Thanks to Modiphius Entertainment for providing this kit for Goonhammer to review.
Everyone loves to be an assassin, and this Dark Brotherhood expansion for Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms allows you to play as Skyrims’s favourite underground cult of ritualistic killers, bringing the named characters from the video game to life on the tabletop.
Unpacking the kit, the quality of these six resin-cast miniatures is immediately apparent. The level of detail and general manufacturing quality on the figures from tie-in miniatures games can sometimes leave a lot to be desired, but in this case Modiphius have delivered a kit that is full of crisp, well-defined details and organised onto mini runners for each model to help keep parts together and contained. Each model is also supplied with a resin sculpted base covered in details appropriate to the character’s location in-game. Sometimes this can feel a bit jarring, especially when mixing models to build a warband, but pleasingly in this case all six models have bases that match, locating them in the Dark Brotherhood’s secret hideout.
These models went together like a dream. Very little cleanup was required, with parts attached to the runners in largely sensible places. In addition, any gaps were small enough to be filled just by the superglue expanding in the join, which led to an overall pleasant experience putting them together. As with all resin miniatures, a little bit of bending with some hot water was required to straighten a couple of swords and arms.
I do have one complaint about the assembly, and really it’s my only issue with the whole kit. The aforementioned sculpted bases are also attached to the runners, but by a chunky piece of resin that intersects with the sloped edge of the base, as shown in the picture above. I found that cleaning up this join after carefully trimming it away led to some bases with very wonky/uneven edges – perhaps this is due to overly agressive sanding on my part, but it felt very difficult to get the edge consistent and pretty much all of the models ended up with uneven base rims as a result. This isn’t a huge issue really, but I am a person that gets quite picky about bases and rims and it irritated me as a result! Your mileage may vary.
I decided to paint the Council in something roughly approximating their in-game colour scheme, although I did opt to give child vampire Babette a dress in the same colour as the other members’ gear to make her fit in a bit more. I also chose to paint them in what I’ve taken to calling “slapchop plus”, but I’ve also seen called Contrast+, underpainting plus highlights, and a million other names. Underpainting was covered in superb detail in our How to Paint article last year, but in short I’m starting the model with a dark-light gradient, painting over the top in thinned colours such as Contrast paints, then adding some traditional highlights and layers on top.
The Elder Scrolls models seem like a painter’s dream – super fine detail to lavish attention on, and the scenic bases lend them a kind of mini diorama quality. I had a great time slopping colours on them and marvelling at how well the details stood out, especially after some very basic volumetric layering and a couple of drybrushes to make some detail pop. I do think that the models would probably benefit more from a painter who was going to spend hours on each character as an individual and lavish them with fine highlights, but ultimately that’s not the way I tend to paint and I’m happy with the tabletop level result.
At the final stage of painting I washed the models and bases with “marine juice”, a 1:1:1 mix of Nuln Oil, Reikland Fleshshade and Lahmium Medium. I’ve started doing this on a lot of my painting recently, as I find the wash settles nicely in the recesses without tinting the model too much, and helps to ground it all together.
For a committed Elder Scrolls fan, this box represents a great way of putting the Dark Brotherhood characters on the table for Call To Arms. The models are sharp, easy to put together, and instantly recognisable as the gang from Skyrim. They’ll reward as much painting time as you’re willing to sink into them, which could be seen as a benefit or a drawback depending on how you feel, but hopefully I’ve demonstrated that there’s still plenty of joy to be had with a fairly basic tabletop quality paint job too.
The trimming required on the resin sculpted bases is really the only downside of the kit in my opinion, although with some care and attention this shouldn’t be too much of an issue and I certainly wouldn’t let this put you off of the set if you’re tempted. The range also includes some other Dark Brotherhood models, allowing you to build out a more customised warband when added to this set.
If you have any questions or feedback, or you’d just like to show us your lovingly-painted Stormcloaks, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at email@example.com.