Man O’ War: Dark Elf Fleet


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.