Blood & Plunder Player Spotlight – Paulina Viluir

Hi Paulina and thank you for giving us some of your time and participating in this interview.  Please introduce yourself as a person and as a gamer and painter.

Hello everyone! Thanks a lot for inviting me to such a great action. So maybe first things first.

As a person I am currently a PhD student at the local University of Technology. I am a science-focus person, passionate about engineering and technology. Main topic of my research during bachelor studies was nuclear engineering but now I am doing research about utilization of CO2. It may sound weird and terrifying but believe me – it is not and most importantly – it’s a really enterprising endeavour.

As a painter I wish for myself one of two things. First is to have more time to paint. Second – paint faster. Unfortunately the pile of shame is growing faster than it ever should (laugh).

As a gamer I can identify myself as an RPG player (mainly Warhammer) and wargamer. I really like wargame’s rules which are: focused on creating remarkable stories, “easy to learn, hard to master” and games without tons and tons of special rules, and special rules to other special rules, or keywords and combos working all together but only if in a certain point of the game you will jump overboard three times 😉

For example, that kind of “ruleset of choice” was for me the Kings of War 2nd edition. 20 pages with rules, skills and abilities was easy to learn but winning tournaments was almost occupied by blood (laugh). Moreover, I really prefer systems where I don’t need to spend the whole day on one game (WH40k I am looking at you right now). Additionally, from rank & flank type of games I expect a kind of mathematical aspect, looking at games like logical puzzles and Kings of War was a perfect shot for that.

On the other hand, I also love skirmish games which are totally different piece of cake and my expectations are 180 degrees different. I like well-working mechanics which should be fuel for supporting the creation of a story. As I said – I am also an RPG player, so making a good background story, giving names for characters I play and creating their history is really important for me in this kind of games. That kind of “full of additional fluff” games could be for example our beloved Blood and Plunder but also Frostgrave, Rangers of Shadow Deep or even good old Mordheim.

In general, the gameplay vibe is essential for me. I really like to sit down at the table, look around at awesome scenery, with painted miniatures with some nice soundtrack in the background. To feel the flow of the history that is just going to happen. Feel the joy of the whole game as a masterpiece, not only enjoy cool rules, nice models or powerful army lists. Last thing is important for me but only in tournament games. During casual play (which I play most of my time) the story and “feel of the game” are the most important things and a nice, friendly opponent, great terrain pieces, painted miniatures could ensure that.

As a wargamer for a long time I really enjoy discovering new titles. When in 2016 I started my wargaming journey again, I jumped into Warhammer 8th edition but it was only frustration, tons of rules. To be honest – for a simple boardgamer and roleplayer it was kind of a disaster. That was what I thought then. In fact it was only the beginning of something more awesome than I could then imagine. I started looking for new wargames. I discovered Kings of War, Frostgrave, Fallout Wasteland Warfare and Blood and Plunder as well. But more about that later 🙂    

   How did you find out about Blood & Plunder and how long have you been painting and playing?

I even checked out my order’s history to make a precise answer to this question. My first set was Dutch Nationality Set and I bought it for my husband as a gift for our wedding anniversary. I ordered it on 1.08.2019 to have some time to paint miniatures in secret and give him them ready to play. But the surprise came after two weeks and he gave me English Nationality Set. And how it all started. As a typical wargamer collection grows really fast, not as fast as I could paint (and Blood and Plunder isn’t the only project on my workbench so far). In fact, my first contact with Blood and Plunder was during the second Kickstarter. I was in wargaming for 2 years and hey! Pirates and privateers are always cool topics to be interested in! I discovered KS after it ended, but I remember all the time “this cool game with pirates and huge ships”. It was just a matter of time it came to the shop I’m trying to support. And then… then all things started 😉

But despite Blood and Plunder my journey to wargaming was kind of long. My first contact with them was around 2005? I was 12 years old. It was when Middle-Earth booklets from DeaGostini were out. I bought my first magazine and as you can imagine when my parents see how long you need to buy all things to gather all the collections they just give up and so I. Yeah, this little goblin fella was my first ever painted miniature. After all that time I regretted that I threw him away in the trash tin. But as a kid I still was surrounded by information about “cool warhammer” and miniature painting (in my town there was a strong community playing Warhammer Fantasy Battle, until Age of Sigmar came out. Since this time, there is no longer any gaming club or game store in town. I’ve tried to organise some gaming clubs but after a few attemptions I just gave up. Now I am playing with a few friends and my husband.).

I came back into wargaming around 2013 when X-wing came out. But even as a Star Wars fan I still prefer to play Star Wars LCG. All changed in 2016 when I met my future husband. He was a wargamer with a long warhammer experience. Funny thing, he sold out his army a few years before he met me due to personal reasons but he still wanted to come back to play. I thought that it would be a nice gift from me if I would buy him a new army (he played skaven so at least I know what to buy). And in December 2016 all started with a box of nightrunners.

After that I was only interested in playing, not painting. I thought that “I can’t, I never can do this, it’s too difficult for me”. But he hadn’t had enough time to paint the entire two armies of skaven (one for me and one for him). As a typical wargamer my backlog continues growing and growing. We played a few games with bare plastic models (mainly Warhammer 8th edition but after 5 games we jumped into Kings of War). There is no better motivation to paint than a coming tournament (it was Kings of War, October 2017). So I just thought “Ok, now it is time you need to do this!”. I just grab a brush one more time and start painting, and painting so one and one.

Since then I started painting more and more but this will be good for the next question.

Since that time I just played a lot of Kings of War but all the time I keep looking for new games, new models. I started to be interested in historical wargaming. Few days ago I counted how many wargames I tried during the last 4 years and the number is around 20 (but only around 8 I keep playing, rest wasn’t my game of choice, just tired and ended with them. It doesn’t mean they aren’t fine – they are just not my piece of cake.). Moment when Blood and Plunder hit our gaming table was outstanding. We simply fall in platonic love with this game. It delivers us all we want from skirmish wargames. Simple rules, easy to learn, hard to master, nice models almost ready to play from the box, a topic which is interesting for both of us (one more time: hey! pirates!). I found out (and this is only my honest opinion) that many “skirmish” games I had tried earlier wasn’t skirmish size at all or have rules so non-intuitive (oh dear Saga Age of Vikings and Bolt Action I am looking at your two soo, sooo badly) or unbalanced (who plays Death Guard in Kill Team know that 2x Blight Launcher can destroy every friendship) that it was almost impossible to play comfortably.

Blood and Plunder was like fresh air, like catching a wind in a sail.

Now, here we are. I personally understand what I would expect from the system I plan to play. I have a set of my favourite games, where Blood and Plunder is on the honorable TOP1. After researching, game hopping, and trying many new game titles I think it’s time to start fighting with the backlog and focus on painting rather than discovering new systems. I guess you could say it’s a form of reaching a certain wargaming maturity 😉

Blood and Plunder was also a game for which we (I and my husband) made a significant amount of terrain pieces and even we bought 2 gaming mats dedicated to play BnP. For the last two years it was the most frequently appearing game on the table. Moreover, Blood and Plunder miniatures were one of the first models I painted after a long hobby break and on them I learned most of the techniques I currently use. Additionally I won two local competitions organised by the STRATEGIES portal (3 cavalrymen – 1st place and 4 marineros – 3rd place). After 2 years of playing almost Kings of War 2nd edition (my first years in wargaming journey), Blood and Plunder make a significant mark in how I look at wargames and what I expected from them. And I a huge amount of great time full of enjoyment with this game. I am glad I discovered it – it was a really life changing experience.    

Your minis are beautiful! How long have you been painting and how did you learn?

Oh I really don’t know what to say. Thank you! I am really not a professional or commision painter. I just paint for myself and I just try to do my best. I’m always seeking for new techniques and opportunities. I’m trying to encourage myself to try new things, mastering my skills. How long have I been painting? Not long enough to feel confident but fair enough to see mistakes (laugh).

I mostly learn from YouTube videos and by practising, making mistakes and trying to repair them. I wish I one day will have the opportunity to take part in some painting lessons with professional painters but during pandemic time it is hard to find something. I’m watching a lot of technique tutorials and painting streams. I always seek information about how other peopels achieve this, for example smooth blends on cape, or which colours did they use on this NMM sword. Of course you can’t learn just by watching, you also need to paint, put knowledge and theory into practise. Colour theory could be useful during choosing colour schemes for your army, while knowing which colours add to the mix to achieve darker or brighter colours could help with creating interesting colour triads. Anyway – theory always needs to be put into practise. And this is the way I learned to paint miniatures.It’s a constant process of learning, making mistakes and doing things right. 🙂

What lines of paints do you use and recommend?

Buying new paint pots is like buying miniatures – never ending adventure. When I started my wargaming journey I got a Mega Paint Set from Army Painter and a few Citadel paints. I quickly discovered (as a newbie painter) that I am missing some colours and mixing this with what I already have didn’t give me satisfactory results. What’s more, it isn’t effective enough while you want to repeat colour schemes (especially if you have a whole skaven army to paint!). So I just started adding more and more mainly Citadel’s paints in order to cover the demand. I found out that drying under the cape irritates me but on the other hand Army Painter pots sometimes required really strong and long shaking (like in this old the Beatles song 😉 ). OK but the story goes on, I paint more and more and my shelf is getting more paint pots. I was slowly discovering other paint brands. During my wargaming journey I saw on Facebook groups that many pro painters use for example: Scale75 and Vallejo. It has coincided with my jump into historical wargaming (at the beginning it was Mortal Gods and Bolt Action) and was also an indicator in my choice to buy some Vallejo paints.

I also have a few pots from Scale75 but I am not sure that I like them as much as even Citadel. In the meantime one of my best discoveries was P3 paints. They have a great range of colours and paints are really well pigmented, not needing a lot of shaking but there could be some troubles buying them separately. In my country I found only three shops selling them in this way.

After almost 5 years I kind of came back to Army Painter paints. I like dropper bottles more than citadel pots. They are not bad paints, even if they are unpopular opinions. All you need is to really shake them really, really well. Some mixing balls could help in this process. With the help of a paint/ink shaker it could be an even easier task! But to be honest – the famous Scale75 or Citadel paints also need good shaking 😉

If I can recommend something for the beginners – just buy colours, not brands. Get some colors your army needs. Remember that white, black, some browns and skin tones are always useful. And one magical trick – get some kind of “sunny skin tone” – kind of bright, warm, yellowish skin color. You can use it to easily make brighter colors of your base color just by adding a little part of this one. Even pro painters like Vince Venturella recommend that specific color as a kind of “must-have” in a paint collection. Of course for the beginning I highly recommend taking some washes also – here I can recommend with my whole heart Army Painter washes. They are great – try and you don’t regret that advice!

To sum up – I have a variety of paints. Around 200 pots. I like a few colors from Citadel and also dislike a few of them. The same story is with Army Painter or Vallejo. I hope that some day I have an occasion to check Kimera paints! Painting with a lack of paints could be challenging but hey! The fundamental thing in this hobby is constantly moving forward by discovering new possibilities and techniques, sometimes going out of your comfort zone! Even if I don’t really like mixing paints to achieve certain colors, it could be a nice adventure to work with paints of such huge amounts of pigment.

At the end of this point I think that I will share some paint sets that I like so much!

For skin: Bugman’s Glow (Citadel) – Cadian Fleshtone (Citadel) – Ryn Flesh (P3)

For white: Apothecary White (Citadel) – Ulthuan Grey (Citadel) – Morrow White (P3)

For black: Matt Black (Army Painter) – Eshin Grey (Citadel) – Ash Grey (Army Painter)

For dark brown: Oak Brown (Army Painter) – Skrag Brown (Citadel) – Snakebite Leather (Citadel)

For light brown: Monster Brown (Army Painter) – Ivory (Vallejo Model Color) – Strong Tone (Army Painter)

Can you describe your standard approach to painting a metal mini? What methods and techniques do you use?

First of all – I really like painting metal miniatures. Maybe due to the fact that they are the easiest miniatures material to scrap paints off! But jokes aside, the first thing you always need to do is to remove mould lines. It could be boring but it is important. If you can do this – you should do this. Pack of files, modeller knife and sanding blocks are my “weapon of choice” in fighting with mould lines on metal models (and any other materials!). After this stage, I use an old toothbrush to remove all metal dust that can cover the miniature after the first stage. Then it’s priming time! I use a rattle can – mostly Grey Seer from Citadel, sometimes Wolf Grey or Uniform Grey from Army Painter – depending on what I have in stock on my shelves. Because I always manually build up highlights and shadows on miniatures I seldom do zenithal highlights. Depends on the miniature. If there are a lot of bright places like skin on it (like on Marineros or Sea Dogs) I usually don’t do it. After priming I let it dry for at least 24 hours. After that I put one coat of matt varnish on the entire model to protect the undercoat. Then, the best part starts! After the entire work is finished I put on one-two coats of matt varnish (I mostly use Army Painter Anti-Shine) using a brush. Sometimes I am using satin varnish from Vallejo, for example on some fabric parts, to make them look satin and “expensive fabric” look.

From painting techniques I really like using glazing and layering techniques. With them I can easily control building up shadows and highlights. They are time-consuming but the final effect is (in my honest opinion) worth it. 🙂

What advice would you give a beginning painter? How can we get our minis looking like yours?

Be patient, take your time, don’t overjudge yourself. Nobody is perfect at the beginning and everybody makes mistakes. It is good to make mistakes and make a kind of friendship with them. There are a lot of useful (but sometimes tough) lessons you can learn from making mistakes. Don’t compare yourself to pro-painters at the beginning because you will never know how much time they spend to achieve this level. Try to compare to… yourself! Look at your first miniature and your 10th miniature. You will see progress. Even if there is little to see – there always will be something.

If you put miniatures on the Internet groups, reddit, facebook – alway write down what kind of miniature you are showing on the photo (and try to take a really good one, a poor photo of even the best pro-painted piece will never show all the details) and what did you try to achieve. Did you try to make this green really verdant? Or maybe you practise skin tone and you want some C&C? Sometimes you can get some useful advice and tips and tricks.

In fact I am really not as good as you thinking about me 😀 There are a lot of much better painters than me and I really don’t think about myself as a pro-painter or master. But if I can share something with Blood and Pigment society it will be the most precious thing – my lessons from mistakes!

As you can see on my Marineros with those smooth skin tones. In fact, I hated to paint skin for a long time. He is just kind of another step in this long painful journey to teach myself how to do it properly. One day I just sat down, grabbed a Sea Dog miniature and said to myself – OK! I will do my best and I won’t give up until I like what I achieve! And I just started painting. Before that, for a long time I tried to look for inspiration everywhere (like yes.. everywhere!). I was with my pet at the veterinary office and I looked around how the light affects people’s skin or my pet fur. How the light reflects. I was trying to imagine “which paint I should use here or there”. Sounds weird? But it helps a lot! Look even at yourself in the mirror, look at how many different skin tones you have. Will Cadian Fleshtone be good enough to use it on cheeks and nose? Really, look around, look how different things look, what you see, how paints could match to certain things. Then I painted a Sea Dog in blue trousers. He was my first test for myself to paint good looking skin tones. I tried to do my best, push myself as far as I can. Next I push myself a little bit further. Marineros was another step in this eternal ladder of trials and mistakes.

Shadows! I think it would be a nice story to tell. In fact many of us – painters – use washes to achieve shadows. Simple technique: base-wash-highlight. And there is no shame in using it! It’s simple, good and easy. One day I was painting a rat ogre for my skaven army. I was at the very beginning of my painting journey. Painting skin was really difficult for me. I put some photos on facebook to look for C&C. People advise me to put more wash to achieve better contrast. In fact there was contrast on it, I just didn’t take good enough photos (as I said before – take as good photos as you can!). I put wash on the poor little fella and then disaster came. It was all darker than it should be and some piece that I really liked and was proud of became “oh dude… it’s really bad”. I was completely destroyed and I stopped painting miniatures for a few months. I rethought all of it and I decided that: Well, if I can’t use washes correctly, then I will use them as glaze and I will just paint shadows as any other piece of model – not wash all of it! As I thought I did. Now every time I look at the miniature I try to imagine where to highlight and where the shadow should be. It is a really important lesson to understand if you want to try for example OSL (object source lighting) or NMM (non metallic metal) techniques. And in fact – it is not that difficult! I still use washes, I really like how they can speed up the entire painting process. But in fact I use them more like glaze than just slap it all over the miniature. Using zenithal highlight techniques during priming miniatures could be really helpful with this approach to painting.

Third lesson I can share and which was really important to me is understanding that painting miniatures is not only to paint a certain colour in a certain way. It is something more. We should look at the miniature or entire unit as one piece. There should be some coherency between miniatures and their colour scheme. It may look like really basic advice but it is so important for beginner painters!

Are you connected to a local B&P community? Do you have a local store that supports the game?

Well it’s difficult. I don’t have any FLGS in my town. Closest store is around 200 km, next one is around 250 km (but I’m supporting them by buying via their webstores). I have a local group of 4 people to play with but usually I play with my husband. In fact (a little parody of Star Wars – I am sure you remember that scene in the galactic senate) I am the local BnP community! (laugh)

Describe your Blood & Plunder collection.

Oh dude! A lot of miniatures in 2 heavy Safe’n’Sound boxes. Many of them are waiting for the preparation process but most of them are at least primed. I am collecting English and Spanish forces. My husband focuses on Dutch and Native. For now we have around 300 models (I’m not counting the newest Kickstarter models which will come later) in our collection and it’s still growing!

Do you have a favorite ship, unit and/or commander?

First of all – Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves! So yes – if there is some British unit/commander/thing I automatically fall in love with. Funny thing – I really like Manuel de Pardal. He’s totally bad@ss! I even got in contact with a professor from one of the universities in Poland to ask him a few questions about some literature about de Pardal and general history of Caribbean. Discovering history is really enjoyable and it is one of the best parts about Blood and Plunder.

Besides that, I really enjoy painting sea dogs and similar types of “sailors units”. At the table I love how much you can achieve with simple English Militia (cheap and tough enough units during land battles) as well as with Sea Dogs (even cheaper and better!). Oh and I really don’t like Boslopers (laugh). So many times I fought against them… their abilities are really tough and a cruel combo in the game. 😉

What is your favorite thing about Blood & Plunder?

As I presume everything isn’t answer? (laugh) It’s a really tough question, because I feel like I can list all the pros all day. But if I must point out the crucial things for me it will be: setting and how full of action (like superhero kind of movie) the game can be. You can almost tell untold stories with this game, making actions full of courage, brave and clever charges, sneaky and stealthy past the guards and quickly recover some treasures. You can transform a wargame table into almost movie scenery. Moreover, easy to learn mechanics, without downtime during the course of the game support that kind of gameplay – fully loaded with action. This is the best part – the heart of the game. For me Blood and Plunder is this all “wooah!”, “wow! Amazing!”, “Impossible!” which you shout out at the table. Those emotions you feel and the story that you can tell “well, if your cannon didn’t hit my unit of Freeboters then I possibly would charge you and retake treasure!”.

Speaking of mechanics, the concept is truly brilliant. The whole process of picking cards to activate your units is full of excitement and tension, but also a great deal of planning. What does your opponent have in his hand? Which unit he activates first? How can I keep him under pressure? Next part is fight – both – on land and on sea. Manoeuvring, seeking cover among the dense bushes, using every scrap of sail to catch the wind in them. Using the ship’s weaknesses to its advantage. For me that’s the true spirit of the game!

Additionally, Blood and Plunder encourages me to learn more about the history of XVII and XVIII century. The more I know about colonial life and warfare the more enjoyable the game becomes. As I mentioned I am a science-focused person, I love to discover new things so learning additional historical information is for me like a never-ending endeavour full of surprises. I am also considering taking a secondary degree in Caribbean History and Spanish Language just for sake of knowledge. That’s one additional thing I love in this game 🙂

Is there anything you would like to see  added to Blood & Plunder in the future?

As an RPG player (mainly playing Warhammer 4th edition) I’m definitely waiting for the RPG version of Blood and Plunder. But for wargames I really wish that someday I could see a kind of “scenarios book” – based on historical events. And of course more models are always welcome! I really love metal models and I have hope that they will always be in Firelock stock.

An idea with a global campaign is also a thrilling experience. I hope it will become kind of a tradition in this community 🙂

What’s currently on your painting desk or workbench?

That’s another tough one. Everything! I mean, I sometimes have a kind of “ADHD” and I need to do a few projects at once. Small projects: I’m trying to improve my NMM technique painting Stormcast Eternal Liberator-Prime and also I’m painting 6 mm miniatures for Gods of War: Lee (from GM Boardgames). For big projects I have my English forces for Blood and Plunder. I just finished the Freebooters unit and I have just 3 more (in fact – there are almost 300 BnP’s models waiting on the workbench, in different stages of “completeness”) of them to paint and brigantine is also waiting to get some colours. Well, wish me luck!

Is there anything else you would like to mention before we finish?

I hope my painting advices will help and encourage more people to show up their miniatures during #crewtuesdays. I love the community of this game, I feel here like in a family. I really wish I could do more for it but in the last couple of months my free time has completely blown up. But I will come back and try to do my best in the near future!

Thank you for sharing with the Blood & Plunder community!

Pleasure’s all mine! Good luck, have fun and stay safe!

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