Flesh Tearin’

So, in my weekly game of 40k against Sand, I decided I could do with a change.  Once, just once, I would use my Flesh Tearers army against her Space Woofs. I have posted my army list in an earlier post, but it is basically a 1,500 point force meant to represent Commander Seth and his personal bodyguard.

Now, I am not completely ignorant of the rules in the latest edition of 40k (though 3rd edition was my hey day, as it were) so, reading through the army list, I knew there were some interesting things I could do.  On the other hand, I only had 24 models on the table and none could capture objectives.  We did not roll up a kill point mission, so I had to go for the total wipe out…

Turn One

I kicked off on turn one, marching the Land Raider Redeemer carrying Seth and his Honour Guard forward, keeping in cover to avoid Sand’s own Land Raider and its lascannon.  It cracked a multimelta shot off at its counterpart but to no effect.  The Death Company and their Dreadnought ploughed up the centre, again keeping to cover, while the Sanguinary Guard stayed in reserve.

Sand refused a flank, and aimed her heavy weapons at my Land Raider.  The cover it had adopted served well, until a lucky shot from her Long Fang’s lascannon immobilised it.  That annoyed Seth – now he would have to walk.  The rest of her army, including a drop-podding unit of Grey Hunters that landed behind my force, plinked at the Death Company.  At first the combination of power armour and Feel No Pain just meant shots bounced off but eventually some of the balck-armoured guys started falling.  By the end of the turn, the number of Death Company had been halved, and I began to see the downside of my force, as I had already lost a fifth of my army.

As it would turn out though, it was the only downside.

Turn Two

This is where things started to get nasty.  The Sanguinary Guard landed, out in the open but out of charge range of Sand’s Wolf Guard Terminators.  Seth and his Honour Guard leapt out of the Redeemer and ran forward into cover to prep their assault in the next turn.

Then the Death Company Dreadnought woke up.  Sand’s Drop Pod had scattered just a few inches when it landed, but I had already seen it was too close to the Dreadnought.  It turned round and charged, and started the process of wiping the Grey Hunters and their Wolf Priest out.  A few ones for wounds on my part would keep them in the game for a couple of turns but they could only respond with Krak grenades and, in the end, they only ever managed a stun which the Dreadnought ignores.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the battlefield, the Death Company made contact with her other Grey Hunters squad, this one led by a Wolf Guard Terminator with Cyclone Missile Launcher and Power Fist.  Not wanting the Power Fist to be hanging around, the Reclusiarch concentrated all his attacks on the Wolf Guard (which was a complete overkill). Then my two Death Company who carried Power Weapons ploughed in.  Charging, they were at Initiative 5, so the Grey Hunters are just standing around waiting for the attacks.  WS5, so they are hitting on threes.  S5, so they are wounding and killing on threes.  And, of course, the Reclusiarch means they are re-rolling both.  With four attacks a piece, they managed to get a perfect record and 8 Grey Hunters went down immediatly.  The other three Death Company roundley finished off the last two with chainswords.

Both Sand and I were fairly stunned with that.  Against a big ork mob, Grey Hunters can normally hold their ground for at least a couple of turns and will fairly butcher the orks in return.  But against the Death Company?  Complete wipe out with no losses in return.

In her turn, Sand found herself bogged down in combat with the Dreadnought, and the Wolf Guard out of charge range of anything.  They used Storm Bolters against the Death Company, but to no effect, while the Long Fangs ran (ran!) to try to get out of range of the Death Company.  Her Sky Claws arrived as reserves, dropping right in front of the Sanguinary Guard but their bolt pistols just bounced off armour.

Turn Three

The Death Company Dreadnought finished wiping out the Drop-podded Grey Hunters, while the Death Company itself caught the Long Fangs and chewed them up. The Reclusiarch left their squad briefly to put an Infernus Pistol shot on her Land Raider but missed.  Muppet.

The Sanguinary Guard completely bypassed the Sky Claws in front of them and charged the Wolf Guard, backed up by Seth and his Honour Guard. I need not have bothered sending both units in.

I had always thoght Seth an interesting but fairly poor character model, as he lacked a power weapon.  However, I had failed to see just how good a Strength 8 Rending weapon could be.  He charged Sand’s Wolf Lord, who was armed with a Power Fist.  Seth therefore went first and dished out 6 attacks (he is accompanied with the Chapter Banner), two of which triggered the Rending rule.  It was at that point I twigged how cool it was – the Wolf Lord only had invulnerable saves to stop the blows and failing just one meant Instant Death.

Yeah, he failed.

The Sanguinary Guard then make short work of Terminators who, even with Lightning Claws, were labouring with Initiative 4.  Just two of the Sanguinary Guard were enough to wipe them all out with their master-crafted glaives.

Sand did not have a great deal to do after that.  Her Land Raider minced about trying to shoot Death Company while her Sky Claws decided the immobilised Redeemer would make a batter target than the angry Honour Guard.  However, both failed to do any damage.

Turn Four

Seth charges the Land Raider and gets four (four!) Rending hits on it.  The Land Raider implodes.  Meanwhile the Sky Claws had inadvertently wandered into the fire arc of one of the Redeemer’s Flamestorm cannon.  Between that and a charging Death Company Dreadnought, they were finished too.

At that point, Sand quit.  Which was very sensible.

So, both of us highly impressed with what the Flesh Tearers can do and they have since been banned from use (!) as Sand has decided she much prefers fighting orks!  So, the Bad Moonz will be back next week, but I am still adding models to my Mek Boy army, and that will make an appearence in the near future.

I have set aside this weekend for writing (it so needs to get done…), so likely no time for painting, but I do need to relate what is happening in our current Traveller campaign.  Everything has been turned upside down…

Games Design

I have been unbelievably busy this week.  On top of all the usual work stuff, I have a deadline to write a novel in about six weeks – which is ‘interesting’ to say the least.  However, I have been thundering along, and it looks like I might just make it!

Hence the lateness of this post this week, right in the tail end of a Friday afternoon.  Last weekend, I did not get to do any painting, having dedicated both days to some game design projects I had to get out of the way.  However, they are to do with gaming, so I can talk about them here!  I also had a rather remarkable game of 40k in the week, but I’ll leave that to another post, hopefully sometime this weekend.

Goblin Slammers

This is a very simple card game that we are planning to release at the bottom end of the year.  The basic idea is based on a very old card game I used to play at school called Slam (you likely know it by another name).  Players lay cards down on a pile, in sequential sequence according to the score of the card.

Take that idea, make the scores a ‘fighting’ ability for various orcs and goblins, and you have a big scrap in a goblin tribe!  The first playtest went flawlessly – however, as someone pointed out, you could play the game with a normal deck of cards, so why bother buying into this game?  Well, aside from having pretty artwork, I spent part of the weekend trying to figure that out.  In the end, I came up with;

  1. Decreased the score range of the cards from 0-13 to 0-6.  This also increases the intensity of the game, as it is far more likely players can put down a card (there being fewer numbers in the range).
  2. I added ‘event’ cards that players can throw down to stop play.  They then follow the instructions on the card before continuing.  This provides natural breaks in the (very fast-paced) game, but also allows for goblin-style sneaky tricks, like the Surprise! card that halts all other players but allows you to continue playing, or the Traitor! card that lets you swap your entire store of cards with another player – great if you are falling behind.
  3. I added more cards overall so the game could support up to four players.  This is complete anarchy, but is a lot of fun.

I like Goblin Slammers because of its simplicity, its pace, and because it has no set ‘turns.’  You have to be quick to win it!  I also cannot help feeling the mechanics could be useful in other areas.  I was thinking perhaps of a Top Gear licensed game, where you compete on cars but every now and again, one of the boys or the Stig turns up asd an event and gets you to do something.  Have to meditate on that…

Sedan Chair Racing

This came about from a conversation with a local store owner who remembered a years old board game.  As he described it, I could not help thinking the general concept would work as a card game.  The general idea is that 2-4 players take the part of nobles in Renaissance Europe, all getting ready to go0 to the Countess’ ball.  They have to recruit four bearers for their sedan chair, then race to the ball before any other noble.  Along the way, they can stuff up the recruiting for the other players (making sure someone has a really tall and really short guy on one side, for example), and engage in various Dastardely Deeds on the way – like sending another team the wrong way, perhaps.

The original version of the game had some issues.  The bearers had too great a range of ‘running’ scores, so they were decreased, and the game had originally been split into two distinct sections – recruiting, then racing.  If you finished recruiting, you had to wait for everyone else to finish too.  Now, if you have four bearers, you have the choice to stick around and maybe get a better team, or start racing, whether or not anyone else is ready!

This is another game that will see further development, with a chariot version planned for next year.

Dark Eon Assassin

This is our first real boardgame, and one I am really looking forward to.  In a nutshell, it is a solo game where you play a high-tech futuristic assassin that has to infiltrate a palace and knock off the Tyrant of Acheron.  This game is pretty solid now, but it had a few tweaks last weekend.  I went through and gave all the weapons names (so, instead of a Laser Pistol, you have a General Arms Mk IV Laser Pistol – it just adds a bit of atmosphere to the game), and also finalised the card decks, deciding which cards should stay and which should leave.

I also wrote a six page ‘graphic novel’ that will serve as an introduction to the game.  This is something I have always wanted to do but, it turns out, was much more difficult than I thought it would be.  Any way, you should be able to see the results around September.

Fleets of the Fading Suns

This is the first supplement for A Call to Arms: Noble Armada, and is pretty much complete.  However, the playtesters drew my attention to a few areas that needed going over once more.

We had an issue with the Vuldrok fleet in that ther smaller ships had pretty poxy weapons but seriously good armour.  This was an easy fix, as the armour was just decreased and the Attack Dice raised for them.  However, I kept their Galliot as it was – a weapons poor but heavily armoured boarding ship is very different from those of other fleets and as the Vuldrok are all about boarding, it seemed to be a perfect fit!

The Vau also had some issues, whereby they could just sit at the back of the table using Special Actions and pound the enemy.  Not very interesting.  I puzzled over this for a while but, in the end, it was another simple fix (most of the best fixes are!). The Vau can allocate extra power to various systems on their ships, giving weapons, movement or shields a big boost.  I first made a rule that said they could only do this while not taking a Special Action (forcing choice and avoiding nasty stacking effects), then removed the range boost they originally had when powering up their weapons.  They can still be all kinds of awesome, but now they have to mix it up with the other fleets to be so.

Perfect!

A Call to Arms: Star Fleet

Yeah, I saved this one to last – and this took me an entire day to work through.

The Star Fleet rulebook is actually pretty complete, having been written earlier this year.  However, there were some things nagging me, and I am also just starting to get playtester feedback.

The biggest thing I did was just about double all Damage and Shield scores, while lowering Hull scores.  This means ships are much easier to hit, but can take more damage.  I feel this simulates the TV show and films much better, where you see the Enterprise getting savaged by the Reliant’s sustained phaser fire – yet it can carry on fighting despite having all the criticals in the world.  This change is being playtested now, but I feel it will make this game feel very different to other A Call to Arms settings.

I also trimmed the fleet lists to reflect what is actually going to be released in the first wave, adding various ships that were missing.

Then I hit the playtest comments, and there was a host of things to go through here.  Rules for Labs and Away Teams were added, seeking weapons now actually track across the table (though that has raised some issues), Klingons had a big reinforcement to their front shields, reflecting their style of combat, and much more.

Star Fleet is going to be demanding a lot of my time over the next few months, so expect to see regular updates.

Next post: What happens when a bunch of Space Wolves unexpectedly meet fist-throwing Flesh Tearers?

 

Noble Armada

This weekend, I painted up a coule of fleets for A Call to Arms: Noble Armada.  Those of you who know me may wonder why I haven’t done this up to now.  Well, first, if I wanted a game of Noble Armada, I could just grab the (very nicely) painted models in our display cabinet and, in any case, I did four quite large fleets for the first open day, though they were hastily done.

However, there is nothing like owning your very own fleet, so I grabbed some blisters on Friday and set to work!  My current favourite fleet is House Hazat, so they were the first choice.  Nice colour scheme, and the fleet is about as subtle as a punch in the face, so what is not to like?

House Hazat

These models were painted with a black undercoat, and then the red parts layered with Malachite Red (from GW’s Foundation range).  Red Gore went over the top, with the Magic Goop going on next – in fact, this fleet is painted in pretty much the same way as my Flesh Tearers!  Black was added for detail, and Bolt Gun Metal used on engines and weapons.  Finally, some ships had white dots added to create windows.

Adonais Dreadnought

Trafalgar Carrier and Fighters

Manticore Destroyers

Xerses Galliots

Scorpion Frigates

Stalker Explorers

Next up was a Li Halan fleet.  I must admit to a soft spot for these guys, as I love the ‘born again’ fanatical nature of them.  I also know what is coming up in the release schedule for this fleet, and know they will be born again hard!  Finally, I also wanted to try a variant paint scheme for these ships.

House Li Halan

The traditional paint job on these ships is to have a white base with purple detailing.  However, I saw a painting of some of their nobles, and wanted to paint a fleet that reflected their clothing – white base with Blood Red (with Magic Goop on top) and Chaos Black detailing.  This is the result.

Maru Cruisers

 

Iskati Frigates

Cardano Galliots

Dragon Destroyers

Ijiri Light Carriers

I did have another Light Carrier and a veritable horde of fighters to do, but they wouldn’t fit on the priming board with the rest of the ships, so got left to one side.  Maybe a job for next weekend!

Weekend’s Painting

Managed to do a spot of painting last weekend, but only just got round to taking some snaps!

Bit of a mix, as I was clearing my painting table of odds and ends.
First up, a War Buggy I picked up on eBay for tuppence.  Nicely converted from a Trukk, it has twin-linked rokkits (look for ’em!) and, more importantly, fills my criteria that every vehicle should look different in my Bad Moonz army.

War Buggy

A trickly blighter to paint, as everything was glued down, and a very thin-handled brush was needed to get into all the nooks and crannies in the crew compartment.

Next up was a ‘proper’ Trukk, this time for my growing Mek Boy army.  Every Trukk in this army loses Fast but gains a Grabbin’ Klaw and Extra Armour.  I thought the Trukk with the closed crew compartment from Forge World would serve well in that regard, without any messy conversions for more armour plating.  This model was supposed to be joined by a Half-Trak Trukk, also from Forge World, but I have had experience putting their resin tracks together in the past and just did not fancy doing it at the time!  A model for later.

Mek Boy Trukk

Quite like the front end of that model, with the grill and enclosed engine.

Finally, a bit of a departure.  Long, long ago, I played Firefight from Alternative Armies, and even painted up quite a few models as I was working part-time at Spot On Models (this was a very long time ago!).  Anyway, I quite enjoyed the game play (even though the game’s original creator, Paul Cockburn, later told me that he did not like it much himself!), as it involved diving between burnt out vehicles on the street, assaulting buildings – it had a real room-to-room fight feel about it, if you know what I mean.  Back then, you had fights between power armoured Crusaders and the alien Shia Khan.

So, when I heard Alternative Armies had released Firefight 2.0, I grabbed the deluxe set that included 16 miniatures with it.  Finally, I got round to painting them!

The models are divided into two camps, Errant Knights and Muster Troops, with the idea (at the moment) that there is a civil war and the troops belonging to different barons fight one another.  Don’t believe they do models of the Shia Khan right now.

Anyway, these are the two squads of Errant Knights;

Errant Knights

Errant Knights

And these are the Muster Troops;

Muster Troops

Muster Troops

Will I ever get round to playing this game?  Probably not, as I know no one else who even knows about it!  However, the models were quick and easy to paint, and they look quite pretty.  The new rulebook says a second ‘set’ with miniatures is supposed to be coming out and, if it appears, I’ll probably pick that one up too.

My Fighting Uruk-hai

I’ve always quite liked the Lord of the Rings range from Games Workshop, but I never had anyone to play with and I never really liked the idea of the skirmish game.  Fighting on Weathertop?  Makes for a good story, but does not really interest me in a game.  However, the Battle of Pelennor Fields?  The Battle of Helms Deep?  Count me in.  When the War of the Ring game arrived, coupled with the fact that most Lord of the Rings miniatures go for tuppence on eBay, I knew my time had come.

I really wanted to do an army of Rohan, but the mounted guys are one of the few Lord of the Rings miniatures to still command a decently high price on eBay.  The Uruk-hai, however, are another story.  I picked up a whole bunch of warriors and other bits and pieces on eBay, spending maybe £20 at a push on the whole lot, got hold of some of the War of the Ring bases from Games Workshop (which cost considerably more) and started work.

The Uruk-hai are a very characterful force, the archetypal ‘dark’ army, with black banners, filthy warriors and rows of pikes!

The Fighting Uruk-hai

As it turned out, this has been the easiest and quickest army I have ever painited.  I have said before that the Magic Goop method means you can spend more time on the bases than the actual miniatures – for the Uruk-hai, this was literally true.  The vast majority of the models use just three colours, and they have a very fast method of painting;

  1. Paint the entire miniature (with a very large brush) with a thin coat of Blot Gun Metal.
  2. Paint the thighs, chin and, on some models, upper arms with Dark Flesh.
  3. Paint the pike shafts and hair black.
  4. Drown the model in Magic Goop (for those who missed the earlier post, Magic Goop is a 1-3 mix of water and Ronseal quick Dry Satin Walnut Wood Varnish – one pot will last you quite a few complete armies).

And that really is it.  Let it dry, do the bases, and then you are good to dominate Middle Earth.

These are my three units of Scouts, all armed differently – and this is the most annoying thing about the plastics for Lord of the Rings.  You get 24 models in a typical box, but they are armed three different ways, so you may only get one unit of 8 models of the type you are actually wanting.  If you are buying new, that can get pretty expensive pretty quickly, and it is bad enough on eBay.  I would have done an army from Mordor long before now if they had not been arranged that way.

Anyway, the scouts – with one unit led by Ugluk.

Scouts with Swords and Shields

Scouts with Swords

Scouts with Bows

This was one of the first units I painted up – a nice big block of basic warriors.  A standard has been included (kind of essential in a unit like this, as you want a few flags dotted about the army, waving in the breeze), and they are being led by Lurtz.

Warriors

Quite proud of these, a battery of three Siege Assault Ballistas.  The bases were custom made from plywood, suitably shaped and round depressions for bases cut out by my Father (I lack a workshop at the moment or, indeed, any method for working with wood).

Siege Assault Ballistas

Just a single unit of Berserkers were added.  For these chaps, you alter the painting process so that the Dark Flesh goes on first and the Bolt Gun Metal details are picked out after.

Berserkers

Not in the movie, but I could not resist an Isengard Troll.

Isengard Troll

I picked up this model of Grima, already painted, for £1 on eBay.  Just re-based him to fit in with the rest of the army, job done!

Grima Wormtongue

Just in case an enemy decides to hide behind thick walls, a couple of bases of Siege Troops make up another unit.

Siege Troops

This is the main unit in the army, a big block of pikemen with standard, and led by Saruman and a Uruk-hai Shaman.  This unit, for me, says everything you need to know about the Uruk-hai – lots of them and very tough! They very much form the centrepiece of the army.

Pikemen

I do have some more Uruk-hai tucked away that have not been painted yet, but they are near worthless on eBay and, having filled up one shelf in my display cabinets with this army, I am not going to do any work on them in the foreseeable future.  If I come across someone who has a War of the Ring force themselves, I’ll start expanding this force but, for now, it is good  as is.

Not that this will stop me doing another Lord of the Rings army.  Still wanting to do Rohan, I had an abortive attempt to collect a force of them and instead went for a bunch of High Elves.  I finally pulled them out of their box and painted them up during last week.  Again, very easy and quick to paint, but much brighter than the Uruk-hai (though I did not want to follow thr traditional blue colourings for them).

High Elves

I haven’t got round to doing the War of the Ring bases yet (which are actually a buit of a pig to do, as you need to keep the sand away from where the miniatures sit, and if you use your thumb to do that, you can grind away your skin).  Still, they have all been grouped in eights, ready for that basing.

This is a unit of the warriors, led by Gil-Galad.  As I said, the painting is simple, with a thin coating of Blood Red, armour picked out in Shining Gold (the longest job in this batch), Elf Flesh for skin, and Bleached Bone for the sash.  The Magic Goop goes on and then Chaos Black is used to pick out the boots, sword handles and any other details.  Mithril for the blades goes on last to keep it ‘clean.’

Elven Warriors

And, of course, they are joined by ranks of Archers.

Archers

I need to put these guys on War of the Ring bases, of course, but I am really at a loss to know what to do thereafter, apart from more warriors and archers.  It turns out (he discovers, after he actually started the army) that there are not too many units available for High Elves.  There are some elite troops, but you cannot go overboard on that, and I really did not want to do a ‘general’ elf force, but wanted to keep it specific to High Elves. I’ll have to have a think about that, maybe see if anything else is released for the forthcoming Hobbit range (though I have a feeling they will concentrate on elves from Mirkwood, pansies that they are).

Maybe I should have done a Wood Elf force instead.  Or, perhaps better, stuck to the original plan of the Rohirrim.

I have one more army to showcase, but that may wait until next week.  In the meantime, I need to get some snaps this week of the models I completed the weekend just gone, and also fill you in on the current Traveller campaign.

 

Ancient Britons

This is a bit of an odd army.  I never intended to do Britons.  I was building up an Early Imperial Roman force, while Sand did her Gauls.  However, I got around to collecting every Roman model that Warlord did (in some depth, after all, who needs 150-odd Legionnaires if you are doing Warhammer Ancients?), and figured some allies from Briton could be fun.  Things spiralled out of control from there…

Britons

This is the model that started to cause the upset.  As may be very apparent, this is Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni, on a chariot while her right hand man waves a Roman standard they have just pinched.  Not much good as an ally then, but pretty cool if you are starting a full army of Britons.  Which is pretty much what happened.

Boudicca

Of course, she could not go into battle alone, so I picked up some more chariots to help her out.  Three of these are the only non-Warlord Games models in the army, being plastic ones from Wargames Factory.  I included these because I wanted variety among my Britons (ordered ranks where every soldier looks the same is more of a Roman thing).

Chariots

This is the first warband of warriors.  My take on these was that each warband would be led by a lord or chieftain (much like Derfel in Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Trilogy), but the number of men they had would vary greatly, depending on the reputation of the leader, how many battles they had fought, how rich they were, and so on.  Thus, every unit would have to be of a different size.  This was a small one, depicting either a very young leader or one who had seen many battles and lost most of his men.

Small Warband

Dogs were a common sight in the armies of Briton and, in the main, I used big mastiffs.  However, Warhammer Ancients only allows you to have one handler (thought this might be changed in second edition, but it wasn’t), so I only ever painted up one.  The problem is, dogs are really easy to paint, so if one was on my table I added it to the army, so now my handler is somewhat over burdened with pooches.

Dog Handler

This is the most recent addition to the army, a unit of light cavalry, described as a hunting party by Warlord Games. As Sand was doing Gauls, I tried to make my Britons as different as possible, following the changes suggested for Britons in Warhammer Ancients and imposing my own restrictions.  So, light cavalry only, no noble cavalry but loads of chariots!

Hunting Party

The character on the centre here was the Warlord leading the army, until I finished the Boudicca model.  Now he has been demoted to being a Chieftain and will take his stand in one of the Warbands.  On the left is the army’s Druid, and on the right the Battle Standard for the whole force – again, an addition made after I found out how useful such things were for my Romans!

Characters

I think these guys will gain a lot of attention from an opponent in a battle – 40 fist-throwing naked Fanatics can ruin anyone’s day!  40 is quite an excessive number, but Sand had 30 for her Gauls, and I had to make sure the Britons had more!  Sand usually combos her Fanatics up with a Druid, making them all kinds of nasty, but I may experiment with putting the Chieftain and Battle Standard with these guys, and saving the Druid for a large Warband of more sane warriors.

Note the Roman shield, obviously pinched from the invaders!

Fanatics

I learned the value of skirmishers with my Roman force, where just a handful of them was sufficient to slow down some of Sand’s gauls and allow my Legionnaires to take them on piecemeal.  So, obviously, the Britons had to have some too!  Being Britons, I went with Slingers rather than Archers.

Slingers

Finally, my largest warband, comprising 40 men and a Chieftain (you can just see his yellow cloak at the front).  I was thinking about doing a unit of 60 next, but sanity must prevail sometime.  This is another army that I will add to only rarely, as Romans and Vikings are just too cool to pass up for what are, essentially, a bunch of barbarians who lost out to the Saxons.

Warband

This is not a full 2,000 point force (need quite a few more men for that, probably more chariots too!), but it looks fairly convincing on the table, if it does not completely cover it end to end.  Nor will it ever match my Romans who, weighing in at 6-7,000 points, would need several tables’ worth of Britons to make it an even battle…

Vikings!

For me, Vikings are kinda like Romans – always wanted to do an army of them, but was hampered by a) a lack of a decent rules system and b) more importantly, a lack of a decent miniatures range.

Last year, Gripping Beast did what almost every historical minaitures company of any size in the UK did, and produced a box set of multipart/multipose plastic troops, in this case, Hirdmen, the core units of any Viking force.  And at an astonishingly low price (just £20 for 44 models).

I was set.  Availing myself of their metal range of Vikings to fill in the gaps, Gripping Beast paved the way to a full force of wild Northmen!  I built the army along Warhammer Ancients lines, about 2,000 points with room for some options, though I may end up using Hail Caesar for actual games.  The full army, assembled on the battlefield, looks like this.

The Vikings!

I went for Danes as, well, they were always the hardest and most capable of the Vikings (Norwegians, Swedes and Hiberno-Irish can meet me on the battlefield to settle any dispute there).

These guys are the Ulfhednar, ready to create their own Saga and there are, of course, 12 of them!  Filled with the spirit of the wolf, these are a mean bunch of wild warriors that mess around with the enemy as skirmishers with some serious hitting power.

Ulfhednar

Meanwhile, these chaps are not actually skirmishers but are to be sprinkled around Hirdmen units as points allow – the famed berserkers.  They are really one hit wonders in Warhammer Ancients, but will do a serious amount of damage before they go down!

Berserkers

Next up is the core of the army, four units of Hirdmen.  Points-wise, they are chuffing expensive in WAB, but you cannot argue with their capabilities.  I got hold of Gripping Beast’s extra sheet of Viking banners, as I quickly used up the ones you get free in the Hirdman box set, and I wanted some variety.  I could also have gone for the Viking Shield transfers they do, but wanted to paint my own more solid colours.  This is actually quite a challenge when you decide to use a limited range of colours and a fixed number of designs, but fancied this would look better than the more intricate designs on the transfers – after all, these are serious warriors who want bold colours on their shields, and not spend time doing fancy designs that would get hacked apart in the first battle!

Hirdmen Unit 1

Hirdmen Unit 2

Hirdmen Unit 3

Hirdmen Unit 4

I polished the army units off with a big block of Bondi (still haven’t worked out the pronounciation of these – Bon-Dee?  Bon-Di?).  Being metal, they actually cost more than the rest of the army combined but, game-wise, you need a large block of more basic troops as the Hirdmen are all effectively elite.  There is also one issue with these metals – they are a slightly larger scale than the plastics, despite having come from the same manufacturer.  It is not something you notice until you put them right next to a Hirdmen unit, but slightly irritating nonetheless.

Bondi

I gave them a larger banner than the Hirdmen because a) the banner bearer could support it, b) they are a larger unit anyway and c) I figured they had something to compensate for after being around the Hirdmen so much.  I actually wanted to get Thralls instead (the Hirdmen are the professional warriors, the Bondi the local farmers that get called up by the king, and Thralls are basically slaves), as you can have a unit about twice the size you see here but for the same amount of points, give or take.  Yes, they are no way near as good in a fight, but there is method in my madness…

Priest of Odin and the King!

The model on the left is a Godi (Go-Dee? Go-Di?), a Priest of Odin.  My tactic here is to put him with the Bondi and make them completely unbreakable.  Now consider doing the same with a unit of Thralls 80-odd strong!  Just send them towards the enemy’s most lethal units and watch them go.  Sure, they will get steadily slaughtered throughout the battle but, so long as the Godi survives, they will never, ever break, meaning the rest of your army (the elite Hirdmen) can quietly chew through the rest of the enemy unhindered by anything close to being their equal.

The other model is the Danish King (the Danes had far fewer blondes than the Scandinavians, due to their closer proximity to the rest of Europe), in a suitably hard pose.

I will probably not add to this army at all, as the Viking army list is not the most extensive around, and I already have everything I need for as decent 2,000 point force.  However, never say never.  I could possibly use some more Vikings characters, lords and the like, possibly one with a Battle Standard for the whole army (playing with my Romans taught me the value of Battle Standards).  And then, of course, there are the Thralls to consider.  However, this is only likely if I start playing with the Vikings in a serious way, such as in an extended campaign.

One final point to make here.  You may have a wargaming friend that you occasionally buy birthday and Christmas presents for.  If this is so, you have probably been restricted to getting them the odd model or unit here and there.  This year, make it a really good gift – two Hirdmen box sets will set you back only £40 and give 88 models back.  Add in a leader model and maybe some Berserkers, and you will still have spent less than £50.  In return, you will be able to give your mate a full 2,000 point army.

If they are serious about gaming, that will probably be the best present they get that year!

Coming up in the next few posts, another Ancients force, what I have been doing with Lord of the Rings models, and a bunch of models I managed to get finished during this week that will form the core of (another) new army.