Monday, 27 October 2014

On The Boil: Curtis Fell's RoC Warband Experiences

Curtis's Tzeentch warband in all its glory. 
One of the more rewarding aspects of being a blogger is interacting with your readers. Its always a pleasure to read the emails you send me or the many Facebook messages. Occasionally, these discussions and communications are worth sharing with a wider audience - hence the creation of the 'On The Boil' articles I put on on this blog. 

Today we hear from Curtis Fell, who is probably well known to many of you through the Facebook Community group. We got chatting at BOYL '14 and Curtis agreed to send through a missive concerning his recent endeavours with his gaming group. Now, I feel that was Curtis has to say is a perfect example of 'Oldhammer Gaming'. That its a mindset not a ruleset that defines us. I must admit that I did not feel this way in the early days, back then Oldhammer was for me playing Third Edition Warhammer with period Citadel miniatures. But I am not self obsessed or arrogant to suggest that 'my version' is any better or any worse than anyone else's 'version' of the Oldhammer experience. 

Curtis has his own personal ideas of what he wants to achieve, and very much like the best of us, just gets on with the business of collecting, painting, interacting and playing to worry about writing long pseudo-intellectual wafflings. What follows is a really clear explanation about how Curtis' group used the rules they felt most appropriate, alongside the models they were keen to use, to create a positive outcome. It makes a jolly good read...


"When I got back to the UK about 8 months ago I wanted to play some games. Where I live in Nottingham is a really cool bunch of gamer guys. The ones I end up playing with are into old school gaming, most are mid 20s-30s and have been playing for 10 years or more. They also helped me playtest Nuclear Renaissance, so I think they are good and fun gamers. They do tend to lean towards the beardy in terms of power gaming, but in a really fun way. They do put the right models on the table, sometimes even finished! So the game we agreed to play was Realm of Chaos, using the Rogue Trader rules.

I always play Tzeentch so generated an appropriate champion and retinue. I got ridiculously good rolls! My champion started with a horrible 3 chaos attributes, but they all rolled up amazing profiles. Chaos Lord is obviously an awesome mutation. I got a nice suit of mithril as the magical item Tzeentch champions get. However, the headless attribute means you can't wear armour. So a powerful character but with a cool weakness: no armour allowed!

Beautiful painting on these beastmen figures.
I think I then rolled some Dark Elves, some Beastmen and a Hydra, so that was the initial warband. The troll came later as did the harpies. I still have the 5 Dwarves to finish. 

I guess I should step in with a bit of an exposition on house rules at this point.We allow any roll on the retinue table to be swapped for a roll on the Universal creatures table (my second favourite table, after the mutations!). One guy rolled up dragon on the list, I got a Hydra, but you usually end up with a low level human. 

We were playing warbands using Rogue Trader (RT), and the equipment chart and rules are a bit ropey to say the least. We agreed to only allow assault cannons on terminator armour, as they are beastly wepons. 

The champion model is an imaginative conversion. This figures need to be unique, though use of vintage Citadel is not a non-negotiable.
Vortex Grenades were out, but we agreed that once a grenade was bought, your character kept it for the entire campaign. Grenades are a paint to use anyway, but have really fun results. The toxin and virus grenades being the most deadly. We fiddled a bit with the rules on saves vs virus and toxin. In the rules you get basically no save against them, and no roll to wound, so we gave breathing masks a save and sealed suits a better one. We also over turned the rule that jump packers could drop grenades willy nilly. Also the blind grenades meant you had to invest in photo visors and such like!

We allowed players sell equipment that thier followers have and buy new stuff. We started by letting players sell the items on the fantasy table, then buy new equipment on the sci-fi table, but this quickly degenerated into the idea that you could buy anything from either table. In RT armour stacks, so mesh and flack is fine for a 4+ save. But then we allowed it to stack with plate, chain, power and shields. Ridiculous, but when one of the other champions was wielding a deamon sword with a deamon prince in also wielding a deamon sword with a deamon prince in also wielding a deamon sword with a deamon prince in or virus grenades you start to not worry about a minus 3 or up save....

Dark Elves - or Dark Eldar I suppose!
The models I managed to scrouge up were a bunch of Lord of the Rings plastics, necron arms, a heavy bolter, back packs and bits of plasticard and house hold detritus. The disk is a washer. 

The champion is an Ubashi I think from the tomb kings range. I cut off his head as the champ has the headless mutation. I used the head as his las pistol (lazer eyes!). Its a cool model, I just had to sculpt the hand. 

The Hydra is an incomplete tyranid carnifex. I sculpted the tentacles, saggy bits and a strange human mouth to be suitably Tzeenchian. 

The troll is totally scratch built. I didnt get a good photos of his back, but he has a grafted on frenzon dispenser, which the champion has a remote control for. This means he is no longer subject to stupidity as he is frenzied all the time! Hurrah for the future when we no longer have to suffer the inane whims of stupid trolls!

Scratch-built Disc of Tzeentch
The harpies were the most fun to do. My friend Lex is a jeweler, but also plays alot of board and card games, so is quite into models without actually wanting to do it as a hobby. So I gave her a bunch of bits, some putty , sprue and a sculpting too and persuaded to get her to make one. I then used equivelent bits and made my own version (mine is the one with the jump pack, hers the wings). I love her model as its coming from a person who is really talented at small sculpting work, yet never tries to make odd, figurative fantasy models from the 80s! What a cool result I think, and fits in with my totally strange warband.

I want to again stress that I was just moving and so my model making kit was stored or in transit. I had to beg up the models off the gaming group and then buy the cheapest paints and brushes to do the job. I live near a large Hobby craft, and so bought their cheap acrylic. I bought black, white, yellow, very dark blue, day glow pink, day glow blue and a light gold. There were awful paints! They really lacked pigment, so were really thin and watery. The metallic was the worst of the lot, containing very little actual metal pigment!  I also got a pack of cheap brushes. They are great! About £3 for a set of 3. They hold thier point well and are just the right softness.

Beautifully modelled harpies. Outstanding, don't you think?
I had to work out a method of painting that would work on the miniatures, while still being in the style of figure painting, but with really strange paints. What I ended up doing was drybrushing the bare models white. THe champion was already undercoated in black, so the white went over that. Most of the other models were grey plastic or grey putty (ProCreate). I also used a tooth brush to start building texture at this stage. I flicked on some white.

When this was dry, I then went onto using the pigment-poor paint as a glaze to colour the gray to white tone I put on in the first stage. A glaze is a bit like a wash, but you try to get the paint to spread evenly and thinly. This stains the area in your glaze colour. After this I applied more white,  and again another layer of colour glaze. I also painted on several layers of the metal colour on the metal areas. Again, this shows the white through, so gives tonal range.

A gruesome hydra!
After this stage, I went a bit crazy with the tooth brush, splattering everything in pink and blue splatters. Great fun and adds a weird other world texture. When dry I carefully painted in all the lining and shadows with the dark blue. 

The final stage was a pass with the white highlights again and paint in all the details. 

The campaign didnt last for a huge amount of time, maybe a couple of months. However, towards the end there was a huge disparity between the warbands, with some being really weak and others (like mine) very powerful. However, I think the game still works. I played alot of warbands when it initially came out, so have been playing it for many years. To play a game means to have a fun time, and I want to field this warband in a ways that make it fun for my opponents. An easy way to do this is to only go into games with a part of my force. Another way is to play games where there is an objective that weight of numbers or hitting power does not factor in.I intend to continue with this warband for the foreseeable future. I'm well up for some 40k realm of chaos if anyone wants to have a go!"

A troll!

Curtis Fell


  1. Wow, really great paint scheme and some cool minis to boot. Thanks for showcasing someone who's doing his "own thing" and not just grabbing $20 minis off ebay. The OSR movement in the US seems to be going through it's teenage phase, with people trying to define what it means, and others yelling "you can't define me" but then defining it to their own liking. The Oldhammer movement seems to have none of that. I hope it keeps it's sense of childlike, wide-eyed wonderment, where everything can have its place, so long as its all about having fun. With leaders like you, the movement is in good hands!

    1. It is indeed about doing your own thing. 'Its a mindset not a ruleset' is rapidly becoming my mantra.

  2. What a brilliantly bizarre warband Curtis, great stuff. I love the idea of messing around with the lists and giving you more outlandish options. All power to you!

    1. I feel that his work is the epitome of what Oldhammer is all about. Using what you have to create what you can imagine. Its about not being tie to established background, rules or army composition. Curtis' work is vastly superior to anything produced by any of the leading fantasy studios over the last few years on so.

  3. Excellent work. My broken Haradrim may have a new lease on life!

    1. I seem to recall that there was a very strong prohibitive response towards using LotR parts with Warhammer and 40K back in the day. I think it was a term of agreement between GW and New Line. When you are freed from the company line, you have the freedom to truly create.

    2. Hah, its based on the fact that I was begging up the models! The LOTR stuff is a bit smaller than other GW models, so my mates tend to have sprues lying around that they are not so bothered about. Hence orcs and haradrim being the basis for the core units.

  4. Loved reading through Curtis' piece on his warband creation. Not unlike reading through a WD article of old! I have been through the phase of not wanting to be defined by anyone's rules but needing a community to be a part of, now I have come out the other side both perfectly happy to do my own thing where gaming is concerned AND support anyone who wants to focus on where Oldhammer has it's roots.

    1. You mean it was a genuine article about one man's modelling/wargaming project without the need to evangelise or promote a sales line? Yes, a rare thing in WD for many many years sadly. Still, we produce our own contents thanks to the age of the internet, don't we?

  5. These are super cool.
    When I was a kid I usually played against my friends who had chaos guys. There were 2 mutations we were terrified of them getting--demon swords (which they'd sell for 2000 points) and the technology mutation with grenade launcher (you get to pick your ammo--so of course they'd pick vortex grenades)

    1. When we played we always had a GM pick the mutations for us. Hence we had lots of wacky, interesting games and not onesided slugfests. Though the items you described are great fun if used constructively.

    2. We had a blast. We were stupid teenagers who argued for no reason--but we did that about everything

  6. That is a great warband - love the mental paint scheme and modelling! Sounds like you had a lot of fun with them Curtiss, which, of course, is the main objective!

  7. I really like the paint scheme, there's something very unearthly about all those pale hues. The hydra in particular is an awesome figure which I think captures the feel of a chaos beastie.

    As you say in the piece, one doesn't need to slavishly use Thatcher-era figure to make something with an old-school feel and I'm actually more impressed at someone who canniablizes stuff around them - nothing more old-school than that. :-)

    1. Hmm, what could the 21st century equivalent of Zoid parts be? Nothing more old school than stripping toys down to their components are building a grav tank!

    2. I made a 21st century grav tank two years ago froma roll on deoderant lid, straws, milliput and an Original Source bottle. Keep meaning to make more :-)

    3. I styarted on realm of chaos stuff right at the start, so was about 10. I got £2.50 a week pocket money and a blister pack was £2.50 BUT I also had to travel by train to Plymouth to buy the models! So yes, I used to convert, scratch build and use whatever cheap solution I could find. For me, this is a big part of the hobby: making stuff with what you have. I love all the vintage models, and really like seeing them with modern paint jobs. However, I am not really bothered about actually owning them, and would rather go crazy with a big pile of bits than to use a model out of the box.

  8. That warband looks absolutely amazing :)

  9. awesome! that hydra is genius =)

  10. Amazing conversions, nice color scheme, but this terrain!!! Absolutly outstanding.
    Please give us some tutorial :)

    1. WALL OF TEXT ALERT! The terrain was made by my brother and he is always up for comissions. He used alot of miscasts from me (which I can supply at cost price), kebab skewers held together with recycled wire and other bits. Anyway, I painted it all, so here is my painting technique for the terrain:

      OK, Im really rough and lazy. The ethos behind my the way I paint is one I picked up through art school and abstract painting. There are several ways tp make a painting look good. The most popular is to spend an age controlling every brush stroke and rendering a perfectly realistic effect.

      Another popular technique, and the one I use, is to build up interest and texture through using many layers of interesting application. Paint is a very beautiful medium in its own right. Splatter, runs, brush strokes , stipple and other surface textures are great to look at. OK, so enough "theory", its a bit unorkadox isnt it?

      Ok, so I use the following techinque for all the models.

      1. Dry brush the whole models white, using a 3" house brush. No undercoat. THis preserves some of the colour differences of construction. White emulsion is good for this but mix with a bit of PVA to make sure it dries water proof.

      2. Wash with brown/black mix. I have a big bottle of this misxed up. I usually use cheap acryllics for this, mixed with water.

      3. I repeat the dry brush of white. Its worth noting that the white often dries slightly translucent, which is great as it lets you build up many subtle layers.

      4. Another wash, then another dry brush of white. Build up the layers. When you put the white on, try to be a little bit more subtle and careful each time.

      5. Paint the rust colour in. This is a teracotta/earth brown with red mix, made myself in a big pot. If there are any other colours you can do them now.

      6. Another black brown wash, going over the whole model but especially for the rusty bits.

    2. 7. To do the rust, I get a tooth brush and some orange paint. Using some water and orange paint, spray the rusty bits ling of randomly with the orange. I used macharite solar orange, the old GW foundation oaint.

      8. Wash the rusty bits in the brown black agian, then do another rust splatter with the tooth brush.

      9. I now do a dry brush on the rusty metal bits, on just the edges, using silver. This is not strictly realistic, the silver would be where the piece is worn or bashed, chipping off the rust and showing metal underneath. However, I think it looks great and is fun to do.

      10. You will have some rust splatter on your wood and rock, certainly some silver mistakes. Cover it with another white dry brush and wash to cover it.

      11. Now your model will be the rusty bits basically finished, and the rest will be black and white/monochrome lovely textured finish. THis is where to leave the rock parts. For the wood, I usually want to introduce a bit of colour, so I mix up a wash of corn/wheat golden brown. This will be used as a glaze over the wood. Make it thin, to preserve the lovely tonal gradients. It may flatten out the shade a bit, do some more dark wash can be added to shade, and a light drybrush of white to highlight the outmost parts.

      12. This is basically finished now. Just the finishing touches:
      Rust streaks put in with a brush. Let them flow and have fun! Use orange and the rust brown, let it run down the stone and wood.
      Final dark washes in the recesses that are too light/messy.
      Final highligts with white.
      Other stains. Concrete and stone tend to leach white minerals, so paint some in!
      I often add a green wash on organic material, like the ropes and a bit on the wood. This simulates mould.

      13. Add water effects. I used polyester resin. Its normal fibreglass stuff and is available from good DIY shops. It dries all cloudy and yellowish, so looks like really horrible polluted water. It shrinks, so build it up in layers. I usually put a wash of green at the bottom of and water areas before I add the resin.

      14. Flock. I do this in layers. I start with the most brown/ dead looking scatter and put it in big clumps. If when you put on the flock you get a brush and brush the edges of the clump it will spread it out and make it look more realistic. The worst thing is haveing a hard edge on your clump, looks really unnatural. I then repeat this, adding more healthy looking flock in smaller clumps over the previous layer. I finish with static grass.

      15. DONE!

    3. OMG . Thanks a lot for a such accurate description ! Like I suspected the final effect should be build with many of the small steps .