Man O’ War: Dark Elf Fleet

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Wow. I probably haven’t touched paint to metal on a Man O’ War mini in almost 25 years.

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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.

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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.

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WHQ: Silver Tower – Halfling Fieldwarden

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For some reason,  I continue to hijack my efforts to paint the models that actually come in the box…so here comes another custom hero!

I’ve long been a fan of the wee folk ever since I started playing in fantasy worlds in about 1980. Perhaps it was too many viewings of the Rankin-Bass versions of The Hobbit and Return of the King?  Maybe it’s due to one of my favorite Basic D&D illustrations, by Jeff Dee, featuring a bold halfling holding his own during group planning with a more towering member of the party? Likely because I admire their rural lifestyle and long to live out in the country down in a hobbit hole.

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Whatever the reason, I had to get one into the Silver Tower. Now, I’m not even sure if halflings exist in this modern era of the Age of Sigmar, but again one of the strengths of the antagonist being the Gaunt Summoner is that perhaps this agent of change is able to pull heroes from across time. I’ve recently posted a 40K character and a player from the Blood Bowl universe…now, keeping within a GW-verse, here’s a hero from the Old World.

Initially, I envisioned this character to be a hardened and experienced member of Lupin Croop’s Fighting Cocks. However, I was convinced that ‘Halfling Fighting Cock’ may not be the best character title. ‘Fieldwardens’ were also a position in the Old World, so let’s go with that. Besides, none of the other characters have such a specific title…I don’t think. Fieldwarden is nice and generic. I suppose in the head cannon of my games he can be a member of the renowned Fighting Cocks.

“For the Moot!”

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Note: I can’t take full credit for the paint job on the mini above. He’s a re-claimed/re-purposed Mordheim mini that a buddy initially painted up for one of his warbands. I touched up Mr. Furryfoot, re-based him, and brought him to the tower.

Heroes for Wargames

cropped-bnfm.pngFor the past several decades the above piece of art has sort of been burned into my memory, in fact it was almost the banner image of this blog. Growing up in the 80’s I spent a lot of time in RPG books having not really gotten into minis wargaming yet. With the RPGs came painting minis for characters, npc, monsters etc. Seeing me into this, my parents bought me a book about the miniature hobby filled with beautiful examples and gaming history. For the longest time, and up until a few weeks ago, I thought the above illustration was the cover of the book. Several months ago I went to go find this book having gotten rid of my copy long ago. Well, I thought the book I had in my youth may have been the one on top here.

review_fm1Looks right. However, finding a few copies to preview, the pictures and layout of these titles is much different than what I thought I was remembering. My book had plenty of text. The above series are basically showcases for the Golden Demon winners in ’88, ’89’ and ’90. Also, there’s pictures of Blood Bowl and Dark Future minis in those books…games that came out after I had received my miniatures painting tome.

Well, I was able to track my old book down and find a great copy for a sawbuck. That art piece that had been lodged in my head for a few decades wasn’t the front cover of the book…it was the back

hfwI’ve been reading through the book the past few nights and it’s amazing how so many of the incredible pieces of art I’m still recalling. I must have spent hours pouring over this thing as a kid because looking at it now it’s as familiar as if I read it last week. Before we look at a few items inside, that cover still causes me a bit of confusion…Is that warrior riding something or just has an ornate shield? Is that a proto-genestealer in the foreground? Is this a book for Role Playing Games or Wargames?

Heroes for Wargames was published by Paper Tiger in 1986, again, before I got into miniature gaming (which began a few years later with Blood Bowl 2nd Ed and Dark Future) and is basically a Games Workshop house title in all but name and publisher. The inside is filled with pictures of GW board games (like Warrior Knights and Judge Dredd), early Warhammer campaigns (The Tragedy of McDeath and Battle at Orks Rift), history of gaming, painting and diorama tips, and all sorts of early miniatures and concept art. It’s more ambitious in nature than the above three Golden Demon books which seem to only focus on painted minis. Check out this acknowledgement list:

ackAlso included is a forward by Ian Livingston and Steve Jackson (founders of GW) and many of the models I believe are from the collection of Bryan Ansell. This book was compiled with a who’s who of the Oldhammer Guard. There is even a feature on the Games Workshop studio with many of the artists, sculptors, and painters working their craft.

studioI can’t run down every page and article, but I want to mention just a few things. First, during the time I originally had this title, like I said…I was into RPGs. At the time Ral Partha was the line I followed and collected knowing little of GW. Well, when Blood Bowl 2nd Edition hit my eye drifted to Games Workshop and their Citadel supported games. I wanted a skaven team but before I had enough cash for a full team, I bought some miniatures to use as coaching staff…my first ever official Citadel miniatures. It happened to be the two skaven in the following concept page.skavenThat horned skaven wizard became the coach of my team and my favorite non-BB skaven miniature to date. The three armed skaven mutant worked his way into my Advanced Heroquest game as a main antagonist. Incredible to see these sketches 30+ years later.

One other thing I want to mention is the character a lot of the minis in the book have. Character and whimsy that clearly draw many players into the Oldhammer scene. Check out the minotaur below. He’s not your modern bad@$$, highly armed and angry minotaur. He’s more like Joe Sixpack…your average Monday Night Watching, beer guzzling minotaur. Just looking at that model his background and character leap out at you. This beer bellied fella is not the antagonist in some maze…he’s out and about because his nagging wife yelled at him to get off his stump and go get some eats for the kids. What a great model.

minoAnd the dragon…it may be hard to tell, but he has a fairly surprised look on his face. A face that’s more muppet gargoyle, than fierce Smaug. I’d love to get my hands on that guy as well.  I don’t feel like I see dragons with unique character like that anymore. Much like current minotaurs…they’re mostly bog standard fierce creatures. Oh, how many mounted Citadel miniatures are posed like that Adventurer above…nearly every one of them in the 90s near as I recall. Classic Citadel mounted with raised weapon pose.

This book really is great, and perhaps the best coffee table book on the hobby that’s out there. Sure, the models and techniques within are many decades removed from being current, but the history is rich here and it’s well worth a read. Oddly enough, I may still end up tracking down those Golden Demon books simply because they do feature some Blood Bowl and Dark Future work…the two Games Workshop titles that got me into this mad hobby.

I’m going to close this post with an image from this book that is a piece of concept art from John Blanche. The Slann. Gaming Games Workshop worlds for close to 30 years now and I’ve never owned or played anything slann related. Later this year, I’m going to rectify that with a project that I hope can be a nod to the characterful style of these 80s masters.

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Dreadball: Bad Call

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A few months ago, before I ran my first Dreadball league, I asked around for extra event decks. A gentleman reached out to me that he had several, and a few other DB bits I may be interested in. He tossed in extra bases, male Corp minis, dice, etc. Most importantly, he had two models he claimed were test figures for a never released MVP for the Dreadball Xtreme Kickstarter campaign…Bad Call.

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I wasn’t into the DB scene at that time, so had no idea what he was talking about, but sure, I took the extra ref figs. Come to find out he was a former Mantic employee who had these unreleased prototypes. It appears her stretch goal was never met and Mantic found the sculpt to be lacking. I did have to green stuff the ankles as they were so thin her legs snapped off her feet.

I have a ton of minis to paint (don’t we all), and painting ref models is low on the list. Fortunately, I dig how Dreadball has a future-retro 80’s vibe, so with that…why not paint these ladies as homages to Hajime Sorayama? Straight up silver all the way? Easy.

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Now, I’m not sure why ref robots models need mammaries, but it is what it is.

I wasn’t sure what to do with her card, so went with the classic green, yellow, red. I figure it’s vague enough to mean any number of things. Is she sending a player off to the Sin Bin for two turns? Is she signalling to a jack?

Perhaps one day the popularity of Dreadball will explode and this unreleased fig will be worth as much as the famed Warhammer Nuln Spearman. Himself never released, but a scant few in existence…recently selling for over $1,500!

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WHQ: Silver Tower – Sister of Silence & Blood Bowl Star Player

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Ending the year with a couple of new heroes entering the Gaunt Summoner’s Silver Tower.

I’m a big fan of this game’s setting and the idea that champions from across time and space can be summoned to challenge the Tower.

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First is the Sister of Silence. I was never really a 40k player, but I like these models in the new Horus Heresy: Burning of Prospero board game because they don’t have any visual sci-fi bits. The models for the Sisters fit in with fantasy figures, so good to go. Don’t need any space marines with bolters…yet. However, the bigger draw is that the Sister now gives my game a whopping _fourth_ female option. Silver Tower as is only has two, but I’ve now added the Branchwych and Sister of Silence.

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The Blood Bowl Star Player  is the character that initially had me looking outside the Age of Sigmar model range. I’m a big fan of Blood Bowl and with the new edition released by GW, I had an opportunity to get a model that is close in scale to the new Age of Sigmar line. In my mind, the orc is the quintessential representative of Blood Bowl, so one of those ‘ard boyz is what I went with. I had some old Gorkamorka transfers knocking around and the red lighting looks to provide the flair of a star player. In fact, the ‘flash’ reminds me of another football player out of place on a foreign world…

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If you’re also a Blood Bowl fan and prefer to go with a human hero, I tricked up the same card with the human image. Enjoy.

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DreadBall Team: Glamrokk Systems Dynamo

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Finished up another DreadBall team this weekend, the Brokkr, and the first that I topped off with the upcoming team captain player in mind. Seems that in next year’s DreadBall release a lot of what where MVP characters will have their minis moved to a team captain role which will provide some coaching benefits while on the pitch.

Anyway, when coming up with the color scheme for this team I looked to Italian glam rock band Giuda’s 2013 release “Let’s Do It Again”. Besides being an incredible album, the cover and interior are done up as if the band were a 70’s RollerBall team.

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Initially, I was going to go with the darker main color, almost black, but with the black bases in DreadBall, I decided on something a bit lighter to provide contrast. I may have gone a step too light, hoping the shading process would darken it up a bit more, but with a large pile of unpainted minis yet to knock out, I decided this was good enough. I went with the solid uniforms, but yellow trim on the shoulders/sleeves, but the main bit of inspiration I got from the cover is the grease or ‘eye black’ under the eyes. Not sure why I’ve never applied that to any of my Blood Bowl or Dreadball teams yet, but it makes perfect sense. Particularly with the neon lights, shine, and glare of a DreadBall pitch.

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For the name I leaned on the Rollerball motif some more. James Caan’s team is from Houston in the flick and my MLS team is the Houston Dynamo, so there ya go. Glamrokk as a nod to Giuda’s music, while sounding like a viable sci-fi locale or entity, but two k’s because, well….Brokkr. Finally, continuing the idea of each team having a corporate sponsor and I introduce the Glamrokk Systems Dynamo.

Krokodil Tears – Dark Future Novel Report

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I recently finished off the second book in Jack Yeovil’s Demon Download cycle.

To be honest, this one took me a little longer to get through as it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for in a Dark Future tale. It’s not that it was bad, but there wasn’t too much in the way of Sanctioned Ops vs Gangcults vs US Road Cavalry action.

Krokodil Tears actually takes place after the events in the Route 666 Anthology, but prior to the previous book in the cycle, Demon Download. Last surviving member of the Psychopomps street gang, Jessamyn ‘Jazzbeaux‘ Bonney, is on the run from Nguyen Seth’s minions – a Californian surfer Op, a serial killer that’s a parody of Hannibal Lector, and some outer dimensional Lovecraftian beast. Jessamyn, herself a cyborg, ends up a vassal for some spiritual force becoming an ultimate weapon of sorts…Krokodil.

Jack Yeovil, again a pen name for Kim Newman, loves pop culture references, so there’s a lot to spot. In fact, my favorite chapters were the ones about media news outlets broadcasting events around the world. The actual story of Krokodil v Seth wasn’t as engaging and with its focus on demon action felt more like something from a twisted World of Darkness novel rather than what I was wanting to explore in the Dark Future setting.

I understand in the next book, Comeback Tour, Krokodil teams up with retired Sanctioned Op Elvis Presley, yes him, so I’m hoping we get into more road war there.

One thing that does jump out at me from the Dark Future setting, as told through these novels, is that there are no shortage of strong, female protagonists. In fact, the main characters of the setting (outside of Seth) are all female: Vatican hitwoman Sister Chantal Juillerat, former ganger turned spiritual warrior Jessamyn/Krokodil, and Sanctioned Op Redd Harvest. For the past 20 years, it’s felt like GW’s universes lacked leading female characters. I can only think of the vampire Genevieve in the Warhammer Fantasy universe from the early 90s…another character created by Kim Newman. I believe that at one point there were even going to be some Dark Future action figures with Redd Harvest leading the series. Artist Pete Knifton mentioned it earlier this summer on Auroch Digital’s FB page. Would have been neat to see.

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Note – The book has inspired me to resurrect the Psychopomps as an underhive gang the next time I play Necromunda.