Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Gearing Up: Counters

Preparing for a game like this reminds me of the days before a Grand Tournament. (Remember those?) I'd spend time going through my miniatures, making sure everything is in shape, racing to finish that last model.

I've wanted to make some new counters to represent spell effects, fear, and the like. Anything that can maintain the aesthetic rather than placing a die on the battlefield. I've already got a few such counters:

Turn Counter

This is an older piece- a classic Wight mounted on a round base. The skull on the statue's base is the "pointer" keeping track of the turns. The decals on the shields are 40K Space Marine water-slide transfers.



Black Coach Effects

For my black coach, I'd made a "mini coach" using the Warmaster model. To match the full-sized coach details like the wings and dragon head were added, and I even sculpted fire on the wheels.



The dial is made from a styrene disc, sandwiched between two dreadnought bases. This counter was built during the 6th edition, when the black coach didn't have the current Evocation or Death rules, but rather accumulated wounds on its profile. Hence, the dial goes all the way up to 20. Now, I use it to track the current level of the coach's Evocation, and I use wound counters to mark of its damage.



Making a Curse of Years Counter

Curse of Years is one of my favorite spells, and it's survived through every edition since I began playing. For anyone unfamiliar with the spell's effect, you roll a die for every model in the target unit. on a 6 the model suffers a wound with no chance for an armor save. It remains in play, and in the following magic phase it will cause wounds on a 5+. The number decreases each turn until the spell is dispelled, or the entire unit has crumbled to dust.

I've had an idea for a counter representing the spell's effects for some time and this week I finally put it together:

Initial Assembly

The pair of counters uses two Corpsemaster models from the corpse cart kit. There will be one counter to mark the unit suffering the effects of the Curse, and a counter to track the spell's level progression.

I've selected the clawed left hand, and the whip right hand. After clipping away the whip and handle, I cut and bent the index finger a bit to create a pointing gesture. 



I wanted the model to be an empty cloak with just the skull and hands, so all the detail was clipped away (breastplate, skirt and feet). I shaved the torso as smooth and concave as possible, and then glued the arms in place.



On the back, I used a file to create some additional folds in the cloak and pare down the shape of the cloth wrapping around the back leg.



Next, I drilled a hole in the bottom of the figure and inserted a length of heavy gauge floral wire.



Putty Work

On the inside of the cloak, I added some modeling putty and smoothed it out to create a seamless transition.



On the outside, I filled the gap where the parts of the model join, and blended the putty to follow the folds in the cloak.



When the putty had dried, a skull was glued into the hood.



The Base

For the unit marker, I built up a pile of bones on the base of the counter. Most of those bones came from the crypt ghoul kit; the breastplate is from the skeleton kit.



For the other counter, I needed to incorporate a way to track the spell's progression. My initial concept was to have skulls on pegs, which I'd remove as the spell increased in power; the number of remaining skulls indicated the dice roll needed to wound the target models.



I wasn't very satisfied with the peg idea. It was a little fiddly to have to reach in and pull each one out, and then make sure they didn't get lost. As I was priming the miniature, I got the idea to use a scroll with numbers on it.

I used a heat gun to melt and bend a strip of styrene plastic to create a flowing scroll that would trail down and attach to the base. 



The Finished Counters

They painted up pretty quickly; the scroll work probably took the most time. Now I have two beautiful counters to represent the effects of the Curse of Years. The Wraith rotates on its post to point his bony finger at the appropriate number on the scroll.



Now the real question: Will I get to use my fancy new counter, or will it sit idly on the sidelines as Steve inconsiderately dispels my every attempt to cast Curse of Years? Coming up, the battle report!

'Til next time!


  1. Most awesome counter i've ever seen. Man, the one with the floating scroll just blew my mind.

    If I had to play with you, I swear I would never try to dispel your Curse of Years! xD

  2. Brilliant! Best counters ever!

  3. Yeah, these are fantastic. Great ideas, and well executed.


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  5. These are all really good, but that Curse of Years Counter marker(s) is absolutely fantastic! Love it!

  6. Rob, the scroll is inspired! I am going to steal that idea...

  7. Bloody good idea and very well executed.