Apocalypse Me: Hungry Bertha

I’m used to storms here in New England. Unfortunately, sometimes they screw with my painting time. Since I had no power to Piper’s Painting Pit on some key days last month, I was unable to get my entry for Dave Stone’s “Apocalypse Me” challenge done on time. Here she is, better late than never; and no, she doesn’t look like me at all.

This lovely lass is “Hungry Bertha”, an OOP Horrorclix miniature from the Freakshow set. As many of you know, repainting and rebasing Clix is something I quite enjoy. So I decided to make Bertha look a little better, paint-wise, and a little more zombified. That way she could (theoretically) be my entry for Zombtober, too.

The lollipop stuck to her backside is a nice touch, as are the mysterious and loathsome slime trails emanating from her various folds. Lovely.

Anyway, I decided to add some gore to her base…a few GW zombie bits, some green stuff intestines…you get the idea.

Add copious layers of Blood for the Blood God, some gloss varnish on her lollipop and slime trails, and here is the result.

This close up shows that I should clean up her eyes a bit, methinks.

Upon reflection I thought it might be fun to make a diorama out of Bertha here, with her teetering upon a veritable mound of body parts and gore; but I was under the gun as it was. This will have to do for now. Still…it’s a thought for later.

Apologies for being late, Dave!

Bak Mai, Monk

Master Leung, head of the Brotherhood of Long Winter, had reached his eightieth year, and tradition held that a new Master must be selected from among the most skilled monks of the temple. Although a great tournament would be held to determine the new Master, Leung was certain it would be Pupil Wu, his most senior student, who would receive the honor. Pupil Wu would receive the sum of Master Leung’s knowledge; would read the secret sutras and learn the final, hidden techniques of the Brotherhood of Long Winter. Pupil Wu would become Master Wu, and would carry on leadership of the Order in the traditions of the centuries of monks that had come before. Of this Master Leung had no doubt.

Yet, before that, a tournament must be held; for so it is written in the sutras that prospective applicants must pass the trials and prove their worthiness to become Master. Thus, in accordance with tradition, the Temple gates were opened to receive visitors; those who would serve as spectators to perhaps the greatest display of martial prowess in all the land.

Everywhere there was a palpable sense of expectation and excitement for the coming contest. For days prior to the tournament, peasants, nobles, warriors and monks from other traditions all arrived at the temple, braving the mountainous terrain and the bitterly cold winds. Just before the closing of the gates, one final traveler arrived. His features were hidden beneath cloak and hood, but that did nothing to disguise his great size. In a soft, yet firm voice that belied his massive bulk, he demanded to take part in the Tournament of Long Winter. He would compete to be the new Master.

Master Leung frowned. Although there had been instances of monks from other monasteries competing in the tournament, it had not happened in many generations. Besides, this man did not look like a monk. Leung ordered the traveler to remove his cloak and hood, and the traveler complied; much to the shock and outrage of all assembled. The traveler was an Uroku, one of the savage half-men of the mountains! In times past, the monks of the Long Winter had hunted the Uroku and driven them deeper into the lofty peaks and crags. Old as he was, Master Leung had never seen an Uroku. He was shocked to learn one could even speak.

“My name is Bak Mai,” he said, “and I demand the right to compete in the Trials of Long Winter.” Nervous laughter and gasps of outrage greeted this announcement from the throng of spectators. This…thing…was not a monk. It wasn’t even human! How dare it demand anything? The Uroku was immediately set upon by the monks of the temple. He knelt calmly and bore the blows of their staves without resistance, all the while staring defiantly at Master Leung.

Master Leung was nothing if not familiar with the traditions, and nowhere in the sutras did it say that a competitor must be a monk, or even human. With obvious reluctance, Master Leung told the monks to cease their assault. He allowed Bak Mai to enter the tournament of Long Winter, much to everyone’s astonishment.

After all, thought Master Leung, entering is not the same as winning; and there was no possibility of this beast winning the tournament.

After the first day of the tournament, Master Leung began to feel a sense of disquiet. Bak Mai easily placed first in all the Trials of Endurance. Although two monks lost their footing and plummeted to their deaths, Bak Mai was first to scale the Cliff of Woe, and did so with startling ease. He remained under the frigid waterfalls of Tessen Lake for far longer than the other monks, three of whom froze to death in the icy waters rather than concede defeat. He knelt on hot coals without complaint or injury for a full hour while they piled heavy stone weights upon his lap and shoulders; even though twenty-five minutes was the most any of the monks could endure; and several would forever carry horrific burns that might never fully heal.

The Trials of Combat were held on the following day; and the outcome was not even close. Bak Mai chose no weapons with which to complete. Instead he dressed in bits of the armor and raiment of the soldiers and monks that hunted and harried the Uroku in years past. The monks and spectators were outraged by Bak Mai’s affront, but their mutters and protests were quickly silenced as Bak Mai soundly defeated every monk who stood against him in combat. The force of his blows was terrifying, like a thunderclap atop a high hill. Many monks were killed, many more forever crippled. There seemed no way to defeat the Uroku, and Master Leung began to feel something he had not felt in decades: panic.

That night, Master Leung meditated upon his dilemma. Tomorrow was the final Trial: the Trail of Wisdom. Traditionally it was a test of the monk’s problem-solving abilities, knowledge of the sutras and creative thinking. It was always held as the last trial of the Tournament of Long Winter; when the monks would be at the limits of their physical and spiritual strength. Only Bak Mai and Pupil Wu remined to take part in the competition. One of them would be the new Master. Leung repressed a shudder at the thought of the Uroku leading the Brotherhood. He had to ensure Pupil Wu won.

Master Leung considered the problem of Bak Mai. There was no way the Uroku could know the sutras as Pupil Wu did; and yet, he would have said there was no way an Uroku could have placed first in the Trials of Endurance and Combat, defeating every monk that opposed him. Bak Mai was an enigma; worse, he was a serious problem. He threatened centuries of tradition. Master Leung had to make certain that whatever test he set tomorrow, Pupil Wu’s victory was assured. He meditated for hours, until the once-tall candles were guttering pools of wax. Then, he permitted himself a smile. He knew what he would do.

The next morning, Pupil Wu and Bak Mai knelt on tatami mats in the main courtyard, surrounded by crowds of spectators and those monks who remained. Small writing desks had been set before them along with brushes and ink. Master Leung spoke from atop his dais. His voice rang out loud and clear in the early morning air. “The Trial of Wisdom shall consist of but one task,” he said. “Draw a snake.”

Here was a task any child could perform, thought Master Leung. He had no doubt the Uroku could draw a snake; but it fell to Master Leung to decide who drew the best snake. It was a matter of opinion: his opinion. No matter how artistic Bak Mai may be, he had already lost.

Bak Mai reached for his ink brush and selected a sheet of paper. Pupil Wu blinked in confusion, then did the same. He watched as the Uroku hunched over his sheet and began to draw. Pupil Wu did the same. He drew a basic squiggle with a head. He was finished, he thought; but then he looked over and saw Bak Mai was still drawing. What could the Uroku be drawing? Perhaps he was adding scales, or coils. Perhaps he added the flicking tongue, or the poisonous fangs. His snake was probably far better than Wu’s. Sweating, Wu began adding all these details, only to find Bak Mai was still drawing. Desperate, Pupil Wu added more and more…

“Enough!” called Master Leung. “Present your drawings!”

Bak Mai held his picture aloft. It was a basic drawing of a curved line in the shape of an S, with a circular head. A child’s drawing of a snake; but an obvious snake, nothing more.

Pupil Wu felt ice on his spine as he realized that Bak Mai had certainly drawn this in seconds. There was no reason for him to labor so long on a drawing so crude. He was pretending, hoping that doing so would provoke Pupil Wu into making a mistake.

And it did.

Flushing with embarrassment, Pupil Wu revealed his drawing. It was an extremely detailed snake; or it would be, if not for the tiny legs Wu had added. He had seen Bak Mai drawing for such a long time, he panicked and began adding all manner of embellishments and details. Unfortunately, he added too much. Not even Master Leung could pretend that snakes had legs.

A silence settled over the courtyard. Everyone waited to see what Master Leung would do. Everyone except Bak Mai. He leaned over and regarded Pupil Wu’s drawing critically.

“That’s not a snake,” he said.

Bak Mai is an Ogre from Wizards of the Coast. I found him in a plastic bag along with a bunch of other miniatures I acquired in a Craigslist buy several years ago. To be honest, I forgot I even had him. He was not easy to identify, but thanks to R Strickland on The Miniatures Page for the assist.

I wish I could take full credit for writing Bak Mai’s Trial of Wisdom; but it’s a variation on a legendary martial arts fable: “Don’t Paint Legs on a Snake.” It means don’t waste time adding useless embellishments to something that is perfectly adequate as it is.

As some of you may know, a big fucking storm blew through New England a couple of days ago; leaving half a million people in Massachusetts without power. Guess who was in that group? While putting a standby generator on my house was one of the best things I ever did, I had it wired to power necessities like my furnace and my well (heat and water are nice to have). Sadly, the painting cave didn’t make the cut, so I lost a few days of painting time. That means my entry for Dave Stone’s Apocalypse Me challenge might be a tad late…

The good news is that this guy serves as both my Character of the Month for October (not late, like last month) AND my entry for ORCtober! Sure, he’s technically an ogre, but I painted him as an orc (in case my clever use of “uroku” went unnoticed) ; so does that count? I say yes.

Up next: playing catch up!

Imperial Assault, Twin Shadows Part Two: The Heroes and The Hunter

Part Two of my Imperial Assault: Twin Shadows painting is complete, which means I have finished all the miniatures from the boxed expansion and the ally and villain packs released along with it.

There are two rebel heroes in the Twin Shadows boxed set. This is Saska Teft, a combat engineer. As far as I can tell, she makes things blow up pretty good.

The other hero is Biv Bodhrik, the stereotypical “heavy weapons guy.”

Looks like he has some skin problems. Chalk it up to poor layering on my part.

Next, an Ally Pack featuring some familiar faces: R2-D2 (does he even HAVE a face?) and C-3PO.

Another fun fact: I bought this pack twice, because I purchased the first one from “Amazon World Marketplace”. The description said that was based in Great Britain, but the package shipped from Spain, and I got this in the mail: the Italian version. Although the miniatures are the same, all the game materials are in Italian. This is useless to me as I don’t speak or read Italian. So, I put this on eBay, thinking someone else must need it. So far, no one needs it.

Between the primer fiasco and the duplicate droids, this Twin Shadows project was getting fucking expensive.

Like many of my Imperial Assault miniatures, I painted these by following Sorastro’s tutorials on YouTube. I like his tutorials because I often learn new ways of doing things. For example, the gold base color on C-3PO is not gold paint. It’s GW’s Leadbelcher washed with GW’s Seraphim Sepia, then highlighted up. This provides a nice depth of tone and it’s a trick I will absolutely use again, whether I’m painting shields or armor.

Finally: Boba Fett, a bounty hunter who is even cooler than Dog, the Bounty Hunter (didn’t think that was possible, did you?). He’s featured prominently on the box cover and in several Twin Shadows missions; so naturally he’s sold separately. Thanks, Fantasy Flight.

Boba Fett is a great-looking miniature, especially for Imperial Assault, where some of the miniatures are pretty lame (just wait until I get to Ahsoka Tano). Of course, the Star Wars Legion version of Boba Fett is so much better-looking, I try not to think about it lest I get depressed.

That’s it for Twin Shadows, but I have many more Imperial Assault miniatures to go. I’d like to collect the entire run of the game, but that doesn’t seem likely. Two days before I wrote this post, a Grand Admiral Thrawn villain pack sold on eBay for $152.50.

That’s one hundred fifty-two dollars and fifty cents for one plastic miniature. That’s fucking stupid.

It’s ok. I can live without Thrawn for sure. In addition to two more boxed expansions (Return to Hoth and Bespin Gambit), I have 18 more ally and villain packs waiting for my paintbrush. When will I ever get to them all?

That’s what New Year’s resolutions are for…

Chloe the Rat

This is a tale of two women; one, a loner, a creature of the wild; with but one friend in the world. The other: a princess, cruel and spoiled, with no friends at all.

The girl Chloe was a child of the forest, a foundling. She was raised in the ways of the Pathfinder by Keeler the Guide, a ranger of Rowanwood; and Sarapen Moonsilver, the Barkwarden. Chloe was a peculiar child who grew into a peculiar woman. She took to the teachings of the ranger and druid well enough, but neither could call her daughter or friend. Something was different about her. It was as if she felt no kinship to the forest at all, or to those who lived within. Except for one.

Chloe met the dryad Briarose one day while traversing the Rowanwood alone. Eager for company, the dryad invited Chloe to stay for a while and trade news of Rowanwood, for Briarose could not venture far from her ancient oak and wanted to hear of the forest beyond her reach. Chloe obliged, more from a sense of boredom than anything else; but she soon found herself returning to the dryad’s tree more often, sometimes planning her travels to include Briarose’s grove as a stop along the way. The two became friends, though they could not be more different.

Chloe’s travels took her far throughout the Rowanwood, and she was only able to meet with her friend Briarose once every few months or so. It was during one of these meetings that the dryad told Chloe she had met another girl from the land outside the forest. Her name was Circa, and she was a princess. Princess Circa had stumbled into her grove while hiding from her royal guard, who had accompanied her on what she called a “terribly boring” hunting trip. They spoke for a while and Circa told her how hers was a life of luxury and privilege. She had many servants and everyone obeyed her commands. She invited Briarose to come visit her in her castle. Of course, Briarose had to refuse, as she could not leave her tree. When she told Circa this, the princess got a strange look on her face. A few minutes later, the two heard the sounds of the princess’s hunting party calling for her. Circa left to join them, but told Briarose that they would see each other again soon.

Something about this made Chloe uneasy, but she said nothing. When she returned to the grove several weeks later, she found it uprooted and destroyed. Briarose’s tree lay on the ground. The ancient oak had been ravaged for lumber. She found the body of her friend beneath it, still clinging to the trunk, and she imagined the scene as her friend must have begged and pleaded with those responsible to stop hurting her tree. To stop murdering her.

Chloe knew who was responsible, of course: the spoiled princess, Circa. She wanted Briarose and did not care that the dryad could not come to her court even if she wanted to, for she was bound to the tree. Bring the tree, then, Chloe imagined her saying. Chloe followed the tracks of the princess’s guards to the edge of the forest, where they passed into the plains beyond. She tracked them all the way to Malfort, the capital of Evalaux; and could have tracked them to the castle itself, but there was no need. Chloe knew she could not get to the princess directly. Better to spend her efforts elsewhere.

And she did. Chloe had no friends in Malfort. She had no friends at all, since the death of Briarose. Her first task, then, was to make some. She did not like people, so instead she made friends with the rats of Malfort. All of them.

Within months, Chloe and her rats controlled the entire underworld of Malfort; easily wresting it from the grip of the Thieves’ Guild that operated in the sewers and shadows. Chloe’s legend grew. Rats bred unchecked, spreading disease and pestilence in the city above, spoiling foodstuffs and fouling wells. The people of Montfort cried out to the palace for help. They were suffering. They were dying. Unrest stirred, and the power of the royal family began to shake. Surely the king would do something?

The king could do nothing, because the king was dead. His seneschal found him in his chambers one morning, or what was left of him, anyway. He had been devoured by rats in his sleep. There seemed nowhere Chloe’s rats could not reach.

Princess Circa found herself suddenly in charge in a palace overrun by rats. She barricaded herself inside and hired as many rat catchers as she could from the surrounding towns and cities of Evalaux. She paid them extravagant sums to ply their trade, with promises of riches untold to the one who could rid the palace and the city of the rats. The rat catchers all died horribly; some devoured by rat swarms like the king, some made to ingest the very poisons they employed in their trade. They died, the people despaired, and Chloe’s grip tightened around the princess’s throat.

Over the course of the next several months, Chloe squeezed.

Today, Princess Circa still lives in the ruined palace, though her servants and guards fled long ago. She wanders the halls, incoherent and bedraggled and quite mad, attended only by rats. Outside, life has returned to normal for the people of Malfort. The tides of vermin no longer plague the city as they did. The disease has been checked, commerce and trade has resumed. The wells run clean and the storehouses are safe. All is well again.

But the people know, and they will not forget. Chloe the Rat is now princess of Malfort, and her palace is below the streets.

September’s Character of the Month is a Ranger; albeit a pretty unconventional one. This project has been pretty light on evil characters so far (only Rafinphel the Adored is expressly evil, and he’s not MY character), so I thought it was time. I imagined a ranger so obsessed with vengeance that she usurped nature for her own ends. This is the result.

For Chloe, I used Reaper’s Vermina, the Rat Queen, from their Chronoscope line. There are two versions of this character. This one, sculpted by Werner Klocke, has an anime-vibe to it. The other one is much more Victorian-looking and is sculpted by Patrick Keith. I’ve had this one for many years. She was supposed to be a non-player character in a D&D 3.5 campaign; but the game fell apart before I had a chance to paint her and she’s languished under chipped black primer ever since.

Since it’s obviously not September anymore, Chloe is late. But that’s ok. I have another Character of the Month for October coming by the end of the month; and hopefully more Star Wars, too.

Imperial Assault, Twin Shadows: Troopers and Raiders

Slowly but surely, I have begun to chip away at my significant pile of Star Wars miniatures for my Imperial Assault expansions. I decided to start with the first boxed expansion to the game, Twin Shadows, which included 10 new miniatures in the core box. In addition, I painted several ally and villain expansions that were released to coincide with the release of the box, because why give you everything in one box when they can charge you piece by piece?

First up, some Heavy Stormtroopers. You get four of these guys in the box, and they’re pretty nice miniatures.

Also pictured here is Kayn Somos; a special figure that came in a separate Villain Pack. Although it’s always nice to have a Stormtrooper boss, his pose is a bit meh.

Next: the four Tusken Raiders from the box and another Villain Pack: the Bantha Rider. I like these miniatures, but here’s the annoying story behind them.

My primer of choice is The Armory spray primer. Most people don’t like it. I love it. I prime 99% of my models black; but I had Armory Primer in Black, White and Grey. I rarely use grey. In fact, the can was no good any more; and to top things off my black can was almost out, too. I needed new primer! Sadly, the place I usually get it (the ONLY place I know that carries it) is out, and they don’t know when they will get any back (if ever). So I went on Amazon. Same deal. COVID has really fucked with a lot of things, including spray paint distribution.

Since I was pretty much following the painting tutorial by Mark Sorastro (which, like all his Imperial Assault tutorials, is spectacular), I needed to prime them grey. I looked online to see what other miniature enthusiasts use. I’m not paying 15 bucks a can for GW or Army Painter primer, so I decided on this:

Rustoleum primer is supposed to be pretty good and is used by lots of mini painters. After looking high and low for it in stores, I finally managed to snag a can. Like I said, spray paint is pretty scarce nowadays due to the pandemic. I went to three different Wal-Marts and saw only racks of empty space. I finally found a can of this at a Home Depot. It was the only can left. Score, right?

Wrong. I sprayed my Tusken Raiders and one half of the Bantha with this shit. Three days later, they were still tacky and I realized with horror that this primer was reacting poorly to the plastic (despite the “Also Bonds To PLASTIC!” assurance on the label). This was a disaster. I removed what I could with some non-acetone nail polish remover. What was I to do now?

For situations like these (like when I prime Reaper Bones), I use Vallejo brush-on surface primer. I have black and white. I needed grey. I briefly considered just mixing the two; but I decided to splurge for the grey as I have many more Imperial Assault miniatures to paint and I might need it. One Amazon order and 6 days later, I had a bottle. The bottle says grey, but it looks pretty fucking white. On top of that, it’s thin, like milk. It is noticeably different from the Vallejo black and white primers I have. I primed all the figures again, and then I got angry. I didn’t need to prime them grey. I could have saved a lot of time, aggravation and money if I had just used the black primer I have; because I can’t imagine using this shit for anything, ever. It sucks.

Anyway, I muddled through. Lesson learned. Next post will finish up the miniatures for this expansion: both the Heroes from the box and some extra (familiar) Allies and Villains (sold separately, of course).

Wondering where my September Character of the Month is? Well, she’s a bit late, but she’ll be along. That of course means I will have TWO Characters in October. The miniature is painted, but I haven’t had time to write up her back story. As everyone knows, I refuse to post things when they’re only half done.

So stay tuned for the second half of Twin Shadows (what?), coming soon!

A’hunting I will go…to find the Carrion Crow…

It’s been pretty desolate lately over at Carrion Crow’s Buffet, with nary a word from our thick-thewed, swarthy hero for nigh on two months. Of course, the Crow has been known to take extended absences before (he has a house on Barsoom, I hear); but we are living in “challenging and uncertain times” (I swear if I hear that one more time I’m going to kill someone), so I grew concerned. I reached out to my friend to see if all was well.

Contacting the Crow is never easy. Through a series of dead-drops, codes left on dead Cold War-era radio broadcasts, packages carried by unwitting agents and clues left in Internet Alternate Reality Games, I finally succeeded. In short, I wanted to know if he was ok.

He responded, but I got the feeling he was pressed for time, as he only sent this one folded photo of himself showing what he’s been up to over the last two months.

I breathed a sigh of relief. As you can see, he has remarkably smooth legs. He also seems to have everything well-sorted and under control. Business as usual.

Product Reviews: Wargames Atlantic Halfling Militia and the “Big Three” Wargaming Magazines that aren’t White Dwarf

Been a long time since I did a product review. This time I thought I’d share my thoughts on the “Big Three” wargaming mags: Miniature Wargames; Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy; and Wargames Illustrated; as well as some cool plastic miniatures: Halfling Militia from Wargames Atlantic.

I didn’t buy these, I got five of them for FREEEEEEEEEEEEE! with my copy of Miniature Wargames magazine. MW has taken to attaching free sprues of miniatures with some issues, which makes the $15 per issue price tag a bit more bearable for me. (Skip down below to read my thoughts on the “Big Three” Wargaming magazines.)

These halflings look pretty cool, as you can see. They have a nice level of detail, come with several options for heads and weapons (bows, halberds, spears and a sword), and fit together nicely. They’re versatile, too. You could easily use them for any fantasy game; or, if you still play Warhammer Fantasy Battle, they’d fit right into an Empire army as a spearman regiment or archer unit. (These guys are from Stirland!) They’re also fun to paint.

The one quibble I have is the length (and strength) of the spears and halberds. They’re too long. Don’t get me wrong: if I was keeping a huge spider at bay (as pictured on the cover), I’d want my spear to be as long as possible; but they’re a disaster in the making, as they stick so far out they’re easy to snag. So far they’re bendy enough not to snap, but I’m not what you’d call an optimist. They’re also somewhat inconvenient to store and ship because of the length of the spears. Other than this relatively minor complaint, color me impressed with this set, considering I hate assembling plastic miniatures.

Onto the gaming magazines.

First off, I’m not including White Dwarf, because White Dwarf is not a wargaming magazine. It’s a Games Workshop house engine that only covers GW products and has been primarily functioning as a product catalog for the last twenty years. Also, I don’t buy it.

The actual wargaming magazines–Miniature Wargames; Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy and Wargames Illustrated–have quite a bit in common. They cover a wide variety of wargaming and hobby news, they’re all very well-produced and pretty, they’re all published in the UK, and they all cost $15 here in the States. So what are the differences, at least the ones that matter to me?

Wargames Illustrated is fantastic to look at. It has a good variety of wargaming articles for all genres; showcases new games regularly, and sometimes comes with free sprues of miniatures. (I got most of my Cruel Seas ships from this magazine.) It has some good modeling and painting articles, too. It also devotes a lot of pages to covering game shows and conventions in the UK and Europe; which, although cool, is not something I really give a shit about, considering I don’t live there and am not likely to attend any of them. I would rather have more articles and scenarios for games I like.

Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy is another beautiful magazine that is heavily weighted towards the historical wargamer, which makes it of limited use to me. I rarely buy this magazine as a result; but the issues I do own are very nice. WS&S generally focuses on a monthly theme (The Carlist Wars, for example) and then devotes several articles and scenarios to the topic, including a compendium of miniatures for the period/conflict in question, presented in a variety of scales by different manufacturers. It’s a wonderful reference, and also regularly features articles by some big names in wargaming (Rick Priestly, Henry Hyde, etc…) What it does it does very well; but it’s just not for me.

Miniature Wargames, finally, is my UK wargaming mag of choice. I’ve collected it for a couple of years and it’s always been good; but since John Treadaway took over as editor it’s really been great to see the shift from a traditional historical focus to include other genres of wargames. Now, there is a center section devoted specifically to fantasy and sci-fi wargaming in each issue, which is much appreciated. MW also features product reviews, modeling and painting articles and occasional convention and wargame show coverage that doesn’t monopolize the pages. It often gives away free sprues of miniatures, too (like the halflings above). For me, Miniature Wargames is the best fit.

Here in the States, we get all of these magazines a month or two after they are published in the UK. COVID-19 disrupted the shipping schedule and so now I have months of missed issues. Print publishing is getting insanely expensive at $15 a pop and it may just be time to cut the cord. (MW doesn’t offer discounted subscription rates in the States, so I’m stuck paying full cover price.) Since I hate reading electronic media, I will likely just learn to live without it rather than purchase an online subscription.

Star Wars stuff coming soon!

Season of Scenery 2021

Well, Dave Stone’s Season of Scenery has come and gone, and here’s what I have to show for it. Thanks as always to Dave for hosting this fun challenge!

I painted up the 20mm Gaslands scenery that I said I would. The tire stacks took me about half an hour in total to complete; whereas the barrel groups took WAY TOO FUCKING LONG. Those barrels were some tedious bastards, I can tell you that for nothing. Now that I have these done, I should play Gaslands at some point just to drive some cars into these explosive barrels.

I also painted these fuel and/or gas tanks (they’re actually milk and livestock feed tanks from model railroads). While most of them are in 20mm scale; as you can see they could be used equally as well in 28mm games. I weathered and rusted them up quite a bit using MIG rust pigments and Citadel Typhus Corrosion.

Up next, I have some 28mm 3D-printed scatter terrain I recently picked up with an Etsy coupon. These crate and barrel piles look nice, and I can always use more of them. I also took the opportunity to paint some extra barrels and bits I had lying around.

I also managed to get to these remnants of some 3D-printed SciFi crates I ordered. I painted them in the same white theme I used for the others. You can see them in my Star Trek battle reports.

Finally, the things I’m happiest about. These two Armorcast vending machines have been an incomplete project for years. I bought them at Gen Con in 2012; and I planned on using them for zombie games; but that didn’t happen. Then my intent was to use them in supers games; but that didn’t happen either. Then last year I took them out and put them on my desk because I wanted to get to them for Summer of Scenery 2020; but guess what didn’t happen? And there they have sat in all their annoying base-coated glory, just taking up space on my painting desk and not paying rent. Well, now they’re done, and I now NEED to use them in a game just to justify their existence.

Did I get to everything? No. But I don’t give a shit because it’s STAR WARS TIME, BAYBEEEEEEE!!!! I’m finally diving back into Imperial Assault, so watch for that soon!

Reverend Mother Mara, Sisterhood of Calucia

For August’s Character of the Month, I chose to do a Paladin.

When Mother Helen, Preceptress of Cobbage, opened her schoolhouse door to find the abandoned infant on her step, she did not hesitate; for Helen had once served the Sisterhood of Calucia, Guardian of Lost Travelers. Though Helen was a sister no longer and the Sisterhood was no more, she took the child in and cared for her as her own daughter; for what was this poor child if not a lost soul? Helen named the child Mara, who grew to be beloved by all in the small village. She was kind, helpful, charitable and humble. She could also lift a bushel of apples at arms’ length by the age of nine; and by fourteen, she could fully drive a fencepost into hard-packed clay with one swing of her hammer.

Despite (or perhaps because of) her great strength, Mara did not lack suitors when she reached the traditional age of marriage two years later; but Mara had no interest in marrying anyone from the village. These were the same boys who were her playmates for the last sixteen years, and she could not see them now as men. Besides, she needed to care for Mother Helen, who had grown infirm with age, and to assume the duties of Preceptress in her stead; for Mara was easily as wise as she was strong, much wiser than a girl of sixteen years should be.

Towards the end of her life, Mother Helen told Mara her own story; how she left the Sisterhood and came to be Preceptress of the small village of Cobbage. Helen was once a novitiate at Glenstrae Abbey, seat of the Sisterhood of Calucia in far-off Dunlaig. The folk of Dunlaig were a superstitious lot who had no use for magic that was not divine, and the Abbess of Glenstrae, Gertrude, was no exception. One dark and moonless night, an elf maiden sought sanctuary at the Abbey. She was in flight from lawless men who wished her harm; yet the Abbess denied her safety. She was fey, after all; and the Abbess decreed that she would find no comfort among the Sisterhood. When they found her body the next morning on the very grounds of the Abbey itself, the Abbess was unmoved. She ordered the corpse buried in the garden, where “at least it would do some good as fertilizer.”

The sisters were in shock. They felt immediately the loss of their Guardian’s favor, for who was more wayward and in need of aid than the poor elf maiden who begged for help and received only scorn? Still, Gertrude was unrepentant and prideful. She would hear no dissent on the matter, though she felt the loss of communion with Calucia more strongly than most.

A fortnight later, the keening started. The elf maiden had risen as a bean sidhe; and she was not done with the Sisterhood of Calucia. Each night for a month she circled the Abbey, keening and wailing; a horrid sight to behold. The sisters pleaded with the Abbess to repent; but Gertrude remained defiant, poisoned by her deep-rooted hatred of all things fey. With no divine magic to hold it at bay, it was only a matter of time before Glenstrae Abbey’s protections failed and the bean sidhe was able to enter what was once consecrated ground. When she did, her unbridled wrath broke fully upon Gertrude most horribly, but left none alive among the Sisterhood.

None but Helen. Cornered by the bean sidhe among the white and silent corpses of her sisters, Helen closed her eyes and called out to Calucia for deliverance. When she opened them, she found the horrid visage of the undead elf mere inches away, staring at her with an expression the young sister couldn’t comprehend. She blinked, and the thing was gone. Mother Helen told Mara she did not know why the creature let her live, if not to tell the tale of what had become of the fallen Sisterhood and of the once-holy Abbey, now fallen to evil and ruin.

Helen died a few nights later. Mara saw to her burial. Over her grave, Mara vowed that she would do what Helen could not. She would atone for the Abbess’s transgressions. She would rebuild Glenstrae Abbey. She would redeem the Sisterhood of Calucia, or she would die in the attempt.

Mara made her intentions known to the village. The blacksmith provided her with armor and a sword; but Mara did not know how to wield a sword; rather, she knew how to swing a hammer. So the smith forged her a hammer instead, a true weapon of war, not a tool for driving fenceposts. Mara accepted it gratefully, and named it “Correction” in honor of the switch Mother Helen occasionally used to chastise pupils who misbehaved.

The road to Dunlaig was long, and Mara encountered many who needed her help along the way. She fixed wagon-wheels for the stranded; planted and plowed for the infirm; defended the weak and powerless; and clothed and fed the needy as best she could, often going without comfort herself. She did this without complaint or recompense as service to the Guardian Calucia in memory of Mother Helen, the woman who cared for her when no one else would.

When she finally reached Glenstrae Abbey, she found it to be a cursed and bleak ruin shunned by all. In the years since the Sisterhood’s destruction others had come here in search of adventure or to loot the valuables of the vaults. All of them perished when the heard the keening wail of the bean sidhe; for the undead creature spared no one foolish enough to willingly enter the Abbey grounds. Now, these cursed souls had risen and become evil things themselves. They surrounded Mara as she strode boldly up to the gates of the Abbey, whispering foul promises of eternal torment; but Mara was unafraid. She shouted her defiance and commanded the undead horde to leave the Abbey, that this would once again be sacred ground. She invoked the name of Calucia, and something wondrous happened.

The undead hordes shrieked in fear and pain. Many of them simply ceased to exist as the power of Mara’s prayer banished their evil forever. Those that remained quailed in fury and terror; but they soon rallied and leapt to the attack. Mara met them head-on with Correction. Within minutes, she was the only thing moving on the grounds of Glenstrae Abbey. The bean sidhe’s minions were utterly destroyed, shattered into oblivion by the holy power of her warhammer.

Mara knelt in prayer and waited. She did not wait long. The restless spirit of the elf maiden appeared, and let out a keening so horrible that Mara felt all of the rage, humiliation and pain of maiden’s death all at once. She could feel the unbridled evil of the scream as a chill upon her soul and knew that she survived only by Calucia’s grace; for it was more than anyone could bear, and Mara knew that all who had heard it before had died on the spot. In the span of one moment, the scream of the bean sidhe aged Mara a full score years; yet Mara, shaken to her core, still stood, somehow alive.

The undead thing rushed at her, furious. Mara did not raise her weapon in defense. She only watched as the hooked claws reached to tear her limb from limb, and she spoke only two words. “I’m sorry.”

The bean sidhe stopped. For a moment, the two women stared at each other; for the undead elf maiden looked then much as she did in life: beautiful and fey. Mara stepped forward and embraced her. The bean sidhe slumped and let out a sigh. Then it vanished.

Mara found herself Abbess of Glenstrae. She spent the next several years rebuilding the convent, doing much of the physical labor herself. She exhumed the bones of the elf maiden and reburied them in a place of honor alongside Mother Helen, whose remains she brought back from Cobbage to rest on Abbey grounds. Her good and charitable deeds regained the favor of Calucia, and the Abbey was soon home to novitiates once more. The Sisterhood of Calucia was born anew.

Reverend Mother Mara is Reaper’s Mother Superior, sculpted by Werner Klocke. I was wondering what miniature I was going to use for a paladin. I seem to have picked up this one in a trade and forgot all about it, which only goes to show that (surprise) I have too many miniatures. She was fun to paint, if not particularly challenging.

Up next: My Season of Scenery submissions! Then on to STAR WARS!!!!!

“Game over, man! Game over!!”

For the past few months, this has been my main project: Painting Aliens: Another Glorious Day in the Corps, by Gale Force Nine. It’s done.

First: the Xenomorphs. These guys were super-easy to paint. All 16 took me about 2 hours and I think they look great, especially for table play. I used The Esoteric Order of Gamers method, which couldn’t be simpler; but I decided against using any gloss finish. YMMV.

Of course, the Alien Queen doesn’t come with the core set; she’s only available in the “Get Away From Her, You Bitch!” expansion. I bought that too (see below), so here she is.

On to the Colonial Marines. The core set includes (L-R) Vasquez, Frost, Ripley, Hudson, Newt, Gorman and Hicks. Fun fact: not only do I hate painting camouflage, I really hate Colonial Marine camo. It’s fucking weird; and no two people paint it the same.

A couple of close-ups of Frost and Vasquez, then one showing Hicks, Hudson (Game over, man!) and Newt.

Closeups of Ripley.

This is the “Ultimate Badasses” expansion. (L-R) Drake, Wierbowski, Burke, Crowe, Apone, and Dietrich. Spoiler Alert! With the exception of Burke, all these marines were dead by the first 30 minutes of the movie, so calling them “ultimate badasses” is a bit of a stretch…

Closeups of Carter Burke, Weyland-Yutani douchebag.

Finally, Bishop, “Gooey” Bishop, Enraged Ripley and Ripley in the Power Loader. Gale Force Nine sells these miniatures (and all the others, too) in a separate sets containing only the miniatures. This one was called “Sulaco Survivors”. I bought it thinking I got a great deal before I realized it’s ONLY the miniatures and you don’t get the stuff you need for the actual game. For that, you need to buy the “Get Away From Her, You Bitch!” expansion, which also includes these miniatures (and the Queen). Confusing and annoying, since now I have two sets of these (one of which is still on the sprue).

I really like the Bishop models. The Ripley sculpt is pretty iconic, but I’m pretty “meh” about it. Do I really need three versions of Ripley?

Finally, Ripley in the power loader. This one wasn’t fun, either. I hate painting yellow, and this miniature wasn’t easy to paint. Although I was wise enough not to fully assemble it before painting, I should have assembled it even less. It was tough to get the brush everywhere it needed to go. Compounding that with the color yellow (which is a notorious asshole) meant I needed to do a lot of repainting of the same areas to cover accidents. Still, it does look pretty cool…

Now, I’m ready to play! Just in time for another (likely) lockdown!

I can play this one solo, at least…