Friday 24 October 2014

Sails of Glory battle report

I got in a game of Sails of Glory recently (for my Sails of Glory review, see here). I took some pics, and have turned them into a narrative. Read on...

The ship-of-the-line hammered the frigates hard, but took some serious crew damage. It was surprisingly close at the end, with the Terpsichore barely holding together, and the Généreaux with only a skeleton crew. The French won out...

I was controlling the Cleopatra, and was swiftly dispatched from the game in a vicious boarding action.

What do you think of this AAR format? Was it easy to follow?

PS: We didn't play with the 'advanced' rules, just the 'standard'. We're playing on the 'official' SoG mat.

Monday 13 October 2014

Five Armies: Free Peoples

Here's how I painted the Free Peoples from The Battle of Five Armies, after prepping them as per my earlier post.

I don't have a step-by-step guide to the characters, but I used the same paints and similar principles, albeit with a little more care and a few more highlights and fancy touches like Thranduil's gemstone.

Bard and the Lake-Men

  1. Blue-grey to leggings and sleeves
  2. Mid-blue to jerkin, boots, gloves
  3. Dark blue to belts, scabbard, quiver
  4. Metal to buckles, sword hilts. Pale grey to boot fur and arrow fletchings
  5. Black wash
  6. When dry, pick out the face with flesh, and add a light blue headband. I painted the wrappings on his quiver with the same colour (not shown)
I painted Bard using the same colours, but in a more 'traditional' style with shading and highlighting. I gave a faint blue wash to his metalwork.

Elves and Thranduil

Elven Archers
  1. Pale green to leggings, sleeves
  2. Bright green to the jerkin (it's the same colour I used for the Orcs)
  3. Dark green details. Flesh to the face. Brown to the straps
  4. Gold buckle. Cream hair, bow.
  5. Sepia wash
Elven Spearmen
  1. Flesh to skin. Silver armour and spearpoint
  2. Dark green cloak
  3. Bright green to the overgarment
  4. Gold clasps and helmet detail. Cream spear
  5. Sepia wash

Thranduil was painted with the same greens. I painted his armour gold, then drybrushed it silver. I then painted the greens and washed the figure in sepia. Then I picked out the high points on the cloak and gown with lighter greens as highlights. I indulged myself with the gemstone.

Dwarves, Thorin, & Dáin

Dwarf Regulars
  1. Red to the jerkin
  2. Dark grey to boots, gloves, belt
  3. Metal to the hammer and helm
  4. Gold to the buckle and studs (gloves and jerkin)
  5. Black wash
  1. Dwarf Veterans
  1. Grey rock. Metal to the mail, armour and axe
  2. Red to the gloves, boots, belt and scabbard
  3. Black wash
  4. Gold to the helmet and swordhilt, flesh to the nose
  5. Controlled sepia wash to the gold and nose (optional step)


Thorin and Dáin were painted with the same colours I used for the other dwarves. I spent a fraction more time on the skin. The weapon hafts and Thorin's beard are dark grey.

Great Eagles
  1. Umber wash
  2. Sandy colour to the face/ head
  3. Yellow to the beak, claws
The Lord of the Eagles
I gave the Lord of the Eagles a black wash after the umber wash, and used cream rather than sand for his head. He stands out a little from his companions, but not much.

Gandalf, Beorn and Bilbo
Gandalf was painted dark grey, had a black wash, and was then built back up with lighter greys to the ridges on his clothes. I painted his beard a light grey, gave it a thin black wash, and picked out a few bits in light grey again. The iconic hat was painted blue-grey and highlighted with a thin pale grey. I'm really happy with his sword, Glamdring. There's a subtle change from a dirty metal to shining silver.
Beorn was easy to paint. He was drybrushed all over in cream, then heavily washed in umber and black. I painted the claws black and gave them a thin light grey stripe. The eyes were painted black, with a teeny dot of white.
Bilbo Baggins
Bilbo was painted with dark brown trousers and a khaki shirt, highlighted with a mid-brown and cream respectively. His skin (like Gandalf, Bard, and the dwarf characters) was painted red-brown and then the raised areas picked out with flesh.

That's it! This project only took me a couple of dedicated (but intense) evenings.

Feedback and questions will be gladly answered.

PS- can't help myself:
A thief, two thugs, an assassin, and a maniac. Oooga chuga ooga chuga...

Five Armies: The Shadow

Shadow army
This post is how I painted the Shadow forces for The Battle of Five Armies, after they had been prepped as per my previous post. When I'd painted them, I based and varnished them as descibed previously. For comments on specific paint brands and washes etc., see that earlier post. I'll answer questions below.


  1. Green to skin
  2. Metal to armour
  3. Dark grey to shield and belt, red to shield icon (not shown in this picture)
  4. Umber wash
  5. When the wash is dry, pick out the eyes with red

Great Orcs

  1. Green to skin
  2. Dark grey to straps
  3. Brown to the loincloth
  4. Metal
  5. Umber wash. When the wash is dry, pick out the eyes with red

Great Bats

  1. Paint the whole bat black
  2. Drybrush dark grey
  3. Use a lighter grey to pick out some of the facial detail
  4. Orange to the eyes, and white fangs

I tried red eyes but they were too dark.

(Don't worry, I added the 4th warg's teeth later!)

  1. Paint the orc's skin green, and the warg and top-knot dark grey
  2. Cream for teeth
  3. Pick out the warg's face with a lighter grey. Metal to the blades
  4. Umber wash
  5. When the wash is dry, pick out the eyes with red and yellow for the orc and warg respectively


  1. Green to skin, grey to the rock
  2. Dark grey to the belt, scabbard and ammunition box
  3. Metal to armour and bits of the crossbow
  4. Sandy colour to the bowstring, cream to the fletchings and teeth
  5. Umber wash
  6. When dry, pick out the eyes with red


I don't have step-by-step guides for Bolg, but he was painted in a similar fashion to the Orcs, Great Orcs, and Goblins. I spent a bit of time on his face. I painted his eyes red and added a tiny dot of yellow for a pupil. I also gave a fine line of bright metallic paint to the edges of his blades.

Next: the Free Peoples

Five Armies- Tips, Prepping, Finishing

Ares Games recently released the next game in their War of the Ring line, The Battle of Five Armies. These posts are about how I tackled painting it. They're aimed a little bit more at the boardgamer who's thinking of enhancing their game than at the experienced painter.

This post covers a few pointers, then provides info on how I prepped the figures. Prepping is preparing your figures for painting by cleaning etc., and is a necessary pain. It does allow you to get a look at the figures and plan your painting by thinking about colour combos, tricky to reach areas, etc. I've also put up a bit on how I based and varnished them when they were painted. 

I felt well prepared going in. I tackled War of the Ring in 2012. I used that experience to dive right into BoFA. Many of the figures are the same sculpts, but I'd decided I wouldn't be painting them the same as WotR. Furthermore, BoFA only has 126 figures compared to WotR's 205!

War of the Ring- worth the time and effort.


Only 126 figures to go!
Here are a few random things I thought I'd get down for less experienced painters.

  • This project is daunting. Discipline and perseverance will get you there. Just plug away, and you'll eventually have an army (or five!). A half-painted army can be a bit disheartening- just keep going! Reward yourself with a character every now and then. I tackled the orcs early as they're forgiving of errors, and with them out of the way you're almost 30% there.
  • Having your figures on sticks makes them a lot easier to handle and paint. I can quickly paint, say, five left hands, then five legs, etc., rather than having to paint one figure, put it down, pick up another figure and paint it, etc. It will really speed up your painting. A lot of this project must be done in an assembly-line fashion.
  • I tend to paint inside-to-out. This means I paint the deeper, harder to reach areas first.
  • I have deliberately tried not to name paint brands and colours- suffice to say, I use a variety of manufacturers and not all these paints are made anymore. I really don't think it matters if your orc skin is Derivan MiNiS GI green or Citadel Catachan Green or Warpaints Army Green or Game Color Camouflage Green- they're all close enough, don't get wrapped around the axles looking for a precise match! So, if I say paint the orcs green, just pick the closest green you have at hand and go for it!
  • The brown basecoat saves time with the spraying, and colours areas such as leather so I don't have to later. It also means I don't have to paint the ground.
  • I tried not to use pure black as it is too dark- there are a few exceptions- I usually use dark grey instead.
  • A lot of the 'heavy lifting' is done with washes, which are watery pigments. The wash sinks into the deep areas of the figure and gives you quick and effective shading to make your figure 'pop' on the tabletop. You should paint the underlying colours a bit brighter than you expect so they don't get dulled down. I will name names here- I use the Army Painter Warpaints and their Soft, Strong and Dark Tones. These are sepia, umber and black washes by any other name and other companies make equivalent products.
  • 95% of the painting was with a #2 size brush. Sometimes I used a #4 for washes or a bigger area such as a Great Orc or warg. Even for the eyes, I don't use teeny brushes- the paint tends to dry on them before I can use it.


First things first- prepping. I still hate prepping. I didn't do any de-flashing. Unlike WotR, there were no bent lances etc. to unbend, which was nice. I chucked the miniatures into soapy water (to clean them and remove mold release agent) and left them to dry. Next, I PVA'd sand onto their bases and then PVA'd the figures onto wooden paddles for spraying. The sand gives extra texture and realism to the figures.

An unexpected soaping.

I used the Army Painter spray Leather Brown. Finally, I drybrushed a cream colour onto their bases to bring out a bit of contrast. Pick out rocks in grey. Total time to get to this stage (excluding the drying): a bit over 2h.
Now paint your figures! Details in the following posts.


Once the figures have been painted, I added some flock (Woodland Scenics T50 Earth Blend) using PVA glue. I then painted a sandy green colour around the rim. 
Add flock, paint base rim.


Once the basing was dry I varnished in two stages. First a protective coat of gloss varnish, then a coat of Testors Dullcote to remove the sheen.
Based and varnished

And now you're done!

Next: How I painted the Shadow Armies.

The Battle of Five Armies

I've just finished painting Ares' new game in their War of the Ring line, The Battle of Five Armies. Here are my finished pictures- next, I'll be putting up some more posts on how I went about doing it.

The Battle of Five Armies- Painted figures

 The Free Peoples
Bard and the Lake-Men

Thranduil and Elven Spearmen and Archers

Thorin, Dáin, Dwarf Veterans and Regulars

Great Eagles

Bilbo, Thorin, Dáin, Bard, Beorn, Gandalf, Lord of the Eagles, Thranduil, Bolg
The Shadow
Bolg and the Orcs

Great Orcs



Great Bats

Action shots
Game at set-up

Game at set-up

Gandalf and Thranduil on Ravenhill

Bard an the Lake-Men await the onslaught

Gandalf and Bilbo defy the horde

Thranduil leads the Elves into combat

Dáin and the Dwarves hold the camp with a human ally

Beorn presses the enemy

Thorin stays in the Front Gate

Bard defends the Ruins of Dale

Wargs cross the River Running

Bolg urges his orcs to battle

Great Orcs advance

Great Bats accompany the swarm of orcs

Great Eagles muster in the Eyrie!

I've only played this once. I was the Shadow Player. I tried to take Dale but failed, but was able to capitalise on my opponent leaving some weakly defended strongpoints to take the Front Gate and win just before Beorn started to rip my armies apart.

The only in-game shot- about a third of the way through.
Coming next: how I got the miniatures ready for painting