Sunday, 29 November 2015

Frostgrave: the Demon Bones


My youngest son and I actually played a game of Frostgrave yesterday - more on that on another occasion.  For now, here are some more pictures of monsters.  These are both from Reaper's range of miniatures and are made from the "bones" plastic.


Whilst this makes them very cheap, the bones material does require a slightly different approach to building and painting a  model.  My research suggests that gluing the parts together isn't really a problem (just use superglue), but that such figures should not be undercoated with an aerosol - they can turn sticky or tacky.  Indeed, the common advice is just to paint them directly with acrylics.

Since I wanted to base them and I did want to undercoat the bases, I had to make the models in a different manner from usual.  The bases were built and undercoated as normal, but leaving a gap for the figure's integral base.  Once the base was prepared and primed, the bones model was glued to it and the joint between figure and base was filled.  After that, painting proceeded as usual.

The Demon

My Frostgrave demon is built from Reaper Miniature's "Nabassu" figure.  As you can see, he's a winged, horned humanoid with fur down his back and some nasty-looking finger- and toenails.

I can't actually remember what colours I used to paint this demon, but I know I was aiming for a grey-green tinge.  He's not what we would think of as a healthy colour, at least for a human!

In Frostgrave, a minor demon is supposedly about man-sized.  Possibly this monster is a bit too big for that role, but I think the extra bulk (and height!) increases his menace considerably.

That's not a demon; this is a demon

Technically, this is Reaper's model "Agramon, Pit Fiend".  Looks like a demon to me, though...

This guy is huge!  If he was made from metal or resin then the cost of the model would have been more that I cared to spend, but in the bones material, he's not too expensive.

Agramon has gigantic, bat-like wings, a scaly skin and a long, reptilian tail.  He's holding a ball of flame in one hand, so it seems that he's fireproof as well.  Oh, he also has some very large fangs...

For this model, I used a red palette for the body and a much darker red for the wings.  I wanted the flames to stand out, so I deliberately kept the main figure quite dark and subdued; the bright flames then look especially hot.

For his spines, teeth and horns, I aimed for an obsidian effect.  They were base-coated in black and then edged with dark green.  I'm still not sure how well this works, though.

I've painted the dirt around his feet as if it were slightly scorched; the snow has certainly melted from these areas.  This demon comes from a much warmer climate and my guess is that he'll feel the cold of Frostgrave bitterly.  It probably won't improve his temper any!

I don't think that anyone could mistake this model for anything other than a major demon.  Once again, Oscar the thief has been placed nearby, just to give a sense of scale.  Oscar will be having nightmares about this encounter for a long time, I think!


Bones is a different material to work with, but I didn't encounter any real issues whilst building these figures.  The resulting models are light, cheap(-ish) and somewhat flexible.  Indeed, I don't think they would be significantly damaged by being dropped on the floor (not that I plan to try this any time soon!)  They have been painted and sealed as per my usual methods; it's just the preparation that's a little different.  No primer!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Frostgrave: Magical Creatures


Once again, I've missed my weekend posting last Sunday.  Once again, I'll explain that this is because work and home life are getting on top of me and I'm having difficulty mustering enough enthusiasm and time to write articles (or indeed, to comment on other people's).  Still, my problems are insignificant when compared with what many people suffer.  Enough of that already!

In gaming news, the Frostgrave painting engine rolls on.  This time, I've got a couple of unusual creatures from Black Cat Bases to show you, so without any more rambling, here we go:

The Construct

First up is a "Book Golem"; a magically-animated humanoid constructed entirely from books and scrolls.  This was great fun to paint, as it involved some unusual research and detailing.  It would be an obvious form of construct for a wizard of the Sigilist speciality to construct.

I wonder if the type of tomes from which this creature is constructed have any bearing on its behaviour?  If, for example, the magician built his monster from old county record books, the golem might be really dull and boring and only interested in land ownership.  On the other hand, if the wizard slipped in a few of the more racy pulp novels then who knows what the book creature might do?  Probably best not to think about this too much...

In the picture above, Oscar the Thief has been manipulated into standing next to the monster to provide a size comparison.  I think it's fair to say that this golem is a large construct.  Indeed, I think that Oscar is about to catch up on the book learning that he missed in earlier life, all in one go!

At the time of writing, the book golem costs £4 and is available from Black Cat Bases.

The Owlbear

In the same order as the book golem, I also purchased an owlbear.  This is a very simple little single-piece model.  I painted it quite hurriedly, so I rate the result as "acceptable" rather than "outstanding".  At least it didn't take very long to complete!  I'll use it in Frostgrave as a regular bear, I think.

From the back, he (she?) could be mistaken for a straightforward bear.  However, in a city full of perilous magic it's not perhaps surprising that the poor creature has mutated.  I wonder if it was a deliberate act by a heartless wizard, or just one of those everyday magical accidents, though?  Was the animal targeted or merely unlucky?  Either way, it's now lost, confused and upset!

Oscar seems to have shaken off the book construct, but has come face to face with the owlbear.  As you can see, it's not the biggest monster around and any decent hero should be able to take it on single-handed.  I think that Oscar is outclassed, though!

The owlbear is available from Black Cat Bases for the small price of £3.  Incidentally, if anyone is looking for an alternative then Otherworld Miniatures do a couple of very nice owlbears but be warned - they're much more expensive than this one!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Frostgrave: the Ice Trolls


I missed posting on Sunday last.  I had intended to put something up then, but nothing that I'm working on now was ready,  Partly this is because I've got a nasty cold, but mostly it's the new puppy in the house (collie, 4 months old).  He's really causing havoc with our normal habits and routines!

I've got a few moments tonight, so here's a short update...

The Ice Trolls

One of the nice things about the Frostgrave game is that you can use any miniatures you like.  Now I have quite a few trolls in my collection already, both painted and unpainted.  However, these are all of the Games Workshop "Stone" or "River" troll varieties.  They're not all GW models - some are not-quite-copies from Black Tree Design instead - but for Frostgrave I wanted something a bit more, well, shaggy.

I searched for quite a while through various manufacturers' catalogues offerings of yetis and the like, but I didn't see anything that was quite how I imagined these creatures.  Then, almost as an afterthought, I stumbled across Crocodile Games' "Wendigo" range.  The moment I saw these, I knew that I had found my Ice Trolls!

These are quite easy to paint: the creatures' skin was layered in progressively lighter shades of brown through to tan whilst the fur was undercoated in a mid grey and drybrushed with pale grey and then white.  After that, there are a few details (weapons, loincloths, claws/horns/teeth, bases) and they're done.

An unwary thug hasn't noticed 3 Ice Trolls creeping up behind him

These Wendigo warriors are quite large models, without being giants.  They're not especially cheap, though.  I bought mine from a UK stockist (Black Pyramid) and once postage has been taken into account, they cost me about GBP 4.60 each.  Of course, since they only come in a unit of 6, I've got another 3 models (including less useful horn blower and standard bearer figures) as yet unpainted.

Hmm, I wonder if 3 trolls is a bit over the top for Frostgrave?  Mind you, I did see a scenario on the web which used 3 of them as a leveller for when 1 wizard is of much greater experience/rank than any others, so maybe it's not so silly.  I am looking forward to seeing these guys splatter some incautious adventurers!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Frostgrave: a quick Ruined Building


Since I started on my Frostgrave adventure, I've built plenty of wizards and quite a few undead monsters, with some soldiers and more critters to come.  However, the game is heavily dependent on terrain as well, so I thought I'd better plan for that too.

Having ransacked my spares boxes, I came up with this:

It's a relatively cheap kit that I bought long ago, though I'd never built it because I'm not a great fan of the "techno gothic" look.  It never occurred to me that these ruins could be built in any other way - but they can!

The Ruins

OK, so I had a kit, but what could I do with it?  The box came with 6 identical sprues, each containing 1 long and 1 short wall, as well as 1 tall and 1 short cylindrical joining piece.

Now I really didn't want to spend a lot of effort on this project, so I cut the parts from the sprue (quite crudely, by my standards) and glued them together.  This took only part of 1 evening, so not a great deal of effort at all.  In the end, my 12 wall pieces made 3 "L" shapes, 1 "T" and 1 "Z" shape.

To paint these, I wanted to keep it easy.  I sprayed the built models just once, but with a "stone-textured" paint that I bought from my nearest D.I.Y store.  As well as adding some black and white flecks to the overall grey of the walls, this had the added effect of covering up or softening much of the "techno" detail.  It's not something that I would wish for in many models (indeed, it would be something of a disaster for most!), but in this case the effect was just what I had hoped!

My only concession to extra painting was to apply a thin, dark green colour vertically to some areas, to simulate water stains.

The walls still looked a little bare, so I added some vegetation growing out of various nooks and crannies in the ruin.  This was made from rubberised horsehair, covered with glue and then flock (there's slightly more to it than that; I'm keeping it simple for this article).  However, it didn't require much work at all.


So there we are: another old kit saved from an eternity of pointlessness by being turned into a model that I hope will be very useful.  There are enough parts here to build quite a substantial ruined building, or possibly 2 smaller ones.

I did consider adding full or partial bases to these pieces and I also thought of adding snow over the highest points.  In the end I avoided both these ideas.  Firstly, it would have added extra time and effort to what was supposed to be a really simple, cheap build and secondly, snow or a particular colour of dirt would reduce the versatility.  After all, as it stands I could use these ruins for games in other settings too: grassy plains, scorched wildernesses, overgrown jungles...

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Frostgrave: the Undead


I'm continuing to hunt out old miniatures from my lead pile and paint them up for use in games of Frostgrave.  Last week, I showed my wizards, but I've also been working on monsters.  Indeed, I seem to have a lot more of these than I do humans - I'm quite short of ordinary soldiers.  Still, all things in good time.

Right, monsters.  I've painted up (or in a few cases, rebased existing models that seemed suitable) quite a few undead creatures.  They say that Frostgrave is a desolate, haunted place that is roamed by lost souls.  Let's see...

The Vampire

My vampire is an old Games Workshop miniature who has been "re-purposed" from my never-used Warhammer Vampire Counts army.  I think he's a Von Carstein or something like that.  This is one of the models that I had painted years ago, but the base is new and hopefully is more appropriate for a ruined, snowy city.

He wears classic vampire 18th/19th century costume - and is therefore several hundred years ahead of fashion in my medieval Frostgrave setting.  I could replace the model with something more contemporary in due course, but it's a very recognisable vampire look and so he might just stay.  I haven't fully decided yet.

The Spectre

If this guy looks somewhat familiar then it's because I painted up some models just like this to act as apparitions in a Scooby Doo game, not that long ago.  He's another model from the same Black Tree Design set, but painted up slightly differently - especially the base!

The Wights

These are my armoured skeletons, though if you prefer to call them "wights", "doom guard", "grave knights" or anything else then that's OK by me.  The red/black model in the middle is another Games Workshop figure that I painted long ago, though the basing is new.  However the other 2, recently-completed wights are from Black Tree Design.


These zombies are a mixture of old Games Workshop and Black Tree Design/Harlequin models.  I'm not even sure that I can remember which is which, despite just painting then recently!

The guy on the left has a strange assortment of odd pieces of armour and a big, goofy grin; I'm not sure that I like this model very much.  However, the other 2 look very much like shambling, undead warriors to me; pretty much what I'd expect from medieval zombies!

The Skeletons

Finally, here are some Black Tree Design skeletons, though I don't think that the shields that I've fitted to them are the ones which were originally provided with the models.

As with the wights, these old BTD models are quite large; they'll tower over some of my humans.  Still, no-one ever said that skeleton warriors have to be average in size, right?


I've got a number of terrain pieces under construction or planned, as well as other monsters & creatures (demons, wolves, trolls and the like).  But I'm really short of suitable humans for the wizards' warbands.  That's probably where I should be spending my model-making effort, but I'm having too much fun painting up the wandering threats!  For now, at least...

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Frostgrave? Wizards!


A month or so ago, I ordered the Frostgrave rulebook.  This was almost an accident, as it was only purchased to increase the value of my order to the point where free postage would kick in.  However, when the book arrived I did read it through, just to see what all the fuss is about.

Since then I've been rooting out many of my old fantasy figures and rebasing them (if already painted) or painting them (if not).  I've been using my Basius II Dungeon pad to make both treasure markers and also bases suitable for a ruined city until my fingers are sore from mixing green stuff.  I've dug out some long-ignored terrain kits and more pieces are on order, so I think I've got that covered too.  My younger son is off designing wizards and their entourages on paper, so soon we'll be all prepared to actually play a game.  That'll be good!

The Wizards

Please accept my apologies for the poor quality of the pictures.  I'm out at work long enough that I don't see daylight at home at this time of year, and the lights in the house just aren't very good for taking photographs...

So, many years ago, Games Workshop released a box of 8 plastic wizards.  As well as the 7 I'm showing here, there was also a female (Dark Elf?) sorceress.  I know that I've got her around somewhere but I'm unable to locate that model for now.

I managed to get one of these boxes quite some time after they were released; they were fairly scare by then.  My intention was to use some of the wizards for my Warhammer Dogs of War mercenary army (which is pretty large, but has never been used.  At least, some of its models have occasionally made it into other games, but the bulk of this force is still virgin).

When I first got these models, I undercoated all, started to paint most and finished a few of them.  Then they were ignored for a decade or more...

In the last couple of weeks, I've finished off all these wizards and rebased them in more interesting ways (previously they were on square slotta-bases with plain, green flock).

The sculpts for these figures are showing their age, for certain.  They tend to suffer from huge feet and very big heads.  Additionally, they are somewhat 2-dimensional and a bit stilted (there are only so many ways that a sword, staff or sickle can be waved sideways, I suppose).  Finally, because of the technology of the time, the mouldings lose a lot of detail around the edges.

Despite not being the most modern of figures, I'm quite pleased with these.  Firstly, it's a considerable satisfaction to have completed these models after all the years they've been waiting.  Secondly, they give me a considerable choice of characters for Frostgrave, or indeed for any other game where a wizard is required.  And finally, they're a reminder that one doesn't need brand new figures all the time; sometimes it's better to look at the resources one already has!

So, what do you think?  Love, hate or indifferent?  Any particular favourites or dislikes?

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Batrep: The Witch of Nether Thicket


It's been my custom for several years now to play a themed game on or near Halloween.  This year, we got out my 17th century witches and witch hunters again, for another outing with the Song of Blades and Heroes rules.

The Scenario

We decided to play the Place of Power scenario from the basic SoBH rulebook.  In this, a terrain feature gives in-game bonuses as well as victory points to any magic user who is located in it.  An ancient runestone was located in the middle of the woods; perhaps the witches could use it to increase the efficacy of their black magic?

In a slight change to the published scenario, we decided that a witch would score 1 victory point for each 2 turns that she was in contact with the place of power, rather than 3 points only at the end of the game.  The basic scenarios in SoBH have no time limit and victory is effectively determined by who remains on the field of battle.  That being so, I saw no reason why the witches should get an extra 3 points if they had already won!  In addition, the per-turn bonus would add some time pressure to the game; it would force the opposition to deal with any witches rather than just hanging back and waiting.

The Forces

We played the game with 300 points per side, or near to that.  At most half of this could be spent on "expensive" models (50 points or more each).

For the witches, I chose the following:

  • 1 witch.  After all, she's the main point of the warband (and the only magic user in the game).
  • 1 ghost.  Not much of a fighter, but it should be able to scare away some of the opposition, right?
  • 2 hellhounds.  These are big, scary and mean!
  • 4 ghouls.  These are quite expensive, but their poison attacks and savage natures might be useful.
So, my plan was this: get the witch into contact with the place of power and start racking up victory points.  Use the hell-hounds to hunt enemy heroes and the ghost to scare off the common soldiery.  The ghouls are there to skirmish with anyone who tries to get smart and outflank me, or to assist in outnumbering an enemy hero.

Playing the forces of humanity, my sons decided to take:
  • John Sterne, the witch hunter.  Strong-minded and well-equipped, he's pretty much essential when facing such abominations.
  • Major Fairfax.  A decent military leader.
  • 4 musketeers.  It doesn't hurt to have some ranged firepower when faced with satanic horrors.
  • 4 soldiers.  A group of cheap lads, mostly useful to get in the opposition's way, I suppose.

The Game

So, how did the game play out?  Not as I had planned...

To start with, both sides advanced towards the central runestone.  If anything, the humans moved with a bit more purpose and organisation, due mainly to Major Fairfax's Leader ability.  A few long range shots were attempted, but these were all wide of the mark.

The ghost then caused consternation by advancing directly towards the largest group of soldiers ("Why yes, a ghost can move straight through a building").  Muskets and pistols were fired at the apparition, but it came on regardless.

Whilst the humans were distracted with the ghost, a huge hell-hound charged out of the gloom and bowled over the witch hunter.  Indeed, he had to use his hero's "once per game" re-roll to save himself from a brutal demise from the devil dog's jaws, but the re-roll converted his original throw of a deathly '1' into a respectable (but still losing) '5'.

A second beast followed, but before it could tear out the throat of the unfortunate man, one of the soldiers reacted and attacked it.  With contemptuous ease, the monstrous creature tore the poor squaddie into screaming, bloody chunks.

Despite Major Fairfax's cries of "Stand firm, my brave lads!", the common soldiers were appalled at the carnage of the gruesome kill; to a man they all turned and fled (though none of them ran off the table and away for good, sadly).

So far, this was going swimmingly for the witches!

Maybe I was cackling too soon, though.  In one turn, John Sterne regained his feet and gave the hell hound which was over him such an almighty buffet that the beast fell to the ground, momentarily senseless.  How the h**k did that happen?  I suppose that his Hero attribute gives him the right to perform superhuman acts of gymnastics, not to mention out-of-time judo skills...

Before anyone else could react (I threw a double activation failure for the first model in my next turn and therefore couldn't do anything), the witch hunter pulled out a pistol and shot the monster dead.  This guy is too much!

Whilst the rest of us just stood there, gawping, he stepped over the corpse of the hell hound, levelled his other pistol and shot the witch dead too (I threw another double activation failure for my first model and so missed another complete turn).  What the...

Encouraged by this (and by the shouted orders of Major Fairfax), several of the soldiers then charged at the second hell hound.  Whilst it was thus distracted and outnumbered, the witch hunter turned round and slew it too.

At this point, I conceded the game.  Whilst I still had the ghost and 4 ghouls, it didn't seem at all likely that they could wipe out the enemy force on their own.  So: the final tally was 1 witch and 2 hell hounds slain (5 victory points), versus 1 soldier killed (0 victory points) and 1 turn of communing with the runestone of power (0.5 victory points).  Despite it being Halloween, the forces of darkness were hammered!


I think that my plan was reasonable, but I was hampered by a series of very poor quality rolls just at the critical moments.  Of course, every roll in SoBH is critical - but some are more so than others!

As for John Sterne, the witch hunter - I'm beginning to really hate the man!  Of course, that's because I always play the evil side and I haven't really worked out how to deal with him...