, a very fine brush and a steady hand I’ll come back and do some touch ups to bring out the vest/belts detail more. By the looks of things there is slightly better detail on the metal version of this figure. My figure also suffers slightly from a not well shaped hand (extended) and a face that’s not smoothly formed – apparently common problems to this miniature. The hand once painted looks okay, and with a knife and file I was able to smooth out the face a little – at least the fault isn’t obvious unless you hold the figure up close.
  3. Barbarian – I don’t recall the manufacturer of this metal figure. I’ve had it for a very long time. It’s a nice pose and reasonable detail. The figure is a bit smaller/thinner than the majority of my figures, so he looks like a “young” male, rather than the typical brawny adult.

 

Rear view

 

Coming soon… my two Citadel Warhammer dwarves… mostly weapons and jewellery to be finished.