Last month I completed my first unit of 100% printed miniatures! Up until this point I’ve dabbled here and there in painting 3D printed models — several of the guys in my local game group have printers that are humming non-stop to churn out beautiful resin awesomeness — but this was the first time I set about painting an entire 3D-printed unit.
The models came from Highlands Miniatures, courtesy of BartyB’s fiery forge (actually a Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K). The sculpts are simple and unadorned, which I really like — I’m not a big fan of dwarf models that are covered in fiddly bits related to a specific setting or mythos. Guess that’s why I don’t have a lot of use for GW’s three disparate dwarf lines (the Dispossessed, Kharadron Overlords, and Fyreslayers).
These guys are simple, somber, task-oriented dwarf warriors, and I love it. I ended up painting these guys on my lunch break at work, which led to lots of fun conversations with my coworkers as they repeatedly stumbled across my little hobby setup in the breakroom.
These guys were painted in the sky-blue livery of King Nicodemus II, the Anvil of Dawn, which marks them as part of his personal house guard. These models will bulk out the ranged combat capability of the Expedition to Hearthspire, aka my large dwarf army. The army is composed of models from many different sources, which is almost a hobby unto itself — how many oddball miniatures can I paint up and add to my hodgpodge force?!
Be sure to take a look at the dwarves I painted up earlier this year in my Summer Painting Roundup! I’m hoping to get all of these guys onto the table later this year for our winter fantasy apocalypse game!
I recently completed a terrain piece that I’ve had built in my head for a year or two. It’s a mining outpost, possibly abandoned, definitely run-down but still representing a tasty pile of loot for an adventuring party.
I originally conceived of this as a terrain tile for Frostgrave table that my group put together back in 2021. It was built on a 12×12 inch square vinyl floor tile, reinforced with foamcore and hardened with like a zillion layers of glue and sand and grout.
Atop that study foundation, I added some carved foam chunks to represent strip-mined areas that had been carved out of the landscape. In the flat interior basin I added a bunch of nifty bits from Mantic’s Abandoned Mine Terrain Crate, which was full of great details that every mine should have — stuff like tools and barrels and mine carts and crystal formations.
I glued most of the fiddly bits down to make this tile easier to transport and use, but I kept a few as individual pieces for creative terrain placement.
The rest of our Frostgrave table is built atop 2-inch foam sheets, so this terrain piece will actually appear to be “below grade” when it is placed alongside the built-up tiles. The tops of the carved foam chunks should be just about even with the “ground level” of the other terrain tiles. Nice!
The paint scheme is actually the same dusty badlands color palette that we selected for our Nightwatch board. I think it’ll work alongside the dark gray colors of our Frostgrave table. It should also fit in decently with my existing fantasy terrain collection, too. I think this piece will see some action in a game of Nightwatch later this month – stay tuned for more!
We played another session on our Nightwatch campaign earlier this month. The first session, back in July, was a great test drive of the ruleset. This session featured the same threat level (fairly low, suitable for beginning characters). We gathered on a John’s back patio on a scorching hot day in western Oregon. (“But it’s a dry heat!”)
The mission involved escorting an academic from the civilized lands into the Hattendorf Border Marches, in an attempt to learn more about the source of the beastmen raids that had plagued mightily this peaceful region.
The hunters needed to cross the board diagonally, from corner to corner, while keeping their bespectacled scientist safe from the ravening hordes.
As before, Vincent, Paul, and Daniel brought their hunters, plus a few hirelings purchased with hard-won silver coins following last month’s session.
John and I shared responsibilty for running the bad guys – the beastmen vermin and chaos raider hordes that would boil forth from several pre-determined points on the battlefield throughout the game. The game featured some new gnoll archers that John had printed and painted just the week before. Very nice!
As the game got underway, it was amusing to see just how cautious the hunters were in their approach. The near disaster of the first session, where the hunters had strolled blithely through the first few turns before stumbling toward the end, had clearly factored into their strategy. They moved at a deliberate pace and tried to stick together as a group.
As before, the vermin and hordes began spawning each turn during the “Darkness” phase, leading to regular and repeated intonations of “DARKNESS DESCENDS; WEEP FOR THE WORLD YOU HAVE LOST” by yours truly. What can I say, I like getting in character a bit?!
The difference was in the players’ behavior. They were tactical and methodic, making full use of their hirelings, magic spells, and various items of wargear acquired in the previous session.
As the game got underway, the corpses of slain beastmen began to pile up everywhere, represented by colored tokens on our battlefield. In Nightwatch, each hunter has a burden – a curse or debt or other drawback that must be managed or overcome over the course of the campaign. Several burdens relate to corpses, such as looting them or retrieving some artifact. So we had to note the location of dead bodies as the slaying began in earnest!
And still the beastmen attacked! Nightwatch has a basic AI system that provides some flexibility for how the spawning baddies behaved. They won’t always just charge directly for the hunters. Sometimes they’ll angle in to focus on a target related to the scenario – like the fragile academic, in this case!
The beastmen and chaos raiders arrived in ever-greater numbers, but the players were prepared to deal with them. The scientist made it safely to the other side of the board by turn 5, right when the bad guy deployment schedule was just about to ramp up into a more dangerous category. Nice work, team!
It was a solid victory for the hunters – but their celebrations will be short-lived. From here, the threat level of subsequent scenarios will increase…more bad guys, in greater numbers, spawning earlier in the game. We’re playing session #3 soon, so check back for the latest on the hunters and their ultimate quarry…
I’ve been toiling away on a handful of small projects this summer, just to keep the ol’ brush limber in my hands. My output tends to slow down a bit during the summer, and it’s doubly so this year, because I recently replaced my old laptop with a proper gaming rig, which has led to quite a bit more video games in the evenings after work.
But it’s not all bad! The games I’ve been playing have actually inspired my recent painting efforts. Back in April I jumped into Vermintide 2 – the extraordinarily satisfying game of slaughtering Skaven and Nurgle warriors in the good old End Times. That inspired me to pick a few unpainted Skaven models from my lead mountain and give them the proper treatment.
This guy is a metal Skaven rat ogre from the “Middlehammer” era, when the overall Skaven aesthetic had settled into its current form but most premium models were still being produced in metal. I’ve seen this guy referred to as a Mordheim model as well.
He was great fun to paint up, and it seems I was just getting started with Skaven!
Up next were a pair of two-rat weapon teams, also metal.
Nothing special, just savage rat warriors in dirty flappy robes, hefting oversized firearms that are just as likely to explode in their faces as to fire for effect. What’s not to love?
Next up on the workbench were some dwarf units. These were inspired not just by Vermintide, but also by the excellent Deep Rock Galactic video game. DRG, if you’ve not heard of it, is a delightful sci-fi shooter starring four plucky space dwarves who are sent into the dim subterranean caverns beneath a dying planetoid to mine minerals, slay bugs, and hopefully escape with their lives.
The salient point here is dwarves. Time to paint some, then!
This guy is a nearly nude feral berzerker who seems to have a penchant for wearing and wielding the bones of his fallen foes.
John printed this guy for me from a file he scooped up from one of his many Patreon subscriptions. The model was a ton of fun to paint!
Finally, we have a unit of models that I acquired and painted up solely because of how it performs in a game. This is a bit of a rarity for me – I am much more likely to paint something because it appeals to me, versus painting it because of its utility in a particular ruleset.
In any case, spearmen are highly effective in Age of Fantasy, which has been our go-to game for Warhammer-sized fantasy engagements. Whenever my opponent plonks down a unit of spearmen, it dramatically affects the course of the game. Well, two can play at that game. To wit: DWARF SPEARMEN
These are plastic models from the Oathmark Dwarf Infantry boxed set. The kit is serviceable enough – there are a few details I don’t like, but overall it’s a good value and easy to assemble. The kit itself contains enough for 30 (!) models, and I only built 10 for this squad of spearmen, so I’ve got plenty more waiting in the wings.
I mounted the dwarves on scenic resin bases that appear to be broken flagstones or masonry – perhaps evoking a battle in a crumbling dwarf fortress? The bases fit neatly into a movement tray for rank-and-flank games, too.
Anyway, that’s a sampling of what I’ve been up to this summer. Stay tuned for my next painting post, which features 100% more crocodile men!
John and I got together last month for another installment in our periodic fantasy campaign inspired by our homebrew fantasy setting.
Dubbed the War of the Coins, the campaign represents a years-long clash between the duchies of Vladisport (a collection of human fiefdoms led by House Begovic) and the dwarven city-state of Miravec, which includes the titular city as well as a collection of holdfasts and walled cities located near the northern edge of the Fellhammer Mountains. The map below displays the city-state of Miravec and its surrounding regions held by the dwarves at the outset of the war.
We developed this setting (the world of Uthdyn) during a collaborative game of Microscope a number of years ago, and it’s since served as the backdrop for Paul’s D&D campaign as well as our Frostgrave campaign and these periodic fantasy wargames.
The complete setting spans several continents across multiple different time periods. This game focuses on one specific turning point in the history of this particular corner of the map.
For tonight’s game, I set up an urban battlefield representing the town of Tor Sigil, a dwarven trading outpost south of Miravec. Before the war, Tor Sigil was a prosperous hub that served as the gateway for merchants and traders heading toward the dwarven city-states of Miravec and Kjelvaskur.
Now, Tor Sigil is the front line of a sustained and bloody campaign of conquest against the dwarves. This game focuses on a last-ditch rearguard action of a small contingent of dwarven defenders as they held the defensive lines in the city to allow the bulk of their army to withdraw and prepare to defend the approaches to to Miravec.
(I may have been channeling a bit too much zeitgeist from the Ukrainian war when writing up this battle report. You be the judge.)
I hosted this game, and took the opportunity to pull out my medieval village terrain pieces, including two beautiful centerpieces from Tabletop World that I painted last year, plus a couple more pieces from Miniature Building Authority. I have a solid collection of medieval village terrain that doesn’t get a lot of action unless we’re playing at my place. Before John arrived, my kids had a lot of fun invading the village with dinosaurs.
You can see our initial deployment in the photo above (and below, I’ll just repost it so you don’t have to scroll).
My dwarven defenders are on the left, and John’s fast-moving skirmish force is on the right. My army featured four hard-hitting artillery units, which I positioned with decent lanes of fire toward the central plaza in the center of the village. John had two cavalry units positioned on the two flanks, ready to ride down by heavy guns and scatter the poor crew. In addition, he had a unit of infantry hidden in ambush – these guys would pop out on from hiding during the game.
The first turn featured a lot of maneuvering as we sought to advance on the four marked objectives on the battlefield. My cannons opened fire, with marginal results.
Turn two was when things started getting interesting. The dwarves, advancing at a stately pace with lots of clanking armor and jingling chainmail, suddenly found themselves facing an ambush, as John’s halberdiers sprang their trap and came pouring out of the alehouse where they had been holed up, nursing hangovers since the night before. Talk about dedication to the war effort!
The same turn, my elite dwarf warriors (in the gold armor) were stunned when a unit of winged pegasus knights swooped in and crashed like a wave, wiping them out to a man.
It was a dire turn of events for the dwarf army. Moving as quickly as they could, the dwarfs pivoted to deal with the ambushing infantry that was running around their backfield. Neutralizing those pesky units definitely took my attention away from the objectives.
Eventually, the flanking force was more or less dealt with, and we resumed our plodding advance toward the central objective (represented by the patinaed statue). In the photo below, you can also see my dwarven berzerker champion (newly painted!) and my blue-skinned frost giant (painted 15 years ago!). Both units played a pivotal role in the final turns of the game.
Opposing them in this clash were John’s stout spearmen. Take it from me – John loves his spearmen. The phalanx rule in Age of Fantasy, which represents units armed with spears, pikes, and other sharp sticks, is absolutely brutal.
While the frost giant carved up the human attackers, gaining a little breathing room near the central plaza, the spearmen formed up to receive a charge from my fearsome bear-mounted dwarf lord. Frothing with rage from the ambush that took out so many of his fearless countrymen, the dwarf lord urged his mount on like a furry missile missile that crashed headlong into the forest of spears.
Stunned and repulsed by the fury of the dwarf lord’s charge, the spearmen fell back. Into the gap stepped (or fluttered, as the case may be) John’s pegasus-mounted champion. The stage was set for an epic clash of HQ-vs-HQ, as the leaders of our two armies traded blows while their foot troops looked on and cheered.
The impact of their mighty blows cracked the stone masonry of the surrounding buildings and ripped up the cobbles in the street. In the end, the pegasus-mounted champion stood triumphant, and the dwarf lord ambled off as fast as his bear buddy would convey him.
That clash actually represented my last gasp at a tactical victory. If the dwarf lord had done his job and defeated the pegasus champion, I could have battled John to a draw and maintained a tenuous grasp on the village of Tor Sigil. With the champion defeated, John had secured a majority of the objectives, and with them, the victory.
The final turn featured a little more action, including some savage combat on the other size of the plaza between my dwarf warriors and another unit of those accursed spearmen. My berzerker champion also carved up several units, more than paying for his points. But tactically, the game was decided when the bear lord was defeated.
Once again, Age of Fantasy gave us a great game with lots of tactical decision making and flavorful results that helped advance our narrative campaign. The dwarves were driven from Tor Sigil – can House Begovic pacify the trading outpost before the dwarves muster a solid counterattack? Stay tuned for more!