This post has been a long time coming. I mentioned a few times that I was building a group of scary bois to paint while I edit the second act of my book. They took a long time, but here they are:
I have had this kit for a long time. It is the Allies box for the Nighthaunt faction. In other words, a small number of ghostly friends! I’m not even sure allies are still a thing in Age of Sigmar (AOS), but when they were I grabbed a few of them because I like having a little of each faction. This was before I got into Underworlds, perhaps even before the release of underworlds. Who knows. Time is weird these days.
As you can see, I haven’t made all the riders into hexwraiths (scythe wielding ghosts) and have instead made a few of them into black riders (skeleton bois). As I mentioned, I like variety. There is also a good chance these will never get used for an AOS game. This means having a full squad of one or the other doesn’t really matter.
I’ll have to paint these quick because I’m already well into editing this section of the book. I have been writing like crazy lately but I’ve been finding building minis to be a bit more fiddly than fun. It might just be a mood I’m in. Right now I want to paint and write. Sticking together pointy plastic doesn’t feel as rewarding.
Regardless, my fiendish friends are ready to help me finish off these chapters. Stay tuned for the results!
A new weekend has come, bringing with it new opportunities to spend long hours on a new project. For the next couple of weeks I will be working on entries for a horror publication doing a special issue on the theme of mythology. for this I plan to write one short story (somewhere between 2500 and 3000 words) one flash fiction story (roughly 500 words max) and a poem (likely a Shakespearean sonnet as that’s my preferred format). None of these are daunting tasks but getting them all done before the end of the month will take some discipline.
For this task I knew it would be hard to pick a writing partner. I’m going to be writing multiple pieces with only the genre of horror and the theme of myth connecting them. No one miniature would do. Some tasks need an army. This one needed two.
I’ve had this box on my shelf since it came out. It is the Warhammer Age of Sigmar Feast of Bones set which contains a small army for both the Ogors Mawtribes and Ossiarch Bonereapers. It is a big set with a ton of really fun minis in it. As my side project I hope to have this box constructed and primed before the end of the month.
As I have mentioned before I don’t play a lot of Warhammer and tend to use the minis more for RPGs. So for this project we’re aiming for variety, both in writing and in miniatures. I’m not a “what you see is what you get” kind of guy.
The skellington army has a lot of variety that requires very little effort on my part to bring out. This is true for both construction and how I would use them in games. For example: the main leader unit would make a very nice lich in any game. He is the one in the front carrying around his crumbling tomb.
The Mortarchs (the flying bois) work as either strange gods or undead angels. They come with two different weapon options, two single hand weapons or the large glaives. I can make one of each option without it costing me any extra time or effort.
The three Necropolis Stalkers (those weird skeletal constructs) can work as advanced bone golems or a variety of other constructs with a bit of imagination. They come in three very distinct configurations and plan to build one of each. In games I can see them guarding ancient treasure, being the discovered life’s work of a mad mage, or as the main event in some twisted black market auction. Great stuff.
Last but not least there are ten basic Mortek Guard. These guys are a bit fancy to be basic skeletons but I’m a big fan of skeletal champions and more advanced undead. I imagine them guarding a really powerful necromancer or a lich. There is a lot of variety in this kit; spears, sword and board, banner bearers etc. I plan to build at least one of each variable over the ten minis.
The straightforwardness of these kits really matches my ideas for the poem and flash fiction. Variety out of the box, easy to create, should be no problem. It gets more complicated with the short story and our second army.
The ogors are tricky. With fewer minis and lots of options I need to either make some hard choices are do some time consuming kit-bashing. For the uninitiated, kit-bashing is when you take pieces from different minis and use them to construct something new. I usually do it to make interesting leaders and heroes out of basic infantry units.
The leader, the Ogor Tyrant, is a great miniature. I’m uncertain as to how he fights with both a spear and a hammer, but I’d love to write about it. I imagine I would use him as the final boss for a short mid level campaigns. He’s unsophisticated but deadly in close combat and commands loyalty through fear in his forces. He also requires no extra work which is nice.
The basic infantry kits (if creatures that big could be called that) can be constructed as either Ogor Gluttons (melee units) or Leadbelchers (ranged units). These minis can be used in a variety of story scenarios. They fit in anywhere where you need a stronger than average leader or as a group of heavies supporting a bigger bad. There are 8 of them and the units break down in units of 6 for the Gluttons and units of 2 for the Leadbelchers. So the math is easy right? Not entirely. Looking through each kit I found the Leadbelcher had four unique guns, all of which are pretty cool. So then I thought, “ok, I’ll just make 4 leadbenchers and kitbash them with some extra hand weapons on their backs or something.” That way if I ever do play them in Warhammer I can use them for either unit. Then I noticed how many different Gluttons were possible. They have all kinds of really neat weapons too. I could magnetize them… but that would take too long. So when I go to assemble they ogors I have some hard choices to make.
The choice for the large siege weapon is easy, the Ironblaster shown in the image above is way cooler then the alternate Gnoblar Scarplauncher (a goblin catapult). In my experience siege weapons don’t come up often in RPGs but I’m sure I’ll find a way to use it for a set piece some day. At least that’s one easy choice, right? Not really. looking over the kit I’m now wondering if there are enough bits to build the catapult as a separate mini with some creative kit-bashing. With these kinds of things I just can’t help myself. There is a phrase my friend came up with years ago while reviewing one of my scripts. He liked the ending as a concept but didn’t know how I could pull it off. He said I had to “circle square it.” This has become a common turn of phrase now in my inner circle and it essentially means making a round peg fit into a square hole. It’s possible, but extremely challenging. I like challenge, in-spite of what this will inevitably do to my time table.
Speaking of time table ruining, look at all those decorative gnoblars (goblins). You can see one of them on lookout in the awesome banner bearer shown in the full army picture above as well as a ton more in the picture below. There are a ton of them… and I’d hate to just use them as intended. So I’ve textured up another ten bases and I’m going to see how many of them I can reuse as new goblin miniatures. They are too unique to pass up, full of character and interesting gear. I can imagine them leading or supporting more standard goblins in battle. However, this means another circle to square and a whole new force to construct… with a potential centerpiece of their own if I can figure out the stupid catapult.
Three forces for three projects and only two weeks to work on it. What could go wrong. Well, some of you might point out that it probably wasn’t wise to spend this much time talking out how to construct this box of plastic armymen when I should be writing. Well… maybe. But in the time it took to write this I have written outlines for all three writing projects, I textured all the bases and organized all of the kits into piles by unit and in the order I plan to tackle them. It’s only procrastination if it doesn’t help you focus. There is a method to my madness.
I’m a big fan of tabletop gaming and, about three years ago, I passed that final nerd hurdle and began painting miniatures. At first I thought I would play wargames like Warhammer, but since I have played a full game twice in that time period, I have settled into the reality that I mostly just paint them. Now…I’m not very good. I think I have mastered what they call “tabletop standard.” That means my work is good enough to game with but won’t be winning any beauty competitions. I use them for RPGs and simply the joy of the hobby.
I have, however, found another use for them. I have found they make really great writing partners. No, don’t worry, I’m not crazy. I’m not saying they talk to me or anything… at least not yet.
What I find is that having one on the side of my desk to work on has really helped my productivity. I use them like fidget toys or desk curios. When I need to think over an idea I’m working on I paint. It is much better then other forms of abnegation or distraction like surfing the web. By the time I need to put the mini down to dry I have usually figured out what I’m going to write next. It’s a win-win. They help me write and by the time I’m done a project I usually have a fully painted mini.
The featured image today is a great example. I was commissioned to write the intro and outro scripts for a ghost hunting show (I’ll probably link to it at a later date) and I needed to get into the right mindset. So when I sat down to write the scripts I grabbed that mini. It’s from the Warhammer: Age of Sigmar line, in case you were wondering. As I wrote and rewrote those scripts again and again, trying to get the right balance of spookiness and daytime TV bounce, I slowly picked at the mini. It allowed me to keep my mind clear and working without getting distracted. By the end I had a script the producer was pleased with and a mini I love. Again, it’s a win-win.
This might not work for everyone. I get pretty zen when I paint and I don’t worry about perfection. It’s my side art. I know I’m not perfect so I don’t even strive for perfection. But if you’re a very talented painter or more of a perfectionist your mileage may vary.
For those who are interested, I’ll break down my selection process. I mentioned Warhammer but that isn’t the start and end of my painting. In fact, for this particular purpose, they often fall short. They don’t always fit for two reasons. One: big regiments of the similar minis; and two: they aren’t always generic enough.
Let me explain both issues:
The first is simple, I tend to paint one mini over the course of a project, a few if it is a long one. I try to match minis with my projects for the added thematic focus. I also work on a wide variety of subjects. This means I like variety more than repetition. This isn’t just a Warhammer issue, most war games have the same problem.
The second issue relates to my theme choices. Games Workshop (the makers of Warhammer, who I will refer to as GDubs from now on) make beautiful products but they are also heavily themed. This is usually a good thing – they have a rich lore they pull from with unique fantasy quirks. For example, if I were to write about dragons, one would think I could grab a GDubs dragon and go to town. Not necessarily. All of their dragons have riders. They have armor with custom heraldry on it. They have morphology that isn’t necessarily generic fantasy. The list could go on. Sometimes this is ok, or I can modify the mini to suite my purposes, but often it’s hard not to see a Warhammer dragon when I paint it. I want to see it as my own if it’s going to sit there, subtly influencing my own story.
How to I make my choices than? Well the short answer is: I buy too many minis. A better answer would be to say I (usually) buy individual minis, mainly heroes and monsters, and I (usually) buy figures that are not too heavily themed to what ever their game setting is. I break both of these rules all the time, but that just results in purchases that don’t end up becoming writing partners. I also purchase minis from a variety of sources, including the second hand market where I can sometimes find some real gems.
That is probably enough navel gazing about my miniature painting choices. I hope that wasn’t to long winded. I promise that the next time I bring this is up it will be to show you another fun mini connected to another fun project.