Archive for the ‘Dreadfleet’ Category



Recently I have turned my attention back to Dreadfleet. I bought this set a couple of years ago when it was first released and the models are simply too nice to sit around in a box unpainted. The models themselves are superb but they are quite fiddly to paint as they often need to be painted in several sub-assemblies before being glued together. However, they are a nice change of pace from more traditional 28mm GW models and I can definitely foresee more of these models on my painting table in the not-too-distant future.

Over the Christmas holidays I made good progress on Grimnir’s Thunder, The Black Kraken and Skabrus. Initially I decided to work on Grimnir’s Thunder alongside my Astral Claws as I was painting lots of metalics anyway. However, I got carried away with the Dreadfleet bug and painted a further two ships.

Grimnir’s Thunder

Grimnir's Thunder

Grimnir’s Thunder followed my usual technique for painting silver. It was basecoated Leadbelcher before being washed with Nuln Oil and then highlighted using Leadbelcher followed by Mithril Silver. For the gold I used the new range of Citadel paints and I must say I was really impressed. I have been using old pots of Shining Gold and Burnished Gold for years and normally I hate painting gold. However, with the new layer paints it was straightforward. The gold was painted Balthasar Gold and highlighted using Ghenna Gold, Golden Griffon and then Golden Griffon with increasing amounts of Mithril silver added all the way up to pure Mithril. the gold was then washed with Agrax Earthshade. The green areas were painted Dark Angels Green and highlighted with Snot Green followed by Goblin Green.


Grimnir's Thunder

Grimnir's Thunder


The Black Kraken

The Black Kraken

The Black Kraken was painted with GW’s new black/blue painted. I started with a basecoat of Chaos Black and highlighted it using Dark Reaper, Thunderhawk Blue and Thunderhawk Blue mixed with a little Fortress Grey. The brass areas also used the new paint range. I started with Balthasar Gold washed with Agrax Earthshade and highlighted this using Runelord Brass and Sycorax Bronze.

The Black Kraken

The Black Kraken



And finally one of my favourite ships from the whole set, Skabrus. This is a really characterful and imaginative model (not to mention gross) and, like the other two ships shown here, it makes great use of negative space. This is very much the zombie of the Dreadfleet, an undead sea monster summoned to unlife.


The fleshy areas were basecoated using a 50/50 mix of Tallarn Flesh and Space Wolf Grey. It was washed with Ogryn Flesh and highlighted using the original mix with increasing amounts of Space Wolf Grey added. Areas were then glazed red and purple and mottling was applied to the skin using dots of Ogryn Flesh and Bloodletter.



Just a quick update to share my progress on the next ship in the Dreadfleet line-up: the Curse of Zandri. I’m pleased with how this is shaping up. It’s been something of an experiment for me as I’ve used the model to try out some more of the new Citadel Paints and to try my hand at painting a marble effect on the magical statues which you can see in more detail in the photo below.

Over the weekend I managed to get a couple games of Dreadfleet against Nick and thought I’d share my thoughts on the game. The rules are straightforward and fairly easy to pick up. Our first turn took a while to complete but after that we quickly got used to the turn sequence and order of play. Initially the way in which the winds works was confusing (I’m not sure if it is explained properly in the book or whether we just missed it) but in the end we decided that the rules intended it to blow from the marker on the edge of the seascape towards the centre of the board.

Our set-up for the game

We played through the first scenario in the book, ‘Corpse Reef’, which pits Jaego Wroth and The Heldenhammer against Count Noctilus and The Bloody Reaver. The objective of the scenario is to place 8 damage cards on your opponent’s warship. We set up the terrain following the example to represent the reef of bone that separates the Galleons’ Graveyard from the rest of the ocean.

The games we played were great fun. One of the things I like about Dreadfleet is the fact that the games uses an alternate activation sequence (much like Epic) where one player activates a ship and performs actions and then the other player does the same until every ship has moved. I’ve already written about how I think this style of play is much more fun and challenging than the you-go-I-go turn sequence of other GW games as both players are involved all the time.

In the first game I took charge of the Bloody Reaver and Nick played as the Heldenhammer. As this was the first game we were still getting used to maneuvering the ships and avoiding running aground against the many obstacles that litter Corpse Reef. An early Fate Card resulted in a Ghastly Fog engulfing the board and limiting visibility drastically, meaning that there would not be much shooting in the game. The Heldenhammer managed to trap the Bloody Reaver in the reef and I had no choice but to engage Nick head on. Noctilus managed to kill Wroth in a duel but, despite putting up a good fight (and Wroth’s crew being distracted by sirens), the Bloody Reaver was no match for the Heldenhammer‘s deadly figurehead and was smashed to pieces resulting in a victory for Nick.

Having learned it's lesson in the first game, the Bloody Reaver avoids a head on confrontation with the Heldenhammer

For the second game we swapped sides and I took command of the Empire’s flagship while Nick took the part of the dastardly count. This game was much quicker and smoother than the first as we had a much firmer grasp of the rules. While the first game was dominated by the boarding action that resulted in the destruction of the Bloody Reaver, this game was much more focused on shooting and the early stages saw a lot of maneuvering as we both tried to line up the perfect broadside. This tactical maneuvering is a great element of the game and made things very tense as we each tried to bring our cannons to bear. I managed to pull up alongside the Bloody Reaver but as Nick had issued the ‘Fire as She Bears’ order he got to shoot first claiming first blood. The Heldenhammer‘s magazine store caught fire, seriously damaging the ship. The fires continued to burn and next turn the magazine store exploded, destroying the ship. We decided to ignore this result and played for a few more turns (we didn’t want to end the game so early on). The Bloody Reaver initiated a  boarding action against the Heldenhammer and, with the aid of a Bone Hydra summoned to Noctilus’s aid, managed to overwhelm the crew and claim another victory for Nick.

The Heldenhammer is attacked by one of the many undead denizens of the Galleons' Graveyard

Overall this is a fun, fast-paced game and we managed to get through two battles in an afternoon. The only downside to the game was that some of the Damage Cards are too destructive, particularly in a game where there is only one ship on each side. In the second game the Heldenhammer was destroyed by the effects of a single damage card (which inflicted D3 damage on the ship each turn). For small games in particular I would recommend removing the more destructive cards from the deck. After all, you don’t want the game to be over after a single broadside. Other than this though, we had two very enjoyable games of Dreadfleet and I’m currently working on the Curse of Zandri in preparation for scenario two.

All the best,



Well, it’s taken a while but the Heldenhammer is finally seaworthy. I’ve been working on this model on and off since November so it’s nice to have it finished. All of the gold detailing was a real pain to do as was the NNM gold effect on the sails’ degins. This was my first attempt at NNM gold and I’m very pleased with how it turned out. I used Calthan Brown and Snakebite Leather and highlighted this using Snakebite Leather with increasing amounts of Bleached Bone added all the way up to pure Bleached Bone. This ended up looking a little washed out and so I glazed the areas with the original basecoat to bring back some of the warmth.

The gold was painted Shining Gold and Scorched Brown followed by a Shining Gold and then a Burnished Gold highlight. It was then washed with Baal Red in order to tie it in visually with the red of the hull and sails. This was then rehighlighted Burnished Gold followed by Burnished Gold and Mithril Silver and finally a tiny highlight of Mithril Silver on its own.

Here you can see where I added a bit of freehand detail. It’s not very clear in the photo but the shield design is a hammer on a red and white field.

The Heldenhammer faces off against the Bloody Reaver in the midst of the Galleons’ Graveyard.

With two ships painted I just have to paint up their cogs and apply some finishing touches to the terrain and I’m ready to play the first scenario. Next I plan on moving on to either the Swordfish or the Curse of Zandri. Decisions, decisions…

Related Posts:

The Heldenhammer is coming along nicely. It is much more straightforward to paint than The Bloody Reaver due to the fact that it is composed of fewer different areas. So far the ship has only taken a couple of painting sessions to get to the current stage. The cathedral was painted following the excellent guide in White Dwarf 382. However, with the gold I tried something a little different and incorporated some red into the gold in order to tie it in with the rest of the ship. This was achieved by washing the gold with Baal Red before highlighting.

Hope you like it,


I have finally finished the first of my Dreadfleet ships, The Bloody Reaver. Well, I say ship, it’s actually a magical floating castle torn free from a mountaintop in Sylvania and translocated to the Galleon’s Graveyard. The background to this ship puts me very much in mind of Duckula and the way in which the castle teleports around only to return to Transylvania at the most inopportune moments. If you have no idea what I’m talking about then you are probably either too young or not British. Either way I would certainly encourage you to check out this brilliant cartoon.

Initially I wasn’t too fond of The Bloody Reaver from the photos in White Dwarf but in reality the model looks a lot better than in the pictures. It is incredibly finely detailed and quite cleverly designed. The main body of the ship is an island with numerous shipwrecks clustered around it (kind of like a fantasy version of a space hulk). However, the designers have retained the profile of a ship which gives it quite a witty and playful aesthetic.

It took me much longer than anticipated to paint the ship. This is partly due to all of the tiny details and also because of the way in which the model needed to be painted in several sub-assemblies and then put together afterwards. This was a bit fiddly and I would recommend that anyone who is starting to put this kit together takes a moment to put some thought into how everything goes together first before breaking out the glue and paints. The main problem here is with gap-filling. I attached the two halves of the island together first, filling any gaps. After this I then painted those, keeping the shipwreck/castle pieces and sails separate. This is so that you can paint all of the detail and also because the shipwreck/castle parts lock the sails in place and so need to be attached last.

After gluing everything in place there were gaps in the courtyard of the castle and on the pathway which needed to be filled after final assembly which was tricky as most of the model had been painted at this stage and I am not used to filling gaps after painting a model. I used GW’s new ‘liquid greenstuff’ for this and I must say I’m impressed. It is water soluble and can be painted straight on with a brush giving you a great deal of control. I found two or three thin coats were enough to fill in any fine gaps (anything larger and you would need to use a more conventional putty). Once the gaps were filled I simply painted over them with Graveyard Earth. On reflection, if I were to build this ship again I would remove the ball joints from the bottom of the masts and fit the masts right at the end. The rest of the Dreadfleet ships fit together in this way so I’m not sure why The Bloody Reaver doesn’t. Also, you might be able to tell from the picture above that one of the turrets connects rather awkwardly with the sail, making it difficult to position the sail straight. If I were to make another Reaver I would probably remove the offending turret.

The Sails

I’m very pleased with how the sails turned out. The relief designs are a joy to paint and add a lot of visual interest to the models, further defining the look and feel of each ship.

Rather irritatingly, the sails obscure each other. In particular the rearmost sail can hardly be seen at all on the finished model which is a shame as it has a fantastic (or should that be ‘fang-tastic’) design on it. I also think that the freehand turned out better on this sail than on the one that reads ‘Bloody Reaver’. I thought I would photograph it as it will hardly be visible on the model. Never mind, at least I’ll know it’s there.

Fine Detail

Here are some close ups of all of the amazing details that adorn the ship. I decided to paint the statues/figure heads of the Reaver gold rather than the bone colour seen on the ‘Eavy Metal version as I thought that the bone was too similar in colour to the sail’s design.

With the shipwrecks I tried to keep them in fairly neutral colours in order to prevent them from being too overpowering. The red hulls are an exception to this but they work as they tie in with the red used elsewhere on the ship. For the blue wreck I used Fenris Grey and highlighted this by adding Codex Grey in order to keep the colours muted. I also painted some simple shield designs on the tiny shields but they don’t show up too well in the photo.

I also added some freehand cracks to the stone blade that juts out over the cave. This is a technique that I’ve wanted to try for a while. I painted thin lines of chaos black and highlighted them using Fortress Grey and Skull White. This is quite a simple yet effective way of adding three-dimensional looking damage (trompe loeil as the French would say). I think some of my lines are a little thick but I would use the technique again for paint chips on armour or vehicles.

Making Waves

I painted all of my bases using an airbrush while they were still on the frame. They were first airbushed with Regal Blue followed by Hawk Turquoise and then Hawk Turquoise with increasing amounts of Skull White added. I tried to spray at an angle so that the spray caught the upper parts of the waves providing an illusion of depth. I then randomly sprayed on some Thrakka Green and Asurmen Blue in order to create further variation. The crests of the waves were stippled with Astronomican Grey followed by Skull white using a blister pack sponge. This gives a very natural, random appearance to the placement of the spray on the waves. I focused in particular on any areas where the water would be more disturbed such as the ship’s wake or the frothing sea on the Shadewraith’s base. When I come to do each ship the bases will be clipped off and futher refined with a brush.

Up Next

The next ship to hit the painting table will be the flagship of the Grand Alliance, The Heldenhammer. This is because the first scenario requires The Heldenhammer and The Bloody Reaver so I wanted to get them painted first. I also plan on painting the cog auxiliaries for these ships along with the sea monsters as these will be required for the first scenario too. Hopefully The Heldenhammer won’t take as long as the Reaver as it is a less complicated ship being largely one colour.

Goodnight out there…whatever you are!


Just a quick update on The Bloody Reaver. This is probably the most purple I have ever painted on a model by quite a long way. I rather enjoyed it though and so may paint up more models in this colour in the future (my mind is already racing with ideas of  Slanneshi Chaos Space Marines).

When it came to painting the sails I chose a darker, more bluish purple than the GW colour scheme. To achieve this, the sails were airbushed Liche Purple followed by an airbrushed highlight of two-parts  Liche Purple, one-part Warlock Purple and one-part Bleached Bone around the edge of the sails. Using a brush I added some finer highlights by adding  more Bleached Bone to the previous mix. In order to achieve a dark, rich look to the purple the sails were then washed with a thinned mix of Liche Purple, Warlock Purple and Chaos Black (roughly a 2/2/1 mix). After this had dried completely I picked out the skeletal designs with Khemri Brown and highlighted them by adding increasing amounts of Bleached Bone followed by Skull White, working through several thin layers to ensure a smooth finish.

All that remains is to paint the anchors and scroll work and the sails will be done.

Halloween seems like a suitable occasion to share my progress on perhaps the most terrifying of the Dreadfleet ships, The Bloody Reaver. This model just exudes horror movie archetypes with its Gothic keep and skull-faced cave mouth.

I had hoped to have the ship finished by now but it is such a detailed kit I didn’t want to rush it. As you can see there is a lot of work to do including the ship wrecks, dragon statues/figureheads and sails. At the moment the model still hasn’t been fully assembled (I just snapped the pieces together for the photo but they haven’t been glued in place yet) which is why there is a gap on the path to the castle. This will need filling once everything is assembled.  Hopefully I will have more time to work on it during the week.

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the really impressive things about Dreadfleet is the way in which each of the gaming pieces is a model in itself. The turning wheel and wind gauge/vortex marker could so easily have been produced as cardboard templates but instead GW went the extra mile and created them as molded plastic pieces. These little models are great fun to paint. The wheel on the right is done and the vortex marker is almost complete; I just need to finish the clouds/air symbols around the side.

The turning wheel was airbrushed Regal Blue followed by Hawk Turquoise and then Hawk Turquoise and Skull White (as can be seen on the other wheel in the first picture). The gold was painted with a 50/50 mix of Vallejo Brass and Scorched Brown followed by pure Vallejo Brass. This was then washed with Vallejo Black Brown (although a thinned mix of Scorched Brown and Chaos Black would also work). I then worked up the gold through Citadel’s Shining Gold, Burnished Gold and a Burnished Gold and Mithril Silver mix. This was then given a final highlight of pure Mithril Silver.

I then basecoated the bone with Khemri Brown. This was washed with Vallejo Black Brown and, when this had dried, Leviathan Purple was applied to the recesses. I reapplied the Khemri Brown in all but the shaded areas and proceeded to highlight the skeleton by adding increasing amounts of Bleached Bone to the Khemri Brown. A final highlight of Skull White was used to pick out the very edges of the skeleton’s features.

Although this time I painted the gold areas before moving on to the bone areas I would probably paint the bone first next time and add the gold border after as it is impossible to avoid handling this piece while painting it and I ended up getting some flakes of metallic paint on the skeleton which was a pain to correct.

Even the ruler in Dreadfleet is a model. I decided to shy away from painting this bone as I have seen many others do in favour of painting it silver. This was mainly because my technique for painting bone is quite time consuming as well as simply wanting to do something different. Keeping the three components separate,  I airbrushed the ruler Boltgun Metal. When this had dried I applied successive washes of Gryphonne Sepia, Ogryn Flesh and Devlan Mud (waiting for each wash to dry completely before applying the next one). This was then highlighted Boltgun Metal followed by Mithril Silver. The numbers were painted Chaos Black and Dheneb Stone and framed with Vallejo Brass. It is important when painting to mask the hinges on the model with blue tack first so that the paint doesn’t prevent them from fitting together and moving once the whole thing is finished.

One of the really cool things about the ruler is how it is not only used to measure distance in the game but angles too. It pivots to 45 degrees.

I have also repainted the lava on Volcano Island (how do they come up with these names?) since my last post. The lava was basecoated Red Gore and airbrushed using Blood Red, Blazing Orange, Bad Moon Yellow and Skull White in that order to achieve a glowing effect. This was then touched up using the old Citadel Yellow and Orange Inks (although I am sure that any other inks would do). Overall I am much more happy with its appearance now.

I wanted to paint the temple on the other side of the volcano as obsidian to look like it had been built out of volcanic rock. To achieve this the temple was painted Chaos Black and edge highlighted using Adeptus Battle Grey followed by Codex Grey. It was then finished off with a coat of gloss varnish in order to give it a nice shiny appearance.

I had previously used the same technique to paint the standing stone circle atop Corpseface Cliff. This lends a nice visual unity to the pieces.

Dreadfleet on the Web

Before I leave you I thought I’d share two interesting Dreadfleet features I have discovered online. The first of these is a post by ‘The Irishman’ entitled ‘Why Dreadfleet Matters’. This is an interesting and well thought out piece which I totally agree with and is well worth a read. It can be found here.

The second is Dave Taylor‘s post about ‘Celebrity Dreadfleet’ which you can read about over on Dave’s blog here. If you haven’t read Dave’s blog already than I would heartily recommend it. Not only is Dave a talented modeller and painter who’s blog provides a great deal of inspiration and advice but he is also regularly involved in charity events such as the Storm Wardens project and more recently Heroes of Armageddon. These projects are essentially about raising money for worthy causes through hobbying. The latest of the noble endeavors with which he is associated is Celebrity Dreadfleet which you can read all about here.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Hopefully more Dreadfleet to follow in the next few days.


I have made some progress with the shipwrecks and other pieces. Here they are on the gaming mat:

I’m not entirely happy with the volcano. I may yet go back and repaint the lava.

More to follow.