Painting – A mixed band of Adventurers

Q. What is the first step after you take finished figures outside to spray varnish them?

A. You drop one on concrete. ( NOT! )

At least my cleric landed on his head and only required a slight touch-up.

I was originally going to paint these as two separate groups. Two figures in each group were wearing mail and that was what I chose to start my painting with, so I just did the lot together.

Seven adventurer’s – one plastic figure, six metal, four different manufacturers and most of them pre-dating “slotta” bases. Surprisingly, all three elves were Games Workshop. I finished these all last weekend, but I’ve spent the week mucking around with light boxes and this weekend with desk lamps. I finished my second (smaller) light box during the week, but I’m not convinced that any of my desk lamps here work as great light sources. I think I’ve got something that works, and maybe a little bit of playing around with my graphics program can tidy up the images.

  1. Metal Mordheim Elf Ranger
  2. Plastic HeroQuest Elf Warrior
  3. Metal Warhammer Quest Elf Ranger (Knight)
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Games Workshop Elves

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  1. Metal Grenadier 9602 (Dragon Lords) Priest (Came with the “Red Dragon II”)
  2. Metal Ral Partha 02-352 Adventurer Wizard

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  1. Metal RAFM 03908 Female Ranger
  2. Metal Ral Partha 03-067 Armoured Cleric

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I wanted mostly woodland colours for the elves, but went with a bolder style for the Ranger Knight. The hardest part of painting these figures was choosing a colour scheme! I’m happy with my final choices and used a few colours from my newest paints. With one exception (the GW HQ Elf) each figure had a fair to high amount of detail and having a lot of figures meant I keep cycling through them doing different features.

I think nearly EVERY metal pre-slotta figure I have (not just these ones) is on a solid metal base that is a bit small. Even with the weight of the figure it’s still easy to knock them over, so these all got a bit of filing to smooth out the base (and try to thin it a little) and was then glued to a plastic 25mm round base. Two got a little bit of paste and fine shell to add some texture and blend the base joins before some black paint. The female Ranger was on a “stone slab” styled base (much like the male ranger from last week) and so I added so more rocks around it and painted it the same way. She wears a glove on her right hand, and there’s a hawk/falcon sitting on it. The shape of the falcon wasn’t done correctly and was tricky to paint, but I think you get the idea of what it’s meant to be if you look at the figure closely. [Oddly enough, this shot – without the light box and only one light source looks better to me than all the others… maybe I need to recreate that set-up for photo’s.]

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Female Ranger close-up!

This lot done means that nearly every adventurer/hero figure I have is painted. I think my next step is back to touch-up some I painted a long time ago (maybe 20 years?) and give them a varnish. Then I have a wide range of painted figures for PC’s or NPC’s in D&D, which is much nicer than plain metal or grey plastic.

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Talisman – My love/hate relationship with a board game!

Games Workshop released a fantasy board game called Talisman in 1983, for 2-6 players. I have an early second edition of the game from 1985. While I generally prefer games that rely more on skill than chance, this was one game that I’ve always really enjoyed, but often cursed the roll of the dice or a card draw. (The hate part of things relates to how long the game can go on for.)

 

Talisman 2nd edition (1985)

Talisman 2nd edition (1985)

 

Last weekend I received a copy of the digital version of the game. (Released on Steam in February) I haven’t done any painting this week, but I have spent three nights losing against AI opponents. This version (by Nomad Games) appears to have the same “board” as the 2nd edition, but I believe it’s based on Fantasy Flight Games (Talisman licence since 2008) “Revised 4th edition“, since the character and card images are the same. (Also, the expansions match.)

 

For those that haven’t played the game (or don’t remember much) here’s a summary:

The board layout is three circular regions – Outer, Middle and Inner. Each player selects a character (randomly) that has different starting stats and special abilities. Strength is used for physical combat, Craft for psychic combat. Players have a number of lives, and a bag of gold. In your turn, you roll a dice (d6) and move that many spaces (locations) around the board. Each location represents a place (such as) – plain, forest, wood, shrine, chapel, graveyard, tavern, village, city. Most locations require the drawing of an Adventure card, others have a dice roll to see what happens. The cards may be an enemy or monster to fight, an object that can be kept, a follower who may assist you, etc. Some may allow you to gain Strength, Craft, Life, or Spells. Combat is 1d6 + Strength (or Craft) + item/follower bonuses vs the same roll for the creature. A win means a trophy, else lose a life. Players build up their characters (increasing stats, buying/finding items, etc) and move towards the centre of the board, hopefully gaining a talisman along the way. In the inner region lies the Crown of Command, which is used to drain the life of all other players in order to win the game.

 

Character detail

Screen display (Player 1 detail)

My game box states playing time as “1 Hour plus” and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game take less than two hours. (Playing the digital version with AI opponents is quicker than with real people, but still takes a while!) This is mostly because of the great amount of time required to build up a character to a level that can enter the Inner region and progress (without dying or being pushed back to middle/outer region). This, and the chance of losing nearly everything with a bad dice roll (or unlucky card draw) is the games biggest down-side. The game play is very much one based on chance. The only skill is in good use of items, spells, and special abilities. There is a lot of variety with characters and cards – it’s also a large board – so every game is very different.

The two main “changes” that I’ve noted in the digital edition (compared to 2nd) are the Fate stat (which allows re-rolls, FANTASTIC addition!), and the ability to increase Craft by trading in defeated spirits (psychic combat monsters). In 2nd edition, you could only trade “strength using” monsters. (7 Str points of creatures for +1 character Strength)

 

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3 Player Game (Standard screen display)

 

It’s extremely faithful to the board game. The graphics are very well done, and everything runs smoothly. You can play with 2 to 4 players, with those players being AI run, or actual people. The game speed can be adjusted, various “house rules” can be turned on/off, and it saves games. It’s really nice having the game track all your bonuses, and you can click on any board space to get detail on that location, as well as check what cards (objects and followers) any other player holds. It’s got a tutorial mode and good “help”. Overall, I’m very impressed and I can see myself playing a lot of this over the next month.

 

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Screen display during Intro (Sample Game)

 

Ideas for improvement (any version):

I’d prefer to have a 5 point to +1 Strength/Craft trade-in on trophies (defeated creatures) to speed up character development. I’d also love to see the Inner region locations to be less based on random dice rolls and more on character stats/abilities in some way.

I like the “Mines/Crypt” squares – roll 3d6 and subtract your Craft/Strength. If the result is 0 or less you can move on next turn, otherwise you’re back in the Middle region. (Some followers can give a modifier to the roll.) The “Vampires tower” is a random roll: lose 1-3 lives, but you can sacrifice followers to offset the loss. These are good locations, whereas the “pits” and the “werewolf den” are almost pointless combat rolls. (Any character that has reached this point should have such a Strength that they win easily, except perhaps by rolling a 1 for themselves and a 6 for the monster.) “Dice with Death” is just ridiculous – roughly a 50% chance to move on next turn, otherwise lose a life and wait to try again next turn.

Now I’d like to see a digital conversion of the DungeonQuest boardgame – that’s a nasty, fun (and time-limited) game that often had no winner. (I’ve still got a list of high scores of those who got out with treasure, going back to 1989!)

 

Update:

Fantasy Flights website has a pdf version of the rules to the revised 4th edition. I noted that in that, under “Alternative Rules for Faster Play” they suggest the following: “If players find themselves a little short on time, they can increase the rate at which Strength and Craft is earned. This speeds up the game by making characters more powerful more quickly. The normal rule is that to gain a point of Strength or Craft, a character has to exchange trophies with a combined value of seven or more to gain the point (see “Trophies” on page 14). To speed up play, players can simply change this value to six, or to speed things up even further they can change it to five.” I’m planning to print this copy of the rules to use with my 2nd edition game.

A new photography project

On the weekend I finished the two groups of miniatures that I had been working on. The light was good on Sunday afternoon, so I took everything outside to take photographs. They seemed okay, but once loaded on my computer I found they weren’t as good as hoped for.

I decided that instead of thinking about a light-box, it was time I followed the inspiration of a few of the blogs I follow, and started to make my own. One cardboard box from work and a bunch of tissue paper sheets later I have one functional light box.

2015-04-12 Light BoxIt’s much bigger than required, but it could be used for really big figures or when I want to sell books on eBay. I have a smaller box and some more tissue ready, so the next one will be just the right size for miniatures! Then I just have to raid the desk lamps around the house and I can finally start producing consistent good quality images every time I finish painting.

Painting – “Ready, Aim, Fi… look, a squirrel!”

I finished these three last weekend and spray varnished them on Monday night. It’s taken me the rest of the week to get suitable photographs of them! Two are GW Warhammer plastic archers (Bretonnians), and the last is a much older metal RAFM figure (RAF03907 Male Ranger). Interestingly enough, when I did a search to find out what this figure was, I realised that I also have the counterpart (RAF03908 Female Ranger) undercoated and ready to paint with my next batch of adventurers.

I looked at a few images of medieval clothing and costumes for archers (in recreations). I wanted a simple colour scheme for this lot and went with predominately greens and browns. The Bretonnians have a fair level of detail, but suiting peasant bowmen, are simple figures with minimal “gear”. They will be perfect for NPC’s, hirelings or henchmen in my D&D games. The Ranger has a lot more detail and “stuff” – bow, arrow in hand, quiver of arrows, two swords, dagger strapped to leg, pouch, bracers, and boot lacing. As much as I like good detail on figures, each of these needs to be different in colour so that you can pick them out. I didn’t want to spend hours mixing paint or selecting different colours and waiting for stuff to dry so there’s not much variation here. After all, I’m not entering a painting competition!

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“Something’s sneaking up on our flank!”

I check over my figures and clean up bits of metal/plastic and lines left over from moulding before I start. I find mould lines, in particular are more obvious after undercoating, so I often have a second round with knife and file then. The Ranger though was driving me crazy: I’d cleaned up the figure as I usually do, but as I started applying colour I kept finding things that weren’t obvious earlier – sword hilt attached to hat, bow “wider” behind arm bracer, extra material between sleeve and mail, larger cheek bones on one side of the face, one eye higher than the other! This figure either came out of a bad mould or maybe it was late in the casting run, or just terrible quality control. In the end, only the sword grip suffered badly. It is still slightly off-kilter (not a smooth slim cylinder), but I was afraid of breaking the end off if I tried to shape it properly.

The Bretonnians were based on some flocked bases I got from Azazel – rather than plain black rounds, since they are distinctly outdoor figures. The Ranger with his metal rock slabs got glued onto a plain round base and an extra rock added.

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Bowmen, rear view.

Next up – Group 2: female Ranger, male Wizard, male Priest, male priest/mage/angry noble.Hopefully I’ll finish these over Easter.

(Then three Elves in group 3)