White Dwarf, vol 1, Issue 95

Free flexidisk by Sabbat. This phase could mean different things in different contexts. Just staring at the words on a blank page makes me think that it’s some sort of component for an industrial machine being advertised in an ill advised radio slot by a local hardware store.
An advert for first edition Fury of Dracula comes next, this has only recently been reprinted and weirdly I only just played the third edition of it last week. It goes to show how long these games go out of print for. The game itself is a solid little gem where up to four players move around a map of Europe trying to discover the trail of destruction left by Dracula himself. £12.99 in today’s money is around £28 which is a bargain and if you can buy the latest version of it you should give it a go.
In the editorial section it was mentioned there was a Thrud meetup held at a games store featuring the person responsible for the comic. Presumably he is still serving his time even now. Meanwhile in the comic the giant blob of PVA glue that is Thrud punches people while my soul dies. They made him part of the rules for 1st edition Blood Bowl so it could have been far worse.
The second part of the Judge Dredd adventure takes up the next 12 pages. There was a lot of content created for this.
Talking about content, there were a lot of miniatures for Warhammer Fantasy Battle 3rd edition which gets a lovely colour section, very cinematic and very nice to look at.
Following this are the next batch of 40k releases, human Mercenaries which are best left consigned to the history bin and metal space marine dreadnoughts which are victims of weird posing and paint jobs. The Dreads came in at £9.30 in today’s prices so it wasn’t all bad.
If you wanted to have a vehicle and pay less you could try the anti Grav vehicle made out of an antiperspirant stick and a plastic spoon. There are some other conversions, the space marine gunship converted from an Apache helicopter looks very like the Stormtalon gunship, it didn’t look good then and doesn’t look good now.
On the Boil is a new feature for reader submitted Warhammer Fantasy Battle and WFRP content. It’s followed by an advert for a skeleton chariot and skullchucker. This is the age where all undead war machines would be built out of bones, no matter how unusual the proportion of the bones in question.
Next there is an advert for I presume a game called The Battle of the Halji. I can only guess at what people thought of this section without the internet to explain it. Looking it up on Board Game Geek it appears to be a game of evolving monsters and contending with illnesses and then manoeuvring them next to each other to explode. This cost more than a Fury of Dracula and looks to have sunk without trace.
There is a GM only preview of a Stormbringer role play adventure and we get into a section on Sabbat. Basically a lot of people into Warhammer at this time also loved heavy metal so the guys at Games Workshop teamed up with them to make songs, there was even lyrics published in the magazine to go with it which helped if you needed to sing along to it at a childs birthday party or wedding. Also at this time apparently people wanted lots of metal jewellery including a metal guillotine. Classy.
John Blanche gives us some of his paintings and drawing in the next article, interesting fact: He owned a company motorbike.
Continuing the theme from last time. This is of interest to you in 2016 if:
  • You wanted the second half of the Judge Dredd article from last time.
  • You really like Sabbat.
  • You want to see how bad the releases for 40k were at this time.

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Painting 4 Ground Scenery

You can play miniature games anywhere that you can find a flat space that won’t be disrupted by other humans, pets or the wind or rain, you can stack up piles of books or magazines to make hills, raid ornament stands to make rock features and scatter other unused miniature vehicles around to give the scene flavour, my favourite borrowed scenery piece would either be the small cow skull or the tiny beer keg that was lying around at a mates house. Scenery was never a market that was heavily contested in the miniature games space. In the Golden Age of Games Workshop I refer to in other posts most of the scenery produced was either homemade or relatively small plastic kits of a ruined building. Large plastic kits were impossible for GW to make at this time as they didn’t have a large scale plastic mould. Hills were produced by vacuum formed plastic covered with green static grass flock and buildings would be following instruction on how to make them out of card or by using cardboard inserts in White Dwarf.
The situation wasn’t ideal, some companies tried to exploit it by offering large resin buildings which while looking very nice were both expensive heavy and fragile, Games Workshop produced large pieces of all plastic scenery when they brought their new larger moulds which were very nice looking but then inexplicably discontinued the sets and instead replaced them with the perfectly functional but boring 40k city kits and giant bunkers with mounted guns on for your sci-fi needs and insanely overblown high fantasy magic filled sculptures for the Storm of Magic supplement that looked like they came out of a Salvador Dali painting during his “death metal” phase.
Lets not mention the expensive plastic Chaos Fortress kit presumably created by someone who didn’t realise that the following year of Chaos releases were for Khorne, the faction that had no missile troops at all and were more likely to storm other peoples forts than hide behind one themselves.
Recently another way of creating scenery has come about, namely using laser-cut MDF kits that are pre-painted and can be assembled without the need for most tools or glue while remaining light and cheap. As with any new invention that says its going to do everything you’ve been looking for cheaper and better than you’ve ever hoped was possible I viewed it with scepticism and so decided that rigorous testing was in order. I brought the baggage card and the stagecoach kits as they looked small enough to be written off in the case that I wreaked them during testing and large and complicated enough to show off the level of detail possible using his approach.

Punching the baggage cart out was easy enough, there was heavy smell of burnt wood which is fair enough due to the lasers burning the wood so  I washed the kit with soapy water first and left it to dry, there was no issues with the paint peeling off or it warping and it withstood it like a champ. Its worth noting that there is nothing in these kits apart from MDF and instructions, so no transfers or brass etch material, everything that you see is all MDF.

The parts are all pretty much snap fit and don’t require much cleaning apart from a slight ridge where they connected to the original sheet of MDF, you could put them together and leave the but it is far to complicated to restore back into its sheet so I used PVA glue to hold the bits together which seemed to work fine without damaging the paint scheme. The laser cutting process can cut fine details into the wood with ease, so the spokes in a wheel were tapered, rivets were dug out and the gab between sheets of wood was all correctly modelled, the only problem was that the wheels were only modelled in one side so it you took a fine eye to the insides of them you would spot the difference.

The model is all pre painted with an airbrush that gives it small areas of darker colour to try and produce a patchy wood effect, the burnt edges where the laser has cut a hole had added to it so it could easily be left as it is but I was already determined to see how it would hold up to proper painting. It took the spray undercoat from army painter and the next ink was without a problem at all. I tried drybrushing layers of with Mournfang Brown, Deathclaw Brown and Karak Stone but it didn’t show up that well so I decided to paint thin lines of Deathclaw Brown down the planks to mirror the grains in actual wood which had an immediate effect. I weathered the wheels and underside with a ripped piece of foam with Rhinox Hide and was pleased at the result.

If I had to give any criticism it would be that the finish has a slight texture to it but for wood of the stone buildings that’s not a problem, if it’s an issue you can take it off with sandpaper.

If you want to buy this kit it’s here and yes, it’s only £4, it’s not going to win you any painting awards unless you cover up the joins on the MDF but it’s cheap, light and can be painted up without any hassle to improve your gaming space. However you can take these techniques and apply them to anything 4 Ground produces for some good looking results.

White Dwarf, vol 1, Issue 94

Straight away the role playing games and board game reviews are out the window and it’s a full colour page on 40k Rogue Trader featuring a really nice diorama with space marines and Orks inside what looks like a space hulk followed by a preview of it by Rick “Big Daddy” Priestley. Other releases are the Chaos Marauder card game and first edition Deathzone for Blood Bowl. I won’t make too much of a fuss about Blood Bowl until it gets its third edition in 1994. But suffice to say if 4th edition gets released later this year I will be bringing a retro review out at the same time.


This month Thrud extorts money from and old man to fuel his drinking habit, it’s rather hard to look at.
There is an interesting WFRP scenario that goes through a night at a tavern with 5 interconnecting plots. It has times for each event and if the adventurers are in the correct area at the correct time then certain events will play out. Without wanting to be a philistine it’s rather complicated and sounds like a nightmare to keep track of everything. But again with these type of articles it’s fun to read.
Next Gobbledigook goes to the tower of Saruman and gets dunked in a toilet by Nosferatu to wake up in the far future staking at the bulging metal crotch of a space marine who he vaporises with a peashooter. This actually happened and more worryingly it is part 1 of 2.
After a 14 page Judge Dredd adventure we get another article on having a second job while in an RPG, this time it’s rather more sensibly in Call of Cthulhu which would make sense putting a shopkeeper, conman and an actor together to fight otherworldly horrors.
After a article on the Judge Dredd Blockmania board game we get the very first actual rules article for 40k, the battle for Jadeberry hill, which follows on from the Battle at the Farm outlined in the rulebook. The names sadly needed more work at this time. The Crimson Fists space marines fighting against Snagrod the Arch Arsonist (Ok, there were fairly cool). Unfortunately it hinged on you a) having a games master and b) not telling the Ork player that an area of the battlefield is mined. I think it’s the first and last time a GM is mentioned for 40k in White Dwarf, they will slowly be removed from the game during the rules building process.
Next Eavy Metal get their hands on the multi part plastic Space Marine sprue. I might have been overly critical of this last issue but I should clarify that at the time this was a revolution. A cheap, easy to paint, easy to model, light kit that could be assembled multiple ways is something that Games Workshop would not rediscover until around 1998, nearly 9 years later. This was virtually untouched ground so the team was using markings from books on NATO to detail the shoulder pads of these models at the time.
Next up there is another article that touches on Roman Colosseums before going into detail on how to incorporate them into a fantasy Runequest setting. Articles like this give the magazine a weighty grown up feel as it’s almost like reading a history textbook at times. Insert Spartacus joke here.
Chainsaws and pit traps in blood bowl and the readers mail which is all about the high quality role playing articles that were published and we’re done again. I feel I should sum up these reviews so I’m going to start adding the following TLDR section on.
This is of interest to you in 2016 if:
  • You’ve read an old copy of Rogue Trader and you would like to read a bit of blurb about it from its designer.
  • You like interesting role playing ideas.
  • You really like Judge Dredd.
  • You want to feel a grown up reading about actual real life history.
In conclusion Games Workshop hadn’t really gotten good at making 40k look interesting enough at this point, everything from the rules to the paint schemes to the background material looks like a work in progress add this state of affairs would continue for the next 2-3 years before it really started ramping up.

Great Mechanics – City of Horror

Monopoly is a scourge against board games and in my opinion the reason why most people who don’t know anything about them would rather have their fingers cut off than play one. There are so many reasons to dislike it, long lengthy games with no end point, play and go mechanics, no twists or shifts in tempo and a slow endgame based on player elimination, but one of the worst aspects of it is the house rules system. This is the area where groups of players will substitute their own interpretations on how to play the game in certain situations, for instance rolling doubles, going to jail, getting out of jail and the process of mortgaging off properties. These rules are pretty much comprehensively covered in the rulebook, but that doesn’t stop house rules regarding these events to be ruthlessly enforced by the cabal of players who came up with them in the first place.
If you’ve ever experienced pressure to succumb to house rules why not get your own back by buying a copy of City of Horror and exposing everyone to a nice family game of feeding the smaller and weaker amongst your number to a hoard of brain eating zombies. The basic setup is simple, each player gets 4 characters and then these characters are assigned to one of 6 locations on the board. Over the course of 4 turns zombies build up outside these locations and once they meet a certain threshold the players with characters in that location have to vote amongst themselves to see who is thrown outside and eaten. Each player in a location gets a number of votes equal to however many of their characters are inside and ties are decided by the last player who had a character eaten. To add to this players are dealt a hand of cards at the start of the game that when used give one off effects like reducing the amount of zombies outside, moving zombies to another location or more sinister abilities that effect the voting process.
'One way to get through the ordeal of existence is to behave as if youíre no longer sentient':  Lond
The way this usually manifests is that during the start of the game when there are only a few zombies on the board, players are trying to pick them off with the cards in their hands to avoid their locations meeting the threshold required for a vote. As its quite hard to acquire new cards it transitions into a midgame where players are starting to run out of these cards and are instead faced with a hand of effects that allow them to manipulate the vote instead. If you think you are going to be outvoted you could force a player to vote for whoever you chose, if there are only two of you in a location, why not prevent the other players from naming anyone and if all else fails and you have made powerful enemies you could remove yourself from the voting and sacrificing process entirely by playing the “hide” card.
This game has several warnings from people by who have reviewed it who say that it ruins friendships and leads to people holding lengthy grudges against each other after having a character betrayed and eaten. But all that’s happening is that the game is exploiting a psychological quirk in human nature, namely that people will work harder to avoid losing something than they will to try and acquire something.
Each player starts the game with 4 characters where most games would only give them 1 and the moment it looks like they might lose one they panic and start trying to compensate. This loss aversion is demonstrated extremely well at the end of the game when the scoring begins as the characters can only be counted as surviving if they have picked up a vaccine token to immunise themselves against the virus. How much time do you think most players spend worrying about picking up the vaccine tokens? You guessed it. Not as much as they should have.

White Dwarf, vol 1, Issue 93

Here we go, showtime, it’s Rogue Trader in the front cover. Even Blood Royal gets 2 pages so let’s see if they can sell me on it. In the bafflingly titled “Awesome Lies” editorial section they even mention that Games Workshop are going to have a retail presence in 1988, man-children across the land rejoice.
Skipping through Critical Mass, a Space Marine themed Thrud we get to the obligatory AD&D adventure and a interesting article on magic in AD&D and we get to the first mention of Warhammer 40,000, it’s a full colour section with graphics, artwork and a explanation of what it is including a write up of some Space Wolves killing of a mutant population, a picture of the old plastic land raider supported by 10 of the very first space marine models and on the next page the plastic beaky marine squad.
You can pick 30, yes thirty, of those guys up for the modern day equivalent of £20 and the rules for an extra £30. So that’s 66 pence each per marine. Not bad value except that they look horrible. However at the time everything looked horrible so we can give them that.


Continuing the magazines theme of miniatures they advertise the first ever miniatures painting awards The Golden Demon Awards (presumably they didn’t need to put the disclaimer for last months article up for this), the entrants are pretty crazy, usually featuring elaborately sculpted bases or ridiculously large banners which to be fair a hard to pull off even today.
Next is a role play adventure that can take place in any Call of Cthulu, AD&D or WFRP setting as long as the GM provides the finer points like combat and characters. This goes to prove how very similar the three systems are at this point. There is a nice looking map to hand out to the players though which reminds me of what i spend so much time doing in Firewatch.
Finally we get a Blood Royal article on adding religion and after months of waiting it’s 2 pages long and assumes you’ve already brought and played it. Even worse there are still no pictures of the actual contents of the game or an idea of how it plays. Oh dear. I think this is the last time it’s mentioned in White Dwarf.
Next up its Eavy Metal and it’s a really good article on how to paint, it goes into detail of what to do and why, which is really appreciated because at this time miniatures had only just begun to be heavily featured and no one had a clue of how to paint them up. The only weird bit it where they attempt to illustrate the stages of painting by sketching out a picture of what the miniature should look like. Not sure why they didn’t just take photographs at different stages but maybe the limited colour sections were all used in advertising new models.
This is followed by rules for normal people in judge dredd and some illustrations which aren’t particularly great. The issue is capped off with a essay / inspiration guide for using magical familiars in role playing.
The issue was pretty interesting, it’s a bit hard to pin down the focus of the magazine at the moment as its publishing a lot of role playing articles as well as trying to promote Warhammer 40,000 which at this time has a lot of role playing elements in it. The advert count seemed to be down as well, slightly over 20 this time. Mind you you could count the whole article on 40k as one giant advert.

Painting Yellow

As you might have guessed from a brief examination of the contents of this Blog my favourite time in miniature gaming was between 1995 and 2001, during this time all miniatures painted by the Eavy Metal team were bright enough to bring tears to the eyes of anyone standing within several meters. Bright blue went with bright yellow next to bright red on top of a base that was of course bright green. I have always tried to keep models bright enough to stand out in the darkened rooms that most gaming takes place in especially if you can keep to a really dark base to get them to pop.
So as my latest project I decided to test myself in a way only fellow miniature painters will feel my pain. I am of course talking about painting models yellow. This colour has long been reviled as one of the hardest colours to paint. I was always told that the two yellow paints that Games Workshop produced covered so badly due to the toxicity of the pigment used in them, this meant they needed to restrict the amount of it used in one go. I’m not sure if this was correct or not and considering most people would just add more paint and therefore pigment to the model it would undo the standards they put in place to keep us all safe. However in retrospect I have never heard of anyone in the western world being hospitalised due to yellow citadel paint related toxicity so I have come to the conclusion that Games Workshop must have been gaining some kind of sadistic pleasure from anyone trying to get a good coat of sunburst yellow on a model.
Back in 2012 Games Workshop revamped their ancient paint range with new colours and lines that were supposed to offer an easier and faster way to paint miniatures, much was made out of the increased pigment ratio in some of the previously tricky to paint colours. I assume this was an attempt to a) make everyone buy new paint sets b) invalidate the paint ranges of the 3rd parties who had been selling colour matched paints at a cheaper price and c) kill off any fans with weaker constitutions by exposing them to more paint pigment. However as all superhero movies have told me, toxicity is a thing to be embraced rather than feared so I went out and brought a mega paint set and immediately sold all of my old paints on eBay.
Flashing forward 4 years and skipping a lot of painting I decided to finally bite the bullet and paint a lot of models yellow. A quick Google search for exactly how to do this brought back a limited number of steps ranging from the extremely quick “white spray basecoat, two washes with casandora yellow, done” to tutorials with an airbrush. I don’t have an airbrush and only fancied painting up about 10 models so I needed another way.
I got through about 8 or so test models before settling on a method that was repeatable, easy, and looked nice under various types of light, I tried a white basecoat but then realised that going from white to yellow was much harder than going from one shade of yellow to another. Therefore as you may have guessed I settled on using a basecoat of Daemonic Yellow. To shade it down I tried the GW washes of Reikland Fleshshade and Seraphim Sepia but found then too light so instead used Agrax Earthshade. I also experimented with a spray gloss coat before the wash as I had heard that it helps the wash cover better. I have no idea of that works but the can was £1.99 on eBay so I went with it.
After this was down it was time to start the grind of multiple coats of Yriel Yellow. I found that Flash Gitz Yellow was too light and should be left for highlights if you need them. I also found it was much easier than expected, a couple of coats was good enough with some tidying up for certain areas where the wash paint had pooled.
It’s worth noting at this point that care is key when doing this, it’s often the difference between a decent paint job and a nice one. Always make sure you prevent the wash from obscuring details and always make sure you clean up mistakes.

White Dwarf, vol 1, Issue 92

In the last two reviews I’ve much established that the articles in White Dwarf at this time are hit and miss but generally  still worth reading even after all the games they support are out of print. That’s a pretty good mark of quality for a magazine. However writing articles is one thing, trying to sell product is another. Last issue they failed to mention Games Workshops latest game Blood Royal in anything other than a very short preview. This issue something big is coming and I’m going to see if they sell me on it.
On the second page on less there is an advert for Warhammer 40,000, looking through the contents page Blood Royal isn’t mentioned at all. Oh well RIP Blood Royal July 1987- August 1987 we hardly knew thee. The rumours section mentions that Rogue Trader is in the typesetting phase and going to be released next month. Also for nostalgia fans there is a mention of a brand new games show on, Knightmare.
In the miniatures releases this month: Ninjas, Wizards a Minotaur, Normans, some Armoured Dwarfs and some models that look suspiciously like Dark Elves and Chaos Warriors but are referred to as Pan Tagians and Melniboneans. The last page of which is in colour at least. Citadel miniatures released a lot of miniatures like this around this time so get used to looking at them.
After Critical Mass comes a three page advert to work for Games Workshop, that’s two more pages than Blood Royal got. I fact this episode we get to page 20 before starting on the articles due to so many adverts for games and miniatures. Granted there was content but Thrud and Gobbledigook do not count.
Racial profiles for the Warhammer fantasy races. Extra rules for a game called Chainsaw Warrior and we are almost half way through the magazine before we get to an article about Paranoia, no wait, it’s an advert for second edition Paranioa which in August 1987 was coming soon, Ghah. As an aside if you want to get into Paranoia, the 3rd edition got Kickstarted recently and its coming up for a proper re release soon.
Finally we get into something that looks like sustained content and its an article on demonology in role playing games with a heavy disclaimer as this was around the time that RPGs were being falsely accused in the press of causing young kids to turn into Satan worshipping serial killers. You can read all about this media panic elsewhere but it’s baffling these days to see this article contain a paragraph explaining that demons aren’t real things.
More adverts for miniatures, at 4 or 5 models for about £1 a model in today’s prices, some actually look alright but nothing to write home about, having said that in 1987 if you wanted something to fill up your dungeon with they would be pretty good.
On to our mandatory AD&D adventure, it contains maps and building layouts, its clear that someone put a lot of time and effort into this (that someone being Carl Sargent, Euran Smith and Charles Ellott).
Finally there is an errata for WFRP, some art sketches and the regular Eavy Metal section talking about how to use brushes and that’s all. There were a lot of adverts here, nearly 30 pages of specific adverts in a 86 page magazine. Maybe they were saving them all up from the last issues?

White Dwarf, vol 1, Issue 91

So last time I finished with a summing up of whether White Dwarf was worth it if you calculate the price adjusted to account for inflation and I’m pretty convinced it was still a good deal, however what happens if you want to buy the products. In issue 91 there are an assortment of miniatures advertised along with their own board game called Blood Royale. In todays money it would cost £50 and that’s proper board game money. Will they convince me to buy it. Lets see.
First a review of the citadel miniatures releases for July. They all look awful and I wouldn’t buy them with someone else’s money, to be fair they quality of the photos of them is extremely washed out so most of the detail is gone. However considering there aren’t even painted pictures of them in this magazine it doesn’t inspire confidence.
Critical Mass is again very good, I’m wondering if he’s still doing this somewhere. I hope he’s still alive.
Next is a essay on the Cthulhu Mythos. A proper essay about what Lovecraft believed and how the Mythos fits together, its a nice intelligent opinion piece that you wouldn’t really get in today magazine and worth a read.
Have you ever wanted to add critical fumbles to your games where you go to load your crossbow and accidentally drop all your arrows on the ground. No? Oh come on.
Cardboard dungeon sections. Thrud buys a chainsaw. Dave Langford writes a bizarre three page story about some kind of apocalypse, its easily the most surreal article I’ve ever read in White Dwarf however it does have a really nice running illustration in the style of the Bayeux Tapestry.
Derek the Troll is easily the worst page of this issue. Even with only two pages per months of comic sketches it does devalue the entire magazine. Fortunately there is an advert on the following page so to voice your displeasure you could rip the page out and mail it back to them.
Next there is a full colour page advert of a Warhammer dragon with rules for use in Warhammer and a points cost. Sadly it’s still no good. You’re not missing anything.
Don’t worry it’s time for your monthly Paranoia article, all nine pages of it. Which is great. We are 2/3 of the way through now and they haven’t put anything in supporting their new £50 board game. It doing a really good job of building up the anticipation for it.
WFRP rules on how to be a noble. It’s a step up from the last issue and a lot more interesting to have a character who deals with court increase rather than calculating the profit and loss of their basket weaving startup.
If you wanted to know how to deal with the public order disturbances in Britain from the turn of the century up to 1939 in correct historical style with some examples of actual riots at this time for your British based Call of Cthulhu campaign they have you sorted.
Here we go on page 60 we have what looked like an advert for the board game but turns out to be a knightly role playing game character generation piece for a game called Pendragon to fix the rules from the book.
Then OMG we have the first ever Eavy Metal article ever, it even uses the classic logo and everything. Unfortunately rather than start out on page 1 with the best painted miniature that comes to hand they take a picture of someone’s thumb after a moddling knife accident. Oh well from small seeds…
Starting on page 70 we get into the first ever Warhammer Fantasy Battle battle report. But wait, it’s just a scenario. I went back and checked the cover and it turns out there was no actual battle report advertised so I’ll have to wait a little while longer, you can see how the front cover is filled more more adverts for Warhammer than anything else. A few more pages and it’s the letters and classified ads and there it ends. No mention of their new game past the editorial section. Wow. You think that a modern White Dwarf advertises their own products too much, this issue went too much in the other direction.
In conclusion, the focus on miniatures seemed to start here but there is a long road to go before there is any need to bust out the inflation calculator to see how much a nice looking model costs. Meanwhile they forget about the huge expensive board game they advertised. Maybe in the next issue?