Tag Archives: Warhammer

The Year Of The Rat – December

And so, as the lights go down on 2017, it’s time for a final update on the progress of my Skaven army. Roughly a year ago I made a promise, to add something to my Skaven army every single month in 2017 – even if it was only a lone clanrat. For too long my dreamed-of verminous horde was nothing more than unpainted, unlovely grey plastic. At times I would pick up a model or two and get painting but the scale of the task was too great and time and again they were set aside in favour of more immediate projects, or the next idea to captive my feverish imagination. By setting a modest target however I kept the ball rolling, I forced myself to keep picking up those rats and stopped the motivation from guttering out. Of course some months I managed more than others (turning out just a single model in November, compared with a rather more inspiring 14 In July) but all in all it’s been enough to transform my Skaven collection from this…

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…to this…

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In old Warhammer money that’s a tidy little army of 1151 points. I’m afraid I’m still behind the times with Age of Sigmar so I’m not sure what it tallies up to nowadays but it looks good to my eye anyway.

Indeed so pleased am I by the success of this little project that I’ve decided to do it all again next year (albeit under a new title – “The Second Year of the Rat” would sound a bit silly and, as keeps being pointed out to me, this wasn’t the year of the rat anyway). However before we get onto that let’s take a look at what I’ve managed to add this month.

I decided to make December all about finishing squads (or at least bringing them up to fighting strength – despite the fact that I’m highly unlikely to play any games with them any time soon). Most in need of bolstering were the stormvermin who gained a banner last month but still needed a Fangleader…

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…and a musician.

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With the squad’s commanders suitably bolstered the whole pack is ready for action.

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That done I turned my attention to the hulking rat ogres that act as the muscle for the army. In my opinion these are some of the ugliest models still in the GW range (against stiff competition from the likes of the zombies and the Khorne berserkers). The best I could hope to do was turn their ugliness to my advantage and try to create something in keeping with the hideous lab-experiments that the Skaven use as shock troops. After all if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, and if you can’t make something less ugly try making it more ugly.Skaven Convert Or Die (23)

Two heads are better than one and all that.

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Back in May I added a warpfire thrower to support one of my clanrat squads so, in the interests of preventing any inter-squad jealousy boiling over in vicious backstabbing, I decided it was about time I added a poison-wind mortar to accompany the other.

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That may be all the finished models for this year but there’s still plenty to come for my verminous horde. Lurching its way onto my painting desk comes a rather bigger model than I usually tackle, the wonderfully ramshackle screaming bell. This one’s been waiting for a coat of paint for a while and, thanks to Azazel of Azazel’s Bitz Box its time has come at last.

In order to encourage his fellow hobbyists to tackle those bigger, centre-piece kits that tend to get pushed to the back of the shelf (something I’m extremely guilty of) in favour of smaller and easier to completely infantry models, Azazel has inaugurated Decemb-uary. The aim of the exercise – simply to get a big model painted up between the start of December and the end of January. As it stands the bell still has a fair way to go but the early layers and down, the first washes are applied and the whole crumbling edifice is slowly rolling in the right direction.

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Whilst the bell itself still needs a lot more work before it can be called complete the grey seer that rides on it is pretty close to being finished (unless of course someone points out a glaring flaw that I’ve overlooked).

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Beyond that I’m planning to paint up a warlord to replace Queek at the head of the army, the battle standard bearer I showed back in July, a few ramshackle warmachines and, of course, lots and lots of clanrats. Roll on 2018!

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A Darker World Is Not Far From Us

Chaos has always been portrayed as more than just another enemy. Whilst the Imperium stood at the heart of the 40k story with the xenos races arrayed around it like wolves waiting to pull the big beast down, Chaos was the Imperium’s equal – its dark reflection. One is led to believe that the Imperium could hold back any one of the xenos threats with ease, if only they were attacking it one at a time like bad guys in a martial arts film. The eldar are too few now to present a real danger, the tau too small and isolated. The orks, as is always noted, could destroy us all – if only they stopped fighting each other for long enough to knock over humanity’s sandcastles. Of course we’re told that the tyranids and/or necrons will soon kill everyone, but this is generally presented as something of a “by-the-way” which to me means it has often seemed either a distant threat, or so overwhelming as to make all other faction’s involvement seem pointless.

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Not chaos though. Chaos is in all of us. Every man who marches in the armies of the Imperium could someday turn his coat and fight beneath the eight-pointed star instead. If the Imperium fielded an army of just one man then that man might turn his back on the Emperor and fight instead for the Ruinous Powers. If they sent an army a billion strong to defeat him then they might win… or they might find a billion new enemies marching back towards them. The tau can be eradicated, the eldar driven to extinction, the Imperium brought to ruin and the numberless swarms of the tyranids exhausted, but so long as a single human remains alive in the galaxy Chaos will never die.

Like an infection it leaps from one carrier to the next. No-one is entirely immune, regardless of what the Grey Knights will tell you, and once a person is corrupted they will inevitably seek to corrupt others. Should the right person fall billions more can fall with them. Corrupt a planetary governor and a whole world can tumble. When Horus fell half the Imperium followed.

Fight it head on and you only feed it. Try to ignore it, deny its reality, smash the churches and burn the holy books, and Chaos sneaks back in via the back door.

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We know of course that there are various factions within all of the races, clans of orks, necron dynasties, tyranid hive fleets and so on. You’re encouraged to paint them different colours, and – especially since the arrival of Warhammer 40k’s 8th edition – there are even rules so that they perform differently in the game. The eldar have a bit more depth; there are the craftworlders, the dark kin of Commortagh, the dancing harlequins of the Black Library, the newly formed Ynnari and, for enthusiast convertors, even exodites and corsairs. Really though it’s the Imperium to whom the greatest attention has been devoted. We have six brands of space marine alone, various imperial guard regiments, the wonderfully weird tech-cult of the Adeptus Mechanicis, the towering knights, the golden armoured Custodes, the shadowy Inquisitors, the one man armies of the Assassinorum and those perpetually overlooked nuns with guns – the Sisters of Battle. The thing is, Chaos is always described as having all that and more. Four distinct gods place their influence upon chaos space marine legions, traitor primarchs, rebel guard regiments, beastmen herds, daemonic choirs, fallen knight households and the daemon-smiths of the Dark Mechanicus. It’s as if there was another Imperium, a twisted reflection of the first, a Dark Imperium if you will.

The battle between the Imperium and Chaos then is not the story of the old empire falling to the barbarians at the gates but the story of two equals fighting for dominance. The Empire of the Eye has stood almost as long as the Imperium and its history is just as rich and complex as that of its real space reflection.

Roboute Guilliman

When Roboute Guilliman arrived in the 40k setting earlier this year I was furious. I even wrote a long and extremely angry blog post, which thankfully I never posted, decrying the state of the world and GW’s decision to put profit over quality. To me the daemon primarchs belonged in the setting and their return was welcome but their flesh and blood brothers should have stayed dead. I got over it though. Guilliman may walk and talk but the galaxy is a big place and his presence hasn’t impinged on my enjoyment of the game one way or another. I even read Guy Haley’s Dark Imperium (and, beneath my dwarf-like contempt for this newfangled tinkering with the established lore, secretly rather enjoyed it).

The age of the Emperor ended when he was placed upon the golden throne. This is the story of twin empires locked in a struggle to the death and of brothers fighting over their father’s kingdom.

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Warhammer as was told the story of many races, empires and nations. Age of Sigmar is a veritable soup of them. Nor do all of those stories focus around human protagonists. Central themes in the World That Was included the age long struggle between the self-righteous Elves of Ulthuan and their infinitely superior kin in Naggaroth, whilst dwarves, skaven and goblins battled in the sunless depths without anyone in the Empire or Bretonnia even knowing about it.

Without Chaos however 40k runs the risk of being a one horse town, with the Imperium at the heart of every story. Sure there are epic confrontations going on in the margins, the Eldar battling the Tyranids at Valedor, the Orks also fighting the Tyranids in Octarius, but in the main it’s all been about the Imperium. What’s more, for all the Chaos has traditionally been presented as the biggest baddy of them all, in recent years it’s star had started to wane. Bigger threats were descending on the galaxy, threats which would see all human life obliterated regardless of whether they worshipped a corpse god or grew tentacles from their ears. Either the Necrons were going to wake up and obliterate all organic life with the flick of a switch or the Tyranids were going to eat everyone. Against this Chaos was starting to feel a little weak. To criticise poor old Abaddon because you’ve never read the background and his arms keep falling off has long been akin to waving a flag and publicly declaring you’re an ass but even so one started to wonder if his long war wasn’t taking a little bit too long. Surely if he didn’t crack on his hordes would eventually come pouring from the Eye of Terror only to find a galaxy stripped of life and nothing left to fight but a lone genestealer fighting a broken necron in the ruins of the Imperial Palace. It’s one thing to unite the warring Chaos legions beneath one banner, quite another to take so long doing it that you end up missing the apocalypse you were planning to unleash. Yet whilst Abaddon was running the risk of being the big baddie who get’s beaten at the end of every episode some filthy xenos were about to blow up the whole galaxy – and that would never do.

Bloodthirster

Now this isn’t intended to do down the xenos (some of my best friends are xenos) who enrich the setting so deeply or to claim special treatment for my army just because I’m super special myself. Indeed I’d like to see the various alien races expanded upon further and with luck GW are cracking on behind the scenes with exactly that. However when the threat they pose reaches apocalyptic levels it risks becoming too abstract, too overwhelming, to engage with alone. When one looks at the innumerable hordes of the Tyranids pouring in from the depths of space one tends to think that the Imperium might as well just go home and put their feet up, they’re all going to be eaten whatever they do so there’s not much point struggling especially not when they already have a galaxy-sized guass flayer to their collective heads. Chaos though is an enemy you can fight – not just with your bolters in the burning streets, not just on the tabletop, but in your own heart and soul. No-one looks at a Tyranid and thinks “I really understand where these guys are coming from! If I was living in the 41st Millennium I’d want to strip planets of their biomass too!” I can’t put myself in the shoes of a soulless Necron automaton, and even the Eldar and Orks are relatively inscrutable and inhuman to our gaze. Chaos though speaks to us, to our ambition, to our righteous anger, to our will to freedom and self-determination, to our hunger to live, to our moral drives and the very emotions that make us human.

The Imperium needs an enemy we can empathise with, an enemy that speaks to us in our own voice so that we can cringe with horrified fascination as they tear each other apart. Ultimately if GW are serious about the 40k setting evolving then the Imperium needs an equal. It needs Chaos.

All artwork used belongs to Games Workshop and is used without permission as a result of sheer badness on my part.


The Year of the Rat – November

So after being fairly productive last month I only managed to finish a single Skaven in November. He does have a rather nifty banner though.

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The Emperor’s Angels – Part 2

It amuses me that the last time I showed one of these assault marines I received three key pieces of advice.
1. The jump-pack is too small.
2.The jump-pack is too big.
3. The jump-pack is just right.

Faced with such a united front  from my readership what choice did I have but to forge onwards and build another one?

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The Year of the Rat – October

After a few quiet months things have been a lot more productive for my Skaven over the last few weeks. For those who’re new to this project, I’ve been collecting Skaven for a number of years (since the release of the most recent army book for Warhammer in fact, which was quite some time ago now). However the actual painting was proceeding at a snails pace – something only exacerbated when I purchased a friend’s collection and the pile of unpainted plastic grew overnight into a mountain. In order to remedy this situation I’ve challenged myself to paint something new for my Skaven army every month in 2017 – even if only a single clanrat. Truth be told some months I’ve come pretty close to achieving only that minor goal but, I’m pleased to announce, this month wasn’t one of them.

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This brings the current clanrat total up to sixty – which means it’s high time for a celebratory group shot.

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That’s not all however, this month I also managed to reinforce my stormvermin squad with four more of the rat elite.

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Now much as I like the models I’m not sure I find stormvermin that much fun to paint – they’re jagged, vicious little things that fought back almost constantly, jabbing me painfully in the fingers with their various spikes every time I tried to handle them. That said I’m already planning a second squad, this time made up of the albino guards of the Council of Thirteen. Before that however this squad will need a command group to finish them off.


DreadTober 2017 – Part 3

Time for another Dreadtober update and, with another week under its belt, the bloat-drone is starting to assume its final form. Washes and layering have started to define the model and the ugliest phase of harsh flat panes of colour has passed. Now we get into the really enjoyable part, building up the form of the creature and transforming it from a lump of dead plastic to a living denizen of the 41st Millennium.

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Will it be done by the end of the month? If I’m honest I doubt it, too many other projects are clamouring for attention and Dreadtober itself is a quieter, less communal affair than we’ve seen in previous years so the impetus to the finish line isn’t what it was. That said Dreadtober has done its work in pushing me through the early stages of getting it painted so from my perspective this has been a success – from here on my preference will be to savour painting this wonderful model rather than rushing to the finish line.


Forgotten Heroes and Killer Robots

Many of you will know the feeling of stumbling across a miniature you were once proud of but which you hadn’t seen for ages; the mixture of fondness for a well loved piece, joy at its rediscovery, pride in the way that your skills have improved and faint embarrassment that it’s not quite as good as you once thought. Indeed it was with exactly this mingling of emotions that I found myself looking at these next two models whilst sorting through boxes of old stuff (read; junk) at my parents’ house.

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This battle-preacher has reappeared at quite a fortuitous moment, representing as he does another of my past forays into the world of the Imperial Guard. He may be very much a product of his time (my painting standards have come on I’m pleased to see – and why did I once insist on painting every rivet red?) but my idea of the Imperial Guard hasn’t changed radically. I still see them as medieval by necessity, a lack of resources rather than cultural affections giving the majority a ragged appearance. Like the murderous medic I showed earlier in the week I may well return to this model in the future as I think he’d fit in nicely with an Inquisitorial retinue. As it stands my Chapel retinue is far too esoteric for him but perhaps a more traditional Inquisitorial warband will come together in the future?

In the meantime here’s the “Hammer of the Emperor” gathered for battle – my complete collection of Imperial Guard models so far (plus a skullcrab from HeresyOfUs) standing ready to strike fear into the hearts of Ork warbosses and Chaos lords everywhere.

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Whilst the preacher has a promising career ahead of him (following a few improvements) I’m not sure the same can be said of this killer robot. Finding him was a bit of a trip down memory lane for me – he’s one of my earliest conversions and clearly very much the product of a hobbyist whose imagination outstrips his skills by a considerable margin. I think I was aiming for “deranged mechanical killer” and instead ended up with “cute, and perhaps a little worried”.

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So with these two rescued from life in storage it’s time to turn my attention to the future of my Imperial Guard endeavours, specifically the kind of men that the Imperium would send to do battle on the Thorn Moons as part of the Iron Sleet Invitational.

The road from Terra is long however and the journey only just begun…