Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dark Age Demo Tables: Construction

Cool Mini Or Not has called upon my services once again, this time for the game Dark Age. The tables feature an abandoned mining rig set in a underground lava chamber. This is a set of four 2'x2' tables that can be set up as four separate demo tables, one large 4'x4' square gaming table or a single, linear table eight feet long. Here's a peek at the construction process:

I began by framing out each table base and building the platform structures out of foam core. The floor of the cave is made from pink insulation foam with areas for lava pools burned through using a heat gun. The lava would be lit from below with LEDs, so I added a layer of clear textured acrylic beneath the foam.



Here, you can see all four tables and the major platforms. It took a little planning to get the walkways to meet up between platforms and allow them to be arranged in two different configurations. I made a small mock-up to figure out the level each platform and walkway needed to be to sync up with its neighbor.


To detail the platforms, I built and resin cast some heat dampeners and deck plates. To see more of my resin casting process, check out part four of my Wrath of Kings diorama assembly journal.



The deck plates were used to create a uniform pattern on the surface.


The heat dampeners attach to the sides.


Once the deck plates were in place, I began the arduous task of building the railings, stairs and gantries. Check out my tutorial on building stairs to see how they were made.


The railings around the decks were made from heavy gauge wire, bent 90 degrees and pinned into the side of the platform. A styrene strip was attached on top of this. At each connection, a small cuff was made by cutting styrene tube into little rings. (That's over 500 holes drilled and rings cut!) The walkways were thinner, meaning the railings couldn't bend and attach at the sides, so I used Plastruct ladders. Much easier on my hands and my sanity!


At one corner of the setup is a lab, smashed by falling rocks. By de-molding the deck plates before the resin was fully cured, I was able to bend and press them to appear deformed and crushed by the boulders. The control panel keyboards were sculpted with Brown Stuff modeling putty.


Plastic mesh, available at most craft stores, was used for the metal grille of the walkways. The plastic doesn't take super glue at all, so I had to sandwich the edges between two pieces of styrene and fill the gap with super glue to securely lock the mesh in place.


On the corner opposite the lab is a collapsed portal. A cave in has crushed part of the platform and shattered the surrounding structure. The styrene railings were bent using a heat gun and then glued atop the wire supports which were similarly bent with pliers. 



I used different sizes of styrene rod and tubes to create the pipes running up the sides of the shaft. Guitar string (technically bass string; it's a little thicker) was used for the cables.


Since I was working on this throughout January and February I was struggling with the snow and freezing temperature just to find time to prime the components. Any day when the temperature was above freezing, I'd run outside and quickly spray whatever I could!


Here's the finished construction. That's about all I can show until Cool Mini debuts the table at a convention. Once they've had a chance to formally unveil it, I'll post pictures of the painting and lava effects. Keep your eyes peeled for these tables in the Dark Age section of the Cool Mini Or Not booth!



'Til next time!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Skaven Player Has Entered the Game

After eight turns of meticulous planning, maneuvering, and tunneling, the Skaven finally have enemy forces in sight! The tunneling banner successfully emerged to support the Orcs in their attack on the Empire headquarters. To the North, the Skaven have engaged the Ogres, and I got my first game of the campaign.



Josh and I met at the shop to throw down. 1100 points of Ogre Kingdoms vs. 1000 points of Skaven. 



I knew that if his army could get into combat with my rats, it would be over. I needed to whittle him down at range. Three Warlock Engineers to spam Warp Lightning, 24 Jezzails, and two units of Clanrats with Ratling Gun weapon teams should do the trick. 



...In theory. I found myself staring down a 12-strong unit of Ogre bulls containing the general and battle flag, an Ironblaster cannon, and a unit of six Leadbelchers. The Ogres had the first turn, and marched flat out across the field. The Leadbelchers and Iron Blaster began chipping away at my troops.

My magic phases were abysmal, with low rolls for the Winds of Magic dice preventing me from getting any spells off. Shooting wasn't much more effective, and the Ogres charged into combat before I knew it.

By the end of turn three it was all over. My trusty Warlock Engineer Skatarat, having been abandoned by the rest of the army, was fleeing the field with the Ogres in hot pursuit. The banner was Scattered, meaning he would have a long walk back to the Skaven headquarters.



Skatarat entered the Underhive, raving about the "Big-Things" to the West. Upon hearing this, Lord Skreekits ordered the immediate acceleration the current engineering projects. In laboratories buried deep below the earth, warpstone glowed, gears turned, bone saws hummed, and monstrous abominations stirred in the darkness...

Skaven runners from the Orc siege of the Empire headquarters were bringing word of the battle. Hopefully The Orc attack would prove more successful.

'Til next time!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Campaign Report: Let the Betrayals Begin!

Our Players

Justin Cunnane: Chixl's Warhost (Lizardmen)

Jason Pierson: Waaagh Blackfang (Orcs & Goblins)

Louis Mule: The Murderous Legion (Dark Elves) 

Josh Affrime: The Horde of the Scorched Cauldron (Ogre Kingdoms)

Steve Stiefel: The Roving Province of Sigmarheim (Empire)

Rob Hawkins: Skryre Lord Skreekits' Lightning Engineer Cult (Skaven)

With the Murderous Legion's massacre at the hands of the Chixl's Warhost, the Ogres of the Scorched Cauldron were rethinking their alliance with the Dark Elves. They had sent word to the Lizardmen of their intent to betray their allies in light of these "unforgivable" defeats.

Skink Priest Cha-Cha-Haman skittered around the great Slann, waiving a piece of leather. The "document" from the Ogres was crude, but spelled out their desire to turn on the wretched Dark Elves. However, no matter the attempts to communicate, the great Slann sat silent on his palanquin, eyes closed in the ageless contemplation of the Slann.

This decision would have to be made on his own. A large cart full of gold was already prepared to be sent to the Ogres. The priest still didn't understand the love of these worthless items, but it would be enough to ensure the loyalty of the Ogres.

"Send the cart and prepare the Warhost," he chirped to the nearest Kroxigor. There was work to be done.

With the orderes issued, The Ogres pushed south into the lands of the Dark Elves, claiming the tower of Tor Anrok for their own. The southernmost Ogre banner engaged the Dark Elves as they attempted to Fortify.



Lou definitely had a fight on his hands. He had lost enough territory that, win or lose, he would need to dissolve one of his banners. Having learned from his encounter with the Lizardmen, Lou went heavy with the bolt throwers and repeating crossbows. Assailing the enemy from afar with missiles and spells, he nearly destroyed them to a man (er, Ogre).

Josh's army was massacred, and retreated back to its headquarters. And, because his shrinking realm could no longer support it, Lou disbanded the banner in own own headquarters.

On another note– I had ordered one of my banners to tunnel underground (the Skaven special campaign rule) with the promise of supporting the Orcs in their coming siege of the Imperial headquarters. The banner would remain underground the following turn and could attempt to surface in any Razed territory on turn 9. I asked Jason if he would be kind enough to Raze some territory for my rats to emerge...



Recognizing his plight, Lou sent out a call for aid, and I replied as we moved into the eighth turn.

To his greatness Lord Skreekit,

I lead a great host of Druchii to the far west and my spies have informed me that your enemies have drafted the help of the ogre army. This makes a 3 way alliance against your 2. I'm sure your mightyness can defeat them all regardless but why not use more willing lackies to die in place of your skaven?
If you and your green friends would allow me to join your alliance I could be the knife in their backs as your hordes sweep them from the front.

When the humans , lizzies and ogres are crushed it will be every clan for himself of course.

See you on the battlefield,
Katienne Kinslayer


The Dark elf captain was in his tent, pouring over maps. Over his shoulder he heard the faintest sound- a breath, barely perceptible but to his elven ears. In a single motion, he turned, sword drawn. It was immediately met with the blade of a small cloaked figure, who seemed to have materialized from nowhere. A second dagger, gripped tightly by what must have been the creature's tail, extended from under the wretched thing's cape.

The Skaven assassin and Druchii stared at each other, eyes locked. Out of the assassin's sleeve, a small rat scurried across the floor and up onto the table. It was carrying a small scroll, and a pouch that jingled as he ran. Depositing the package on the table, the rat hurried back under the Skaven's cloak.

"For your masssster," the creature hissed. The Elf turned his head to look at the table. When he looked back, the assassin had silently vanished.

The Dark Elf emptied the contents of the coin purse. Shiny green stones, small gears, and many, many bottle caps spilled onto the table– the Skavens' "currency." The scroll read as follows:

Kinslayer-thing, we accept your offer of friend-making. Our engineers have been toiling for ages to build a time-travel machine. They are very close to success, and it will surely help you in your predicament. Until they are finished, we will make way with all haste to the West. Watch for our coming on the Old Silk Road.

We will make offer to the Green-things to help, but they are currently tied up with the Man-things in the South. Please accept these tokens of our good faith.

–Skryre Lord Skreekits

My Skaven would do all they could to aid the Druchi, if they could arrive in time. The Old Silk Road was many miles long, after all.

As Steve and Jason maneuvered around each other, Justin and Josh moved in for the kill. The Lizardmen attacked the Dark Elf headquarters with support from the Ogres.



The battle did not go well for the Dark Elves. Unlucky magic had Arnizipal's Black Horror wipe out about a fifth of their own army. Justin's Ripperdactyl riding Skink Priest, Pik-uh-Chu took out two bolt throwers, a Sorceress, and tied up a unit of crossbowmen single-handed!

When the dust cleared, Lou's army had been massacred and Lizardman glyphs were raised over the Dark Elf fortress. 



Lou's remaining banner was stranded. He had three turns to retake his headquarters, or he would be eliminated from the campaign. The Dark Elf banner and my Skaven banner were both in position to reach it in exactly three turns. Could we make it?

'Til next time!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Faction-Themed Mercenaries

No Quarter Magazine #52 had the first in a series of articles I'm working on, about faction-themed Mercenary units. The modeling tutorials focus on ways of converting and painting Warmachine & Hordes Mercenary and Minion units to represent extended deployments with a particular faction. Essentially, it's a way of creating a visual cohesion between your Mercenary units to match your overall army.

The first article showcased a unit of Cygnar-themed Horgenhold Forge Guard with voltaic shock hammers and blue accents on their armor.



This got me thinking about the other faction-themed Mercenaries I'd done for my own armies, some of them dating back quite a few years:

Doc Killingsworth

This was from Warmachine MK I, when Killingsworth could heal any friendly model, not just Pirates. I converted him using the Temple Flameguard Standard Bearer model as the base, with the Doc's arms, head, and shoes. His stove pipe hat was replaced with the helm of Sir Ekkrion, Paladin of Menoth, from the Iron Kingdoms RPG range. A few random knife bits and a tattered, blood-splattered apron finish off the model.



More recent is the diminutive Gobber speculator I converted for my Khadoran army. His bowler hat was clipped away and a fur hat was sculpted in its place. The back of his trench coat was sculpted with riveted armor plates to resemble a Khadoran great coat. I also modeled his base with snow to further solidify him as part of my army. 


Keep your eye out for the next article (should be in No Quarter #54).

Til next time!