This is Darkstar, another member of the Winter Guard for Marvel Crisis Protocol. In the sense that most of the original Winter Guard are portrayed as imitations of the Avengers, Darkstar is clearly intended to be their version of Captain Marvel. In game terms she’s very different, bringing some minor defensive tech and a nice long range energy attack. Darkstar’s main cool trick is her Dimensional Portal, a huge Place effect for friendly characters with a massive pickup. The only downside to this is that it’s quite costly in terms of power, and Darkstar is not very good at generating power. For that reason, I’m planning to try her with Magneto’s Brotherhood – he’ll appreciate being ferried around the board without spending actions on it, and the extra power generation from Magneto’s leadership should make it a bit more practical to pay for Dimensional Portal.
Darkstar’s costume of yellow and black is almost perfectly designed to be the colours I find hardest to come out looking good. I ended up going back and forth many times to correct various lining errors and putting more layers on the yellow than I’d care to talk about. In the end, I’m happy with the result but it was more effort than the final result would suggest. I quite enjoyed Darkstar’s sculpt, though for some reason I’m unable to get a photo of her that doesn’t look like she’s tipping over.
Next on the painting table: Magus.
This is Warmachine, another one of the Avengers for Marvel Crisis Protocol. He’s quite simple in the game; he stands on points in crowded Crisis maps, using his cool beam attack to hose down the other team while not dying in return. There was a brief window where Warmachine seemed to be everywhere because of a combination of the ‘Sam Spam’ lists that were prevalent at the time and an interaction with the All You Got tactics card, but the conditions that made both of them so desirable changed and so I’d say that Warmachine gets a pretty normal amount of time in the sun. I think that there is definitely room for a team filled with characters who can reduce damage, otherwise I’d have to say that I slightly prefer Iron Man’s control options over the short range firepower provided by Warmachine. Not that it’s related to game, but in the MCU I far prefer Don Cheadle’s understated Warmachine over Robert Downey Jr’s egotistical Iron Man.
Needless to say, I found Warmachine to be a very simple paintjob, as befits his unadorned suit. I did try to mix up the colours a bit by using a grey base coat rather than black for some of the sections of armour but otherwise it was all about picking out the red spots. It seems ironic that I spent much more effort on the jet explosion of the base element! Simple, but also very enjoyable.
Next on the painting table: Darkstar.
This is Ursa Major, a member of the Winter Guard for Marvel Crisis Protocol. In rules terms he’s pretty much a mix of Kingpin (cool spender attack with Stagger and throw baked in) and Crossbones (Aggressive to get him where he needs to be) and I think that he’s potentially got some interesting game into control lists as a result of the Aggressive to stop him being pushed off points. I’ve seen Ursa Major get played a few times in Winter Guard, though that might be mainly because they only have four affiliated characters so it’s hard to make a roster that doesn’t include all of them. He is slightly limited in mobility due to his Short move speed, but his Charge ability plus Aggressive can keep him involved in the action from turn two onward.
Obviously most of Ursa Major was pretty easy to paint as it’s all just brown. Despite that I had a fun, albeit very quick, time painting him as I tried to bring out some of the texture of his fur. I also paid special attention to the non-fur parts of the miniature, mainly inside his big bear mouth, and I’m pretty pleased with the way it’s come out. Ursa Major isn’t the most exciting miniature I’ve ever worked on but it was a very pleasant process.
Next on the painting table: Warmachine.
Here is a unit of Acolytes for my Genestealer Cult force in Warhammer 40,000. I think that this is a unit that can be built in a lot of different ways, from focusing on big bricks carting around the cool heavy melee weapons to agile hand flamer bombs. This particular set are built with a mix of autopistols, hand flamers and demolition charges, though in practice I’ve only played them using the autopistols as the rest are a bit too expensive for such a fragile unit. I use them to pop out of ambush in the late game onto an objective, then do whatever Action is needed for the current secondary missions. In theory, I sometimes get to do it again another turn but in practice it’s pitifully easy to kill these chaps and so they’ve always been mown down before I get to decide where else they might want to go.
The Acolytes are probably meant to be second or third-generation hybrids if (like me) you’re an oldster who remembers the stories about Genestealer Cults from their appearance in Space Hulk. I really like the way that they bridge the visual gap between the mostly human Neophytes and the full alien-ness of the Genestealers themselves. I kept their clothes painted in the same colours as the Neophytes but tried to emphasise the blue of the Acolytes’ skin a bit more. I enjoyed painting these sculpts, especially the leader (who I assume is the one wearing a skirt) and the one waving around packs of space-dynamite.
Next on the painting table: Ursa Major.
This is Hela, Queen of Hel, another Asgardian for Marvel Crisis Protocol. She’s kind of famous for not being that great in the game at the moment, but Atomic Mass Games have done a few balance passes so maybe that won’t last forever. My main issue with Hela isn’t so much that she’s bad, but rather that she’s just not very exciting to play – basically she just attacks people and has no control or shenanigans at all. What Hela does have is a mechanic where she can collect Captured Soul tokens and spend them on various things (notably not dying), which makes me think that she might have a place in a really wide roster where your allies getting KO’d can potentially work in your favour.
Despite having a rather cool sculpt, I found painting Hela to be something of a chore. For a start, anything other than green swirly stuff would have looked weird, but also her costume is green so it doesn’t contrast very well. I also found it quite tough to work out whether some of the detail was said swirly stuff or a cool bit of her sword or costume. All in all, I think that Hela was my least favourite MCP miniature to work on, and I’m glad that she’s off the ‘to do’ pile.
Next on the painting table: Acolytes.
Here is Crimson Dynamo, leader of the Winter Guard for Marvel Crisis Protocol. For four threat you get a seriously tough defensive option. Crimson Dynamo can throw out Shock on his amazing beam attack and has armour to reduce incoming damage. Most interesting is his Disruption Field ability which forces incoming attackers to reroll their dice. Obviously this has applications to roll successes into failures but where it really shines is when a particular roll is needed for a result. Need a wild for a throw? Try again! Adding to his utility with the beam attack is Crimson Dynamo’s Propulsion Thrusters power to allow him to get into exactly the right position without needing to spend an action moving.
Painting Crimson Dynamo was a very simple exercise as he only has about 3 colours on him. Nonetheless I found him a really satisfactory miniature to paint with his clean lines and open pose; the bright yellow on his arc reactor adds a nice little bit of brightness that would otherwise be lacking.
Next on the painting table: Hela, Queen of Hel.
This mighty monster is a (or perhaps ‘the’) Patriarch, head and founder of my Genestealer Cults army for Warhammer 40,000. The Patriarch is, as you might expect from a beastie who is basically the Alien Queen from the Aliens film, a terrifying murder machine in game… at least if he can get close enough to engage in melee. He does have the options for some psychic powers to give him something to do when he’s not eating fools, but basically his happy place is engaged in close combat. Despite Cults being a somewhat new army in 40K, the Patriarch has long been in the lore thanks to one of the expansions to Space Hulk from the early 90s and even had a lead miniature sitting iconically on a throne from back in the day. I like that this sculpt still embodies that ‘patient predator’ look rather than an all-action pose.
I really enjoyed painting the Patriarch. I took cues from the other members of his cult in terms of the overall colour scheme but his sheer size let me play around a bit more with the specifics of which colours went where. In retrospect I think that I made the tongue a bit too blue and would have been better off going for a redder shade as it blends in too much with the carapace. The Space Marine helmets could be no other colour than yellow since that is the colour of my best friend’s Space Marine army, but I think that they would have looked a bit more satisfying if they weren’t the same colour as the cult icons littered around the base.
Next on the painting table: Crimson Dynamo.
Here is Ghost Rider, another miniature for Marvel Crisis Protocol. Ghost Rider is thematically and actually affiliated with Defenders and Midnight Sons but he’s been a popular splash character in many other affiliations as he provides an interesting suite of abilities. Firstly, due to the Spirit of Vengeance power, Ghost Rider gains a power when anyone else on his team is damaged by an enemy attack, which means that he generally has plenty of power to spend when he needs it. This lets him constantly be a thorn by spending for Wicked’s Judgement to damage attackers based on the number of critical hits they roll when attacking another. All this means that in my experience, Ghost Rider needs to be dealt with early on or he’ll be a pain in the neck for the whole game. However, this does also play into his favour as one of his two character-specific Tactics Cards, Deal With The Devil, allows him to avoid being KOed and instead replace another friendly character to come back with full health. All in all, it can be a frustrating experience playing into Ghost Rider and that probably means that I should play him myself a bit more often.
Painting Ghost Rider was quite interesting as almost everything is either black or made of fire. I tried to make the leather clothes look more different from the bike by giving them a wash with brown ink; not only does this change the colour a little but it gives a slightly shinier effect. The flame effects were really fun to do and they stand out beautifully against the darkness of the rest of the mini. I didn’t use washes at all on these as I wanted to keep the brightness, starting with yellow and then doing the higher up (and therefore less hot, assuming that this also applies to magical fire) parts in orange and finally red. I’ve seen people top out flame effects with blacks and dark greys but I didn’t want that here as it would start to blend back in with the rest of the miniature.
Next on the painting table: Patriarch.
This is Ronan The Accuser for Marvel Crisis Protocol. He’s affiliated with Guardians of the Galaxy and Inhumans; I’ve mainly seen him appear with the former but I think that is probably because I hardly ever see Inhumans at all, with or without Ronan. I quite like the idea of using Ronan to sit on a back point and use his long range Universal Weapon attack to push people off other point and give them Shock, then he can just hope for the wild throw on his close range builder if anyone is brave enough to come into range. The main problem with this approach is that both Iron Man and Winter Soldier exist and can do a very similar job for one threat less, and Rocket is also available and in-affiliation for Guardians if you just want a long range gunfighter. I suspect that his best use case is to abuse the Power Gem for some round one Extract shenanigans, probably in combination with the Eyes On The Prize to hoover up a couple of Hammers before the other side gets motoring.
I enjoyed painting Ronan as he was a fun study in limiting my colour selection to creams and greens, and this helped his bright blue skin show up much brighter than I’d expected. The universal weapon’s glow was created by using some purple ink in the gaps between sections and I think that this has worked quite nicely at table top range and perhaps a little less so in these close-ups.
Ronan’s appearance in the MCU leaves something to be desired as he’s a pretty rubbish baddy who ends up being comedically defeated by the Guardians. I’ve seen him show up in a few comics where he makes a much more interesting character – still a zealot (and far from a goody) but with a goal of creating an admittedly harsh justice and sometimes fighting alongside the heroes in pursuit of that goal. I understand that at some stage he was also somehow married into the Inhuman royal family which explains his inclusion in that affiliation but opens a host of other questions, most notably: why?!
Next on the painting table: Ghost Rider.
This is Heimdall, the All-Seeing for Marvel Crisis Protocol. He is, of course, an Asgardian and I think that he makes a useful partner for Thor. Thor tends to live or die based on whether he rolls well on his attacks and Heimdall offers a superpower to allow limited re-rolls for nearby allies. Fittingly, he can also do a short teleport (again, only for allies) with a huge pick-up; this can be enough to park someone back atop an objective if they’ve been displaced earlier in the round. Finally, Heimdall can use Forfend to make an attack if an enemy ends a move within range; this pairs up very nicely with Enchantress moving people around with Siren’s Call. The only downside to all of this is that his power generation is quite anaemic and so he rarely has enough power to do all the cool things that you want.
I went about half-and-half between the MCU and comic versions of Heimdall when it came to painting. His armour is based on the card art with its bold red and bronze colours, but I painted his skin to look like Idris Elba’s portrayal of the character. Although the process was fun I think that the effect might have been a bit better if I’d gone with a lighter red or a different trimming on the armour to provide a better contrast against the skin. The mini comes with a load of little rainbow bits to go all around the base but I didn’t like the way that they looked so I left them all off. There was a little chunk on the end of Heimdall’s sword that I kept, partly as a cute little nod to the Bifrost and partly because it would have been annoying to cut away from the blade. Heimdall’s left foot also needed a bit of reconstruction as it’s supposed to have a little bit of Bifrost attached to it.
Next on the painting table: Ronan, the Accuser.