Monday, October 26, 2015

Blood Rage - Initial Thoughts

Last week I received a comfortably large box containing my blood rage kickstarter rewards. These arrived the day before Thursday gaming night, giving me a great opportunity to bring it out and play with the group. Since then I've also gotten 2 games in with my wife and feel pretty comfortable with a first look. As with most of my games, I'll wait until I get a solid half-dozen games in before reviewing it.


Cool Mini or Not (CMoN) kickstarters are known for delivering enough miniatures to be nearly disturbing in the volume. Blood Rage does not deliver as many mini's as Zombicide, but still put 84 models on my table. This does not include the very nifty kickstarter exclusive 3D tokens that replace the cardboard counters in the game. All of this was delivered in a single box for the core game, plus 7 additional boxes of various sizes for the expansions. These additional boxed (I'll post pictures with the full review) look like retail release boxes, although considering all the extra's are labeled Kickstart Exclusive they would not normally have a retail release.

This is probably an appropriate place to talk about the kickstarter length for delivery. Overall I am very satisfied with this kickstarter. The communication was acceptable between the end of the campaign and delivery and the shipping was tracked, with notification once the box was in the US shipping system. Original anticipated delivery was September 2015 and I recieved my box and the full compliment of backer rewards mid-October. The only portion of this that was a bit frustrating was CMoN selling the core game (no kickstarter exclusives) at Gencon. This meant I had to watch people who picked up the core game at Gencon play the game for ~2 months prior to my getting my copy.


Blood Rage met my expectations in terms of quality, both on the board and the models. I was expecting the models to be the same material and level of detail as Zombicide models, which they are. The board is a very nice quad-fold board made of a solid material that should hold up well under repeated play. The rules for the game were very easy to read and understand, letting us quickly jump into playing the game while making it quick to search for answers when questions arose. Additionally the game was simple enough that after a single read-through I was able to quickly teach the game to my wife, who picked it up after just a single game. The simplicity of the rules is an excellent sign of solid game design when compared against the depth of tactics and strategy in the game.

Initial Overall Thoughts

I'm enjoying playing Blood Rage, and everyone who's played so far seems to have enjoyed it as well. During our game night we had 2 players form outside our group ask to join us, both having anticipated the game and not had a chance to play. All 4 of us enjoyed our game and picked things up very quickly. The only area that things seemed a bit unbalanced was not drafting our "Gifts of the Gods" cards on turn 1. During the game your supposed to draft these cards but the recommendation is to not do so during the first turn of the first game (to give you a chance to learn about the cards themselves).

Blood Rage plays quickly, clocking in at approximately 30 - 45 minutes with experienced players. I do think the game is better with the expanded selection of Kickstarter Exclusive monsters, adding some really good choices to the game. The exclusive models more than double the monster choices in the game, adding many additional abilities, tactics, and strategies to the game. I'm not sure what CMoN's plans are, but I would hope that alternate retail sculpts for each of these models end up available for sale at a later date.

As mentioned, I enjoyed the game and look forward to playing more.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Rambling about the Huzzah Hobbies Guild Ball Fall Scrimmage event

I spent some time last week talking about my return to a game champion role (in this case a Pundit) along with a bit of venting over my frustration getting support from my local store. I want to return a bit to that post with an after action discussion on how my event went last weekend.

I'll start out by saying the event was a smashing success. I am very thankful to Huzzah Hobbies for letting us use the space in the store for the event. Even being pushed to the "back room", we ended up taking over half the room with Guild Ball games. That right, we ended up with approximately 20 people coming by during the day to demo and play Guild Ball, with 9 of those being brand new converts to the game. I ended up running numerous demo games all afternoon and at one point we had 7 concurrent games of Guild Ball running.

The Demo

We had a couple people come through during the day who already had a team they owned (although they had not played a game yet) or had an idea of the team's they wanted to try. I made a decision to limit the demo's to Fishermen and Butchers, using the demo cards. I think the only part I missed in my preparation was printing out a set of Quick Start rules for people to reference and take away with them. I'll do that in the future.

I had some beautifully painted Fishermen and Butchers to put on the table, so the demo player got to use actual models. In place of the recommended 2x2 table for demoing, I used the full 3x3 field giving players a full experience. Players used the demo cards from the quick start rules, plus played to 6 points, giving the ball to Ox for kick-off and using the standard quick-start demo set-up.

I was especially pleased that my daughter jumped into a demo early in the day. Not only did she enjoy the game but then she came back later in the day and had convinced another players daughter to try a demo as well (picture to the right). I've since received reports that Dad and Daughter are doing well and daughter is rabidly digging through the Guild Ball story to find a team that appeals to her. As for my daughter, she preferred the Butchers to the Fishermen and is looking forward to our next game. In her words "Scoring goals is boring..... well more boring than beating people up!". Oh no... what have I done?

Games Played

There were two ideas I combined into the Fall Scrimmage event. The demo's were important but equally important was some casual play for both new and experienced Guild Ball players. I really liked the idea of combining these two aspects because new players who just got a demo can jump directly into playing some games. Too often I've experienced demo days where a new player gets a demo then walks away, often to buy a team but does not return immediately to play games. Combining the casual play with the demos gave new players an opportunity to jump right in and reinforce what they learned in the demo. It also kept the energy up and showed new players there was a lot of interest in this new game. I was also able to keep an eye on the games and match-make players for new games, keeping everyone playing different players and teams where possible.

I faced a challenge on two fronts in relation to the match-making/casual play. First, new players who just received a demo don't have teams to play. Second, Guild Ball is new in our community so many people only have a single team.  I solved this by producing a double set of cards and paper-dolls/standees for all 8 teams currently in the game. This provided a great opportunity for players to try out teams they were interested in and check out how they played. It also gave those players without teams the ability to grab some standees and play some games. It really worked out well and was very much worth the effort in putting these together.

We had a fantastic turn-out of players during the day and everyone seemed to have a really good time. There were a ton of games being played and all the guilds were represented on at least one table during the day. I even got to take a spin against the Engineers at the end of the day, my second game facing them.

Game Mats

I want to take a moment to talk a bit about game mats for Guild Ball. Thank you very much to local Guild Ball pundit Maurice, who brought out some additional mats for games. Without his help we would have been short a couple spaces for people to play. We had a couple copies of the official Guild Ball mat, specifically the full field design. This mat looks fantastic and the neoprene material makes it an absolute pleasure to play on. Anyone who has not picked one up yet I recommend these highly.

 We also had two different mats from Mat's by Mars. These are vinyl mats, but also very nice and work incredibly well as both secondary mats and more economical primary mats. I absolutely recommend them as well, and plan to pick up more as I broaden my collection to support larger events.

I do not have a copy of the proving ground official mat, which is the one that marks out both a 3x3 and 2x2 field. After running the demo's over the weekend I am considering picking one up for future demo's, but only when I plan to run the smaller demo's on a 2x2 board.

Photography and Models

We were particularly privileged to have an amateur photographer stop by for a demo game and to hang out. He brought his fancy camera with him and grabbed some great pictures of models and games during the day. I was particualy pleased to see that when I get someone with a good camera who knows what they're doing, my models actually look pretty good:

Beyond that I thought I'd share some of the other pictures he took:

Monday, October 19, 2015

Guildball - Union Team Review

I've been playing with the Union team for several weeks now and feel I have a good handle on them and how they work together. I thought this was a good time to review my second Guild Ball team and share what I've learned. I'll again refer people over to Docbungle at Miniature Musing's of the Bear and his character write-ups, found using the Team Talk tag. He has also handled Union already, without the overall team review.

Union Team Overview

The Union has been billed as the "Dirty Tricks" team from early in the kickstarter, and earns that reputation in the story of the game. On the table I can see how they live up to that reputation, although I think they obtain it in a unique fashion. I find that the Union is similar to the Masons, where the team functions as a machine built upon the player components used to build it. Union teams can be built to operate in a number of different ways, each of which approach winning a game of guild ball in thier own way.

The variety of choices within the Union combined with the large number of players makes the Union one of the more difficult teams to fully grasp on the table. It's possible to put together a Union team that can dish out nearly as much damage as the Butchers, then play a different union lineup in your next game which scores goals and maneuvers nearly as fast as the Fishermen. It's possible to play a game with a lineup that dishes out up to 3 different conditions in a turn (Bleed, Poison, Knockdown), and also leaves clouds of smoke on the table to provide cover. The magic to the Union comes with deciding which tactic to take then insert the requisite team members to build out a team to deliver.

One of the largest differences I see between the Union and other guild teams is how it approaches synergy. On other teams the players tend to have abilities that combine together to strengthen one or two players on the team. This creates strong combo's across a whole team, where each team's player combined to form a greater than the sum result. The union is exactly the sum of it's parts (players). I find combinations of plays within the union are fairly straight forward additions of each individual player to reach a desired result. On most teams there are lynch pin players who can be taken out to break apart a strong combo, but those players are often tough to get to, or tough to take out. The Union suffers from a situation where each player contributes exactly what they contribute, minimizing the risk of a lynch pin player, but reducing the overall team effectiveness as players are taken out. There is not really a quick drop of a set of plays stopping to work, but a gradual weakening of the entire teams play style.

This effect of an overall weakening vs lynch pin play can be a boon and a curse for union players. In a situation where the union player knows the roles of each of his models intricately it becomes very tough to stop that player from achieving his/her goals. There is not really a place to maximize efforts to reduce that players success in the game, but you have to wear them down over the whole game. In the converse situation where the player is not yet familiar with what their team does, the whole team will not work well. The Union team becomes clumsy and each of the model's can tend to get in the way of each other, hampering a final positive result of play combinations.

Let's take a look at the individual players and their roles on the field.


The team captain for the Union is one nasty character to tangle with. Here we have a Pirate Captain turned Mercenary King turned Guild Ball captain, who holds his own with dirty tricks on the field. Blackheart has abilities that give him very good mobility while also bringing a great sword to play for beating down his opponents. His playbook is interesting, with very light contributions at low levels of success, and incredible momentous plays with 5 and 6 successes.  He can really dish out the damage if he can get the hits, with all of his 5 & 6 success plays combining damage with another effect such as Tackle, Knockdown, or dodges. Blackheart also have the Commanding Aura play, allowing him to raise an aura which buffs the damage and TAC of other players on his team. I spoke about his role in the Union Brute squad in an earlier article on this blog.


I can make the argument that Coin is functionally the best mascot in the game. He may not be the best sculpt or the most fun with his rules, but he makes the most significant contribution of any mascot in Season 1. Coin has a trait (Bag of Coffers) that allows him to give a model on the team (including himself) one additional influence plus a single free use of Bonus Time once per turn. He only needs to be within 4 inches of the target model, and can do this at no cost during his turn. This is an amazing ability that is only restricted from Blackheart and Rage within the team (due to Blackheart being a captain and Rage's Maverick). Additionally, Coin has a really good move stat along with a 2 inch reach, making him a real threat to players on the table.


Rage is arguably one of my favorite players in the game, not just on the Union team. I started out liking his sculpt but favoring other models in the game. The more I use Rage in the Union and other teams the more I like him overall. Here I will discuss his play's in relation to the Union team as a whole. Rage is incredibly influence efficient, combining free charges with furious and free attacks with berserk.  This means Rage can use his single influence to reliably pump out 4 attacks a turn, most of which will produce momentum when used. Berserk only gives a free attack upon damage, so the first and third hit Rage does will always include some sort of damage in order to maximize his abilities, and most of his damage plays produce momentum. Added in, Rage causes the bleed condition on models, leaving behind a reminder why he is a nasty character to deal with. Check out the previously linked Union Brute Squad article for a discussion on how he works best.


Decimate is a lot of fun to use, finding her way into two different Union play styles overall. Decimate has some really good movement stats and abilities (Second Wind) which combine with her mid-field (3/6") kick stat to make her a contributor to a Union scoring team. She also has a playbook which becomes downright scary when combined with abilities that increase damage, such as Blackheart's Commanding Aura. Decimate truly shines as a momentum generator, easily producing one momentum per influence and occasionally able to produce 2 per influence spent. The only challenge I find with Decimate on a team is she needs a lot of influence to make her excel, often looking for 3 and 4 influence from the team pool. This influence is always well spent, but limits the activities the rest of the team will take. In this way Decimate moves the Union team to resemble other teams where multiple models are grouped together to super-buff a single model to achieve results. That tends to be counter to Union game success.


Gutter seems to be the most hated player in Guild Ball currently. I am not sure she deserves the amount of bile she draws, but she is a very good player. In Gutter we have the third member of the Union Brute Squad, along with some very useful abilities. Gutter has a good move and kick, allowing her to contribute to a football scoring team, although she really shines for damage dealing. Scything Blow lets her trigger one of the very few plays that affect multiple models and push out at least 3 damage to all targets. Her high TAC plus ability to heal when damaging AND ignore armor make her a real threat on the field.  Finally she brings Chain Grab, an ability to reposition enemy models to locations that better suit the needs of the Union. All of this combined make her a high priority target for other teams to hate and take out.


 Mist is also climbing the charts as one of the more hated models in the game. Mist is the Union striker, along with clocking in as one of the best strikers in the game. I've written my soap-box stance on if Mist is overpowered in an earlier article, and will not rehash it here. Mist brings high movement and strong goal scoring to the table as any striker should. He can quickly reposition where he is and fills the role of striker exceptionally. This means that he only threatens on that axis of the game, bringing nothing useful for combat and damage dealing. Mist does his job well and only his job. I like to have Mist included on all my union teams, as he adds another threat component to my damage dealing Union which my opponent needs to contend with.


Hemlocke is the single player in Guild Ball that I could support an argument portraying her as "broken" or "not working as intended". Hemlocke is the only player with a natural 6 defense, making her incredibly resilient. She brings some intriguing and "out of the box" abilities to the team, applying conditions, hobbling the opposing models, and having a good movement and moderate kick for goal scoring.  Overall it appears that Hemlocke was a collection of moderate abilities which were all cool, that all grouped together to becomes far more than was intended. She looks like a behind the lines player who can buff/debuff/harass players. She ended up being a player who can sit inside a scrum nearly untouchable and move the ball to score while completely hamstringing opposing players. The only thing Hemlocke is clearly bad at is dealing damage, although even on this side her ability to dish out poison makes her a secondary threat.


Snakeskin brings an intriguing "sideways" playstyle to the  Union, earning her a key place on the team. She is an overall defensive player, scaling her defense with abilities such as Charmed Male, Nimble, and Clone. She is another mid-range movement and ball handling player, contributing the the Union scoring team. She also brings along an easy application of poison to enemy players. These abilities combine to create a very versatile "swing" player on the field, able to withstand enemy focus and quickly disengage after dealing some damage.

Avarrisse & Greede

Avarrisse and Greede are the only player in the game who brings two players in a single model. This is not only unique from a modelling perspective, but also the particular play ability that you are going to include them on a team for. A&G are also the only Union player that can play for every guild in the game. At the start of every turn, A&G can choose to separate into 2 players who each bring influence and an activation to the team. This means that the Union could achieve 7 players to activate on the field, guaranteeing them the ability to out activate their opponent.  In the event that the two are separated and in base contact during a maintenance phase, they can choose to recombine to a single player and model and moving forward as a single choice. Avarrisse is a "big player", bringing a low defense but a load of wounds to the table. Conversely, Greede is a small model who's hard to hit but only has 4 total wounds before being taken out. Greede, once taken out, cannot be returned to play. Greede can only be taken out while separate from Avarrisse however, providing him protection from VP hunters. There are a number of tactics that can be employed with this player, none of which are direct or easy to walk through. Success in using A&G comes down to putting in a fair bit of time to learn how to use him and get the best use from them on the table.


Big and ugly and the model I like least in the entire game of Guild Ball. I have read several comments from other players on how much they love the Fangtooth sculpt. Overall he has been my least favorite sculpt in the game, but that's personal taste for you. Fangtooth has earned a reputation of being a "not so good" choice for union teams. He brings an aura that creates slow terrain, but it affects his own team. He has the most wounds in the game but no armor and a low defense.  His heroic play buffs him but damages his own team. All of these make him a tough model to play with on the team. Fangtooth also brings some of the easiest Knockdown results to the Union, along with some real damage dealing potential. He is resilient along with being able to generate momentum on some key playbook plays only he has easy access to. Overall I believe Fangtooth is a very situationally good player, who is a moderate choice in some situations and a very good choice in others. I do not see where he is a bad choice once you learn how to avoid his "gotcha" plays. Considering that, he is one of the few "gotcha" choice players in the game.


I'd like to be able to talk about Mynx, but I have not assembled or played her yet. She is in my queue of models to build and paint. Once that's done I'll be getting her on the table to try out.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Return to Championing a Game

I have an event coming up this Saturday. If everyone reading this would kindly engage some type of transportation to wander over to Ashburn VA and attend it I would really appreciate it!!! Come one, Come all, check out the new game Bill is passionate about!!!

The written word is not always clear, so I'll clarify and say that the above is somewhat sarcastic. (but only somewhat). I find myself feeling like a carnival barker from time to time when it comes to the "Game Champion" aspect of my gaming hobby. After a nearly 2 year break I'm back out there working to run events for a specific game system and build up a "community" to play a single game.

How did I get here?

It seems like I've had this urge to build up a gaming group in me since I started gaming. In high school I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons by my best friend. He lived in a different town and had been introduced by a group in his school and thought it was a cool game. He ran me on a couple adventures to show me the game and I absolutely loved it. Unfortunately this was in the 80's, a period where parents and society was convinced D&D would literally brain wash you into worshiping the devil and commit suicide. My parent's adamantly refused to allow me to play the game, which resulted in me playing it anyway and hiding it from my parents. I ended up gathering together a group of friends at school and running elaborate adventures as the party DM.

Fast forward 15 years to when I had a full time job, a house, a family, and lots of adult responsibilities. I find myself reinvigorating my love for coordinating groups and now the internet let's me reach out and pull together an extensive D&D group and start playing. At this point I'm not only planning and executing on full day adventures for my small group, but also coordinating a small variety of outings that we can all enjoy, things like the local Renaissance fair and such. Out of this group I had friends who introduced me to Games Workshop miniature games and started the transition to tabletop mini-wargaming.

My miniature fixation started slow, edging into Warhammer 40K and putting together armies. I started building and learning about the game and just playing here and there with my D&D friends. This expanded slowly into the other mini-gamers they knew, and short forays to the local GW stores. At some point along the line I realized I wanted a bit more and I started to search out local gaming clubs. This search led to me beginning to coordinate small events, then spending time in both GW stores and local non-GW game stores building up a "community". I ran demo's, championed the game to people playing other games, coordinated painting events, and even helped coordinate tournaments. Through this time I expanded into Warhammer Fantasy Battles and even dipped my toes into War of the Ring. I even started a podcast during this time, expanding my reach of community broadly. I did this even though I was constantly frustrated by the fact I could not get support from GW in building these communities and coordinating events.

Eventually I fell out of love with GW backed games and moved to skirmish games. My first skirmish game was Malifaux, which for a while became an all-encompassing passion from a gaming standpoint. Malifaux and Wyrd Miniatures provided a vehicle to push my love of building communities via their henchman program. Here was a way for me to do what I was already doing but also gain some benefits for myself in terms of free product. I found myself in a situation where there was already a small group of people in my area playing Malifaux, but it was not a mainstream game by any imagining. There was already a henchman in the area but he was not very active and the game was very new and had not really made dent yet. I grabbed the reigns and started driving toward building a major center of players within the US for Malifaux. I believe that many of the parts that composed the first edition of the game represented some of the best and most innovative game design up to that point. This made it easy to be passionate about the game, and that passion helped in expanding the player base and growing a full community.

I delved deeper into community building and championing a game during my Malifaux Classic era than with any game previously. Wyrd changing to M2E, my dislike for many of the M2E design decisions, and the personal conflict that arose at the same time set me thinking that level of involvement with a game, game community, and game company was a bad choice. Perhaps if I build my own game that level of passion and commitment will pay off but investing that heavily in something I'm not directly part of driving the direction of is never going to pay off. It will just end up badly.

Here we are

OVer the past 2 years I've wandered through a number of new games, waiting for something to catch my attention. I always thought, in the back of my mind,  I was looking for "that game". I truly thought "that game" was just a primary game I would be passionate about playing. I discovered that game with Guild Ball, a mini-wargame that's edging out Wrath of Kings (my other current mini-wargame) for a couple reasons. Although I was excited to play Guild Ball, and recording a podcast dedicated to it, I did not expect I would end up championing the game. Then I was asked to demo the game for some of the members of my old Malifaux group.

Demo'ing the game lit up a portion of my brain which had been dormant for a fair while. There is something exciting about delivering a good demo that is exciting. Not only did I watch 2 new players (the demo ended up being for 2 new folk) learn and get excited for the game, but I also felt how passionate I was for the game. My own excitement comes through in the demo and becomes infectious, helping to energize the people receiving the demo and getting them excited as well.

I was resistant for a little bit longer to become a Guild Ball Pundit, the name they assign to their game champions. In the end I decided it made sense, as I would get access to additional support for expanding the game in my local area. Now I'm starting to mull over ideas for growing a new group centered around a new game. Here is where my current frustration comes in.

During my time as the local champion of Malifaux a friend opened a local gaming store. I was excited for him and encouraged him to bring Malifaux into the store as one of the game lines he carried. I spent time building the community and Malifaux was one of the primary games played in the store until I stopped championing it. Even with my departure from the Malifaux scene, it has persisted in a largely scaled down presence, continuing to sell small amounts despite no one playing it publicly. Over the past 2 years this local store has brought in some other games (Relic Knights, Infinity, etc) which have not done well in the store. I even coordinated a couple play days for Wild West Exodus at the store, where the owner was able to get a couple orders although he never chose to carry the line. Over this time I chose not to step behind building a community around other games. War Machines and Hordes had a community champion and it has grown tremendously.

So, here I am deciding to step behind a new game as the game champion and begin to build out a community. Guild Ball does not have US distribution, which is a challenge, but it appears (from looking at other stores) that the Guild Ball guys are pretty reasonable about working with US stores at this time. I have an event coming up this Saturday but it's not on the store calendars. I'm frustrated because I would have thought my local store would give me more support. I decided to start out "small", not jumping straight into a tournament or league but instead focusing on Demo's and casual play for the first event. We've been bumped once for another event (no hard feelings there, Star Wars Armada is a big deal in our store), and then bumped to the "back room" because of a 40K event on the same day. Amusingly, we have as many people commited to the Guild Ball event as showed up for the last 40K RTT at the store. If even half of the "maybe's" show up we'll double the turn-out for the last 40K event.

Overall I'm just a bit grumpy about how things have gone so far. I am excited for this game and excited to put my energy into building a gaming community around it. I am nervous that I won't have support from my local game store. This frustrates me because I want to support my friend and my local game store. I need to remember I'm not running the store and it's not my game, so I need to pull back a bit and not get overly invested here.

Anyway, if you've made it this far and want to join us this Saturday, please do. I'll be at Huzzah Hobbies in Ashburn VA doing demo's of Guild Ball and coordinating Guild Ball games all day.

Here's the facebook invite:
Here's the player pack:

Huzzah Fall Scrimmage
11am - 6pm
44927 George Washington Blvd, Ste. 135
Ashburn VA 20147

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Snapshots and updates

It's been a really strong 9 week run to date with two posts a day. I'm certainly back in the swing of blogging but I've started to run close to my backlog of scheduled posts. I foresee some point in the next couple weeks where the content here will drop down to the originally planned single post per week. This could happen as soon as next week, depending on how this week goes.

That said, I'm still moving along with a second post this week. I wanted to share some of the additional model's I've painted up since the last post. I'm spending my time currently split between painting Guild Ball and painting Super Dungeon Explore.

Guild Ball

On the Guild Ball front, to date I've completed painting up all my Brewers, Masons, and Union models. That is to say all my Union models minus one, Mynx, who's making her way onto my painting table this week. I've already posted pictures of my Union and Masons with the team reviews, which savvy readers will have picked out. I just completed my Brewers and will be sharing the individual model pictures with readers when I do the team review for them. I expect that will be in a couple weeks once I've had a chance to play a half-dozen games and feel comfortable with them. For the time being, here's a team shot to show off:

Super Dungeon Explore

On the SDE front I've been powering through new models at a much higher pace. I'm working on getting my Von Drakk set painted up so I have all the models I need for a Haloween game we'll be playing at our party. I have a fair bit to go but have been doing ok on progress.

First I worked on finishing up my set of dragons from the 1st edition starter set.

Following that I knocked out another couple heroes before setting in on my Von Drakk baddies:

The Von Drakk stuff has been coming along steadily, although I still have the big set's of multiple models do paint up (skeletons, armored skeletons, skull bats).

I broke out some time during my elite minion painting to knock out a couple mini-bosses I needed to complete:

And of course I made time to paint up the Boss and his shapeshift form as well.

I might regret not saving them for last, but I doubt it overall. I'm keeping my fingers crossed I'll be able to power through the minions and creeps with time to paint up the full Stilt Town Zombies box as well.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Painting Tutorial - Guild Ball Brewers player Stave

I thought this would be a fun article to share with readers, although I am going to provide a big disclaimer at the beginning. I paint to achieve a table top standard, and am by no means a top painted. I've had lots of conversations with top painted such as Jay and Convy, and realize where my painting skills fall short. Considering that, if this tutorial helps you then I am happy to share. If you find ways to incorporate what I did here and improve upon it, please share as I am interested in new techniques!


I was browsing the painted models section of the Guild Ball forums and came across a wonderful post by Hobbybutterfly. In this post he  walked through painting up one of the Union team players, Fangtooth. He used a technique which I found to be intriguing, where he started the skin with a base coat of red instead of a flesh color. I typically start with a darker flesh tone then highlight with a lighter flesh tone when I'm painting skin, so the idea of starting with another base color blew my mind a bit. I liked the way his Fangtooth looked in the pictures so tried the same technique for my own. I did not leave as much red showing in the recesses of the skin, but was really happy with how the colors worked out. I felt that it gave a nice red tint to the skin tone along with really bringing out the bruises and cuts on Fangtooth.

Keeping this in mind I decided to use a similar route for my Brewers. Looking across the Brewers team there is a fair bit of skin with lots of bruises and bandages on the players arms, chests, and backs. Keeping in mind the theme of the team, I thought it would also be a good choice to stray a bit more toward purple, hoping to provide a deeper bruise coloring but also reflect the ruddy "I'm a drunk" look the Brewers deserve. The only model I will refrain from starting with a base red is Friday, where I plan to stick to my typical darker skin/lighter skin theme.

I decided to go ahead and put together a little photo-essay of my painting on the big guy, Stave, for the blog. All my paints for this (with one exception) are P3 paints for anyone trying to reference them. On the primer, I use a matte grey automotive primer to prime my models as I find it's very cost effective ($6 a can), has great spray control, and is actually fairly thin so I don't lose detail.

Step 1 - Base Coats

I start out by applying the base coats for all of my colors. I am a bit of an inconsistent painter overall, not always following through with each stage/layer together, but often putting down multiple layers on an area before moving to another. (i.e. I'll finish up the cloth before moving to the skin, etc) In almost all situations I tend to put down my base coats together to block out what colors I'll use while painting a model.

On Stave you can see that I left a couple areas primer grey and did not paint those up until I did the final details on the model. Specifically the bandages/cloth wrapping Stave's wrists and the eye-bolts on his wrists. I ended up painting those on my final detail pass (as you'll see below.

Base Coat paints
  • Cloth = Rucksack Tan
  • Skin = Sanquine Highlight
  • Wood = Bloodstone
  • Leather = Boostrap Leather
  • Belt = Umbral Umber 

Step 2 - Mid-tones

I let the base coats dry on the model before moving onto laying down the mid-tones. This step is where I begin to apply a lighter/brighter color of paint to the model to create shadows and depth by applying over the base coats.  While painting the skin I tried to paint around the cuts, leaving the purple/red showing so that it would come through as a bruise or cut. I left a bit of a wider area than I wanted to end with, then used a clean brush to "push" the edges of the paint I just applied toward the center of the bruise, "feathering" the edges a bit. The effect is a bit hard to see in the pictures, and I'm honestly not sure how well it comes out at the end. I went back and reapplied sanguine highlight to any bruises or cuts that I inadvertently painted over during this step.

Mid Coat
  • Cloth = Moldy Ochre
  • Skin = Khardic Flesh
  • Wood = Blood Tracker Brown
  • Leather = Gun Corp Brown

Step 3 - Washes

I discovered washes years ago when GW brought out their initial line of Citidel washes. I have to admit that washes are one of the tricks I learned ot use early, not only to make my model look better with only a little effort (by bathing the model in a wash) but also as a technique to strengthen and provide depth to my colors. I apply washes after my mid tones to help blend together the base (shadow) and mid, and also to provide a bit more depth to the shadow. This also changes the mid-tone color a bit, sometimes allowing me to go back and highlight with the same mid-tone color, causing an easier transition.

  • Cloth = (Citadel) Seraphim Sepia
  • Skin = Flesh Wash
  • Wood = Brown Ink
  • Leather = Brown Ink 

Step 4 - Highlights

Applying the highlights is where I start to get a bit frustrated when I'm painting a model. Typically my process is to apply my base coats and then go do something with another model while I wait for the base coats to dry. This happens fairly quickly and I can then move onto mid-tones and washes. Applying the washes while the mid-tones are not completely dry is not a bad thing, as it provides a bit of blending if you do it carefully. This actually helps the overall look of the model so I can move through those two steps fairly quickly. I have not had the same results applying my highlights while the wash is still wet. This means I have to wait longer for my washes to dry (frustrating) before applying my highlights. Then, the highlight step is where the model really starts moving to being finished, but I want to rush to get to the final detail step and be done. 

Considering that, you can see where I've gone through and painted the high points of the models. I'm really looking for the top edge of creases on the cloth and muscle ridges on the skin. I blend a bit closer to the depth's on the skin to even out the overall skin tone along with covering most of the flat areas of the leather pants, leaving the depths and stitching colored by the wash, mid, and base coats.

  • Cloth = Rucksack Tan
  • Skin = Khardic Flesh
  • Leather = Gun Corp Brown

Step 5 - Final details

During this step I go back and give the model all the final details I have not yet covered. In the case of Stave I add in the Tartan, cloth bandages, metal eye-hooks, beer foam, and facial hair. I also give it a once over and touch up any areas I may have caused a mess on while painting the highlights. I did notice after completing and photographing this step that I had missed his patches and the stitching on his tartan, which I went back afterwards and touched up.

I want to also thank my Guild Ball Tonight cohost Phil for providing a great video on painting Tartan on these models. The Tartan pattern I used follows his technique in the following video.

I hope that you've enjoyed this tutorial and that it inspires some ideas for you to go and paint up your own models.