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!
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!
I’ve been knocking out some disparate projects over the last month or two and wanted to share them with you.
First up is a pair of resin buildings from Tabletop World: the Cottage and Townhouse. I acquired these two models secondhand, which was perfect because ordering directly from TTW tends to come with steep shipping costs. (Well worth it, of course, since these models are absolutely terrific, but cheaper is always better…)
I’ve long admired TTW models. To me, they are examples of archetypal fantasy village terrain. They are realistic, but they also include design flourishes that suggest a hint of fairy tale whimsy. They’re equally at home on a historical Dark Ages scenario or a gothic Warhammer battlefield.
Here’s a look at the townhouse. It’s the bigger of the two models, with a removable roof and a fully detailed interior. I’ll have plenty of opportunities to use my dollhouse furniture dungeon scenery.
I’ll probably go in and sprinkle some flock on the stonework that serves as the base of these models. That way they’ll look a little bit more in situ alongside my existing fantasy terrain.
Here’s the cottage. It’s smaller, but no less charming! Imagine curling up in there with a hot cup of tea … or, more likely, barring the door and huddling in terror as the battle rages outside.
I’m absolutely chuffed with how these terrain pieces turned out. They’re going to be head-turners for sure whenever I can get them onto the battlefield.
The next batch of output is a group of 20 Northern Alliance Clansmen from Mantic. These are very decent, affordable miniatures suitable to represent barbarians from the frozen north. For me, they’ll serve as a core of levies for my nascent Chaos army (more to come on that later).
For these figures, I challenged myself to speedpaint the whole lot as quickly as possible. I used mostly inks and contrast paints over a light gray undercoat, without a whole lot of attention paid to individual details that I would normally paint separately (satchels, bandoliers, boots, belts, etc).
The result was a drab, muted paint scheme that really looks nice on the battlefield. I painted these guys in small batches to keep the slapdash painting method at least a little bit consistent. Here’s a look at a few of them.
Lots of grays and browns and tans and ochres. If you look closely, you can see plenty of details that would have warranted special attention if I was giving them a more traditional paintjob. But the goal here was to get them done quickly, and their presence on the battlefield will be as a big dirty mob of howling northmen.
Gosh, they look like they’d be right at home kicking down the door of a certain cottage.
I mentioned it earlier, but I’ve been sort of accidentally building an old-school inspired Chaos army over the last few months. I’ve been digging up various models and units and thinking about how they might all take to the battlefield together in games like Saga: Age of Magic, Dragon Rampant, or Oathmark. Here’s a sneak peek:
I’ll share more about this soon but I am really pleased at how things are coming together. Stay tuned!
Earlier this month I was browsing the awesome and inspiring list of blogs in my WordPress reader, as is my wont, when I came across Azazel’s June Community Painting Challenge. The theme was “Neglected Models,” which probably describes half or more of my backlog.
See, I play mostly skirmish-level games, which means I don’t usually need to paint up a full unit of anything. More often I’ll pick and choose figures from various sets to build my warbands. As a result, I’ve got lots of “leftover” miniatures bouncing around in various boxes and crates.
One in particular has been vexing me for nearly a decade: The Last Chaos Horseman. He’s so named because he’s the lone leftover from a set of Chaos Marauder Horsemen that I painted up back in 2010. As near as I can tell, the kit itself dates back to 2002. I’ve always liked these guys, because they’re not the heavily armored hunchbacks that came to define later iterations of the Warhammer Chaos line. They’ve got some character to them, with each figure being a bit unique, suggesting a cadre of individual, elite mounted warriors, rather than a wedge of anonymous armored cavalry.
The first four fellows were a blast to paint, and they’ve been in heavy rotation on the tabletop ever since then, playing the role of chaos marauders, roving brigands, or mounted barbarians in a variety of games as needed. I even developed a bit of backstory for them in this blog post (see “The Cursed Riders of Frostvale”).
The last horseman taunted me, though. For years I moved him from box to box, always vowing to work on him whenever I had a break in my schedule. Along the way I became a father, moved to across the country, built a new game group from scratch, started playing Warhammer 40,000 again, and … you get the idea.
Anyway, reading Azazel’s blog post about his June painting challenge got me inspired to drag out this lone horseman and finish him off.
Now, my painting style has changed (I’d say “matured”) since I painted up the first four guys in this unit. I deliberately tried to recall my earlier techniques in an attempt to make the last horseman fit in with his fellows. This was particularly important for the basing scheme, and I think I achieved a fairly decent approximation of my earlier work. Here’s the whole team.
My only regret is that I didn’t trim off the mold lines on the front section of the plastic horse. Oops! It’s not very visible at “gaming distance” (3 feet away), so we’re all good.
With that, this unit is complete! It only took me a decade. My extremely long term goal is to have a small generic chaos/barbarian warband for use in games like Open Combat and Frostgrave. With this lone horseman completed, I’m one step closer.
Recently I found some time to knock out a few terrain projects, as a bit of a palette cleanser as I churn through my backlog of Death Guard stuff.
Up first are a pair of small resin scenic pieces from Armorcast. They’re industrial in design and could lend themselves to either a crisp, bold Infinity-themed paint job, or a crusty, rusty finish with lots of rust and weathering.
Clearly, I chose the latter.
Sidenote about Armorcast: I have a massive geek crush on Armorcast products, dating all the way back to my days in college working in a local game store. I was just dabbling in miniatures back then, and I remember being absolutely blown away by the stock of Armorcast terrain pieces — the quality, the variety … everything I saw was fairly bursting with potential, even in its unpainted state. Those eggshell-colored resin sculpts were just waiting to bring your tabletop battlefield to life.
Since then, I’ve made a habit to regularly scour ebay and various other swap sites in an effort to source more Armorcast stuff for my tabletop. That’s where these small pieces came from.
Anyway, these two small items were a joy to paint up. I really went to town on the weathering effects. I’m usually a bit too timid to try them on “regular” models, like figures or vehicles for my Warhammer 40k armies. So I try to go hog-wild on small one-off projects like this, where there’s no pressure to churn out something that needs to blend in with an existing army.
These pieces will make good scatter terrain, or even scenario objectives. Here I tried to convince myself that I could plop them down side-by-side to create a larger piece of industrial terrain, if needed. I think it’ll work!
This next piece is nothing more than a massive slab of open-cell styrofoam that I chopped up, greebled and then melted with some spray paint. I built this piece months ago after a particularly egregious game of 40k convinced me that I needed some BIG, LINE-OF-SIGHT BLOCKING TERRAIN on my battlefield. Like, huge. Hence this big ugly mother.
This got a super-fast paint job, followed by a splash of dark brown wash made from Future Floor Wax and some ink and pigments. It was my first time experimenting with handmade washes using Future, and it turned out OK — not great, but not abysmal. I’ll keep fiddling with the ratios and find something that suits me.
Yes, this terrain piece is huge. Big enough to hide a Tau Riptide, even.
As a bonus, here are a couple of close-up shots of the two guys I used for scale comparisons. They are both part of a painted Wasteman warband that I won in a raffle from ThunderChild Miniatures. (Thanks, Jason!)