Road To Redemption – Part 1

I’ve been bumping my gums about the new Redemptionists for Necromunda since they were first previewed so it’ll come as a surprise to precisely no-one that over the last week or so I’ve been using whatever time I could claw back from work to mess around with them, new sprues in one hand and clippers in the other. As usual with Necromunda the stock models are very nice but this is my gang – and so as far as possible I’m going to put together a bunch of unique characters ready to take the underhive by storm. Before we get started let’s remind ourselves of what the stock Redemptionist models look like (fantastic miniatures with silly anime hair-dos basically!).

Redemptionists

It’s also worth noting at this point that the Redemptionists can be used either to make a gang in their own right, or to bolster the ranks of House Cawdor. Now regular readers will know that I’ve already got a Cawdor gang – and for those who don’t know, or who’ve forgotten what they look like, here’s a cheeky reminder.

These Redemptionists however are, to my mind at least, very much an entity in their own right and so I’ll be putting together an entirely separate gang. I will however be using the new rules to add some more models to my Cawdor crusade – although none of those are quite done yet. Expect to see them soon though.

Anyway, to set the ball rolling and get myself familiar with the kit and the way it works I decided to build something pretty much straight out of the box. I find this is a good way to get used to the models you’re working with and discover any idiosyncrasies that might make your life tough when you move on to more involved converting or kitbashing later. Generally I pick a favourite model and build it as per the instructions, then apply what I’ve learned – as far as possible – when I start carving up their colleagues. In this case I built myself a nice, normal Redemptionist Brethren armed with a flamer.

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The one change I made here was to swap out his head for one from the Forge World Cawdor upgrade pack and straight away I encountered something that left me irritated. Cawdor heads do not fit easily onto Redemptionist bodies (or vice versa). Considerable trimming and tweaking was required to get the two to combine, not to mention a fair bit of muttering and swearing under my breath as well. I’m increasingly convinced that the Redemptionists were first intended as a separate release but somewhere along the road they were rolled into the Cawdor faction in place of the Cawdor specialist juves and champions which the other houses received. In fact I’m pretty sure I remember seeing an interview with one of the Necromunda designers which was released in the early days of the new edition in which he said that many people expected to see Cawdor and the Redemptionists combined into one faction but he intended to separate them further (that I said I may be misremembering or putting words into his mouth that he didn’t actually say and I’m damned if I’m looking back through the Warhammer TV archives to check). Either way the longer I look at these models the less similarities between them I see – where are the candles, bones and cobbled together weapons amongst the Redemptionists?

Anyway, be warned – if you’re planning to mix and match parts from the Redemptionists and the Cawdor gangers it’s far from a straightforward process. Not that I let it put me off – you know how I like a challenge. Still I wasn’t quite ready to go completely mad with the kit yet so for my next target I made another Brethren, trying for something stripped down and cutting away some of the flourishes and religious trappings. For the head I nabbed one from the Sisters of Battle Repentia squad (a kit I think might well be worth raiding again for future Cawdor conversions).  

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It wouldn’t be the Redemptionists if there wasn’t some mad bastard running around with a chainsaw as big as himself so that was my next move.  

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By this stage I was feeling a bit more adventurous so I decided that I would put together a Redemptionist Deacon with a Cult Icon – all the better to inspire his brothers to greater acts of unpleasantness and pyromania.

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Lastly the House of Faith book contains rules for adding cherub-servitors to a gang so I had a quick dig around in the bits and put together these two little scamps.

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At some point I’d like to put together a Cawdor brother to act as Keeper of the Cherubs but at the moment that one’s still a way off completion. I do however have a few more models that are almost done – including the mad cardinal who’ll be leading my Redemptionist gang – so expect to see more of these at some point in the next week or so.


Amid The Ruins – Part 7

I do try not to use this blog as a platform to moan about how busy work and “real life” is at the moment, especially because I’m lucky enough to really enjoy my job and generally have a good life. That said it is bloody busy right now! Anyway I’ve been struggling to find the time to tackle the number of miniature’s projects that I’d like to and when I have found time to paint over the last couple of months I’ve often lacked the focus or energy for anything complicated. Terrain, of course, is the perfect antidote for this – being suitably quick and dirty to do with the big brushes, lots of washes and copious drybrushing.

As it happens I also have a number of odds and ends from the Warcry starter set kicking around so these were the obvious target for my efforts. To begin with I had three barricades, one small…

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…one medium….

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…and one large.

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Then we have a wooden bridge for those gaps even a blood-maddened Chaos warrior isn’t prepared to jump.

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I also found a chunk of rubble which I painted up at the same time.

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Then there are these two wells. Given that this is the Eightpoints, a war torn Chaos infested landscape, I decided to make these as unappealing to drink out of as possible. Even if Nurgle hasn’t been spreading his influence you’d have to be pretty desperate to try this water – then again desperate is exactly what most people in the Eightpoints are.

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Hopefully by the time we’re into August things will be a bit quieter and more relaxed and I’ll have more time to break out the brushes. In the meantime I have found a bit of time for kitbashing some new models so I’ll try to get some pictures of those up soon.


Shambling Bones

A couple of months ago when the Soulblight Vampires range was released I toyed with the idea of using the new skeleton warriors to kitbash grave guard. For those unfamiliar with the various ranks of undead soldiers in Games Workshop’s ranges the skeleton warriors are the rank and file, the grave guard are the elite wights – yet although the old grave guard models have held up very well to the passage of time, scale creep means they are now a lot shorter and less imposing than the newly released skeletons. Here’s a quick reminder of how the old grave guard look alongside one of the new skeletons (taken from the Cursed City box).

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Hardly the imposing undead champions they claim to be are they, not when the new boys tower over them in every respect. Keep in mind also that the hunched pose of the Grave Guard actually emphasises his size here, bringing his face closer to the lens of the camera and making him look bigger than he is. In the flesh the size difference is even more noticeable. Could I, I found myself wondering, mix parts from the two kits to make bigger grave guard?

Well the answer, it turns out, is yes. I wouldn’t call these an entirely unqualified success, I think on a second attempt I could make improvements, but overall I’m pretty pleased with these. For the first one I went for a straightforward sword and shield arrangement.

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Pleased, and perhaps overconfident, following this success, I went on to try making one with a great weapon. Games Workshop’s two-handed weapons are always a horrible nightmare to assemble even if you’re using the right parts in the right places, going off-piste tends to turn into an exercise in which the entire lexicon of swear words gets worked through at least twice. Still, I persisted, and here’s the result.

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The first thing that struck me here is that his proportions are very odd and his stance somewhat awkward. The same can be said of the first one, and indeed the stock Games Workshop skeletons – indeed the very awkwardness of the new models is one of their great strengths, placing them neatly in the uncanny valley and emphasising their inhuman nature. That said it’s always easier to appreciate these things when someone else does them, and criticise them as failings in your own work – and that’s exactly what I did with him at first. My solution in end was to steer into it and give him a tall, bat-winged helmet to really labour the point, and on the whole I think it works. Standing next to a skeleton warrior they certainly look a lot more businesslike and imposing than their predecessors did.

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Now we’ll have to see how they look with paint on them. In the meantime any comments, suggestions or feedback is very welcome.


Kruel and the Gang

Another weekend, another Warhammer preview – this time devoted to the Stormcast Eternals and their latest adversaries, the scheming orc Kruelboyz. Now the Stormcasts do look nice, it’s a range that’s come on in leaps and bounds over recent years, but being essentially a filthy orc myself my attention has been squarely focussed on this new breed of swamp-lurking greenskins.

It probably won’t come as a surprise to any of my regular readers but I like these a lot. They’re nasty, spiky gits, much more in keeping with the wicked hordes of older fantasy fiction than the “misunderstood” tribal barbarians popularised by World of Warcraft and other modern sources. They look exactly like the kind of evil scum that might be found lurking in a wild and overgrown swamp, ready to carry off their unfortunate victims to a terrible fate. It may say nothing good about me at all but that’s exactly the kind of qualities that draw me to a faction and so of course I’ve been watching this release develop with interest, my fingers hovering expectantly over my sadly over-worked wallet whilst my pots of green paint shove their way to the front of the desk ready to be liberally applied.

Beyond this rabid enthusiasm however two things have struck me whilst looking at these models; where are the normal orcs and why are these ones looking so damn serious all the time?

Kruelboss

In Praise of Normal Orcs

Over in the grim darkness of the 41st Millennium the greenskins are also gearing up for war. This time around the new models will be bring a range of new hunters and beast-wranglers to the faction – the so-called Beast Snaggas, some of whom even ride into battle on giant squigs.

New Orc

In the world of Warhammer 40k all orks belong to a tribe (that’s your personal collection – my army, Da Murdaboyz, being one example). Most orks are also part of one of six major clans (the Goffs, Evil Sunz, Snakebites, Bad Moons, Blood Axes and Deathskulls). A tribe may be made up exclusively of orks from one of these clans or it may contain members of several or all. Each clan has its own idiosyncrasies and defining traits, Bad Moons are wealthy show-offs for instance whilst the Deathskulls combine a superstitious obsession with the colour blue with a hunger for stealing everyone else’s property as soon as they can get their hands on it. Adding a third layer of complexity are the various ork “kultures” – the Kult of Speed for example, or the new Beast Snaggas. Some of these kultures tie themselves in well with certain clans but, and this is the clever thing, it’s not an exclusive arrangement. Take the Kult of Speed. These orks take their species’ love of hurtling around at a breakneck pace, something every ork enjoys to some extent, and turn it into a lifelong fixation. As a result they find a natural home amongst the nomadic petrol-heads of the Evil Sunz clan. The Goffs meanwhile are the meanest and most brutish orks of all, serious and ill-tempered they like the simple things in life – straightforward fighting with muscles and fists doing all the real work and none of that fancy nonsense getting in the way. They may take a dim view of the Speed Freeks and their time wasting antics, tinkering around with motorbikes or having silly races in the dusty wastes outside the camp when they should be concentrating on proper things like fighting. However that doesn’t mean that a few buggies or bikes will be out of place in a Goff army. After all it stands to reason that a Goff who races his way into combat atop a speeding bike will be able to enjoy a lot more fighting than his mates who have to walk all the way, and probably won’t reach the site of battle until the best killin’ has already been done. Meanwhile a Bad Moon might find himself tempted by a vehicle of his very own, and if he is he’ll buy one that’s fancier than anyone else’s – at least until the local Deathskulls steal it and paint it blue…

In practical terms this means you can make your army your own, choosing the parts of the Ork background that you find most appealing without finding yourself “locked out” of adding particular models to your collection. This works because, stripped back to the bare lead, plastic or resin, all these orks look relatively similar. There’s not much to distinguish a Bad Moon from a Goff until you’ve decided whether to paint him in garish yellow or cover him in black and white checks. These clans and kultures which have brought excitement and pleasure to so many hobbyists over the decades are rarely more than a coat of paint deep.

Over in Age of Sigmar however the differences are rather more intrinsic. A Kruelboy is a lean, spiky creature…

Gutrippa

… quite different to a hulking brute like an Ironjaw.

Ironjaw Brute

They’re both orcs, and they can certainly look good mixed together in a large army, but what they really need is something to tie them together – a missing link as it were. Where are the ordinary orcs?

Back in the old days of Warhammer Fantasy Battle the Orcs and Goblins range had at its heart mobs of Orc Boyz. The kit, when it was retired with the coming of Age of Sigmar, was well past its best but it continued to serve a key function – tying all the other orcs together thematically.

Normal Orcs

With these green lads at the heart of your army you could add in some Black Orcs (disciplined orcs in heavy armour), Big ‘uns (orcs but even bigger and tougher) or Savage Orcs (orcs who distain clothes and other trappings of civilisation and go into battle with nothing but bone clubs and loincloths). Standing side by side the Black Orcs looked very different to their Savage cousins (they were wearing a bit more for starters) but a mob of Orc Boys created a visual link that brought them together. As the greenskins have migrated across to Age of Sigmar the various specialised “types” have lived on – the Savage Orcs rebranded as Bonesplitterz, the Black Orcs as ‘Ardboyz and the Big ‘uns getting a swanky new range of models and becoming the Ironjaws. Now there are swamp themed orcs as well. What we don’t have however is the missing link, the ordinary boys who may not be fancy or particularly original, but who bring everything together – who take the disparate mobs of Kruelboyz, Ardboyz, Bonesplitterz and Ironjaws and forge them into an army.

Why So Serious?

For the most part the various settings and games under the Warhammer umbrella are on the one hand very serious, and on the other very silly. Take Blood Bowl for instance, a game which the players can – if they so wish – take very, very seriously indeed, developing for themselves the mindsets of chess grandmasters, whilst at the same time playing with undead footballers, drunken dwarves, pogo-ing goblins, chainsaw-wielding loonies and orc cheerleaders. Warhammer 40k paints itself as a very serious business (look no further than the 700 novels that make up the Horus Heresy series) but it also includes space vampires, space werewolves, all kinds of demons and other craziness that more sober sci-fi would never abide. Orks of course are the ultimate expression of that silly side. Even when 40k is trying to be sensible and grown-up, picturing the grand narrative of a declining and stagnating empire brought low by the flaws within our all too human souls, the orks just fart around at the back enjoying themselves. Collectively, they are the whoopee cushion on Roboute Guilliman’s chair.

Orc Cheerleader

Warhammer works well when it can be taken very seriously – look no further than the reams of historical and cultural background in the “House of…” books for Necromunda for example. However it needs that spark of silliness to bring out the flavour. All that Necromundan nitty-gritty is wonderful but it’s still a game of punks vs. aliens, and it still includes the character Smartacus, an ogre who leads an uprising after an accident turns him into a genius.

If the Kruelboyz have a flaw then it’s that they’re not very silly. Indeed for the most part they look serious and scary. Now there’s nothing wrong with that – as I said I really like that aspect of them – but really the Ironjaws aren’t particularly silly either, the Black Orcs/Ardboyz were always grim and dour and that only leaves the Savage Orcs doing their best to keep things daft and looking ever more out of place. But if the orcs aren’t silly then who is?

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To me that’s the one remaining problem with Age of Sigmar. The setting has grown from its challenging birth into something genuinely interesting and impressive. When it first launched six years ago it felt unfinished; the backstory little better than fan fiction, the models borrowed from WHFB with confusing new names and the rules leaning as much on players yelling at each other as on rolling dice. Nowadays it’s grown into an engaging, complex world in which even cynical old hands like me look forward to discovering the next chapter of the ever developing story. However these days it’s a sensible world for grown-up people. The goblins – in the form of the Gloomspite Gits – are as silly as ever but the Orcs have their serious faces on, and much as I love the look of the Kruelboyz I miss those daft old orcs. Perhaps in time though we’ll have both – serious orcs for serious battles and silly old orcs farting under the noses of those snooty Stormcasts.


Ghost Stories – Part 8

Were you thinking that, upon your untimely demise, you might escape the pitiless and spiteful judgement of Age of Sigmar’s death god Nagash? Well just don’t bother! Callous jailers in life, the Spirit Torment are employed in undeath to imprison souls in the dank oubliettes and dungeons of the underworld. Rogue souls which escape this fate are hunted down without mercy – and pointing out that you are, in fact, still alive and feeling healthier than ever is considered no excuse. The huge padlocks carried by these malevolent wardens do double duty, as a cold iron shackle with which to imprison wayward ghosts and as a bludgeon by which those still enjoying the benefits of their mortal flesh can be “encouraged” to join the undead legions a little earlier than they intended.

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I really like these spooky looking models and now I’ve got into the swing of painting the tattered robes of the Nighthaunt he was fairly quick and easy to paint. There’s no escaping the will of Nagash!


Skitarii Marshal

Did you think that those Electro Priests were going to be the only additions to the Adeptus Mechanicus this month? Well so did I! However Games Workshop recently released a new codex for the faction, and alongside it a new Skitarii Marshal miniature. These are the senior officers of the Skitarii, veterans charged with commanding the legions whilst the priests are busy thinking holy thoughts about the wonderful machines of old. With my first squad of Skitarii rangers now fully painted and more waiting for attention I decided to treat myself – and to break with tradition and paint him straight away rather than leaving him half done for months or years first!

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It’s also almost the end of June (where does the time go?) which mean we must be due for a look at the progress I’ve made with this army since the start of the year. First of all here’s a look at everything I’d painted by the end of 2020.

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Not very impressive is it, especially as two of those models are loaned from Blackstone Fortress. By now however things are looking a bit more imposing (click on the picture to see a bigger version).

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Tremble hereteks! Naturally I’ve got a lot more planned for the second half of 2021 so let’s see how that legion looks in another 6 months.


Goddam Electric – Part 1

This month’s contribution to the growing ranks of Mars comes in the form of two electro priests. Holy crusaders of the Fulgurite creed these brothers seek to reclaim the Motive Force being casually squandered by other living beings and return it to the rightful possession of the Omnissiah’s faithful. Or to put it differently the bio-electric currents which are currently keeping you alive are, to these fanatics, a gift from the Machine God Himself, a portion of His power bestowed to all living things, and if you’re not going to dedicate them to His Great Work then they’ll be having them back thank you very much.

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To be honest I made a lot of mistakes painting these two but I think I’ve managed to cover them all up and I’m pretty happy with the end result (especially when I compare them to the way they could have looked…). Will I learn from these errors or will I repeat them all over again when I get to work on the other three members of their squad? We’ll find out next month!


Cursed City: Vyrkos Blood-born 1

Time to delve once more into the dark streets of the Cursed City, and this time it’s the turn of one of the Vyrkos Blood-born. These were once the young nobles of the city who traded society do’s for an unlife of bloodthirsty immortality, throwing in their lot with the city’s new vampire overlord in an effort to save their own skins.

They’re odd-looking creatures these, and I’m not entirely sure I like them as models (or perhaps it’s more accurate to say I’m in two minds about them). I certainly don’t like the studio colour scheme for them so I’ve used this one to try out a slightly different, and more bestial, colour pallet and I think I’m happy enough with it so this will probably be the way I paint the other two when I get around to them.

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Life is still fairly busy at the moment so painting remains firmly on the backburner but I’m still itching to get my teeth into the rest of this box so expect to see more creatures of the night showing up sooner or later…


Ghost Stories – Part 7

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but some of my absolute favourite models in the Nighthaunt range are the Glaivewraith Stalkers, the sinister, animal-headed ghosts that hunt down those who have earned the ire of the death god Nagash. I painted one a while ago for my Nighthaunt Warcry warband but I’ve got a few of them kicking around from the Soul Wars boxset and these two, with the dread inescapability for which they are famed, have drifted slowly across the painting desk until my paint-stained fingers finally succumbed to the inevitable and I got them finished.

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I do find these ghosts very relaxing to paint, especially when things are busy as they are just now, so I imagine there will be a few more showing up here sooner or later.


Witchling Stalker

Back in the late 2000s I went through a brief flirtation with Wyrd Miniatures and the crazy steampunk world of Malifaux. It never really stuck but it did leave me with a handful of models which are either unpainted or painted in a manner that at the time I mistakenly believed looked good but which, in the cold light of day, was actually a bit shit. Anyway, I stumbled on this little dude in amongst some other stuff and decided that he really deserved a repaint (I won’t show you how he looked before – suffice to say that, for a ninja, he was rather garish…).

Apparently this is a witchling stalker – and not, as I always believed, some kind of goblin ninja. It seems that these are sorcerers who have been enslaved in some manner (my understanding of the Malifaux lore is a bit sketchy as you can probably tell) and are now used by the Witch Hunters of the Guild to hunt down other mages.

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In theory I have two more somewhere, although god only knows where at the moment. When I find them, or any of my other Malifaux gear for that matter, I’ll probably give them a quick update as well.