Along with Blood Bowl, Space Hulk is one of the classic Games Workshop board games that nailed their rules about 30 years go. Though neither of these two are the pillars that support Games Workshop they have been steady workhorses that have yet to be bettered by modern game designs. Jervis Johnson and Richard Halliwell created two foundational titles that I still enjoy tremendously. The trick with Space Hulk for me though is…I never really liked the Terminators or the Imperium. In fact, the 40K gothic aesthetic as a whole doesn’t really do it for me. Enter…The T’au.
With Games Workshop’s recently release of their competitive arena battle game, Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire, many players have looked for ideas on how to add a bit of flair to their adventures in the Mirrored City. We still have a large back catalog of proper minis to paint, so in the meantime, we’ve opted to go back about 15 years for a product that fits our current gaming needs.
Released a decade and a half ago, the prepainted Mage Knight Dungeons Artifact sets allow us to place obstacles and debris in the obstructed hexes of the Shadespire board directly, without the need to scratch build anything. The packs came in two sets, one with columns and tables and the other having a more mystic set of artifacts. Fortunately, we have both as they find use in our Warhammer Quest games as well as Age of Sigmar battle field objectives from time to time. Originally retailing for around $15, they can still be found on eBay in the $20-25 range shipped…if you’re patient.
Being highly durable plastic, the bits can simply be tossed in the Shadespire box with no concern for chipping or breaking. This is the sort of easy storage we need and it allows our Shadespire box to be an instant battlefield.
As a hobbyist, I always prefer to see and play on custom made tables with unique terrain. However, as mentioned above we’ve got plenty minis still to paint, so using the Mage Knight Artifacts allows us to get stuck into the game while our warbands are being converted and painted. In fact, while getting the Shadespire minis suited for high adventure, below are a few shots of some of our suitable Age of Sigmar figures demonstrating Mage Knight Artifacts in Shadespire. Simply tossing a few bits in the obstructed hexes allow for a slightly different look and feel to each game.
Behold….The Pools of Radiance!
Brawl in the Mead Hall!
Sacrifice to Nagash at the Kataphrane altar!
I’m sure Games Workshop will find opportunity here to fill this void of Shadespire terrain, but these will work in the meantime.
My son and I split an Age of Sigmar box earlier this year and have begun diving into a Skirmish campaign. He’s got his warband, The Celestial Warriors, mostly painted, but he faced my all grey warband as I’ve been trying to get some Silver Tower done. Well, we’re both wanting to see painted models on the table, so I’ve paused the Silver Tower painting campaign, and dove into the Khorne portion of that AoS starter set.
Khorne has historically been my least favorite of all factions in Warhammer, so I looked around for inspiration on what could be the easiest color scheme to paint so I could get these models done quickly. I came across a subfaction of Khorne called the ‘Iron Horde’, which are essentially warriors encased in all iron. Little of the reds or brass that Khorne is known for.
I was slightly skeptical that all iron/silver may look lazy, so went with a little gold trim on the weapons, but the defining color being the red skin I’ve opted for. I sort of view the Age of Sigmar as a more grim, twisted take on the Masters of the Universe setting, so I’ve gone with people and creatures having colorful skin. Tzeentch blue, Nurgle green, and my Khorne is going to be red. In the end, these dark knights didn’t take long to paint and I think the iron over red skin effect is actually pretty cool. So, here’s a look at the first unit of the Bloodskins of the Iron Keep…
For a faction I didn’t care for, I’m looking forward to diving into the rest of these models.
Finally, have enough of my Age of Sigmar Skirmish table to show, but before I get into the painting choices, I want to direct any readers to two brief reviews I wrote on the terrain and mats I use.
We come to AoS through Silver Tower and the AoS Starter set. So, having a bunch of Tzeentch and Stormcast Eternals…it only makes sense to set our skirmish games in Chamon (map on the right in the image below). Originally, was thinking about using the default Shadespire setting, but Chamon is going to be the way we go. I didn’t know too much about the Metal Realm so ordered that Quest For Ghal Maraz book for background. I do know the realm looks to be painted in purples and blues:
This actually works in my favor as I wanted our table to have a simple, uniform look. One problem I’ve had with the GW AoS terrain is that the mats and pieces are so colorful (_especially_ those mats!) that I feel like the minis sort of get lost. My eye has a hard time parsing everything with all the bold colors everywhere.
So, with that issue and the colors in the map above, I went about finding a darker mat and painted my scenery bits with few colors. The hope is that my board feels like a ruin in Chamon, but more importantly, our models ‘pop’ out and are easily distinguishable on the battlefield.
Later in the month, I’ve got some out of town guests coming over…old buddies I used to game with. Since most of us are interested in Dreadball, I figured that organizing a single day season would be a lot of fun. Never content to leave well enough alone, I also decided to put a little spin on it and created a brief narrative for the season.
Looking for an angle, I happened upon the Gemini models. Not my favorite figs but reading their fluff I found a spark. I’ve retooled their background for this purpose and you can read my bad fiction and poor rules writing in the packet below. I had hoped to have Melody (striker) and Harmony (guard) to have their ‘skin/flesh’ parts appear more holographic, but I don’t have that level of talent. In frustration, I ended up just going with a gloss over those areas and now they look wet. Oh well, I think the idea will be there come game time.
The last couple of pages are my standard League rules, but it’s the first few with this mini-season’s specific notes. Some coaches have already asked a few questions, so clearly I need to rework the rules a bit. Initial questions are following. Hopefully, I can debug any others before the end of the month.
Q: What happens if the shocked player is holding the ball? Does melody/harmony cause a turnover or do they get control of the ball?
A: No turnover. Melody can make a pickup roll or the ball scatters. This event happens at the beginning of a turn, so the order is: randomly decide playeR, place them in sin bin 2, place correct Gemini model in their space, if DB player had the ball, roll to retain ball (if Melody), if not scatter ball, then player begins turn…to include moving the Gemini model.
Q: Is the player physically going to the sin bin, or is Gemini taking over the suit of the player while the player is unconscious?
A: The player physically goes into the sin bin. After 2 turns you can run them back out as normal. The thought is, I want coaches to have the option to slam Gemini on their own team. However, if it’s a player’s physical body Gemini is controlling coaches may be reluctant to injure their own player.
Not too much to say about this group. I needed to get into the Silver Tower adversaries proper and this lot seemed like a prime set to hit first. Quick results. Build up some momentum to press forward.
In hindsight, I’m sort of wishing I went with yellow and green on the little flame guys. That would seem logical from the yellow and green flames coming out of the pinks and blues as they regress down to the brimstones. Went with standard fire as that’s how it’s depicted in the Battletome, but I did a little ‘ash’ around the mouth. No idea why.
Oh, and I’m not sure why the Pink Horrors have all that bling…
Games Workshop puts out a nice little book called “Getting Started with the Age of Sigmar”. Fantastic book that includes the background and rules for the game as well as a free Stormcast Liberator model for about a sawbuck. Nice package.
My son, having read through this, and a few modern White Dwarfs I have, has taken to the Stormcast Eternals. Now, the Stormcasts aren’t really my thing. As a child of the 80s, my inspiration pulls more from traditional British flavoured fantasy…Warhammer Fantasy Role Play, Fighting Fantasy game books, the Robin of Sherwood tv show, the film Hawk the Slayer, and of course, Lord of the Rings. However, I will note that I think a single Stormcast, as depicted on the cover of the Silver Tower game, can be quite intriguing if not heroic…in the same way that I think the Green Knight character in Warhammer is the business.
That said, I think an army of Green Knights would be lame, and that’s sort of how I feel about the Stormcast. One is cool…an army…I dunno…not feeling it. Either way, it doesn’t matter though. Stormcasts are here and likely around for the next decade or so. They are the flavour of Games Workshop fantasy of my son’s childhood, and he loves them, so ‘ere we go.
Finally getting around to painting a Silver Tower hero proper, I’m beginning with the Questor Knight. At the same time, my son wanted to paint his first mini…and that free Stormcast Liberator was chosen for duty. Now, I had initially wanted to paint the Questor Knight in the same manner as on the cover, but my son would prefer I go purple instead of blue, as he’s imagining his own purple and gold stormhost. Even if I prefer the blue, he’ll get more of a charge with the Knight being purple, so why not…
And my son’s first ever, fully painted mini…the Stormcast Liberator.
Surprisingly, the two models look pretty close in quality. This is either due to Games Workshop’s credit in developing a line of heroic models that are easy for a 10 year old to paint….or after close to 30 years of painting…I still paint like a 10 year old. I’m hoping it’s the former.
There doesn’t seem to be a hero card for a Stormcast Liberator, so after reading through some issues of White Dwarf about Eternals, and the Liberator specifically, pouring over the existing Stormcast hero cards, I’ve cooked up the following:
On initial reflection, I think if I were to change anything it would be the ‘Hit’ value of the Sigmarite Shield would be a 4+. As is, the character is designed for a kid to play, so he may skew slightly powerful.
I’m finally getting around to putting paint on the Silver Tower adversaries, so hope to start playing fully painted games soon. In preparation, here’s the pair of Storm Bros ready to tackle the Silver Tower.
Remember my preferred fantasy aesthetic? Not having totally sold out to the Age of Sigmar…later in the summer I’ll begin my first foray into Middle Earth…
I have always been a fan of the Bretonnian fluff in Warhammer Fantasy Battles, so converting the team using Bret knight heads was a simple conversion to put a squad of knights on the pitch. I do use them with the human roster, and don’t necessarily have any strong feelings toward whether there should be a Bretonnia specific roster or not. However, with four different elf teams and undead teams, I can definitely see the argument for more human teams.
Anyway, I’ve sort of framed this team as a pro-wrestling/renaissance fair style theme. The team isn’t really made up of knights, they have more honorable things to do, but athletic citizens of Bretonnia dressed up in pageantry for the crowds. The team plays out of Brionne and their name, The Falcons, is in honor of the birds that Lord Fredemond summoned to assist in a aerial battle with greenskins in a battle at Brionne during the early years of the unification of Bretonnia. For fan appeal, we have players dressed up as historically significant or legendary Bretonnian heroes. So, the Green Knight and Repanse de Lyonnes (WFB’s “not-Joan of Arc” character) at the moment.
Playing humans has always been a struggle for me as I find myself pulled in too many directions in regards to their generalized strategy. I rolled this team out at a tournament last spring (ROT Cup) where I didn’t win a single match and ended up at the bottom of the list. In an attempt to redeem that performance, I took the team again this year where the boys, and girl, performed much better. We ended up recieivng an award for most TDs scored at the tournament. And if it weren’t for an Underworld team, we would have played at one of the top tables. Underworld…I’ve _never_ beaten an Underworld team in tourney play…perhaps a post for another time.
Anyway, a few tourneys in with this team and I feel I’ve got a better grasp on their abilities. I think I’m going to let this squad rest for a bit and focus more on another team for the near future.
Enjoy a few glamour shots. Blitzers have the full fancy Knight of the Realm helmets. Lineman, the more simple grills. Catchers are opened faced, as is the Thrower with his bowl cut.
“We are…The Blitz!” – Badlands Blitz
Playing Blood Bowl off and on for nearly 30 years, owning multiple starter sets, one would think I’d have fielded an Orc team before. Not until late 2015.
Historically, I haven’t been a big fan of the orc team, but I have always been a fan of the 40K Goff Rocker models and desired to paint them. The BB universe has a few anachronisms within, so figured those rowdies would work as BB sideline figures. Being the main inspiration for putting together a BB team, it would be the band that would also drive the team fluff.
The general idea is that Badlands Blitz (the band) has dates across The Badlands, The Dark Lands, and the World’s Edge Mountains. To hype their fan base with Waaaagghhh, they’d play over the fever pitch of a BB match so schedule opponents along the tour. The BB team in tow is a necessary part of the show. On the flip side, when the team qualifies for a tournament, the band accompanies them…never turning down an opportunity to melt the faces of races in Old World.
The team doesn’t have a coach in the way most teams do. What they have is an old, crusty, retired BB player that bankrolls the operation. He also uses his contacts from playing BB back in the day to set up these shows across the Old World. It’s the energy of the music that coordinates the play on the field.
In my head, the Badlands Blitz sound sort of like the Anti-Nowhere League. Same gravelly voice as Animal. Same offensive lyrics. Same biker-type appeal. The band/team logo is even a riff on The League’s fist logo:
I played the team for the first time at Nufflween III where they introduced the other teams to the brutality of “Raaawwwkk and Waaagghh”. The Blitz didn’t win many games but ground their opponents into the pitch and carried the ‘Most Brutal’ banner back to the east side of the World’s Edge Mountains.
The boyz then went on a bit of a hiatus until receiving an offer to play the double header of Orclahoma V and Spikey Cup IV. Again, the team on the field didn’t put many balls in their opponent’s endzones, but they proved to be fan favorites…and sold out of merch on the first day causing a riot in every one of their games at Spikey the following.
I wouldn’t say Orcs are my favorite team to play. I’ve had a lot of fun with this team though and am pleased to see that they’re performing at about the level they should per their fluff. Lots of damage and excitement around the ball…maybe less of a focus on putting it in an endzone…
Wow. I probably haven’t touched paint to metal on a Man O’ War mini in almost 25 years.
I picked up a copy of the box set when it was first released (1993) along with two boxes of the sea creatures and all the fixins for a High Elf Fleet. Back then, I only painted up the High Elves and the sea creatures never touching the plastics that came in the box. As a young man in the hobby I was stoked to design my own sails and print them off on the ol’ dot matrix printer. My first bit of ‘customization’ as it were.
My opponents at the time picked up Skaven and Chaos fleets and we had some fun rotating naval engagements between the three of us. My High Elves seem to have won the seas, but that’s in part because we misread the rules and thought the High Elves could use all colors of magic at any time. Oops.
Too be honest, I’m not sure we ever played the magic rules right.
At the time, the Dark Elf fleet intrigued me. They have lots of neat rules. The sea dragon ships could ride inside the Black Ark like a troop carrier. If any ships are pushed by the Black Ark as it moves, they stay where they’re pushed to. Powered by mighty sea serpents, the fleet isn’t at the mercy of the whims of the wind. My son, having never played the game, asked when seeing me paint these, “Why did they put castles on the backs of sea dragons? What if the dragon goes under?” This is a possible scenario in the game. The dragons can bolt, route, and dive. This fleet seemed to play by its own set of rules outside the constraints of the sail or oar based factions.
Unfortunately, we didn’t stick with the game long enough to expand beyond our initial purchases…blame Blood Bowl. I eventually sold off my set and minis about 8-9 years later. Fortunately, a recent buddy has picked up the lion’s share of the collection, so I’ve got the opportunity to paint up and play with the Dark Elves. I’ve had a little success with Dark Elves in Blood Bowl in recent years so attempted to paint this fleet in similar colors. Perhaps this fleet is from the Coldwater region like my decorated team.
In hindsight, I would have painted the roofs purple and not red, but my players have red shoulder pads, so I thought painting the shelters of the towers red was a fair representation of their look. I may also do a little dry brush on the manticores so they pop more. Another thing to consider, thinking about it now, is that maybe one ship from each squadron should have a different color flag to signify it being the flagship of its ship of the line squadron.
Either way, a quarter of a century later, I’m looking forward to finally getting a chance to sail these Dark Elf corsairs against the best fleets the Old World has to offer.