Monthly Archives: October 2019

Short Angry Man

Until now I’ve manfully resisted painting anything for Warcry, at least until I’d managed to clear some of the more pressing projects from my desk, but I always knew I wasn’t going to be able to hold it off forever. Thus I’ve dipped my toe into the murky waters of the Bloodwind Spoil and tackled one of my favourite of the Iron Golems, the diminutive yet fearsome Armator.

Warcry Iron Golem Chaos Dwarf Wudugast (1)Warcry Iron Golem Chaos Dwarf Wudugast (2)

Rather than the ash grey skin of the studio models I decided to go for a ruddy complexion not dissimilar to that which I used for my Necromanda Goliaths. Indeed there’s a strong similarity between the two groups, both being forge-workers and metalsmiths with a “might makes right” attitude and an appreciation for a bulging bicep or two. Of course now I’m tempted to recruit a few more Goliaths into my Necromanda collection – you can never have too many angry meatheads running around after all!


Tech-Hunters – Part 4

I’ve been trying to get these posted up for a while but time hasn’t been on my side lately and the weather hasn’t been helping, with dark and brooding skies outside most of the time the ambient light in the room where I do my photography has been awful, forcing me to rely on artificial lighting exclusively – which in turn sucks all the life out of the paintjobs. Anyway, enough moaning and excuses from me, the last two Van Saar are done and the gang is complete (for the moment).

Before we look at the models however, I wanted to write a bit of background, setting the scene and explaining how this latest gang  fits into the crowded landscape of Ironhouse and its surroundings. Feel free to skip over it of course, there are pictures of miniatures further down!

Even along the upper echelons of House Van Saar the name of Koen Margen was spoken with respect, and even a little awe. Far from the clamour of the production lines and the squalor and violence of the gang wars tech-scholars pursue knowledge, constantly searching to expand the accumulated wisdom and wealth of their house. By the scraps of knowledge they claw from the rubble of the past are the wheels of Necromundan industry oiled and the coffers of House Van Saar filled. The innermost circle are permitted to study the STC itself and those who fail are rendered down at once. Not even servitors or corpse starch are made from the remains, so paranoid are the House lords that they are secrets might slip out.

A polymath genetically and surgically enhanced to attain levels on genius far beyond the human norm Margen was one of this gifted few. However during the final years of his life his focus moved from the technical to the biological as he became obsessed with the search for a cure to be poisonous illness to which all Van Saar are subject, and which dooms them to brief and painful lives even by Necromundan standards. Many suspected that for him the struggle was a personal one and the race to a cure was being run against his own mortality and failing strength. More and more he isolated himself, abandoning the core territories of his house and busying himself in a fortified laboratory bastion amongst the spires of Hive Volatos. His lab assistants were replaced with servitors and he traded data with underhive gangs, circumnavigating the traditional lines of communication. Only his assistant Espen Luthrix remained close and in time even she found herself isolated from the crux of his reasoning or dispatched to deal with tangential enquiries. Having undergone cerebral enhancement and a full spectrum of combat training she was able to act on his behalf as an assistant, a bodyguard, an archeotch hunter, even an assassin. Yet she could not truly know his mind, and she came to believe that the tasks she was set, whether ultimately valuable or otherwise, were intended to distract her and prevent her from understanding whatever secret he pursued. Often she would return to the laboratory  only to be turned away by his cybernetic guardians, made to wait for days before a perfunctory message would set out her next task. In the end it had been more than forty cycles since she last saw him when a servo-skull sought her out and, following recognition of her personal codes and ciphers, repeated a simple recording of her mentor’s voice. “Success. Come at once”. Later it would only be that skull, its four spoken words analysed over and over again by House adepts until it’s provenance was proven beyond doubt, that saved her from execution. By then the message recorded by the skull had burned through the backchannels where paranoia reigns supreme and kill-squads were sent to purge those guilty of even the most approximate association to the truth.

All that was still to come however. On reaching the laboratory Espen found only chaos and destruction. The door, designed to halt a charging ogryn, had been torn from its hinges, the servitor guardians left as nothing more than offal and scattered machine parts. Beyond lay fiery devastation. Whatever notes or data Margen may have accumulated, the fire consumed it all. Yet worse was to come. As the House agents dug through the charred wreckage they found bodies, but only those of the machine men with which Margen had populated his kingdom. Of the tech-savant himself there was no sign.

Another ripple of panic passed through the house at this news. That Margen was dead represented an acceptable loss, life – even for the brightest stars of Van Saar – being unnaturally short and cheap. The loss of his data was a greater burden, but one which could be borne. The house would go on and in time all that he had learnt would be rediscovered. The thought that he might live however, and even now be spilling his secrets – willingly or otherwise – to their enemies represented an existential threat to the entire house. Knowledge is a hard currency on Necromunda and the adversaries of Van Saar are numerous. Houses once thought untouchable have fallen before, the names of those once mighty now recorded only in fading ink in the darkest archives. Agents of the house were dispatched to all corners of the planet, every clue to his whereabouts, every hint of information and even the most far-fetched sighting, picked over by sanctioned hunters, although few of them knew exactly who they pursued.

In the end it may have been this that saved Espen’s life. She knew Margen far better than most, and if the house was to recover their lost adept she could well be their best hope. Following her instincts she has headed downhive, taking with her a small but elite crew of tech-hunters, codenamed Scorpion-Null and led by the hard-bitten veteran, Major Solaq. They are an experienced team and one with which she has worked well before. Lethal though she is she knows that where they are going she will meet their backup. Only now does she begin to see the pattern of clues in the missions she was sent on during her mentor’s final months. With little more to go on she gathers her team and follows the twisting road into the hive depths, down into the ash choked streets of that industrial carbuncle known to its inhabitants as Ironhouse.

With the background for the gang set out, let’s turn our attention to those two key characters from the gang (leaving aside the mysterious, and clearly absent, Koen Margen). First of all here’s the gang leader, Espen Luthrix.

Van Saar ConvertOrDie Wudugast (3)Van Saar ConvertOrDie Wudugast (5)Van Saar ConvertOrDie Wudugast (4)

And here we have the veteran tech-hunter Major Solaq.

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Yuk! Despite my best efforts to photograph it that mask looks horribly flat and over-exposed. Would you believe I actually put quite a lot of effort into painting it so that it looked just right? Not with lighting conditions like this you won’t eh?

Van Saar ConvertOrDie Wudugast (8)

You may have noticed that both Espen and Solaq have shields, as does the previously shown Agent Ivanek. No, I didn’t buy a second box just to get another shield – I just think they look cool and managed to get my paws on a spare one.

Agents With Shields

Here’s the whole gang, ready to rappel down from the spire heights and start making life difficult for the locals, as they attempt to hunt out Koen Margen, dead or alive.

Van Saar ConvertOrDie Wudugast (2)

In theory the plan is to leave Necromunda for a bit and turn my attention to some of the other projects that have been singing their siren song to me (I still need to finish Blackstone Fortress for instance, and Warcry is a harsh but alluring mistress with a lot of bare plastic that needs to be dealt with). However I’m also itching to get started on my Cawdor gang, who’ve been untouched for far too long and the Dark Uprising box has grabbed my attention too, so I don’t imagine I’ll be away from the Underhive for long.


Rotbringers

Earlier this year Games Workshop re-released Age of Sigmar Skirmish through the pages of White Dwarf magazine. Much as I enjoy building and painting armies, when it comes to the rare occasions that I roll some dice I prefer a skirmish game and so I decided that the game was worth investigating and found myself painting up a mob of bloodthirsty Khornate savages to unleash. Back then Warcry had yet to emerge from the dark imaginations of GW’s finest minds but I was already drawn to the idea of Chaos warbands fighting it out for the glory of the dark gods and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to explore that.

After adding to the warband in fits and starts over the past few months I completed the final warriors of Khorne in September – although I’m still tempted to keep going and expand the group into an army. For now, however, the bloodthirsty boys are ready for action. As usual larger versions of the group shots are available just by clicking on them.

Khorne With The Wind

Truth be told Warcry is beckoning me far more at the moment but should the opportunity arise I’d still like to give AoS Skirmish a bash, and that means the Blood God’s berserkers need a rival to pit their blades against. On the other hand I’ve got a number of projects crowding the painting desk and demanding a share of my attention so the quicker and easier this second warband was to assemble the better from my point of view. With this in mind I dropped the more complicated plans I had made previously (although I don’t imagine they’re gone forever – as soon as time allows I’ll return to them) and started looking for something more straightforward. Tzeentch and Slaanesh would both be fun to explore but would require more work than I have time to put in just now. Nurgle on the other hand seemed like just the fellow. I’d already painted a sorcerer last month and now he seemed like the perfect leader for the new warband.

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Next I took a look through the Nurgle daemons I’d already painted and drummed up a few likely looking recruits in the form of three plaguebearers and a swarm of nurglings.

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Finally I wanted to add a mortal contingent and this was the point at which some actual painting was required. Despite the blightkings being one of my all time favourite GW kits I’d never actually painted one, although I’ve borrowed plenty of bits to make plague marines. A few years ago I did kitbash one into a 41st millennium mutant but I was never all that happy with it, and to my eye it just looked like a blightking with a gun. This project seemed like a fine opportunity to do something about that and restore him. Those familiar with the model will note at few tweaks and a little bit of greenstuff was required to replace parts which were lost or damaged since the original build.

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The only entirely new model required to complete the group was a second blightking, which came together quite quickly thanks to my predilection for painting diseased flesh and rusty metal.

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Here’s the two brothers in pestilence together.

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And here we have them, just like that a second warband is ready to challenge Khorne’s dominance of the chaos wastes.

Nurgle AoS Groupshot Wudugast

Of course it may well still be some time before they get to fight it out but should the chance arise I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.


Tech-Hunters – Part 3

With a number of projects competing for my attention I’m enjoying how quick and straightforward to paint my Van Saar gang is proving to be. The irony that this is a small and elite force is not lost on me, especially compared to some of the veritable hordes that I find myself collecting with far trickier colour schemes. For now this gang is entering its final stages with my intention being to complete it in the near future. After that I’ll turn my attention to one of the more populous gangs, probably Cawdor, although I’ll probably turn my attention to some other projects first. First of all though let’s take a look at the latest two recruits.

The final rank-and-file ganger is Agent Bask. I do find the awkward crouched pose of some of the Van Saar a little hard to get used to, although it helps if you imagine them taking cover behind the ramshackle rusty terrain of the underhive. The Van Saar also appear more organised and military than many of the other gangs, something I’ve tried to emphasise with the pose as he takes cover and gestures to one of his squad mates for backup. A Goliath would probably just wade in shouting!

Van Saar Necromunda Wudugast ConvertOrDie (1)Van Saar Necromunda Wudugast ConvertOrDie (2)Van Saar Necromunda Wudugast ConvertOrDie (3)

Alongside him we have the first gang champion, Agent Weyland, who brings a missile launcher to an underhive knife fight. The instructions which come with the models suggest equipping one of the running figures with the missile launcher but to my eye it looks too heavy, and the gangers of Van Saar are said to be too frail and weak, for such dynamic action. Instead I went for a power pose as he prepares to launch radioactive death into the upper gantries.

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Lastly let’s take a quick look at how the whole group is progressing.

Van Saar Necromunda Wudugast ConvertOrDie (7)

With them done I now only need to finish off the gang leader and the remaining champion and the project will be complete for the moment. On top of that I also need to write the background story which explains who they are and what has brought them out of their labs and tech-refineries and down into the grim depths of Ironhouse. With the end in sight I’ll aim to tackle that soon.


Whither Now Destruction?

What with it being Orctober I find myself thinking about greenskins even more than usual, from hulking boyz to stabby little gobbos, and even their big – and distinctly pink skinned – friends the ogres. In combination these form the Destruction Grand Alliance, the warlike hordes who smash their way through the Mortal Realms in a riot of brute strength and low cunning.

Orcs Brutes Ironjaws Wudugast

Over the past year or so Games Workshop have given Age of Sigmar some much-needed housekeeping. The myriad factions of yesteryear have been pared down into something much more manageable and less intimidating to a newcomer. In the early days of AoS each Grand Alliance (for the uninitiated that’s Order, Chaos, Death and Destruction – the overall groupings of factions by which the setting is defined) contained dozens of mini-factions, some of which contained only a single model (the Shadowblades or Firebellys for example). For a veteran of the Warhammer era that had gone before it was totally baffling and formed an almost impenetrable barrier between people like me and the brave new world that GW were developing.

Naturally they wanted to look to the future and to get to work on the new and creative ideas they had been cooking up. However before they could really get on with it they needed to put their house in order. If you want your pudding you have to eat your greens and if they wanted to concentrate on the next Idoneth Deepkin or Stormcast Eternals it was getting harder and harder to do with the survivors of the Old World hanging around and embarrassing GW in front of their fancy new friends.

In order to resolve this many of the small factions, with only a handful of models to their name, were rolled together and, unlike the higglety pigglety, anything-goes approach of the early days, found themselves combined like with like. The humans, elves and dwarves who survived the destruction of the Old World have been clumped into the Cities of Sigmar for example, whilst the disparate clans of the Skaven have been reunited into a single faction. At the same time various models were removed from the range, some not a moment too soon, some well before their time, and some were kept on which surely should have been replaced decades ago. At times the logic behind which models were cut and which were kept was hard to fathom for a fan without insider knowledge of the company. The orc boar boys for instance got the chop as part of the dissolution of the greenskins faction. At the time it made a degree of sense to me, despite being relatively modern – not to mention rather nice looking in comparison to many of the other greenskins kits – they didn’t really fit in with either the Ironjaws or the Bonesplitters, both of which had their own version of boar boys anyway. With the arrival of the Orruk Warclans army book however one wonders if more could have been done to save their bacon. With the orc factions rolled back together again surely the boar boys could have found a home amongst them? Most likely the answer comes down to shelf space, combined with the aforementioned alternative boar boys but I’m still sorry to see them go.

Boared Already

I’m just a boar boy, nobody loves me
He’s just a boar boy from a boar family

However whilst I can suggest a logic behind the removal of the boar boys I’m left confused as to why this goblin shaman was shown the door…

Goblin Shaman 2

… whilst these two weren’t.

Night Goblin Shaman

Is it just the lack of Night Goblin accoutrements like a big hood? If it really bothers you a head swap isn’t hard to accomplish. Speaking as a fan of the Gloomspite Gits I’d rather have a nice looking shaman with a bare head than this duff-looking duo (although looking again the one in the foreground isn’t quite as bad as I remembered him). At least I have a couple of alternative shamen I can call upon however.

Age of Sigmar deserves to tap into its potential for creativity but it was tricky to do that until the ghosts of WHFB were laid to rest. Now that that task nears completion we can turn our attention to the future and start to ask just where that creativity might lead.

Until now GW have reserved the greater part of that creativity for the Order Grand Alliance. In part however I suspect this reflects the ideas of the past and the areas in which they felt their line was at its weakest. After all the Skaven, or the warriors of Khorne, are far more distinct to GW’s IP than elves or dwarves which can be found through fantasy fiction. Thus the company has focused on Order and Chaos, the former requiring perhaps the most work, the latter already well-formed and desperate to stretch its wings in AoS’s new universe and tap into the vast potential which previous iterations had seen stifled. The other two Grand Alliances fell behind although Death is starting to come into its own through the Nighthaunt and the forthcoming Ossiarch Bonereapers. As it stands order contains eight factions, chaos seven and death just four with the inclusion of the Bonereapers*. Destruction also has four at the moment although it’s safe to assume that two of these, the Beastclaw Raiders and Gutbusters will be rolled into a single Ogors faction soon.  Likewise the Orcs of the Ironjaws and Bonesplitters have recently become the Orruk Warclans (with any old Orcs from the greenskins faction herded to the exits). Similarly the goblins, trolls and squigs have been gathered into the ranks of the Gloomspite Gits. The result is three neatly packaged factions; orcs, goblins and ogres.

*For those who want to check my workings, I’m counting as supported those factions which have been given their own section on the GW website and a book – not anything  that’s currently discontinued or anything from Forge World. Based on that we have;

Order – Cities of Sigmar, Daughters of Khaine, Fyreslayers, Idoneth Deepkin, Kharadron Overlords, Seraphon, Stormcast Eternals and Sylvaneth.

Chaos – Beasts of Chaos, Blades of Khorne, Disciples of Tzeentch, Everchosen/Slaves to Darkness, Hedonites of Slaanesh, Maggotkin of Nurgle and Skaven (treating Everchosen and Slaves to Darkness as one faction and leaving Creatures of Chaos out because that’s not a proper faction round my house, that’s just some monsters conveniently gathered in the same place!)

Death – Flesheater Courts, Legions of Nagash, Nighthaunt, Ossiarch Bonereapers.

Destruction – Gloomspite Gits, Orruk Warclans and Mawtribes (or whatever the Ogors end up being called).

Ogre

I’m sexy and I know it

Where do they go next then? There isn’t a natural and obvious answer to this. When Khorne, Nurgle and Tzeentch were given army books of their own it was safe to assume that Slaanesh would get their turn sooner or later. The same can no longer be said. A tipping point has been reached and we find ourselves stepping off the edge of the Old World’s map and into the uncharted lands of the new Age of Sigmar.

As hobbyists we often pull at loose threads of information, trying to second guess what might be released in the months and years to come. In the past it was easy to say “this faction or that faction ought to be coming soon” simply because they haven’t had any fresh releases in a while. This was never a very reliable way of divining the future but it had its merits, and those who made a habit of such guesses where right often enough to weave themselves an illusion of foreknowledge. Nowadays you might as well try to read the tea leaves in the GW staff canteen.

By naming the Orc faction Orruk Warclans rather than Ironjaws and Bonesplitters (or some more pleasing and marketable equivalent) the implication is that these are all the Orcs we’re going to be seeing for the next little while. Beastgrave contains a rather lovely looking warband of goblin wolf riders (that’s part of the Gitmob in the modern parlance) but my gut tells me – with nothing more than an intuitive guess to go on – that these are more of a nod to the past than a hint of things to come. The goblins certainly have potential for further exploration – I’m still surprised that we didn’t see a new plastic kit for the doom-diver catapult as part of the Gloomspite Gits release for instance – but much like the Orruk Warclans I suspect that the Gloomspite Gits are a packing up of the existing gobbos, for now at least.

Snarlfang Gitbiters

Nor are there any subfactions which seem like contenders for establishing themselves as fully-fledged factions in their own right. The trolls have made themselves at home amongst the Gloomspite Gits and, thus established, have really come into their own. The giants may have enjoyed a brief stint as a one model faction in the early days of AoS but the big oafs have been reined in by their destruction colleagues and I’d be surprised to see them go it alone again.

If it was up to me I’d love to see the snotlings brought back and explored in full but I can’t imagine that anything other than wishful thinking. Then again at least they could double up as Orks in Adeptus Titanicus!

Of course, I can’t miss an opportunity to make my pitch for a Destruction themed version of Warcry. Just imagine the fun that could be had shifting the setting from the Chaos wastes of the Bloodwind Spoil to the rust warrens and dank caves of Skrappa Spill. Instead of Chaos warbands we could see examples of the various types of Orc, Goblin and Ogres that must be found in the Mortal Realms, fighting it out for the sheer joy of it.

Meanwhile, lurking in the corner of the Destruction Grand Alliance, overlooked and underloved, we have the Fimir. These weird cyclopean beasts have skulked on the fringes of Warhammer since the early days, never fully accepted into the game, never entirely kicked out. Every time you think they are gone for good they pop up again, shoving their snouts briefly above the parapet every decade or so before vanishing once more into the gloom. Earlier this year I even painted one, a model from Hero Quest that’s almost as old as I am.

With the launch of AoS the Fimir abandoned the overcrowded Chaos raft and found themselves a new home amongst Destruction (rather than vanishing once and for all, as I was expecting, with the purging of so many other things GW wanted rid of). Thanks to Forge World we even have a few Fimir models and as ever there is speculation that they might make a comeback. Honestly I wouldn’t hold my breath (unless I was standing downwind of a real Fimir that is).

Fimirach Noble

One thing the Fimir do however is emphasise that from here on out we no longer need to expect the Destruction forces to adhere to tradition. For these warlike races things have remained pretty much the same for a very long time. The Orcs and Goblins, and Ogres, were well established in WHFB and stamped into AoS as if nothing much had changed. Whilst a time traveller from a decade ago would barely recognise the flying dwarves and fishy elves as descendants of the game they knew the greenskins and their allies remain much as they ever were, just with a few nice new models to show for the passage of time. It’s easy to believe that nothing need ever really change. Yet a glance towards the Order Grand Alliance reveals this need not be the case. The once hide-bound, subterranean dwarves now zoom through the skies, carving out trade empires above the clouds where once they carved mines beneath the roots of the mountains. Some elves are half snake, others are eyeless and aquatic. Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Ulthuan anymore…

I’m not for a moment suggesting that we are about to see aquatic orcs or half-snake ogres, simply that the expansion of possibilities that was applied to Order could just as easily be lavished upon the other Grand Alliances. What is certain is that GW aren’t done with the brutish followers of Gorkamorka, and that, after decades of popularity they’ll be cast aside. Equally we can’t guess with even a scrap of accuracy what form those future releases might take. We could see orcs, goblins or ogres of a kind completely unknown to us, or we could see something entirely new. Good or bad the future is looking like a very different place from the past. After so many years of seeing the same old factions from one decade’s end to the next that’s something that we’re going to have to get used to. I still can’t begin to get guess what it might look like, but I for one am agog to find out!


Green Iz Best – Part 8

Waaagh! and all that! Yes, it’s Orktober and I have twenty ork boyz to paint if I’m going to meet my goal of having a hoard one hundred strong by the end of the year. Time to get a wiggle on then!

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Naturally I’m counting these towards Azazel’s Orky challenge, as well as to our shared commitment to adding 25 greenskins to our respective collections by New Year. When I agreed to this I had seven months to play with and 25 orks to paint, now I have three months to play with and 15 orks still to go so I’ll need to get painting! Hopefully therefore these five will just be the start. I’ve got a lot of angry green geezers waiting for some attention and my aim is to use this month to make some progress with getting them finished. I don’t really imagine I’ll get all of the remaining boys painted but progress is progress so let’s see how I get on.


Get Sick Or Die Trying – Part 14

Today we’re going to tackle an experiment in amateur psychology. The premise is very simple; for the last couple of years I’ve been working away slowly at painting up a horde of poxwalkers with the aim being to complete 40 of them. At the most recent count I’ve finished 28 – and 28 sounds like its a long way from 40. Whereas 30 on the other hand is a much more pleasing result. Once I’ve painted 30 I’ll be three-quarters of the way there, I’ll be on the last leg (much like some of these zombies!), I’ll be counting down the last 10 with the finish line in sight.

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Azazel also reminded me that it’s Zomtober, which would certainly make for a fine opportunity to paint some of my remaining zombies. That said, with a number of other projects also demanding my attention I’m going to be sensible and, unlike a zombie, not bite off more than I can chew (for the moment). Still, the end is at least on the horizon for my zombie horde so I’ll keep bashing on – only ten more to go now!