Back to the hive

After many months of being covered in miscellaneous junk and boxes of models, after weeks of picking away at the debris, I finally gritted my teeth and cleared the table in the shed. 4′ x 8′ of glorious emptiness. It was time for a game.

Finally cleared

Rowan had found rules for a Genestealer Hybrid gang in Necromunda, and was keen to give his new army an outing. He could only afford a very small gang – 1 Magus, 2 Purestrain, a hybrid and two Brood Brothers. I went with an 11 man Delaque gang. I got to pick the first mission and picked Raid, because it sounded interesting. It was only when I looked at the scenario details I realised what a tough proposition it was – he had his whole gang but I could only pick five of mine. Worse still, we were using the dangerous terrain from Outlanders, and this battle was taking place with an unstable roof dome above. If I fired my Heavy Stubber, there was a high chance that I would bring the roof down and kill everyone.

Necromunda table

In this scenario, the attacking gang has to sneak up on the objective while the defending sentries mill around aimlessly. The objective was the staircase in a mesh box visible at top right. Rowan had positioned it in fairly open ground right in the corner of the map – very difficult for me to get to. Ideally I would have opened up on it from the other side of the map with the Heavy Stubber, but I couldn’t do that because of the unstable roof.

Ready to fire on the objective

I crept closer, and still at a respectful distance from the Stealers I opened fire. 3 hits on the objective, but with T6, they did no damage at all (I needed 6s to wound). The alarm was raised and the Stealers bolted towards me. I retreated hastily, hoping that the Genestealers would become sufficiently far ahead that I could pick them off. Things got worse when the Magus used a hallucinogenic mind power on my flamer. Thinking his buddies had betrayed him, he turned round and flamered the gang, taking down two of them and I bottled.

Stealer on guard

The second battle was a shoot out. This looked much more promising. We had three gangers each – in this scenario they walk towards each other and the first to lose his nerve and open fire loses victory points. I had my Leader, a Flamer and a Heavy Stubber.

Gang stand off

We were both going slowly until I realised that my flamer needed to get into range and sped up – but too late; the Stealers triggered the shoot out. The Magus and my leader fired first – he missed and I took out a Brood Brother. Then the hybrid missed, and finally it was the Heavy Stubber’s turn. With two shots on each of the remaining targets he took them both down.

One win each – a straight gang fight next..

Rusty debris

I love to make scenery out of found objects. These rusty bits of debris are exactly that – rusty debris. There was an old farm implement rusting away at the end of the garden, and before I took it to the tip, I noticed that some of it was actually flaking apart into these fragments. Just the sort of corroded and unidentifiable remains that the underhive would be littered with.

Rusty Necromunda debris

I stuck them to scraps of hardboard, covered the base with sand and then all I did to paint them was to give them a very light orangey brown drybrush on some of the edges. All the colours and patterning were already there. They aren’t very large (I wish I’d salvaged a bit more now), but they have great texture and a satisfying weight.

Brethren are complete – for now

The ‘Brethren of Ultimate Sanction’ – a batch of models that started with last year’s Oldhammer figure from Ramshackle Games has finally cleared the painting tray.  The first two can be seen here

Monk and flagellant

On the left is a Black Tree monk – I bought a pack of 4 in a drive to collect medieval civilians. I was going to paint them in plain brown robes, but then it occurred to me they could join the group. On the right is another Casting Room flagellant. He had a rather funny little medieval hat, which I didn’t like, so I replaced with this more menacing green stuff hood.


Here are the rest of the monks. I thought about giving them weapons, but didn’t in the end – they are still semi-civilians, not a warband. The abbot in the middle is clearly a magic user of some power, and probably doesn’t need one anyway. You can see him here calling down a bit of divine wrath on his enemies. His blind eyes were a spur of the moment decision. I painted in the whites ready to do normal eyes, and then I realised that they gave him a bit of interest and menace. The red scars were added to hint at some ritual mutilation or torture – he clearly has a dark past.

The whole gang


Yoric – Another Frostgrave Captain

Yoric has travelled from his tribe’s hill fort to plunder Felstad and bring back much needed riches to his home. Although toting a curiously small axe, his strength and savage fighting style mean he is in demand amongst wizards to head up their fighting men.

Frostgrave Captain

Another Pict Frostgrave Captain. I’ve gone for more of a primitive tribal look with this one. The only conversion was to turn his bare legs and slippers into trousers and fur topped boots with green stuff. The shield came with the model.

Frostgrave Henchmen

More finishing off of Frostgrave troops. These are mostly from the soldiers box, except for the Infantryman on the right below. He is a Perry Miniatures mercenary with Frostgrave arms and halberd and a green stuff fur cape to ‘winter’ him up a bit.

Thug and infantryman

The Frostgrave models have lots of layers of clothing, which can be a bit of a painting challenge. It doesn’t feel right to paint them the same colour when they look like separate garments, but on the other hand you have to pick the colours carefully or they will end up looking a discordant mess. To try to avoid these I use quite a few browns and greys with a couple of brighter colours to add interest.

Two thugs

I’ve based everything to WFB standards – 20mm square for these, and I haven’t used snow because it looks so weird in other settings, limited the uses for them. I have used a bit more grey stone that usual to increase their suitability for the city ruins.

Frostgrave Captain

Last year I ordered a load of Black Tree Picts for my Inquisitor Cynole game. A couple of them were in chainmail, which didn’t suit the look I wanted for the natives in the game, so I decided to use them for Frostgrave. This chap needed a little conversion – his sword looked more like a dagger (Picts didn’t have much metal), so he got this one from my bits box. He had bare legs and sort of slippers, which didn’t look suitable for the cold, so I gave him green stuff fur topped boots and trousers. It seemed a good idea to equip him well, so I gave him an old Citadel crossbow on a green stuff strap. Finally he had bare hands, so I sculpted glove ends around his wrists.

Frostgrave Captain

This model is slightly taller than most of the Frostgrave ones, which adds to his air of authority.

Freehand Undead Shields

They don’t seem to be in fashion so much now, but I like a classic old school shield pattern painted on a flat shield. Here’s some I did last year. Usually I make them up as I go along.  I paint a base colour on the shield, then I think of something to put on it, and I had extra details, colours as necessary. For example the red circle on the middle shield wasn’t part of the plan, but the skull in the centre looked a bit small and I needed something to fill up the space around it.

Freehand skeleton shield patterns

With skeleton shields I’ve always wavered between doing them as rusty, ruined versions of human shields or the more common emblems of skulls, bones and death. In the case of the latter, who paints them on? Imps summoned by the necromancer to give his army a touch of style, or perhaps necromantic students paint them in the evenings to finance their studies. Maybe Chaos Dwarves have a warehouse full of them that they sell to up-and-coming lich lords.

Female Rogue Trader Mercenary

This rather elegant female mercenary is another one that has taken a couple of years from start to finish. To my mind, modern 40K doesn’t have nearly enough random aliens, abhumans and other such interesting and disparate inhabitants. I imagine the fringes of the Imperium to be packed with the sort of weirdness found in the Mos Eisley cantina, so I’ve taken to building up a good selection of oddities. She’s humanish, but not human standard, and from some kind of feral hunting culture that’s into its ritual ornamentation.

Alien mercenary

The model is from Foundry’s Africa range. I picked her up from the discount cabinet at BOYL 2015 at the end of the day. Bryan Ansell prompted this by commenting that he was surprised nobody had bought her, because you could make anything like that sci-fi by just sticking on a pistol. Hmmm I thought, the bald head and jewellery is a rather cool look.In the end, I went a bit further than just adding the pistol. I modelled on boots, an ammo pack, and the Y shaped back of a top with green stuff to make her a little less primitive. Initially I had her leaning on the gun (small grenade launcher from Street Violence range), but it didn’t work very well, so I repositioned it so she was actually carrying it.

I wanted her to look a bit alien and exotic, so I used a bluish skin tone, with some strongly coloured eye makeup, and strongly patterned sarong again to suggest some kind of tribal background. The gun is rather elegant and decorative, which complements her look nicely. The red colouring on the gun was prompted by some paintball guns I have seen, that are really very decorative – metallic reds and purples, fancy little chrome detailing etc. This a piece of sculpture as well as a weapon.

Treasure chests and coffins for Frostgrave

Last year I took advantage of a Black Tree sale to pick up a few chests for Frostgrave. We’ve got a few treasure items but have had to resort to using dice etc in the past. I’ve finally got these finished as  part of the ‘clear the WIP tray’ effort that I blogged a couple of posts ago. I thought about putting them on bases, but I quite like the way they naturally become part of the scene when placed, rather than looking like a symbol for something.

Along with the chests there’s a selection of coffins, suitable for (from left to right), a knight, a vampire and a pauper. They will make a handy objective for a scenario, or just some set dressing.

Treasure for Frostgrave

Four days – four posts. Bet I don’t keep this up all year!

6mm Epic scale trenches

We’ve just finished building a large piece of 6mm trench fortification – something I thought about doing years ago, but never did. However, over the holidays Rowan had a school project to build a model of a WWI trench. This seemed like an ideal opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, so I helped him build something that would work for both. Here’s the finished model – it’s just under 2ft long.

Model trenches

The base for the model was hardboard, cut square on two edges and irregular along the ‘front’. The idea of the square edge on the right hand side is that it could be expanded by adding on another length at some point in the future. The area has been formed as a hill to give it interest, and also so that the rise in ground level required to dig the trenches into could be made to look more natural. The next step was glue a couple of thicknesses of heavy duty cardboard box onto the middle of it to form the hill. The board was weighted down with heavy objects to reduce warping while this dried.

After sketching out the layout on the base, we built the walls of the trenches, gluing them directly onto the base with PVA so they stuck up like walls. We used strips of a fine corrugated cardboard to give it a man made look – logs etc. combined with plain mounting board, strips of cork and balsa wood. These were all cut to different sizes to give a ragged and scruffy overall look. On the base layout we had drawn round some Epic scale bases, so that wherever possible, the trench could accommodate a standard 10x40mm Epic scale base, with the odd spot where a 20x20mm would fit. Once the trenches were done, we filled in some of the largest gaps, mainly with cardboard cut into thin strips so it stood up  vertically. This is much less convenient than lying the cardboard flat, but it gives something for the plaster to key into. If you glue cardboard flat then cover with a thin layer of plaster, it will tend to flake off.

The bunkers were built from foamboard, carved to shape with a scalpel. They were painted with a textured emulsion.

The next step was to cover the ground in plaster. I used plasterboard adhesive because it dries much harder and tougher than any other building plaster (and I’ve got a big sack of it). This was smeared on with our fingers and pressed in to fill all the gaps between the trenches up to the top of the trench. As it starts to dry, you can roughen up the surface to get  a realistic texture. The fence posts for the barbed wire were pushed into the wet plaster at this point. The posts were cut from wire from old sparklers. A few craters were formed by just shaping the wet plaster.

With the main areas complete, it was time to detail the trenches. The sandbags are made from milliput, rolled into sausages, pressed in place and then cut with a scalpel. Where they are stacked, the first layer was allowed to set before adding another layer in a later batch. I experimented with moulding them in Oyamaru, but it wasn’t any quicker and didn’t give such a good result. The other main detailing exercise was adding lots of thin strips of card and balsa down the trenches to represent duckboards. A few patches of PVA and sand were also added, mainly to hide joins or to protect areas round the edges where the plaster was very thin and starting to flake.

Trench model close up

With the main detailing done, it was time to paint it. The bottoms of the trenches (including the duckboards) were painted with textured emulsion to give a grungy look. The whole thing was painted with an earthy brown colour (emulsion tester pot), and once dry this was washed with a mixture of black and a rusty orange. When the wash was dry the model was drybrushed with the original base colour mixed with increasing quantities of a pale cream colour. The sandbags and concrete were painted with a lighter base colour to make them stand out.

After painting the ground, the barbed wire was added. The wire was made by cutting aluminium mesh as detailed in this old post –, and twisting it together with fine wire to strengthen it. Sticking it down was rather fiddly because it’s hard to do it strongly. In the end we wrapped lengths of fine wire about 2″ longround many of the posts, and superglued them in place. Then the free ends were threaded through the barbed wire and twisted tight before being snipped off. Some of the posts came loose during this and had to be superglued back in.

Close up of model trench barbed wire

The final step was to dab on PVA in a few patches and add some brownish flock, especially in the corners where the ground was less likely to be disturbed.


Third post this year – I’m on a roll! Keep watching this space.