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I Aten’t Dead

It’s been a while since my last post – alas the mundane tasks which fund my more interesting activities have been very demanding of late. Still, with some time off for Christmas, I had two straight weeks to play with. Numerous projects could have taken centre stage for this time, but with no sign of Krognak being free for a game in the foreseeable future, I turned to a solo gaming system: Rangers of Shadow Deep. Of all the various games that can be played on one’s lonesome, it has the best reviews. These two weeks have therefore been devoted to getting ready all the various elements needed to play the first scenario – the ranger and his companions, the board and terrain, and the various gribblies and NPCs the mission requires. To make matters harder for myself, I wanted to use models I already had in the painting pile, rather than buying in anything new. While this didn’t quite work out, as you shall see, I still managed to get some good painting done.

The Ranger

As seen in some of my previous posts, I’ve been working on some old metal high elves. They were the first models I ever got into for wargaming, and indeed some are still the same figures I got back when I was 11. Most are more recent eBay purchases though. The “ranger” is an old High Elf hero from over a decade ago, on his third repaint. His sole claim to fame is beheading a Khornate exalted champion in one blow during a game of Warhammer Fantasy a good decade ago. Long lived though elves may be, that’s a long time spent out of action. I’ve put a Warhammer elven rune on his shield, so I guess we’re setting this thing in the Mortal Realms of Age of Sigmar instead of the original setting of Alladore. Accompanying him are a small band of swordmasters painted up to accompany the mage shown a while back. I suspect the lack of diversity in my companions will result in a fairly severe drubbing, but I have them ready to go and I’m a sucker for looking good while failing miserably. The advantage of solo gaming is that if it all goes too badly I can quietly paint up an archer or two and rerun the scenario without having to endure the gloating cackles of a victorious opponent.

My plans initially met with minor disaster. I have taken to painting cloaks with oil paints, as the open space and gentle folds take blending incredibly well, and oils blend beautifully, as well as giving a nice texture and curious vibrancy. Unfortunately in this cold weather oils take forever to dry, and so when I came to brushing on matt varnish after a day or so I disturbed the paint and created holes where the red of the original cloak colour was visible. I tried to fix this with a wash of Drucchi Violet, but it didn’t really work. After a bit of a sulk, I repainted the cloak, and placed the model on a radiator to dry. This managed to dry the oils in a little over a day, with no apparent ill effects. Praise be to radiators.

Board and Scenery

A Christmas long past, I received a pair of realm of battle tiles, with which I was planning to make a ruined city board. That plan, like so many others, fell through. More recently I was going to make it into a kill team board. Now it is at last reborn in glorious brown! It’s only 2’ square instead of the 3’ required: I’ve not yet worked out how this will factor into the game – I’m tempted to run the scenario as is and see what happens, but if it all goes wrong one way or the other I can try reducing everyone’s move by an inch, or, as a last resort, using the correct size playing surface, but that will be less pretty so I want to avoid that at all costs. I am reasonably happy with the end result, though if I were to do another I would spend more time on the water effects in the centre.

Recently I saw a blog (which one it was escapes me, alas) showing the Reaper Bones mystic circle, a pleasingly primitive edifice which took me back to my second year archaeology days. I therefore bought one, which was nice and cheap compared to GW scenery. It was rather warped when it arrived, but some boiling water has largely dealt with the issue. It was painless to paint, devoid of the overly heavy detail that adorns the newer Games Workshop kits – while undeniably gorgeous, scenery should be quick and easy to paint to a decent standard; it’s a framing device to add to the models fighting around it, and shouldn’t be drawing focus. With only two colours to worry about, I was able to bash through it almost without thinking in between other things. The addition of some Gamer’s Grass tufts finished it off nicely.

The first scenario in Rangers of Shadow Deep calls for 4-5 houses. I only have the one house, and the figures I was painting didn’t put me in mind of a village setting, so I bought instead a Citadel Awakened Wyldwood (largely on a whim, as I wanted some trees). Now I could run the scenario using the three large trees of the wood as house equivalents, and the stone circle as the last one. In stark contrast to the swift, easy job of painting the stone circle, the trees have been a lot tougher – the interplay of leaves and branches is very fiddly. Perhaps I should have left the branches off and painted them as sub assemblies, but the way they fit on did on occasion require some filler to disguise the joins. I have only completed one of the three trees, but I like the result, providing I don’t look to closely. Also lying around I had a whole load of resin blasted tree stumps bought from eBay. These were much quicker to paint, being all one colour. I lightly superglued them to a sprue to hold them in place when painting, and twisted them off when done. As with the larger tree, there is a subtle glaze of green around the roots to give the impression of a verdant environment.

“Many of these trees were my friends…”

NPCs

I have never warmed to zombies. They just aren’t a form of undead I am interested in, being vulgar, unhygenic and generally lowering the tone of any unliving horde. When I saw that the first mission required six, I therefore naturally did not have any to hand. What I did have were some GW skeleton warriors. Skeletons are a far superior form of undead – warriors of ages past, bearing ancient shields which pique my historical interest (the all-metal bobbly one is very similar to some Bronze Age examples). Technically, the book has rules for skeletons, but we will run the scenario counting them as their more fleshy cousins as intended. It also calls for giant rats. Here I did have to get some models in, choosing Otherworld Miniatures for their range of dungeon creatures. I went with some skeletal snake things (death worms?) and a small flock of stirges (not pictured as their eyes still need some work). This should be enough for the first mission. I have decided where possible to use models from GWs Legions of Nagash faction for the adversaries in RoSD; this way I can build up a small army at the same time as sorting my RoSD monsters. Grave Guard should make good gnolls, when I get round to it. I enjoyed painting up these skeletons – it was an exercise in texture rather than detail, building up a nice verdigris bronze effect and using my typical style of slapping raw umber over basecoats. My one error was making the cloth on the skeletons too similar in colour to the bone, resulting in a lack of contrast. My idea was that the bodies had lain in the waterlogged soil, so that the fabric would have lost its colour, but I should have chosen a darker brown to keep the areas distinct. I won’t fix it on these models, but a slight tonal shift for later ones should solve the issue.

The scenario also calls for some survivors. I am as short on civilian models as I am on zombies, but my editing of the scenario gave me an idea: rather than searching an abandoned village for a missing ranger, why not marching out to a mysterious stone circle to locate a missing expedition? Perhaps a nice archaeological jaunt which, in the tradition of The Mummy, manages to fall prey to dark undead forces. This mission would, of course, have guards. Nobody would be stupid enough to venture forth into the wilderness of the mortal realms without a military presence, and it just so happened that I had some freeguild I had painted several years ago in a figure case – not enough to form an army, of course. I can’t claim to love the paintjobs, but a coat of – you guessed it – raw umber oil paint later, and they would do the job well enough for my purposes; a battered band of filthy, traumatised survivors.

So that’s where we are leaving it for now. Next time (hopefully in a week or two) come back to see two more painted trees, some treasure tokens and read a delightful battle report covering the first mission, as Tethlis Leafhallow leads his patrol to the standing stones to discover the fate of the famed archaeologist Konstantin Fehlstadt.

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