Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The Demon Hunter

She did not fear the dark; years as an orphan beggar child saw to that. So when the demon came screaming into the Hunjab delta and tore apart the great temple, it was no worse a monster than the men who came to the struggling villages from the city, looking for young girls like her to… well, it was no use dwelling on it any more.

And yet she still dreamed of that day, peeking through the filthy mangrove roots as the creature sent the temple guards flying in a bloody swathe. She remembered watching entranced as a magnificent figure strode into the fray, unafraid as she whirled her greatsword above her head and brought it down through the demon’s wing.

The thing howled and lashed out with it’s tail, catching the fighter’s legs and sending her sprawling into the mud. It reared above her and grinned.

She knew that grin. Many a man had grinned at her like that. She clenched a small fist, grabbed a piece of broken stone and ran at the demon, screaming like a banshee.

She saved the demon hunter’s life that day and had been taken in by her order. She had trained, studied, fought and hunted. She had earned the right to carry the great halberd Fiend-Eater and learn the secrets of the special powders that brought forth fire from metal tubes without the aid of magic.

She had hunted alone, dragging two-headed demons from the sands of the Great Thirst. She had hunted in a team, facing down the rogue monster of Ulfenhalle University. And now she had reached the Frozen City, standing proud before the strange tentacled floating thing. It’s feelers reached out as it sped towards her.

Grinning, she raised her fire-stick and pulled the trigger.

When I saw this Warmachine Taryn di la Rovissi Gun Mage figure for sale on the LAF I knew that she’d make a great demon hunter - the dual pistol wielding mercenary is a very nice figure IMHO. Taken from the Forgotten Pacts expansion, Demon hunters are armed with a crossbow and two-handed weapon. I decided that one pistol would stand in for the former, and did a quick arm-swap to give her a halberd for the latter. All in all a nice bit of work.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Fee Fi Fo Fum…

Last Saturday Giles and I represented the Hereford WargamesClub at the Herefordshire Boardgamers charity games day; putting on a game of Frostgrave for anyone who wanted to give the game a try.

We both knocked up an entry level warband, with Giles going for an enchanter, whilst I randomly selected a witch (one Polda Nils and his lovely assistant Daybee Magii). My witch warband consisted of a knight, two archers, a thief and four thugs. In addition to our bands, Giles brought along a selection of wandering monsters which we could roll for on a D20 if required.

I decided on the Worm Hunt scenario from the main rulebook, but replaced the worm with a giant (mainly as an excuse to field my giant model). We brought enough scenery that we could comfortably carry from the carpark to the venue – a mix of scratchbuilt stuff and some of Giles’ Warhammer scenery to showcase the various options available to a newbie wargamer when it comes to terrain.

In the first game, Giles and I played against each other, but were prepared to step aside of any of the casual observers during the day decided to have a try. Both warbands deployed and advanced, with my wizard and archers forming a firing line atop a ruin, temporarily joined by a treasure-collecting thug.

This attracted the attention of an ice spider, which scuttled on the table edge to my left, perilously close to a couple of my thugs that were moving towards a treasure chest on a nearby ruin adorned with dragons.

In the centre, Giles’ purple-clad enchanter urged his band forward towards the treasure, only for his templar to be brought down by combined bone dart and arrow fire.

Alas the sound of battle attracted a wandering greater demon, which flew into the field directly behind my warband! My thug managed to push it away, despite being treasure-laden, allowing my apprentice to leap him off the board to safety.

In the centre my knight clobbered an enemy archer. With my firing line established I decided to whittle down any chance of my opposite number replying in kind.

The enchanter was nabbing more than his fair share of treasure by judicious use of the telekinesis spell, so I sent my fastest soldier, the thief, forward to disrupt his plans by attacking his apprentice.

Meanwhile the thugs on my left finally reached the treasure on the dragon ruin, only for it to pop out of existence – damn fool’s gold!

They vented their frustrations on the ice spider, which had been wandering around aimlessly while everyone tried to keep out of it’s line of sight.

By now all of the treasure had been claimed – Giles had four while I a paltry two. Time for the giant to stomp onto the field! After rolling to decide what free table edge to come in on, the giant lumbered towards it’s nearest target, a treasure-carrying thug from the enchanter’s warband (who’s apprentice was still locked in a struggle with my thief).

Meanwhile the wandering demon behind my lines lurched up to attack my firing line, wounding one of the archers. Hopefully they would be able to defeat it before it got to my wizard!

The giant squished an enemy warhound as both sides came to terms with this new threat. The area became a swirling melee as the enchanter’s apprentice was reinforced in his battle with my thief while the giant swatted it’s way through the soldiers.

My thief was vanquished, but so was anyone who had the misfortune to be targeted by the giant. The enchanter decided to cut his losses and began to withdraw with his treasures. But one was dropped by a squashed thug. Could I claim it from under the giant’s nose and even the score?

The giant blatted the enemy apprentice and then turned towards my knight and the enemy treasure hunter, who were by now locked in combat. He stopped and scratched his head in puzzlement as both combatants promptly killed the other!

By now the errant demon had clawed it’s way past my archers and was slavering after my wizard. He raised his staff but was unable to withstand the creature’s attack!

Now wizardless, the two thugs that had worked their way along the flank from the dragon ruin came up with a plan. After drawing lots, one of them distracted the giant so that the other could run up and grab the last treasure.

But it was not to be! The retreating enchanter cast one last spell and blocked off the treasure with a wall spell. The final chest was out of reach and the giant quickly dispatched the thug. Thus the game ended with a win for Giles – three treasure to my two, though the real winner was the giant, who would dine well that evening!

Time for lunch and a quick wander around to check out what other people were playing. Next to us was an X-Wing game that drew many admiring onlookers, whilst in the main room, much intrigue was in evidence at a Game of Thrones game. Check out Giles’ blog for a more in-depth look at the proceedings.

On to game two, where we badgered an innocent passer-by into trying out the game. He took over Giles’ enchanter while I played again with my witch.

Both warbands advanced and took some early treasures, which brought on the giant much sooner than the last game.

Alas the enchanter was a little absent-minded this time around, picking up a treasure which was in fact the fool’s gold he had cast beforehand!

On my left flank, his warhound menaced my archer that was covering that side of the field from a ruin. A lucky shot through the doorway felled the hound. My other archer took up residence in the high tower to my right, giving him unrivalled views over the area.

An enemy thug in the giant’s path wisely made himself scarce, leaving my apprentice to be the next on the monster’s to-eat list. The poor girl desperately swung her weapon and… I rolled a 20! A critical hit! It wasn’t enough to kill the giant, but it bought me some time.

I sent the nearest thug to assist the apprentice. Dodging the giant’s blows he lunged… Another 20!!! This comfortably felled the giant, which now only posed a threat if it’s corpse landed on anyone when it fell.

In the centre, the enchanter watched as his templar moved up to protect him from my advancing knight. As they slugged it out, both fighters became wounded, but it was the knight who fell first, despite being reinforced by my thief.

On my left, things were relatively quiet, but this changed when an armoured skeleton wandered into the fray. A fog spell kept my troops out of sight, but the wounded enemy templar found himself facing the creature after a push spell sent him flying into it’s path.

A push spell, I might add, cast by his boss (being in essence a shooting attack, we randomised the target, as the templar and thief were in combat). This left the wizard to face the thief alone.

Another push spell from the enchanter’s apprentice saw the skeleton scudding through the fog to attack one of my archers, who had left his position on my left to protect his master. My wizard also cast another fog spell just in case.

Despite taking wounds from enemy archers, my warband was now closing in on their opponent. The thief earned much kudos by slaying the enchanter, before teaming up with a thug to steal a treasure from their opposite number.

They didn’t have it all their own way however, as the opposing warband fought back, downing a thug and wounding my apprentice with point-blank shooting.

They even nearly managed to kill my wizard, who, having avoided the armoured skeleton, was taking cover when he got hit by an arrow. Luckily his (recently healed) apprentice was on hand to provide cover with a fog spell.

With the last stolen treasure off the board the game was over – 4-2 to me but more importantly fun and enjoyment on both sides (I think we made at least one convert,). Unfortunately we couldn’t stay longer, as more people trickled in while we were packing up, but it was an interesting experience hosting my first demo/participation game in a public setting. Well done to the organisers of the day and here’s to the next one!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Here be Demons

After a visit to a gift shop whilst on holiday, I’ve been able to cross some problematic demons from the Forgotten Pacts expansion off the list. I say problematic because their descriptions in the book are very specific, yet I’ve been unable to find any miniatures that they could have been based on.

Thankfully the aforementioned gift shop was selling some cheap toys of seaside creatures, which fitted the bill for some of the demons quite nicely.

First off the Kaylakids: floating squid-like demons that entrap their prey with their tentacles and zap them with an electrical discharge. These are simply plastic toy jellyfish given a quick paintjob and attached to a base with some wire. I like these models and am happy with the paintjob.

Following these is a pair of Grakyuras. Basically a cross between a crab and a turtle, these demons grab their target with their large claws and fling them about before devouring them. Plastic toy crabs fitted the bill here, modified with some Greenstuff to fit the brief a little more. I’m not really happy with how I modelled these, hence the rather uninteresting paint scheme.

There are plenty more strange (and specific) demons to think about, but next in the painting queue is someone to fight them all…

Thursday, 7 September 2017

The Black Sheep

There are many great captains who ply their trade among the frozen ruins of Felstad. The reasons these great warriors lead their men into battle for any wizard rich enough to employ them are as varied as the fighting men and women themselves, but often involves some kind of fall from grace in the civilised lands from whence they came.

There is one such captain however, that has possibly fallen further than most: Kazranak the Black, Emperor of the Darklands.

It was a terrible day that men first began to explore the Darklands, for soon they became corrupted by the foul and evil things that called the blasted wastes their home. Those men strong enough to survive built up petty kingdoms among the ashen rocks, dedicating their souls to mad priests and even madder gods.

These dark kingdoms bickered and fought for generations, battling each other in a constant cycle of vendettas and blood feuds punctuated by occasional slave raids into less evil lands. But this changed when Kazranak the Black ascended one particular bloodstained throne and quickly conquered the rest.

By sheer force of ironclad will this mighty warrior of darkness built a super-state from the evil kingdoms: sending huge armies of black-clad soldiers to claim swathes of territory in his name, funded by great pirate fleets that plundered the kraken-cursed seas. His empire was vast, his hordes uncountable and his ambition limitless.

And then he fell in love.

The details are hazy; nothing but rumour and hearsay; for even now, decades later; no-one dare broach the subject with this brooding warrior. Suffice to say his quest to capture the heart of his intended led to the abandonment of all other pursuits. Inattention and neglect saw his mighty empire smashed into shards by ambitious rivals, lands reclaimed by the creatures once subjugated by his fanatics and his armies and navies cast asunder by constant defeat.

So now Kazranak the Black is left with a handful of followers, subsisting as sellswords in the icy ruins at the beck and call of knowledge-hungry sorcerers. Known derisively as the ‘Black Sheep’, they plough on, hoping against hope that their leader will one day will finally find that which tears his black heart to pieces.

Finally, something painted! I’ve had these knocking around for most of the summer, and it’s nice to get back in the groove with them. I needed a couple of extra thugs and archers, so I made some out of my various plastic sprues (and a little putty to add some fur on the thug with the axe).

I also had a couple of lead figures lying around (nabbed from the LAF sprue exchange scheme, so no idea of manufacturer), so I decided to paint them all together and came up with the back story, and hence the black and grey colour scheme.

I’m pretty happy with them (my favourite is the thug with the meat cleaver and foaming over ale tankard), and glad to have something done after a very quiet (gaming-wise) summer!