Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Ballads of War 2x01-2x05

There we go again! I'm having some busy days, but I'll try to get back to routine with the comic.

First thing is that I have no cover for Volume 2 :/ I prefer doing covers when the whole thing is done, so I can find a better and accurate composition with the actual content instead of my previous expectations of what I'm about to draw.
But I had an introductory text, just in the same fashion of the one for Vol. 1, some kind of metanarrative to get the reader in context.

So, with no more mumblings, I leave you with that text and the first pages of Vol. 2. There we go!

Treating the Wars of the Hammer as an unitary, single event would be of course a mistake. The wars took place in enormously distant places, and very different characters had their role in them, giving shape to a series of events in which one cannot see an unifying thread in many occasions. It is for sure the presence of Beronis what gives coherence to the overall scheme [...] Though Historicus Allan Baalzenbergis includes the naval battle over Lausor between the Imperial Fleet and the Tau Navy as the first of the encounters that conform the Wars of the Hammer, and he does so with relevant arguments, it would look more prudent (and there is more consensus on it) to consider that the triggering events of all that happened later were unleashed on Itabirion [...].

Itabirion was colonised and terraformed most surely before the coming of the Imperium, as it appears in a chronicle of the Great Crusade as a crossing point of the Divine Emperor, though there is no reference to any relevant event [...]. The Adeptus Mechanicus took real political control over Itabirion in the very early stages, and always kept extense areas of the planet under strict quarantine, claiming tectonic activity and high levels of radiation, which was consistent with that world's geologic structure, though, as it was discovered later on, it was no more than an excuse to keep a certain area free of undesired presence. Undoubtly, the accident that resulted in the explosion of the ziggurat-factory of Sicar, the planetary capital, in 569.m39, also destroyed the archives that recorded the actual reason for the quarantine. The Mechanicus teams sent centuries later, certifying that there was no tectonic activity nor radiation, begun a true new colonisation of the planet all over the unexplored areas [...]. It was the discovery of the place in question what unchained all the events. It is under the light of posterior events how one can understand the confusing convergence of such unalike forces struggling on an uncharted location and which, in the end, conformed the first incident that turned into some totally unexpected results from the beginning...

From 'A Study of the So Called Wars of the Hammer'
Historicus Naevius Maro.
Imperial Library. 982.M41

As you can see, the introductory text serves as a link between both Volumes. It provides a plausible explanation to the question of how the hell is it possible for a damn mausoleum to exist on the surface of an Imperial planet since the times of the Great Crusade without nobody knowing.

Regarding the pages themselves, I guess the main focus is on the Biel-Tan Craftworld. It is bulkier than I pretended, less elegant than it should have been, I'm afraid. If you paid attention, it's the same Craftworld we saw in the flashback when the Harlequin told Vix about the race of the Eldar. By that time I didn't know of the Jes Goodwin illustration, or else I would have taken that path:

Anyway, what's done is done. The double splash in pages 2-3 serves the same purpose that the hive city in Vol. 1, a striking image to make you feel small (You know, the universe is a big place and, whatever happens, you will not be missed and all that stuff). Scale is a thing in Warhammer 40,000, I guess. We begin with a flashback of the memories of the High Farseer Ellinderelion. My intention for each volume in the series was to always begin them with an oniric element. The first one was a nightmare, this was a flashback. Next one would have been a divination (using the Imperial Tarot, a long time lore reference but totally underrepresented item; I was even on the process of designing the whole deck). I also had a performance of the Eldar myths by the Harlequin troupe, maybe the story of the Dark Angels told in a flashback as a new member enters the Inner Circle, a Blood Angel succumbing to the Red Thirst... all of them with some touches of my own, in the way you have already seen before.

I digress. The relevant thing about this flashback is the casting of Eldar Seer Stones, something I had always wanted to represent in a comic since I first read that story from the 2nd Ed Rulebook (I guess it may had been published somewhere earlier, but that's the first time I saw it and got me totally hooked). I used some of the same stones that appear there and I made up some others. It all serves the purpose of focusing our attention on the story since the beginning and giving us some perspective from the Eldar side, as they have a main role in all the things to happen. Ellinderelion will be the lead first person narrator in this chapter, just as Brent was in Vol. 1.

Not much else for today, let's just see how this unfolds. I got up to 30 pages of Vol. 2, plus page #31, which is just the pencils. I'll be scanning and preparing them all until I run out of them. I hope you enjoy them!

Monday, 10 July 2017

Not Portobello Road Market

I had the idea of a tiny market for my urban board for quite a long time in my head, but it hasn't been until now that I've been able to turn it into a real thing. My most obvious choice were the stands by Micro Art, from their Wolsung range, which are lovely.

I painted them in the gritty, dirty style of my whole board:

The two smaller stands, in all their rusty glory
I started with the big one. I converted it into a spice market/food vendor stand. I used some greenstuff to represent mounds of spice into the boxes provided, and also sculpted some exotic or alien vegetables and stuff.

Looks clean and trustworthy
I also had an idea to add more variety. Edible variety. Well, as edible as these things can get in Rogue Trader, ahem. Just a little greenstuff turns into...

Space cuttlefish!
With a couple of spare MDF gears from another kit, a few staples and a button I built a cage that would be hanging from the stand:

Yummy yummy
So this is the other side:

Hmm, I still have some room for some hanging pickles
For the two smaller stands, I sacked the bitsbox. I turned one of them into a salvaged military equipment stall:

Blood from previous owners has been cleaned up from all pieces
I did quite the same thing for the other stand, but with salvaged low-tech equipment instead of military gear:

All the equipment the modern adventurer needs
You may remember that, for more forbidden stolen specialised gear, you may want to visit Mama Balaklava's, a fine place for the gentle adventurer who would like to avoid undesired Imperial entanglements. This is more a modest place, but also serves its purpose.

The final touch. I got these jars from Fenris Games. Sweet pieces that fit in the market theme but that can also be used for other settings.

Typical objective markers
So well, all in all, this is the market so far:

Should be bustling, but it's monday morning
When the noon cargo ship arrives we'll have more customers
This is it for now. Of course your adventurers will need a place where they can replenish their existences between jobs. The market also serves as a perfect excuse for an Indiana Jones-like pursuit. Besides, when I get some more food crates or stuff of the like, they will serve as objective markers for an eventual scenario in which raiders have to steal what they can while the Merchants Guild thugs try to avoid it. Sounds like an idea to me, hmmm...
Now I need crates and stuff!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Ballads of War 1x46, 1x47 & 1x48. End of Volume 1

Special delivery, we have come to the end of Volume 1!! :O

So we have Brent on the run and the Eldar on their way to rampage a human settlement so the Imperium has to divert troops and leave this flank unprotected. Machiavellian!

This was meant to be chapter one in a series of eight. So now the pieces are deployed and the game starts! Dun dun dunnnn!!

But this is not all! I also wrote a couple of texts as an Appendix. Just in the same fashion that Watchmen or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (which I have openly declared as clear influences) include additional info to the comic. They are not essential to understand the story, they simply give you some hints and insights on the whole thing. Each Appendix on each volume was meant to be focused on one character. This first one is of course all about Brent (which is the most heavy specific character in this Volume too). As the texts were absurdly long, I'll try to brief them a little (this is a visual blog! You'll get bored of encyclopaedic texts!). I'll do my best on the translation, but as always, please feel free to correct me. There we go:


Ref. 29/4867/B908
From: Corporal Niklas Arasac. Intel Section. 45 Belrive Inf.
To: Commissar Kaider Bajakian
Subject: Beronis

After the events told in my latest report, I can now offer clear results. Following the subject V. Prienne has finally led to the whereabouts of the subject B. Beronis. Apparently, after the Gavarnus affair they seem to have acted teaming up. An irregular team, but leaving enough trails to trace them.
It looks like, for the last two years, they have been operating in the hive city of Besenval, planet Lausor (Mieris system, Mauclar subsector, Eubea sector, Ultima Segmentum). The possibilities for hiding in a hive city are obvious, as well as the chances of making a living in their fugitive status.
Investigation has found several setbacks, as the subject is skilful erasing his trails. Close observation has not been possible, but it looks like he has made his face scar disappear, which suggests specific medical treatment. No information can be retrieved about other body scars. Such an expensive treatment requires noteworthy income, which leads to some connections between subject Beronis and some stormings on noble levels in upper hive levels. News came on a subject whose description matches Beronis, who was acting as a bodyguard for a noble household for some months. His sudden disappearance leads to the conclusion that his cover was blown up and had to look for shelter.
Apart from the devices to avoid digital identification I mentioned in my latest report, I have been able to verify the use of electromarked contact lenses by the subject to avoid eye scans.
The subject has got rid of expensive maintenance weapons or gear, which difficults following him. It is known that he uses a chainsword, probably his Imperial Guard regulation weapon.
As per instructed, I have abstained of reporting the subject V. Prienne to the Inquisition, though an inquisitorial team has recently been deployed in the hive. Unable to obtain the name of the leading Inquisitor.
Subject B. Beronis dwells at Level 42, West Framework, District 975. Non-qualified workers district, medium-high common crime rates. In addition of being reasonably unexpensive, it suits his purpose of staying under the radar. A cargo bay and a passenger transit bay ensure escape routes, so extreme caution is advised when approaching the subject.
Awaiting for new instructions.

Corporal Niklas Arasac.

'...What led general Arveiron to take that decision, that we will never know. But the facts speak for themselves. After a long night of deliberations, his Staff looked bewildered, to say something. But the Space Marines command agreed too, so there was nothing else to say. After three weeks of skirmishes, we were allies to the Eldar of Saim-Hann now. We had been about six months in Biosnar, leading the offensive against the Orks our own way, and then it all suddenly changed. Those damn lankies had been on us and we were to fight aloingside them. Crazy stuff. But we were just but soldiers, and so is the nature of war.
It took us most of the day moving the front line according to the new joint deployment. That was the first time we saw them properly. Cold, haughty, in their red and white armours. They mostly used jetbikes, which happened to be damn fast. As far as we could learn, they called themselves 'Wild Riders', and before the campaign came to an end, we could see the name was well chosen. They threw themselves recklessly against the Ork lines at high speed, causing mayhem. That was the only moment they allowed themselves to scream like crazy beasts.
Apart from those moments, the Eldar were unnaturally silent. Every time we made a movement, a line redeployment, anything -differences were so obvious. Our riflemen companies marched singing battle cries, hymns, things of the like. Difficult to understand for anyone who has not served. Hundreds of voices trying to overlap the closest company. It was our way, and it still is, of cheering up each other, of evading from reality, of not thinking of the position where we are going to fight imminently. These old soldier things. But they... nothing. Not a sound. Not a single note, a song or anything. Not a groan from someone stumbling. Not that any of them ever stumbled on anything, of course. They walked strangely, effeminately, but the bastards did not ever stumble once on that damn rocky ground. They kept perfect formation at all times. They did not divert, did not slow down... Seriously, they were unnaturaly perfect.
Of course we never got acquainted; they stayed on their side of the camp, we stayed on ours. We didn't dare to get too close, if truth is to be told. Well, we all heve read about the Eldar, we all have gone to school. We know we have to not trust the Xenos. Anyway, they made their war, we made ours. The only coincidence was the common enemy. There was communication between the big fish, but never at our level. We used to see their leader coming to our command post. He gave us all shivers. A Psyker. They called him 'Farseer'. Temperature lowered down as he walked around. We all walked apart from him. Space Marines did get some more contact, and among us the Imperial Guard, so did the Stormtroopers [...]
Stormtroopers. Those people are weird even for us, their own mates. They are always recruited among orphans, people with no families. They are oriented to service even from the Schola Progenium. I remember them having an Officer, a Captain, maybe a Major, who was a total beast. Sullen, stern, he kept them all at bay at all moment. He was good, even for the Stormtroopers, but he was hard to deal with. The same goes for a Commissar who accompanied them. Nobody knew for sure what was he doing with them. Vachakian, Bayakian or something like that was his name. The only decent bloke in that unit was a Sarge, I cannot remember his name. He talked to us sometimes, he even brought some combat ration packs a couple of times. He talked about campaigns here and there, he talked about Benserade, Vestris, Bellegard. Mythical places, or others we had never heard of. We always though he made up some stories, but on the whole he was a decent man. Then they sent the Stormtroopers behind enemy lines, alongside a few Wild Riders. They spent the rest of the campaign together, another six or seven months. They all came back heavily changed, those who came back at all. I never saw that Captain or Major speak again. The Commissar was out of combat, they had to evacuate him. Even the Sarge was taciturn. Some of our boys made some jokes about them being too long with the pointy ears, but they were in no mood for jokes.
But we all  noticed a totally unnatural ability of getting on in the last combats we shared with them. It was like some kind of crazy luck. They went out of a position for an assault and, ten seconds later, a barrel exploded just there. They chose a place for an ambush... the most valuable targets went right for them. During the final assault on the city of Hirtaco they disobeyed the command order of taking a sector; they infiltrated through other way. Well, their designated area blown away because of an ammo dump; but their action was smooth and they were who allowed the gates opening that facilitated the final offensive.
I don't know, our friend the Sarge scarcely talked to us, he just babbled some thing about not being a conscious thing, it was just the way things happened. Some kind of 'gift' from the Eldar Farseer, some stupid thing about prophecies, a star to guide them, whatever. The thing is that after the campaign they all were through Inquisition scrutiny and they all were back to service.
For the rest of the campaign, we barely had contact with the Eldar. A Lieutenant from the 15th Aulide Grenadiers told me that...

Sergeant Lambec Kersan, 4th Ecbatana Riflemen. A Tale of the Biosnar Campaign, by Someone who Was There, Chapter IX.

Well, now this is all :D
If you have been able to read all this, you now have some clues on the general background storyline. Little hints on Brent from here and there. If you join the dots with the whole comic it makes full sense, promise :D

I would love to hear your opinions on the whole story so far. You can consult Vol. 1 HERE.
Thanks for all!

Monday, 3 July 2017

Descent on a budget: end of project

I had neglected this front for a while, just when I was on the verge of finishing it. Time to solve that!
I had just a fistful of minis pending, and just for once, they needed no conversions (yes, I had no excuse to have these on the workbench for this long!)

First of all, fun and easy, the skeletons:

Bad to the bone
I honestly cannot remember in which scenario these are needed, but it's not like I need any excuse to paint some skellies! If you see the pic above and it doesn't ring any bell, don't worry, it's simply that you're too young for this blog.

But again, the minis. The last batch is kind of tricky. There are four tokens in the game that are used for evolving characters. These are the villagers. Through the campaign they can become militiamen, and the tokens can eventually be used as guards or special characters as well.
My pal and I agreed that having different minis for every specific role was too much, given its use in terms of gaming. But he provided me with some tasty choices that would work:

Evidently non-combatant villagers
Adventurous villagers promoted to guards or whatever
So these could serve as the multi-purpose minis we were needing. Given that the two last minis would represent civilians recently turned into militia or things of the like, I thought it could be convenient to use the same colours, though being clearly different clothing styles. It would give a sense of uniformity.

So this has been it! Here you have the whole project:

Cheapest way of replacing card tokens with minis
Ahhh, the nice, warm feeling of closure... Now my pal has a full set to properly play Descent. Of course the next thing ahead is that we need to run a campaign! :D

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Ballads of War 1x44 & 1x45

When we thought we had things under control, new twist of events:

If you notice the first sentence in the first panel, you may recognise the 'turun' expression meaning 'fate', like in Túrin Turambar. OK, last time I get pedantic about Quenya, promise :D

Thing is that this is the moment we realise this whole story spins around Brent (well, that's in case you didn't notice until now; hey, you had some hints). Besides, we also get the right impression about Eldar. These are not the friendly, hospitable Elves we see in the Lord of the Rings. These are some bitter space thugs who think themselves way above all other species, including of course mankind, which they deem hardly better than dirty apes. So they have absolutely no remorse about ordering an attack on civilian population, if that gives them any military advantage.

High Farseer Ellinderelion has decreed death upon Brent, but he understandably doesn't feel too happy about the idea. What will happen?

Remember that the comic is 48 pages long and we've reached page 45. It is my intention to publish the three remaining ones next week, so stay tuned if you wanna know how this part ends...
If you want to catch up, all the previous stuff can be found HERE.

Beware! The end is nigh!
(Oh, I've always wanted to say that)

Monday, 26 June 2017

Twice a horror

I'll need a couple of flashbacks to get today's work full explanation. Some time ago I talked about the Fury of Dracula game. After that, a friend of mine got the game, but he's under certain... condition. He can't stand plastic minis, he always favours metal over pastic. So he got some 28mm minis from the Empire of the Dead ranges by West Wind Productions and commissioned me to paint them.

I painted the hunters, but we were still missing the masterpiece in the game, Count Dracula himself. We both agreed we couldn't find a better mini than the one made by Otherworld, which is truly fantastic. So I finished the game kit :D

Clearly in a hurry
But the end of this project was nothing but the start of another one. A twin project, you could say, as my pal, as a counterpart to the commission, gave me away the other remaining minis from the box we didn't use for his own kit. This way, he told me, I wouldn't have to suffer playing with plastic :D
So, you know, when we ordered the Dracula to Otherworld... we ordered two :)

Among the minis I had available then, it was easy to find candidates for the hunters...

Well, sir, a girl doesn't enjoy gentlemen rushing on her this way
Do we look manly (and Victorian) enough?
So here we have another full kit for the Fury of Dracula, ready to ravage all over Europe:

No need to hurry, sir, the train is delayed
Well, if we count the original 20mm plastic minis from the game, this is the third set I paint, this is becoming a habit, isn't it?
Don't ask me why, but I suddenly feel the urge to paint a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen :D

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Ballads of War 1x42 & 1x43

This is where things begin to get wild...

All the relevant stuff has already been said, I'm afraid. You know all I had in mind for the Eldar set of mind. I'm just decorating it with some Art Nouveau. Oh, I would have loved to develop that part much more. Rough thing about comics is that you really need to speed up and tell a story, so backgrounds usually need to be reduced to the minimum expression (unless it serves a purpose). It's the compromise you need to reach if you want to see it finished. But I would have enjoyed so much replicating particularly Mucha, but maybe Klimt and others too, turning their works into Elvish wall paintings. Of course I also had Gaudí in mind for some crazy architectural details all over the ship. It's a shame, but it all had to be set aside in order to actually get the comic finished. Sigh, it is what it is.

The important thing today is that we have serious spoiler alert! A mere glimpse of things to come (well, eventually to come, if I had ever finished it all, ahem). These brief images were things that were to be intertwined in the story. Some of them are obvious, some of them are not. If you are really interested in all this crazy stuff, I think I can briefly tell you the whole plot as it was in my mind when we reach the pages in which I quit the comic. But for the moment I'll just leave it all to speculation, mwahaha :D

You can of course find all previous pages HERE as usual :)

Monday, 19 June 2017

Raggedy rugs

Change of plans. My urban market is under re-evaluation. You may remember my plans on a rug merchant. First things first, I needed the raw material, the stuff that is going to be sold, i.e., the rugs:

You can get them from the post I was talking about
EDIT: I've been happily led towards the original source of the rugs, hooray!
Go have a look! :)

My original idea was using the Wolsung stalls by Micro Arts, but I couldn't find any proper way of the rugs fitting the structure. Either they covered the whole stall, either they didn't look anything like a market. No worries, I'm good at improvisation and developing new plans as difficulties arise. Follow my train of thought. I got this image stuck in mind:

Real fabric merchant in Afghanistan
 That was my aim, something small but motley, with the cloth/rugs/merchandise all over. Most definitely I was in need of something different. The MDF stalls would have to wait, I designed a very simple way of achieving the same effect.

A couple of cards and these plastic pieces from some childhood toy
This is going to be way much modest, of course, but hopefully sharing the same spirit. Just the simplest sales stand ever. I thought of painting it all brown and rusty beyond any measure, like my other 40K stuff. But on a second thought I realised I could also use it for my modern 28mm games set in Afghanistan (if I ever come back to that; well, now I have a new incentive). So I used some more colour, though keeping the weathered, rusty theme.

If you still don't see where I'm going with all this, don't worry. All my plans tend to be confusing
Now I had to stack the rugs. I picked some of them and with some scissors and glue managed to more or less make them look piled up ready to be sold:

I could have used even more, but I think it was enough for my purposes
Well, if you get to look close enough you may advert the rugs are just paper, but I didn't think it was worth of simulating the whole rolling with greenstuff or whatever. At tabletop distance it works just fine.

This is it, one of the most efficient results I can recall, given that it's essentially been at zero cost. Now I have a dual purpose scenery element, useful both for my RT stuff and any Afghan (or whatever) skirmish I can plan. But don't worry, I promised the MDF stalls and I'll get some things for them! All in due time.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Ballads of War 1x40 & 1x41

New funny speaking people joining to the party!

I wanted High Farseer Ellinderelion to look as lordly as possible, and I wanted to depict him really old looking. An aged elf, if you can conceive that. He had to bear presence, gravitas. I won't tell much of him now, as it's better that you see his development in future pages.

I would have loved to show more of the command table the Eldar are using to control the battle on the surface of the planet. It was planned to be totally holographic and would have served to better understand the situation on the ground, with tiny floating icons of the military units deployed, that kind of subtle visual aid. Unfortunately it was totally beyond my abilities with the brush. All the experiments I tried before I actually got it onto the paper were blurry smudges of white and blue, impossible to understand a single thing on them. That's something I need to learn how to do.

More Quenya Eldarissa chit chat. The Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo greeting was too good to let it go, of course (if by any chance it sounds familiar to you, it's what Frodo says to Gildor Inglorion on their first meeting at the Shire). Another fun fact coming from that very chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring: the name of the ship, Menelvagor, is not made up; it's the name Elves use to refer to the constellation of Orion. Yup, I'm recycling everything I can. But the name was absolutely adequate for a warship so, once again, to good to ignore :D
Mon-keigh is of course a GW word. Clumsy attempt of phonetically tie the term with monkey, as the term Eldar use to talk about all other 'inferior' species, particularly mankind. I prefered to keep the word even when the Eldar are talking each other, hence the clarification. Tough thing is that I had to decline it for a sentence, so I treated it as a plain word.

We now learn that the Farseer and the Harlequin are aquaintances and that he had also met El'Kais before. Hmm, sounds like a story to tell...
Another revelation, Brent does speak Eldarissa! Well, that's a surprise. Apparently he fought in alliance with Saim-Hann back in the day. For some of the then-40Kplayers it was kind of shocking, but those were the things that happened in the old days of RT-2nd Ed, and in fact it is what is happening now again in the game. Not sure though of what the Inquisition would thing about an Imperial soldier learning Xenos language, hmmm... (Once again this is not an idle piece of information, I scarcely do random things. Let it be shrouded by mistery for the moment...)

It is worth to note that Ellinderelion shows his surprise at the fact that the mon-keigh "speaks". Only after that he reckons that he speaks his language. How much it is said with such few words ;)
Best thing is that, while the Farseer is aghast, the Harlequin is pure joy. Life is but a comedy for him, he really celebrates every new surprise.

Well, that's it for now. As usual, HERE you have all the previous stuff. I'll go prepare the next couple of pages!

Monday, 12 June 2017

Colourful furs of Twilight

With this batch I can declare this project finished (for a while!). The last group I had remaining consisted of some Dhogu, a tribe of nomadic scavengers wich in fact are quite different from the other minis I painted before, starting for the fact that these have fur!

Given my previous experiences with the Skerrats and the Muppet effect, I knew from the beginning I had to try a different approach, in a paler scheme. My options were basically two: going for greys and cold colours (kind of the 'official' pattern) or just the opposite, a warm palette. Given that I've reached this point with the gaudiest colours imaginable, it looked quite obvious to me the path I had to follow ;)

However, I had to face the dilemma of how to confront this particular challenge. I had avoided all the earthy colours and possibilities so far, but this time I would have to inexcusably try some natural colours. However, I tried to oversaturate them, so the minis didn't look totally out of place alongside the rest. Besides, their clothes would serve the purpose of showing bright colours. Well, it sounded like a plan.

First mini, the Yirnak rider. This is the only cavalry mini I didn't use for the Wasteland mutants project, as it already had a rider. So the poor bloke is the only survivo, destined to its original purpose :P

Have you seen others like me?
The infantry proved as a nice challenge, chromatically speaking. I wanted to repeat colours as less as possible, but keeping the group into some visual coherence. Ifinally came to this:

Well, the Woodstock Festival fashion was unintended, ahem. I assumed they had to stand out if they were to be part of the same project I've been developing. So, instead of pale coats I favoured more colourful garments, kind of in the African mood I've talked about on earlier occasions.

Let's test my theory! Would they fit in the whole group? There's only one way to know! As I've finished all the Twilight minis I currently have (though I've been warned by my pal that he's commissioning me some more), it was time for a familiy shot:

Ouch, only now I realise I have used different colours for the bases edges
Ooops, looks like I still have some additional work to do! But for the moment I can call this a day and declare this (part of the) project closed. If any of these minis gets you attention, please don't miss the World of Twilight web. It's really full of pleasant surprises and a totally fresh take on fantasy settings :)

This is definitely not the last thing you've seen of Anyaral here, but for the moment it's time to get back to some of all my other abandoned projects. So more different stuff coming anytime soon!

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Ballads of War 1x38 & 1x39

New revelations for our group...

I guess you may request some explanations. Short answer to your questions is 'yes, I did spend some time actually translating the dialogues into Quenya'. Ahem.

Long answer. The other day I recalled the origin of the word 'Eldar', tying the concept with Prof. Tolkien's work. So my intention was to fill in the blanks GW left about Eldar culture with even more Tolkien stuff. I said that the language of the Eldar is called Eldarissa, and also that for the purpose of this story I was using Quenya to represent it. Well, now you see that I meant it :P

It's an accepted convention in comic storytelling to simply translate any foreign languages in the balloons. But my approach is quite more movie-like, which is consistent with other stuff I have done in earlier pages (remember, the eagle on the Arbites helmet or the marines not having back banner). So I really wanted the reader to have an immersive experience. Yeah, back in the day I had that much time. Sigh.

Why Quenya over Sindarin? I originally had a more complex plan in which each Eldar Craftworld used a different Sindarin dialect (all of them essentially Sindarin, but slightly different in some terms) and then used Quenya as a lingua franca to allow communication between all the different Eldar branches. Of course that was literally too much for my poor comic, so I discarded the idea in a very early stage. One Eldar language was just fine for my purposes here. But I kept the concept and had intention to talk about that (in the metanarrative I was using, as in the examples you have already seen).

So again, once I decided to keep it reduced to just one language, why Quenya? Just mere artistic reasons. Quenya seemed more elegant as a choice, it felt more natural to me as the speech of a decadent, fallen empire, torn to shards but still wonderful, graceful in each detail. It talked more of the past than of the present. I guess it also makes sense in Tolkien's universe, and Quenya it's not called the High Speech without a reason. So it was settled. Quenya. I bought a grammar method (yes, they do exist) and, with the help of Christopher Tolkien's books and annotations on his father's work, it was feasible to me to get access to a reasonable vocabulary to express the ideas and concepts needed for the story.

I inserted some GW expressions: for example, Rillietann is the word they use for Harlequin (it sounds unsettlingly Sindarin to me, but I hope you'll indulge me for this time, hehe). If you wanna play the game, you may find some familiar lexemes also used in the Lord of the Rings. Full words as sinome or utúlie; dagor as in Dagorlad; or the lexeme in Ikenepalan (it doesn't show quite well in this declination, but in future pages you'll see the word Ikenepalantar to refer to the Eldar Farseer, which you may relate to the Palantir, you know, wink, wink).

OK, I've gone this far and I haven't even talked about what's happening in these pages. First thing is that I wanted to show a new dimension of the Great Harlequin. Let's face it, we have a character wearing a grimacing mask who apparently worships some Laughing God, and we have to believe that not only he's not insane, but he's some respectable guy with a truly important mission in life. We needed to see him in context. An alien context, right, but something that offers us real perspective. The man is really well considered among his own, to say the least. The somehow messianic vision the other Eldar have of him serves to relate to his position, to tell us that something bigger is going on around him. Well, the other option would be that the Eldar have real fear of clowns. Space coulrophobia. But well, for the moment let's stick to the first option.

These pages serve that purpose. You can see that I was unfortunately too busy translating stuff to a fictional language to pay real attention to how an Eldar ship should look in the inside. I'm afraid it looks too Apple, white plain surfaces, while it should look intrincate, in the fashion we now portray Elves in pop culture. The videogame lift makes me chuckle now, I guess I found it cool back in the day. For the rest I'm keeping it into Biel-Tan colours, white and green, with thorns and that kind of iconography.

Not much else to say. Just notice that they are talking about a new character, a Farseer Ellinderelion. You can bet you'll meet him soon...

Until that moment, HERE you can have a look at the whole story so far :)

Monday, 5 June 2017

Playing 'Tail Feathers'

I've finally had the chance to try 'Tail Feathers'. I know the game is no news by now, it was somehthing to deal with from a long time ago.

The game is set in the world of 'Mice and Mystics' (you can see an example of that game in this very blog) and it can work both as an expansion pack or as an independent game, which is certainly something you don't see everyday. If you play it as an expansion, then it's considered an additional chapter of the story (If you are familiar with 'Mice and Mystics', the game is presented as a tale, in wich each game of the campaign is a different chapter of the whole story). It takes place within the main course of events and you can use the lead characters just as taking part in the confrontation here. If you choose to play it as an independent game, then it's just a battle among two warbands, one side being the mice and the other the rats.

As we just wanted to give it a try, we chose the one stand game. Yup, I haven't even painted the minis, sorry, it was just a test game. Won't happen for the second game, but the lead mountain is still demanding!

This is the display of the game
Both sides have infantry soldiers and birds. This board represents the warbands climbing on trees and warring over the objective on the central tree. For this game, the final goal was also to destroy the enemy nest.
The board is quite unusual, a piece of genius. Infantry minis can only move through the branches or tree leaves, but nothing out of those, the rest of the board being just empty space, the realm of the birds. If you look closer, you'll see different areas on the branches (the nude branch, bark, moss...). Those are the tiles. We'll see more of that in a minute.

First of all, you roll initiative each turn, and then you have alternate activation of your respective units. At the beginning of each turn, you will have to secretly select a mission from your deck card and allocate some minis to it. After the unit activation, you can try to accomplish the mission you chose that turn (it can be patrolling the area in order to take enemy birds down, attacking the enemy nest, rescuing a fallen bird... We'll have some examples ahead).

Let's go step by step. I'll be playing the rats. I got the initiative and moved my infantry from my nest through the tiles of my tree. But... how can the minis move from one tree to another?

Wait, Bob. You mean we're using this leaf as a transport?
Wooooo! I'm flyiiiiing!!
The leaves have two holes, one each side, so you use the gauge (right, that plastic branch also serves to calculate short/long range when shooting!) and spin the leaf using the gauge as the axis. It's quite a fun and cool system I had never seen before :D

Mice do the same. Wiiiiiiii
OK, birds. Birds can move along the whole board, the only thing they have to be careful about is the tree trunks. At the beginning of the player's turn, they have to choose if they're simply flying ahead or they're turning right or left, and position the mini accordingly. Beware! As this positioning is made at the beginning of the turn, your rival can assume what you are doing, and then plan an opposing strategy for his own birds. That's why, when the activation comes, you can choose to roll dice to change your positioning in the last minute. If you pass the roll, the feint has been successful and you can do a different movement. That gives you a high degree of fexibility to adapt your tactical decisions as the turn is taking place.

Movement is made using these gauges
Range attacks use the branch
Dice system is just the same that in 'Mice and Mystics'. Swords are close quarters hits, shields are defense and bows are long range hits. Cheese give bonus tokens you can use for certain options during the game, as we'll get to see later.
Birds can also engage in combat
If none of them are dead, they turn back and leave some... tail feathers ;)
Another combat. What would you call a dogfight between birds? Birdogfight? Hmmm
Chirp chirp chirp
 Once all your units have been activated, it's time to accomplish the mission you chose for this turn.

In this case, trying to hit a bird from the ground. Unsuccessful
At the beginning of turn 2, our respective airborne troops reched the central tree.

Rodent infestation!
A close turn to avoid stomping into the tree!
Swoop attack! Quite a thing, trust me
Reinforcements incoming!
 Here you can have a general overview of the battle so far:

The birds begun to fall down on both sides...

Ehhm... Black...hawk? down
Blackcrow down at the most
The rats take the central objective after taking the mice down
As the bird goes by, the rat character jumps on it, now it's a transport unit!
Mice unveil their mission: They put the rats nest under siege!
Both nests have a number of damage points each (can't remember exactly right now, 11 maybe?). Destroying them is easy, you have to follow the regular combat rules, but the nest doesn't roll any defense die.

I talked about cheese tokens earlier. You receive them when you roll a cheese on a die or with a number of other events during the game. When you collect eight of them you can retrieve some of your fallen warriors in previous turns. You place them in the Reserve space and in the next turn they can go back to their nest.

Just in time!
Surprise attack!
But the mice had also neglected their own nest...

Another aerial shot:

Now things look like less crowded, don't they?
The bird manoeuvres so the rat character can jump on the enemy nest
In the meantime, mice have wiped the rats out
So the bird leaves the mice infantry and flies to attack the rat on the central tree
The other bird tries to defend the mice nest against the rat attack
This is how it all looks like
The rats recovered some infantry and took back their nest. They also got contro of the central tree and the objective. The whole fight was on the mice nest, where a bloody battle was being fought.

This is all happening so fast
The bird kills the rat on the central tree
At that point, the rats nest was 11 points strong and had no attackers on it. The last defender rat used the Siege mission to attack the mice nest, only 4 points strong now. Things were really, really tough for the mice...

Right, this all would look definitely better in colour, I know, I know
In an unsuspected twist of events, mice take the enemy bird down
Finally, when it all looked lost, the last rat succumbs
Right, it looked like there was no hope for the mice and that their nest was under constant siege. However, they managed to eliminate all the rats, so the victory was finally for them!!
I had not enough cheese, so I couldn't retrieve my troops. In the end that was the key to my defeat, though I was putting all the pressure on my opponent. I think we made some mistakes (I noticed that I should have been taking more cheese that I really took during the game, for example), but that's part of these testing games. We had an enormous amount of fun and I cannot but recommend the game.

'Tail Feathers' is different than 'Mice and Mystics' in several ways. First of all, the approach. While M&M is entirely narrative and it's all about storytelling and adventure, Tail Feathers provides quite more a wargame-oriented experience. About the similarities, of course there are a lot. The game system is essentially the same. Profiles, dice, combat... it's all the same, which makes the gameplaying really smooth if you come from M&M. However, if you don't, the game stands perfectly on its own. Rules are easy and quickly apprehensible, not many special features, and it has a solid way of developing the events. It has quite unique elements, such as the mentioned leaf transport (it was really mind blowing for me, so fresh and original) and, as you can see, provides a really balanced experience, in which both sides have their options for victory.

We still have to play it in the campaign mode, as part of the larger M&M tale; looks promising. But before, I have to paint the minis! Well, it looks like I have some work ahead...