Tuesday 31 December 2019

A last minute update

I've been very slack updating the blog this year, though I've actually been more productive than ever with my hobby projects. Once again I find myself posting about models I painted and games I played a month or more back.

Having met my deadline of finishing my Sisters of Battle before the release of the new Codex and having spent the better part of a year working on nothing but Warhammer 40,000 models, I was desperate for a change. For years now I had wanted to have a go at a Wargame/RPG hybrid - something very story-based, with a small party of adventurers battling monsters and gaining experience. I have been slowly accumulating models and looking at rules, but nothing seemed to fit until I came across Rangers of Shadowdeep.

Rangers of Shadowdeep is set in a world that is slowly being consumed by a weird chaotic fog, called the Shadowdeep. The titular Rangers are tasked with investigating it. What makes it unusual is that its explicitly a co-operative or solo game in which you control a Ranger and their companions against monsters whose behaviour is determined by the scenario and a behaviour chart. It was written by Joseph A McCullough, who wrote Frostgrave, a game a little too similar to Mordheim to capture my interest, but that was well received by the Wargaming community at large.

The big draw for me was that it could be played with only a small number of models, all of which I could draw from my existing collection and it could be played on a very small table. So it was a good distraction from Warhammer 40,000 that wouldn't take up too much time. The basic rulebook includes four seperate Missions (in game terms a set of linked scenarios) so I could get the models together for the first, play them and then park the game until I wanted to play it again.

The term "Ranger" conjures up images of Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, but the Rangers are actually highly customisable. You can have a Warrior, Wizard or even Thief Ranger if you want. With that in mind I raided my collection and put together a motley crew of models from all different ranges to represent my Ranger and her companions.

I created a heavily-armoured Dwarven Ranger named Kyra Snorrisdottir, accompanied by the Paladin Merinda, a half-orc Ranger Shae, a Halfling Conjurer and Elf Rogue who work as travelling entertainers, Ashlynn and Norko and Kyra's faithful hound Beast. The models are from all different manufacturers, Reaper Bones, Heresy, Bad Squiddo, Wargames Illustrated and even GW (Beast is from Mordheim).

For their first mission the team investigated an apparently abandoned village in which one Ranger had already dissappeared. It turned out the village had been overrun by Zombies.

The scenario started pretty well, with the group splitting up to investigate and picking off Zombies as they did so. A sudden surge of Zombies left Shae dangerously isolated, but she held them off with her bow until help arrived in the form of Merinda and Norko.

In the second scenario the Companions tracked down the source of the infection - Giant Spiders whose venom turned people into Zombies. The team got bogged down for a while. Norko, having found a magic sword in the village, got over excited, charged a spider and got himself poisoned for his trouble. While poor beast got similarly poisoned defending Kyra.

But eventually Merinda, Ashlynn and Shae broke away and burned four of the Spiders treetop lairs, rescuing a captured villager in the process, while Kyra finished off the last.

So with my first Rangers or Shadowdeep mission complete did I return to the Blood Angels, the Death Guard or the Sisters of Battle? Or was I swept up with Rangers and carry on to the next mission?

Actually, it was something completely different.

This might seem like it came out of nowhere, but I have had a Tyranid battleforce (plus a couple of extra bits) sitting around since Warhammer 40,000 fourth edition. I even painted most of it, though they weren't anything close to my current standards. Games Workshop stoked my interest by releasing a really excellent Christmas Battle box. But its real draw for me was that it included 12 Termagents and 12 Hormagaunts. The old battle box had eight of each. Neither of these are viable units under the current rules, but adding them together gave me a nice, usable unit of 12 each.

Too good to ignore

The model above is a test of the colour scheme I plan to use. It's based on Hive Fleet Leviathan, who are the ones giving the Blood Angels a hard time. But, rather than use Games Workshop's very white flesh colours, I used Vallejo pale flesh with a shade of Carroburg Crimson and a highlight of pale flesh. I'm pretty happy with the results, though I have since added a second layer of highlights to the carapace edges. Currently, I have 10 nearly done.

This represents a bit of a change of direction for my hobby planning. A few years back I set the rule that I was only allowed to work on one project at a time and had to complete one before I started on another. But, at the time, I didn't have a clear sense of what a "project" was. I started by painting all my Bushido models, but allowed myself to stop when I played through the three scenario campaign I had been playing.

Since then, my projects have included a Warhammer Siege Campaign, a pair of armies for Beyond the Gates of Antares and a Shadow War campaign, which I used as an opportunity to get in some gaming while I painted my English Civil War models.

I think going forward I'm going to explicitly link a project to specific games I plan to play - not necessarily whole campaigns, just single games. Right now, I want to paint enough Tyranids to play a game against my Blood Angels or Death Guard. This will probably mean painting my old battle box and the new Christmas army box, so it should keep me busy for a while.

See you in the New Year, hopefully with plenty of pictures of bugs.

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