If, like me, you had no idea why they kept referring to the auxiliaries in Dreadfleet as “cogs”, apparently it is because a ‘cog’ is a single-masted, square-rigged vessel whereas the three-masted ‘carrack’ mixed square and lateen sails making them far easier to manoeuvre (source: Wikipedia – ‘Naval Tactics in the Age of Sail’). Hopefully you are now as enlightened as I am, or possibly was already more enlightened than me, which, truth be known is far more likely.
Yes, this week has mostly been about painting the models from Dreadfleet, in particular the two star protagonists, the Heldenhammer and Bloody Reaver.
I opted to start with the two flagships as they feature in the introductory scenario and I am keen to get some games underway as quickly as possible. This is particularly pertinent for two reasons, firstly Battlefield 3 is due out at the end of the month which will almost certainly have a negative impact on my painting progress, at least in the short term. Secondly because there have been a number of quite scathing reviews regarding Dreadfleet’s fun factor for want of a better phrase and I am keen to see how I get on with it.
Normally I brush off such negativity as the all too common generic anti-GW campaigns that seem to follow any new release. I am not particularly pro Games Workshop, just don’t find the comedic conspiracy rants add anything productive to the hobby. In this instance however a couple of reviews raised a legitimate point about the degree of randomness in the rules and the impact it was having on the amount of enjoyment said reviewer was getting out of the game. In particular a post by former Games Workshop studio scribbler Jake Thornton caught my attention. You can read the full account on his blog Quirkworthy and I really do recommend you take the time to read it as he makes some interesting points.
Personally I thought Jake’s review was a little harsh and prone to overly dramatic prose for the sake of effect. However, it was his opinion as a ‘reviewer’ and I fully respect Jake’s reasoning as to why he felt it was such a poor game ‘for him’. Now, I haven’t played Dreadfleet myself yet, so can’t comment as to whether or not I will find the degree of randomness as frustrating as he did, it is entirely possible my mileage may vary once I start pushing ships around and drawing fate cards.
What I can comment on however is the quality of the models and these I like very much. I understand some find them gaudy, or unrealistic, or just plain silly and that’s ok, if everyone liked the same things life would be pretty dull. I feel similar about pretty much the majority of the Warhammer Fantasy miniature range, which is why despite several store managers best endeavours over the course of numerous years I have never collected, or played, Warhammer Fantasy Battle. It isn’t because I particularly detest the game rules, or the background (which I do like actually!), it is just the style of the miniatures. Yet I like Lord of the Rings very much indeed, both in terms of the miniatures and how the game plays.
So, putting Dreadfleet as a ‘game’ to one side until I have played it and can draw my own conclusions, I am going to focus purely on the painting element as it is this that has me firmly ensconced in my workshop right now.
One of the things I like about Dreadfleet is the attention to detail and humour in the terrain. It doesn’t take itself too seriously treating the scene setting more akin to a board game than a full-blown war-game, which at the end of the day is more what Dreadfleet is. The scenery is very “tongue in cheek” with all of the stereotypically iconic landmasses you see in the movies. Skulls are everywhere (well, it wouldn’t be Warhammer without them), there are temples, giant sea turtle corpses, volcanoes and ship-crushing rocks that wouldn’t seem out of place in “Jason and the Argonauts” or “Time Bandits”.
Although not required with all of the guides and photos both in the rulebook, on the box and online, but to get the best out of painting the contents I do recommend getting a copy of Octobers’s White Dwarf.
With tips and painting guides for each of the ships, islands and cogs it is actually a handy edition to have at hand for referring to. Of course, it isn’t necessary and you could make do with the online guides, your own methods or wait until the guides end up on the White Dwarf archive.
It was the White Dwarf guide I pretty much followed for painting the rock of the islands, with a couple of minor deviations. I primed all of the miniatures white as opposed to black. This went for not only the scenery, but also all of the ships and the ‘seascape’ bases. Additionally, where they recommended stippling extra Charadon Granite onto the rocks to give some extra texture (an inspired idea by the way), I instead decided to sponge the extra stippling on using a piece of blister packaging foam as it gave a more random and controllable texture.
I also changed the castle roof from red to Fenris Grey. I know the red was a far more complementary colour for the deep green fortification walls, but it just didn’t work for me.
I do want to add some final green washes to the deeper recesses and tide line, however I plan on leaving that until the very last task when the rest of the scenery is completed so I can ensure it is consistent throughout.
The second island I tackled was the volcanic temple (rather imaginatively named volcano island in the rulebook). This was a lot easier to paint than it looks and after following the same scheme for the cliffs as the castle island above, it is just a case of working up the lava though various layers of red, orange, yellow and white. To help deepen the effect red and orange stippling is also applied to the caldera walls and homogenised with increasing layers of black wash.
Similar to the green wash and tide line I have left the small patch of water below the skulls until the end so I can make sure it is consistent with all the water on the other ship wreck and island pieces.
Currently on the painting table are the ship wreck pieces and Skullface island, all of which should get finished throughout the week along with the Bloody Reaver’s sails, which I have just made a start on. As I make a start on the imagery I will add some shading to the lower half of the canvas to enhance the shape more, so what you see here is a very early stage. If I don’t have to paint purple again this year though it will be too soon!
As the weather here has brewed up a veritable storm of wind and rain, which I will take as a good omen being the superstitious type, I am unlikely to get any more ships cleaned and primed this week. Luckily, between the Reaver, the Heldenhammer and the rest of the scenery pieces I have more than enough to keep me occupied until the wind changes. Which, if the reviews are to be half believed could happen at the flick of a fate card.
Until next time, have a great week.