Archive for ‘Khador’

September 4, 2010

PAX Prime

by Nate Birkholz

I got to spend an hour walking around PAX today. I made for the Privateer booth right away, where I bought the Druid Wilder, The Stonekeeper UA, and No Quarter 32. They have the Trollbloods book on the shelf, and I was tempted, momentarily, but ended up resisting the fell call. There are also the new metal versions for sale of the 2010 Warmachine Battlebox sculpts; I was tempted by the excellent pSorcha pose, but since I don’t ever anticipate playing Sorcha, and I have too many models to paint as it is, I passed it by.  Edit: Forgot to mention that the Reeves of Orboros UA is for sale at the show as well.

Much Lead for sale (That's right, I said lead. Why, when I was younger, minis were made of lead, see...)

Lots of Monsterpocalypse demos, actually.

I got the pleasure of meeting the very personable BobaFerret of Privateer Press and Lost Hemisphere fame. I got to play a brief demo game of Hordes with the Circle and Troll battleboxes. I looked over the gallery of recent models and the studio paint jobs are simply amazing: they don’t even look like hey are painted, mostly, and the surface of the models is a smooth as…a very smooth thing. 

That is definitely going to hurt you more than it hurts me.

A leader of rocks.

I don't care what the P+S is, I'm still gonna hit you with this axe.

I hear these guys do a lot of audience participation, but they never smile...

There was someone in a great Thagrosh costume at the booth, flanked by a couple of lovely Nyss ladies. 

Epic Thagrosh indeed

Ravyn was in attendence as well, dressed as eKaya in a great costume with an appropriately-attired stuffed Laris. Aapparently she’ll be giving more details soon about the tree frogs of  death that are her shredder army. I got a few minutes too walk around the Iron Arena room before I bolted for dinner. I intend to be back tomorrow!

September 2, 2010

Finished the Witch

by Nate Birkholz

At long last–I started at the end of June–I have finished Zevanna Agha, The Old Witch of Khador. (I just realized I forgot to paint the scissors lurking inside her cloak that I had saved until last, but otherwise…)

I'm all out of old lady jokes.

I don’t have any idea how many hours I have into her, but I wanted to take great care with this excellent model. I explored Layer blending. I redid several parts of the model. I did my first Greenstuff sculpting ever. And I pinned her to a resin base that you can’t even see because she is so large.

Too bad I ended up choosing Circle Orboros as my first faction..

I am especially pleased with how the shoulderpads turned out, with 6 layers of washes alternating with highlights. I wish I had a proper lightbox to really get good pictures, these photos don’t do them justice. The crow, on the other hand, was less successful; he’s not bad, just not really special. Also, I saw a tutorial about adding static grass and then lightly brushing it with white to frost it, and that didn’t work at all. The fire inside the boiler scared the Kratikoff out of me because I had less than successful results with the boiler on the Gorten Grundback model that I entered in the forum painting competition, but I feel it actually turned out, so thanks for throwing yourself on the learning process grenade, Gorten!

She's not shy, she's indifferent to your very existence.

I doubt I’ll be able to take this amount of care with many models, but hopefully I will be able to improve upon the techniques I learned and get faster in the process. I hope I can use them to get good results without taking two months to complete a model (admittedly, we shipped a game in the middle of that).

I also started on Circle, doing a test model of a Shifting Stone.

It's not leaning, you are...

I kind of prefer the brownish grays of the Privateer paint scheme, I might try to emulate that with the Wolds when I paint them. I’ll finish the base next, which should be quick. I apppreciate that these are so simple to paint. They take drybrushing well, with just the right amount of surface detail to really pop.

I did a little work on Baldur Stonecleaver, too. It’s a pretty straightforward model, but I already am struggling to get the skin to look good on him. I am tired of skin being an eternal challenge: I feel like it alternates models for me–for every time it goes well, the next time it goes poorly. I need to buy some practice heads and paint them, I think. I especially need to overcome my problems with skin if I am going to paint the Tharn Bloodtrackers I bought: they show a lot of skin, after all.

August 27, 2010

WIP: Witch Watch

by Nate Birkholz

I made some more progress on Zevanna Agha over the last few days, somehow managing to squeeze in some time painting over lunch. I had tried to get the shoulder bag to look like it was tanned human skin, but it didn’t really work, so I went a different direction. I also painted the leather straps under her shoulder pads, finished the fur lining of the hood, washed the bandages on her hands more, covered the green wash on her staff, and washed the rest of the staff with Devlan Mud (I’ll add some highlights later).

Look at me when I'm talking to you!

On second thought...

I will probably be washing the tip of the staff in blue, then drybrushing white over the part that wraps around. I wish I could find more closeups of other people’s approach to the Witch (and her staff), it is really hard to find good images of her on the Internets. I will be painting the shoulder pads in a darker red than the sash, the bird in the same blue as the cloak but washed with black, and then I’ll try to get the boiler to have fire through those tiny little slots, which didn’t go well for me on my Gorten model…

Fur is Murder. So are giant rusty metal claws.

On deck for after Granny Agha: Baldur the Stonecleaver, whose face I basecoated today.

I also assembled The Lord of the Feast, who is perhaps better to be known as Lord of Annoying Little Bits of Metal to Glue Together. I tried to pin his sword but chickened out. I tried to pin his arm but got the pin going the wrong angle. The bird, skull-cap (bwahahahahahaha…haha…ha…), and antlers each required me to hold a poky little metal thing completely still against another poky little metal thing until the glue set so I can drop it in a week and do it all over again. I really hated the seam where his arm pieces joined together, so I made a greenstuff arm circlet for him. I feel like the armband came out a little big, I hope it works out once it is painted gold (or maybe it would work better if painted to look like rusty iron, since I know how to do that, now…). At least I got myself to try something different. Lord knows he’ll still eat faces on the tabletop!

Look, over there, my lunch is shooting at us.

August 15, 2010

WIP: Some More Witchiness

by Nate Birkholz

I got in some more painting on the Old Witch yesterday before I got sucked into Red Dead Redemption. I am really appalled at how slow I am at painting, not sure how I waste so much time–I feel like I should video-record myself or something to see what I do that takes so long… Anyhow, I gave up trying to drybrush the folds of the sash and scarf. I seemed to always have too much or too little paint on the brush, so I just painted along the tops of the folds and then washed with Citadel Wash.

I feel like I make no progress, but she also seems to be getting close.

I undercoated the satchel with my usual flesh undercoat, Vallejo Brown Rose, and will drybrush a lighter tone to highlight–we’ll see how that goes–then wash with Ogryn Flesh wash. I was going to try to make it look like tanned human skin, but I am not sure that is going to be apparent. I also painted the bandages around her hands, then washed with Gryphonne Sepia and dabbed red wash in spots. I’ll highlight the edges of the bandages and wash with sepia again, and maybe one more round of highlight and wash if necessary.

I undercoated the various skulls with dark brown, washed with thinned ivory, washed with Devlan Mud, and drybrushed with unthinned ivory. I think I might drybrush again before doing another Devlan Mud wash, since the coverage didn’t end up like I wanted it to.

I also made some progress on the staff:

I am trying to emulate the color of a stick I found in a park near my home.

I will touch up the twine near the base, I was getting tired of detail work at the time, and then will wash with Devlan Mud. The green faces seemed like a good idea at the time, but I feel it’s getting to look a little like a bag of skittles, and I think I might repaint white and then wash the faces blue instead.

I am looking forward to finishing with the Crow, at the end.

August 8, 2010

WIP: Witchy Accents

by Nate Birkholz

When last I indulged in electronic narcissism related to my very meager painting skills, I had written at length about drybrushing the Old Witch’s cloak. (Wow, does that sound anti-climactic… Yet accurate.) I spent some more time with Zevanna Agha and a lot of little Italian bottles yesterday. Instead of my original plans for improving the cloak’s highlights, I mixed up some more of the white with the dark blue in it, and added in a lot of surfactant-treated water and VMC thinner to create a translucent glaze, then brushed it along all the peaks of the folds on her cloak. This was less translucent than I had hoped, and a bit brighter as well, and it ended up brighter than I expected, instead of the first of several coats to lighten the highlights as I had planned. I darkened down the mix and brushed in some more on surfaces that should catch less light, and to add secondary highlights in flatter areas. This is obviously the opposite order than it should have been, but so it goes.

This is better than before, at least.

The photos push the contrast which is a valuable method of checking my work. I take a lot of close-up photos and review them later since even with my magnifying glasses, it can be hard to see a lot of details, and adjusting the contrast on digital photos can really reveal some subtle variations.

A closer look...

The effect works acceptably well at normal viewing distance, but I’m still trying to figure out exactly what to do to really pull it together. As you can see, I also basecoated the sash and the bird skulls. I need to highlight the sash next, and then decide what I want to do with washes. I will try just washing with Citadel’s Baal Red, first, but I suspect I will end up wanting to mix some Badab Black with the Baal Red to tone down the brightness.

I also used Vallejo Verdigris on the copper pipes at the top of her boiler to give them an aged look. I’m satisfied with the results, though in my mind’s eye this was going to be the detail that really threw the model over the top (the copper doesn’t stand out well in these photos):

The Vallejo Verdigris thins out really well, better than the paint, even.

Finally, I added a few coats of red to her Scarf and basecoated her fur hood trim. The red on the scarf and sash took three coats before it was really ready, which is a common principle of working with red paint, I have noted over the years. I accidentally dabbed a little red on her face and had to touch it up, so I tried some highlights, but they were very obvious, so I washed with Citadel’s Ogryn Flesh to even it out. I feel like I should have had some more contrast to the bandage over her eye, the value is the same as her skin, which makes it get lost, but I’m not changing it now:

What's Khadoran for Babushka?

Next I will work on the sash and the babushka, then drybrush the fur trim.

August 6, 2010

Oh, Granny! What Big Claws You Have!

by Nate Birkholz

The second of my two primary choices for Khador warcaster is Zevanna Agha, The Old Witch of Khador. The Old Witch has a lot of tricks in her curious little bag, wielding a mix of denial, support, utility, and assassination/assault. The Old Witch automatically fields ScrapJack, the only light Warjack in the Khadoran forces and the only arcnode, at the cost of  Ol’ Witchy being tied for the lowest number of ‘Jack (or Beast) points in the game. She isn’t a particular ironmonger since her spell list has little in the way of direct support for her Battlegroup, and she has a lot of other uses for her focus than boosting attack and damage rolls.

You'll pardon me if I don't shake your hand...

Zevanna Agha’s story is compelling. She is described as one of the most powerful and mysterious entities in the setting. In fact, she’s such a badass she regularly beats face in other factions’ fluff. I have a fair bit of Russian/Slavic heritage, and have been fascinated with Baba Yaga ever since my mother first told me about her when I was a child: how very Slavic to have a seminal Fairy Tale figure who is so twisted, antagonistic, and emblematic all at once.

The mixed bag of Zevanna Agha’s abilities means there are a lot of ways to approach her lists. In general, however, she seems to benefit from a varied mix of heavy-hitting infantry, utility players, and ranged capability:

Army: Granny and the Bad Men
Type: Skirmish (1 caster, 35pts)
Points: 35
Zevanna Agha, the Old Witch of Khador (+3pts)
* Scrapjack (0pts)
* Decimator or Destroyer (9pts)
Great Bears of Gallowswood (5pts)
Greylord Ternion (Leader and 2 Grunts) (4pts)
Kayazy Assassins (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Kayazy Assassin Underboss (2pts)
Widowmakers (Leader and 3 Grunts) (4pts)
Widowmaker Marksman (2pts)
Manhunter (2pts)
Manhunter (2pts)

The Old Witch and ScrapJack can use Avatar of Slaughter to chainsaw through infantry, so she seems to demand troops able to crack hard targets, and the Great Bears are Khador’s signature crack dealers.  The Kayazy can spread roving death around the battlefield–especially with Weald Secrets giving them Pathfinder to reach their targets–and the Underboss makes the gang extra tricky; too bad about the really ugly Kayazy models, but I can get past that, I guess… The Greylord Ternion provide magic shotgun sprays, blizzard clouds for cover, and truly impressive beards. The Manhunters are self-sufficient masters of hunting solos, can gang up against stronger foes like ‘Jacks or Beasts, and are the cutest couple ever to have killed, eaten, skinned, and worn a wild animal. The Widowmakers and their Marksman add ranged support to shoot the faces that are about to be smashed by the melee forces.

Because Zevanna’s one battlegroup support ability “Augury” allows her ‘Jacks to ignore forests and cloud effects when determining Line of Sight, most often you see Warjacks with ranged attacks recommended for her lists. Despite the boards’ hatred for the Decimator, people who actually use the Deci’ seem to like it (rampant, pointless , theory-driven hatred? on the boards?), so I consider it a good option for this list as well as the Destroyer. While the big, bad Behemoth is almost universally recommended for the Old Witch’s battlegroup, I really dislike the Behemoth model, and it is absurdly expensive (in real-world terms), so I just can’t bring myself to add it to the list; maybe someday they will release a new sculpt in plastic or–even better–resin. I wish the model looked as phenomenal as the illustration in the Forces of… book.

I doubt most people will willingly give you the opportunity to use the Witch or ScrapJack to engage infantry, but that means you can position your units to control the flow of enemies on the board, and that’s a valuable trait, especially since Field of Talons and Murder of Crows allow Granny to give opponents further difficult choices for model placement. Some say she isn’t an assassination caster, and others say that she and Scrappy can take down Warcasters quite handily. I imagine that if she does manage to gorge herself on soul tokens, she can really make some obscene ‘Caster kills. In order to make that happen, I figure I could give the enemy some tougher choices:

Army: Granny and the Madmen
Type: Duel (1 caster, 35pts)
Points: 35
Zevanna Agha, the Old Witch of Khador (+3pts)
* Scrapjack (0pts)
* Decimator or Destroyer (9pts)
Great Bears of Gallowswood (5pts)
Doom Reavers (Leader and 5 Grunts) (6pts)
* Greylord Escort (2pts)
Kayazy Assassins (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Kayazy Assassin Underboss (2pts)
Widowmakers (Leader and 3 Grunts) (4pts)
Widowmaker Marksman (2pts)

The Doom Reavers, Great Bears, and Kayazy are a great way to divide an enemy’s attention between a rock, a hard place, and a bunch of crazy guys with nasty, sentient magic swords that want to eat your soul and remove you from the gene pool. The Greylord Escort really shores up one or two of the Doomies’ weaknesses (like trying to kill each other, for example); plus, the ‘Reavers don’t cost The Old Witch any Focus since they are immune to spells. Note that I could also trade a Spriggan or the Kayazy or a Kodiak for the Doom Reavers if I need to deal with bigger threats or harder targets, instead.

The utility of the Greylord Ternion and the roving threat of the Manhunters have been sacrificed in this list to add the ‘Reavers, and the lack of solos/small units (aside from the Widowmakers) means opponents can force me to overcommit point values to deal with their own solos.

Interestingly enough, none of Zevanna’s spells or abilities has the “Faction” keyword, so she plays nicely with Mercenary units: The Old Witch did quite well at the UK Masters Tournament running a very Mercenary-heavy list. This opens up the opportunity to incorporate wildcards like Alexia Ciannor and the Risen:

Army: Granny pays for it
Type: Duel (1 caster, 35pts)
Points: 35
Zevanna Agha, the Old Witch of Khador (+3pts)
* Destroyer (9pts)
Alexia Ciannor & the Risen (Alexia and 9 Risen Grunts) (5pts)
Cylena Raefyll & Nyss Hunters (Cylena and 9 Grunts) (10pts)
Greylord Ternion (Leader and 2 Grunts) (4pts)
Kayazy Assassins (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Kayazy Assassin Underboss (2pts)

I’d also consider rearranging this list to swap in a couple of units of Steelhead Halberdiers to tie up enemies and keep Alexia supplied with raw materials.

Unlike the Butcher of Khardov, I am having trouble really narrowing in on a truly signature approach to The Old Witch, though I definitely think I could reasonably start with the first list for simple accessibility before moving on to the second list or the third or exploring other options. Zevanna Agha has a variety of synergies that add up to unique opportunities, but she also seems to have a few vulnerabilities and weak spots. She presents an exciting challenge, but also potential frustration. Sounds like the foundation of a rewarding relationship…

Many thanks to OldOneEye for the avatar.

Here is the 15-point list I would start with (well, maybe I’d start with a Manhunter instead of the Underboss):

Army: Granny and the Bad Men
Type: Duel (1 caster, 15pts)
Points: 15
Zevanna Agha, the Old Witch of Khador (*3pts)
* Destroyer (9pts)
Kayazy Assassins (Leader and 5 Grunts) (5pts)
* Kayazy Assassin Underboss (2pts)
Widowmaker Marksman (2pts)