Saturday, July 22, 2017

Dutch Wash Tutorial (sort of)

After a long while, I finally got my 6mm Dutch army completed for our long awaited War of Spanish Succession project, using the Sam Mustafa "Maurice" rules.  Painting 6mm can be a challenge and I went back and forth with different methods to get a decent amount of detail, but not spend too much time.  For the final batch of figs, I settled on a much faster method that got pretty good results.  

My good buddy Rookie Wargamer is going to be fielding a Bavarian army and wanted to know what the "quick method" was - thus, this blog post.

I happened to take a few pictures while I was finishing these figs so I'll do my best to recreate the process but there are definitely a few stages missing. 

Basically - over the last few months, I've been experimenting with light primers, or grey primers with a sloppy"wet brush" of basic higlights right over the primer, then successive thin washes of the main color.  This lets the light primer/wet-brush highlights show through and provide the highlights.   This really sped up the process of getting highlights on 6mm figs.    Just slop on the color wash - no need to worry about picking out highlights on very small sculpts.    After that, pick out the rest of the details on the model, but don't worry too much about being exact.  I'll describe more about that mindset later.  

Some of the stands were already spray primed white or grey, and for those stands that weren't, I just brush-primed some Vallejo primer on.

Here's a few sticks of strips with the various primed figs.  You can see on the two grey strips on the left and right ends of the front stick that they have a little "wet brush" of an lighter off-white color to get some highlights.  Obviously, this isn't necessary for the white prime figs.

Now comes the wash stage.  Mixing the wash is a trial an effort thing - you'll know it when you get it right, so it's worth experimenting a bit because it will depend on what you're using for the mix as well as which paints (some have a heavier pigment).   The consistency you're looking for is really really thin, almost soupy.   If I had to guess, it's about a 70/30 ration of medium/color.  I used a combination of Vallejo Glaze Medium and Vallejo Thinner Medium, with whatever paint color. Mostly Glaze Medium.   Sometimes i'll add a drop or two of water as well. 
 One of the keys to mixing up the wash is having a little paint color in on a separate area of your palette, then adding it into the glaze/thinner mix in small doses.  If you add the paint right to it, you might realize that you added too much paint, then really need to thin it out more.  The soup should be heavier on medium, with just a little bit of pigment.

Here's the front and back of strips that were hit with red and blue washes.

Usually it take two coats of the wash.  You're looking for thin layers.  Sometimes you'll only need one coat if your soup wash is heavy on pigment.  Don't worry too much about pooling - just let it dry and see what it looks like after.  Try not to overreact when you first apply the wash. It will look darker than you expect.  Once it dries the highlights will show through.
 I remember this wash was a little too heavy on color, but still worked out ok.   Another thing to consider is that with 6mm figures there is not a lot of surface area of the model to catch light. So you need to go with shades of color that are a little lighter than you expect otherwise the figures look really really dark.

Details: At 6mm, you don't need to be concerned about getting every strap, buckle, belt, or whatever on the model. You just want to give the "idea" of the major details.   So pick out hands and faces (blobs of flesh is ok), cuffs are important, so blob on bits of color for the cuffs/facings, maybe the neck cloth, basic straps, gun stock, and hair. That's really it.  It's a mindset to keep in mind - don't focus on painting each soldier because they're just too small.  At 6mm, you're going for the "effect" of units.  Once you get that mindset down, you can start cranking out units on the painting table.

Ok, back to the process - at this point, the figures look ok, but they can look a little flat.  To get a richer shade, almost a black-line affect, I learned a trick from Le Coq Fou: apply a gloss varnish at this stage, then apply an ink shade.  Once the gloss varnish cures, the glossyness will allow the ink shade to settle into all the cracks and crevices of the model and give you a nice dark shade.  It leaves the lighter colors the same and doesn't tint the model.  If you used a matte varnish (or no varnish), some of the shade/ink would remain on the rest of the figure which you can see below.

These pictures show stands with different ink techniques I was trying before settling on what I liked.  From left to right: no ink; varnish with brown ink (Army Painter Strong Tone); varnish with blank ink (GW Nuln Oil); and brown ink with no varnish (you can see how it stained the figure, leaving a dirty look).

Same stick just flipped to the back.

I settled on the Nuln Oil for the rest of the units.  Another important tip: don't get impatient with the varnish.  Apply it, and let it cure for 24 hours otherwise the ink will seep through.  Trust me, i tried to speed it up and it didn't work.  I used GW 'ardcoat Gloss Varnish and brushed it on, but that got a little tedious.  I think in the future I will buy a can of Testor's Gloss Varnish and just spray it on.  However, since the whether was poor when I was working on these the brush varnish allowed me to continue without having to wait for good outdoor spray weather.  Humidity is your enemy with aerosol spray - anything lower than 70% is fine.

Obviously hat and hat lace is important for units in the Age of Marborough, so spend a little time on the hat lace.
hat lace
At this point, the strips were done.  I popped them off the popsicle sticks, and for these units I clipped some of the individual figures from the strips and arranged them into the formations i wanted on the MDF bases.

Final shots of the completed infantry, artillery, and command units.

The last batch was cavalry...lots of cavalry...
 Here are some sticks pre varnish/ink stage.   For the horses, I went with either brown soupy wash, or Vallejo red leather for the soup wash.  Then I hit them with AP Strong Tone to give the brown on the horses some richness and depth.  A few horses I painted grey/white.
After all the details were complete, I repeated the gloss varnished and blank inked process like the infantry, to get that dark shading on entire model.
 Completed cav units.

And here's the entire Dutch army complete.  I will need to buy a few English units to sprinkle in as Marlborough was in command of most of the Grand Alliance armies and the Dutch rarely fought by themselves.   This army is roughly 200 points in Maurice (I think).

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Defend the Bridge!

We played a modified version of an old scenario from White Dwarf.
I can't remember which issue, but back in the late 90s/early 2000s, GW ran a linked campaign of scenarios that included a game where a rear-guard was left behind to hold a bridge long enough to allow the main body of a retreating army to get away.  It's totally unbalanced, but with the new flavor and narrative style of Age of Sigmar, this version of the game really lends itself to replaying the scenario than the previous versions of Warhammer.

So...we set it up.   It was a 3-player battle - myself, Rookie Wargamer, and our buddy that normally plays the Lizardmen.  There was a small Empire force (including a random Kroxigor) deployed on and around the bridge, and needed to hold off against an orc and goblin army, under the...sway...of a Chaos Lord.  The armies were divided into 3 commands: 1 person would take the Empire, and the greenskin army was split into two.

We didn't bother defining a real objective or worry about who was gonna win.  We basically decided at the end of each turn we'd take a look and make a call on whether the Empire had held long enough or if the greenskins had crossed the bridge or held enough strategic ground to say that they had overrun the defenders.  We didn't even calculate points with the Generals Handbook: we just tried to make sure the greenskins outnumbered and outmatched the Empire.  Basically, the Empire knew they were going to die, they just needed to hold up the enemy as long as possible.

Waiting for the green wave to crash on the bridge

Here they come...

The Chaos Lord mustering his force...

Overlooking the advance

Halberdiers in view.

First turn...the doom diver aim wasn't quite calibrated yet...

Mortal Realms Podcast tokens come in handy.

The Orc Shaman continued to zap the front line bridge defenders with Gaze of Mork, and the Doom Diver eventually hit the Kroxigor and the halberdiers.  The goblin spears charged the weakened halberdiers and eventually destroyed them leaving a gap on the bridge.  In keeping with spirit of the scenario, the Empire general continually used his "Hold the line!" command ability which gave a unit a bump in to-hit and to-wound rolls.

This was where the strategic error of the game was made: the gap on the bridge was too enticing, and the goblin unit was used to charge the swordsman who were also on the bridge - but the goblins didn't have enough punch break through.  Combat bogged down and there was no room for additional units (like the Black Orcs or regular Orc Boys).   It quickly became apparent that goblin spearman would need to retreat from combat to make room for more powerful units, or the game would be over...

The Chaos Lord realizes his mistake and takes matters into his own hands.
 After some back and forth we decided the game should end with the final showdown on the bridge - Empire General vs Chaos Lord (technically just a single Chaos Knight).  If the Empire General wins, they've held off the greenskins long enough.  If the Chaos Lord wins, then his force has broken through and seriously threatens the retreating main army.

Combat went back and forth a few rounds with a lot of misses and no wounds...

Eventually - the Empire General took down the chaos lord, impaling him with his sword!

It was a really fun game.  AoS continues to shine in smaller sized games (the largest unit on the board was 8 models).  Most of the units were small, consisting of only 5 figures.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Lizards vs Empire

We played a spur-of-the-moment game of Age of Sigmar this past Saturday.  We didn't do any planning or preparation - just "hey, wanna play?" "sure!"

We finally decided to try out the points values from the new General's Handbook and went with Empire vs Lizardmen which would prove to be interesting because we hadn't really given the Lizardmen a true run through.

We used the points as a "framework" to guide us for the army sizes. The armies weren't perfectly matched - we played about 1100 points, give or take a few. More thoughts on that later.
We played the Blood and Glory scenario with 4 objectives in each quarter of the table.
One thing to note - when we set up the army lists, I accidentally paid the points for the Empire general on griffon (not the general on pegasus...which doesn't have points in the GHB).   We realized this after deployment, so we talked about either the Empire removing the griffon and adding more units, or just bumping a few of the lizardmen units up to balance it out.  I recommended this approach because I had a sense that the griffon was a little too powerful for such a small battle, given recent experience with with an Orc Shaman on a Wyvern...(to the recent detriment of the Rookie Wargamer).  In the end, we decided to reinforce some of the lizardmen units instead of adding units after deployment.

deployment overhead shots

Empire deployed with a heavy left flank

chameleon skinks used hidden deployment...

saurus and kroxigors

The skink priest general hanging out in the trees

The kroxigors swarmed the Empire general on the Griffon/Pegasus.
Updated: I almost forgot to mention that we had back-to-back double turns!  The Lizardmen finished deployment first so had the option and made the Empire go first.  After the first turn completed, the Lizardmen won the initiative roll and got the double turn.  This is what allowed them to swarm the empire general on the griffon.  Then after the second turn, the Empire got the double turn.  Bam!
 The empire general barely survived this encounter, taking 7 wounds in the initial combat and then deciding to fly away and retreat from combat.  Of course, we had Monty Python's Holy Grail playing in the background, and Sir Robin had also decided to "bravely run away" at the exact same time...

Few turns later, the Pistoliers and rest of the left flank shot the swarm of snakes off the far objective, but then the Saurus block made a right turn and swarmed them.  They were annihilated.

The crossbowmen helplessly watch the slaughter from a distance

the left flank after the pistoliers were removed to the dead pile on the left

 Back on the right flank, the chameleon skinks (no longer pictured) had popped up and basically shot the greatswords off the table, with only 2 left. The greatswords turn around and charged the chameleons, with support from the general. These were wiped out.  The kroxigors surged forward and captured the abandoned objective, securing a minor victory for the Lizardmen.

the final look at the battlefield
Final result after 3 turns (or four; i forget): minor victory for the Lizardmen!  They controlled 3 of the 4 objectives. We took a look at the state of the battlefield to see if there was any chance for a draw or a minor victory if we had played another turn or two. In all likelihood the results wouldn't change so we called the match.

It was a super-fun game - probably one of the funnest games of AoS I've ever played.  I think it might have been a combination of factors: the framework from the GHB (reasonably balanced armies, not perfect, but reasonable); Lizardmen were a fun army to play against, they have some interesting rules, and they're really, really tough so the present a different tactical challenge; and the smaller sized armies that we used.  Something tells me that AoS really shines when using smaller sized armies.  They were just big enough that we had plenty of tactical challenges, but not too big that they were cumbersome to use.

Anyway, it was a great game and I can't wait to play again.  I also need to add a few things to this army...