Sunday, April 10, 2016

Loving Kings of War!

Hi folks!

Long time no update.

So. The way I can tell I really, really like Kings of War is:

- I can't get enough reading about it: blogs, forums, the facebook group etc
- I have actually finished an army for it (Undead)
- I want to paint pretty much  EVERY army for it (I have started on Orcs, Goblins, Salamanders, Varangur, Abyssals, and am eyeballing Empire of Dust and Forces of Nature so far). I'll insert some photos of the stuff I've painted (or WIP) throughout this post.
- I have played no less than 4 games in the last ~ 2 months. FOUR!

Now, that last point is really important. Four...that sounds like nothing right? But I actually packed up my army, went to a gaming club and/or person's house, and played a full game. That is like...unheard of for me. I haven't done that in like 10+ years (i.e. since having kids) and even back then my games were much less frequent.

The first unit I painted - Skeletons!

So yeah, I reeaaallly like Kings of War. It's nice to have finally found a game that is "just right" for me and my current life-style:

- I like fantasy more than sci-fi, steam punk or historical (although I do like pretty much everything)
- I like massed army more than skirmish or "big loose army" games (40K)
- the game I used to play the most was WFB


- my games of WFB were really long to set up, play and take down.
- I have way less time to play than I used to.
- many armies needed lots and lots of figures (usually rank and file) painted. Such as Skaven.
- I have a lot less time to paint than I used to.
- WFB (8th) was relatively complex.
- I have way less mental bandwidth for remembering rules minutia than I used to. Like way less. Work, family and general adulting have added so much stress and stuff to remember that I just get tired even trying to contemplate dense, detailed rule-sets.

Privateer models used as Wights for my Undead army
So along comes Kings of War 2nd Edition. When the first edition came out, to me it just seemed like a weaker version of WFB - I didn't really see the point in playing it. Plus the armies, models, fluff all seemed sub-par as compared to GW.
My very cool  looking Mantic Balefire catapult that never, ever hits a target.

My fast-as-hell, deadly Werewolves
Fast-forward to today:

- The rules are JUST right for my taste. They lead to engaging, tactical games that are very satisfying to play out, and don't bog down or lead to wins/losses based on finding loopholes or getting off one giant spell. As my friend put it "I feel like I can enjoy the spectacle of the game and these armies because I'm not wracking my brain and sorting through books and papers to play it!".  Bingo.  My middle-aged brain loves this game.  It's really easy to learn and to remember, but not "thin" or shallow.

- It's fast to play (relatively speaking). Usually a game of WFB took about 4-5 hours to play for my friends and I. This takes about 1.5-2 hours I think? For a good size 1500-2000 point game.

My zombie horde against a horde of Salamanders!

- I'm not sure what it is, but I've really grown to like the Mantic models. Even the much-maligned Dwarfs!  The only ones I'm not super fond of are the elves and goblins. But I like the Orcs, Abyssals, Undead, (Dwarfs),  Ogres and really like some of the new Forces of Nature stuff coming down the pipe, especially the Salamanders. It seems like Mantic's models are getting better with each new release.

My first unit of Mantic Orc Ax's

- I love the flexibility that fixed unit base sizes allows. That sounds contradictory I just realized....but for example you don't have to have the exact number of troops on a unit tray because you don't remove individual casualties. So you can "multibase" your unit. Meaning you can glue (or rank up) like 50%+1 of the unit size or more (that's the minimum) and you are good to go. And in fact it allows you (me) to try a new aspect of the hobby in terms of making interesting/cool multibases!  And on top of that, you don't have to use all Mantic models (even in Mantic tournaments) so what I really enjoy is looking online (even at GW) to find models to use for certain units. If I don't like a particular Mantic sculpt (which still does happen a fair bit) I just pick something from another manufacturer to use.

Getting a jump on a Salamanders force with GW Saurus
Revenant Cavalry using GW Black Knights
- the rules and forces feel very balanced. All but my very first game were close matches. The first game I got crushed, but it was a great learning experience.

So to sum up:
- easy to learn and play but not shallow or sacrificing depth
- nice, affordable models and high flexibility in terms of model count and manufacturer
- fast to play which fits my busy life nicely

I think I'm going to be sticking with Kings of War for quite a while - as long as I can still find opponents nearby of course. So far Age of Sigmar seems to be gaining steam locally, but there is still a healthy group of KoW players too.  I hope the game continues to grow in popularity.

Mantic, Privateer and GW models in a recent match

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Kings of War - Zombie Horde Painting Tutorial

I started and finished this horde of zombies for my Kings of War Undead army this weekend - from sprues to "ready to multibase" (that's why the round parts of their bases are not painted - they are going to be clipped off).

I thought I'd post a tutorial on how I did these guys in case anyone finds it helpful, given it can be a real slog to paint up tons and tons of zombies and skeletons!

First though, a word about the mindset I employ when painting large units of zombies or other creatures (like Skaven). My approach is basically to go for an effect that looks cool as a total unit, rather than spend a lot of time on each figure individually. It's just not efficient to paint these guys individually and worry about blending and highlights. Plus - they are zombies! They should look messy and gross (but "purposefully" so - not just a giant mess of colors). I should also mention an airbrush helps immensely although in this case I only used it for the priming stage.

Step 1:

I used a (new?) white primer from Vallejo. It's called "Premium" primer. In any case, it's the first time I've used it and WOW does it go on nicely. Great coverage, super fast drying, and airbrushes very easily.  I primed these white (most of the time I use black on models) because I'm going to use washes to do a lot of the shading/highlighting work. Also, using black would likely result in a big dark blob of figures, which is never visually interesting.

Step 2:

The next step is one where you have a lot of flexibility. Basically you want to find washes that have a tendency to darken the underlying primer or base coat. For example, the new line of washes from GW tend to color the flat areas of a model more than the previous formulation. I also find that Secret Weapon washes do that quite a bit. But that's OK - because the trick is to know when to make that work for you :)   In this case, I'm using various tones to create a range of flesh effects on the zombies. For example: secret weapon Stone, secret weapon Sewer Water, and Vallejo Blue Grey. The bluish-grey zombie skin looks pretty cool mixed into the more traditional "dead flesh" looking ones.

Apply this to all the flesh areas. Don't worry about being neat, although try not to let it pool heavily anywhere. Doesn't matter if it gets on the cloth areas right now.

Let it dry.

Step 3:

To add some variation to the flesh, I hit the various "wound" areas, mouth areas, and hand areas (sometimes I skipped the hands, as we are going for a bit of a chaotic mix here). When painting these, think about what zombies do: they grab handfuls of guts and shove them in their mouths. This makes them have bloody hands, mouths, necks etc.

I did this first pass with Secret Weapon Dried Blood. When I first bought this wash I thought it was kinda lousy and couldn't understand how to use it. Now I really like it - it creates a subtle red "sore" area around the wounds etc (tip: make sure you apply it around the wound, not just in the wound).

Step 4:

Once the previous step has dried, I paint the cloth on their waists/legs. Note: this part is highly dependent on the effect you are going for. For me, I painted them half green and half yellow to match my Skeleton Unit (I'll post that picture here as well, so you see what I mean). The idea being a whole army was destroyed and raised from the dead to fight for an evil necromancer, basically.  You can do them brown, red, orange - whatever you like.  No magic to this step.  Another thing I should note: for ~ 20 of them who would be in the front of the zombie crowd, I did highlight the green and yellow (~ 2 highlights for each). But for the 20 who will be in the back of the highlights for them! Not worth the effort.

Step 5:

Once I finished the base coat of yellow and green, I washed with Aggrax Earthshade. I wanted them to look dirty and muddy.

Step 6:

With step 5 dry, I went back to working on the wounds. I used Secret Weapon Ruby inside all the wounds, and the open mouths, to darken the red of those areas.

Step 7:

Very important step. This is where you are truly applying the "blood and gore" of the zombies. Think of the previous red steps as the zombies' blood and wounds, but this step is the blood and gore of their *victims*. So you want to put this on hands (sometimes up to elbows, mix it up a bit), mouths, necks etc. A little splatter here and there is fine too. I use an old, frayed brush to stipple this on. I used GW Blood for the Blood God which is a superb product, but I also occasionally dab a little Vallejo Black Ink onto my brush with it. This way, I ended up stippling on a mix of red and black, both transluscent. This will give you a very convincing blood/gore effect. If you look at blood and gore in movies, it often will appear very dark, almost black at times. It's not all bright red. And it is basically never an opaque, flat red - so don't use "red paint" to do your blood. It looks very unconvincing.

Step 8:

Really in the home stretch now - you could almost use them as-is at this point. Here, I decided to hit all the feet with Aggrax Earthshade, to pull out the details in the toes, and also because I doubt zombies wash their feet much.

Step 9:

Last step, other than applying some matte varnish to the shiny cloth or other areas you think shouldn't be shiny (I suggest leaving the blood a bit glossy).  I washed their eyes/nose areas with GW Druchi Violet. That's a tip from Old Fogey that I decided looks really good on these.:)  I don't bother with eyeballs - this is a zombie horde, nobody is going to care about the eyeballs.


Here are all 40 of them, ready to be multibased (the MDF base I'm going to use is behind them). I will probably do another tutorial for that step. I have to figure out how I'm going to arrange them and what other "diorama" elements I want to add. Hope you found this useful!